If you’re wondering how to spend one day in Spartanburg, South Carolina – you’re in luck! I recently had one day to explore this growing southern destination and found plenty to do while I was traveling through the Palmetto State.
Spartanburg is located in what’s known as the “upstate” of South Carolina. You can get here in less than two hours from Atlanta, Georgia and in about 90 minutes from Charlotte, North Carolina. This region of the state is booming in recent years and Spartanburg has enjoyed an uptick in not only visitors but people relocating here from across the U.S.
So what are some things to do in Spartanburg if you only have 24 hours?
Start Your Visit with A Tour of BMW
Spartanburg is home to the only BMW manufacturing plant in North America. The general public can take a factory tour and enjoy other unique BMW experiences like driving on a test track if you’re visiting the area.
It was the first time as an adult that I’ve toured a modern automobile factory and it was really quite remarkable. Travel writers aren’t paid well enough to own a BMW but seeing the entire production process up-close is absolutely fascinating. You’ll walk at least a couple of miles through two different plants, following along single file as your guide explains each part of the assembly line.
You literally see a brand new BMW begin as nothing more than a mold of metal and aluminum pieced together with all of its components right down to the steering wheel, tires, and sunroofs. Each vehicle is made to order – nothing is mass produced here. Our guide noted that the most complicated part of a BMW is actually the door. Each door has about 90 working parts on it.
Tours of the factory should be made in advance on the company’s website. No photographs are allowed on the tour itself but you can take photographs of the cars stationed inside the factory’s small museum.
Grab Some Lunch at Wade’s – a Spartanburg staple!
As soon as I saw the line wrapped around the building, I knew Wade’s must be something special. Turns out – it’s been around since 1947 and has expanded it’s footprint over the years to the current location on Pine Street. It’s sort of a mix between Cracker Barrel and one of those old school cafeterias that you used to be in every neighborhood. Fried chicken is a speciality – and exactly what I ordered. It’s southern homestyle cooking with fixings like mashed potatoes and cream corn. Desserts here are especially popular. Don’t fret if the line is long – it moves quickly and it didn’t take long at all for the food to arrive!
Walk Off That Big Meal at Hatcher Garden
Hatcher Garden is a terrific spot to stretch your legs and burn a few calories. Admission is free and the various walkways are mostly shaded with the occasional pond or waterfall. The garden has a wide variety of flowers and you’re bound to spot turtles, birds, and butterflies. The best part is that it’s incredibly peaceful which really allows you to enjoy your surroundings. The 10-acre public garden is open year round.
Stop by Glendale Shoals Preserve
This was my favorite place to take photographs during my quick stop in Spartanburg. The Glendale Shoals Preserve was once the site of a large cotton factory and mill. There’s a beautiful bridge and a waterfall that pours over a dam. When the water levels are low enough, you can freely walk around the bottom on the rocks and get some really cool photos. Parking was kind of wonky but there was only a couple of other people out and about when I visited. I put together a quick video of the 13 acre park and you can see it below.
Explore Downtown Spartanburg
The downtown area of Spartanburg is super walkable! Find a spot to park and make your way around to check out local shops, sculptures, and gathering spots. Take a pic in front of the Spartanburg mural. If you happen to look up while you’re walking around downtown, you might just spot the corporate headquarters of Denny’s. (Who knew?!)
If you’ve still got some energy, check out the city’s free miniature golf course while you’re milling around downtown. It’s called Sparkle City Mini Putt – and has a nine hole course that tributes some of the area’s history and iconic spots.
Have a Burger For Dinner!
Spartanburg has a lot of great restaurants to choose from but if burgers are your thing – the city has a special Burger Trail that features some of the best burger joints in the area.
For other things to see and do in Spartanburg, be sure to check out the local tourism website: visitspartanburg.com