Of all the ways to see the sights in and around historic downtown Greenville, gliding effortlessly on top of a Segway has to be the most fun!
The people-mover machines used on the Greenville Segway Tour are fun and easy. The non-motorized machines are based on balance and respond to how your body shifts. Leaning forward or backward or lightly moving the steering to the left or right is all you need to do — the Segway technology takes care of the rest.
With a weight minimum of 100 pounds, children as young as 12 can ride. In fact, in our group, a boy of around 12 or so put his parents and older brothers to shame by effortlessly stepping up onto the machine with perfect balance and agility and gliding around the practice area for the safety orientation.
“There are two reasons for that,” said John Vaughan, our guide. “The youngsters have no apprehension about the machines, and they also have a lower center of gravity.” In addition to the boy and his family, my own son, Nick, was with me. Segway tours are a multi-generational way for families to have fun. “We’ve had fun-loving people in their 70s come with us!” said John.
And off we went on our tour through the historic West End of Greenville, one of South Carolina’s most popular and revitalized areas to explore. We were eager to learn what makes this fast-growing area of the Southern metropolis so unique.
We stopped in Court Square at the historic Poinsett Hotel, named after Joel Poinsett, a prominent American of the Antebellum Period who influenced not just Greenville, but American history. Doctor, botanist, politician, public works builder and ambassador, Poinsett’s contributions are many, but he’s perhaps best remembered for bringing back the red-leafed plant he discovered during his tenure in Mexico, which now bears his name. A bronze statue of Poinsett sits looking out to Main Street, a tribute to his legacy.
We kept our eyes out for “Mice on Main” — a series of nine tiny mice statues scattered all over downtown. It was designed to be a scavenger hunt by a local high school student, Jim Ryan, who wanted to give something back to his community.
The tour stopped for a photo op at the Old Cigar Warehouse. This historical building provides the perfect vintage backdrop for photos, and John offered to take pictures for anyone in the group. The building, which has been converted into a popular event venue, still maintains it original rustic vibe.
Fluor Field is a mini replica of Boston’s Fenway Park. We stopped to take a peek at the Greenville Drive, a Class A baseball league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, in the last inning of their game. Born and raised in Rhode Island, I was thrilled to see the mini 30-foot-high version of the famous Green Monster wall looming beyond the outfield. The stadium seats more than 5,000 fans with the farthest seat only 13 rows away from the outfield.
We rounded Fluor Field and stopped as John pointed out the house where Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of baseball’s greatest legends, lived and died. The house, across the street from the baseball field, is now a museum displaying photographs and artifacts chronicling Jackson’s impressive professional baseball career.
The tour continued past the baseball field into the back section of Falls Park on the Reedy. The expansive and lush park is the pride and joy of downtown Greenville. In addition to the waterfall, the mini oasis within the city includes numerous trails, gardens, sculptures and the Liberty suspension bridge. The park also hosts events such as the Shakespeare in the Park summer series.
Gliding through Greenville is the best way to experience the beauty of the city’s downtown. And that’s not all; here is where I confess that even though I live in the area, I learned a few secrets about this diverse city myself!
– Contributed by Patti Morrow