Named for the Revolutionary War Spartan Regiment, this welcoming and scenic city in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains may just be the perfect vacation spot for the entire family. Check out the Spartanburg, SC hotels below and secure yourself a cozy place to rest up between attractions, which include:
Aircraft engines and motorcycles were the first products of the company that would eventually become the luxury- and sports-car manufacturer BMW, and you can learn about its history and various incarnations at the BMW Zentrum, which includes a museum, factory and performance driving school. The museum is well worth a look if you are interested in these iconic cars and motorcycles.
Moving from the industrial to the pastoral, take a walk through the Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, where the word echoed by most reviewers is “peaceful.” Trails are short and easy, and if you want to learn about the local flora, species are well marked. You may prefer to just sit on one of the myriad stone benches and listen to the birds and the water. This is a particularly good stop on a hot South Carolina day. Admission is free but donations are gladly accepted.
If you want to step back in southern history, then a visit to the Walnut Grove Plantation should be on your list. The eighteenth-century main house is filled with period furniture and gives a good glimpse into the life of wealthy landowners, but what is particularly moving is a visit to both the family and the slave cemeteries. If you arrive in the autumn, be sure to attend FallFest and observe a Civil War reenactment.
There is more for the history lover—and for everyone, in fact—at the Chapman Cultural Center, a tremendous 86,000-square-foot, three-building complex offering exhibits, performances and activities related to the visual and performing arts, history and science. It includes an art museum, a science museum and a history museum, and also hosts concerts, classes, workshops, theater and more. On a given week you may be tempted to take a ballroom dancing class, attend a lecture on obituaries, sit in on a couponing workshop, meditate with a Tibetan monk, take in a children’s-theater play and listen to live music on the plaza.
One of the few experiences not available at the cultural center is learning about trains, and you can do that at the Hub City Railroad Museum, where Spartanburg’s old railroad station comes alive with memorabilia and knowledgeable guides who outline the importance of the railroad for the area’s peach and cotton industries. Your kids can play with a real telegraph machine!
And since your children have been valiantly putting up with all this history and culture, reward them with a visit to the Holywild Zoo, which is in fact part zoo and partly a very large petting area. You can bring crackers to feed the animals or buy some there, but for the youngest children (and some adults) the highlight of the visit is the one-dollar baby bottles you can buy to feed the llamas and goats. Be sure to take the Safari Ride through 75 acres of freely roaming animals; the bus will eventually stop and you can feed them out of your hand as they cluster around the vehicle.
Located at the crossroads between Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC, the city is also at the crossroads of the Old and New South, and its vibrant cultural life will charm you no matter how you spend your time here. And after a stay with Choice Hotels, Spartanburg may just become your favorite home away from home.
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