This is the first trip we’ve taken without Max, so everyone is feeling a little out of sorts. We explored some new hiking trails, walked around downtown Greenville, and visited the Greenville Zoo and the Riverbanks Zoo.

Where We Stayed

Newberry KOA is one of the prettier KOAs we’ve been to. We stayed over Memorial Day weekend, and this campground had lots of activities planned. There was a scavenger hunt that had participants looking all weekend for gnomes, painted rocks, and more. They also grilled hot dogs and hamburgers on Saturday evening and had a 50-50 raffle for a local non-profit.

Even though it was a holiday weekend and the campground was almost completely full, it didn’t feel as crazy as some other places we’ve stayed.

Our site was large and pretty centrally located. We were right across from the pool and playground and close to the office, so we saw plenty of foot (and bicycle and golf cart) traffic. However, we only had one neighbor on the driver’s side of the RV. The passenger side faced a garden, so it was very peaceful when we sat outside. Our site had a nice patio with a table with four chairs and a gliding bench. After about 5:30, we had plenty of shade.

They had this cute little walkway through a garden. Out of the corner of your eye, you might think there are books in the garden, but they’re actually rocks that have been painted to look like books.

The pool felt a little small to us. The deep end is eight feet deep which is cool, but if more than two or three families were using it, it was difficult to spread out enough.

Their camp store was a pleasant surprise! The food options aren’t as impressive as others I’ve seen, but they have lots of kid-friendly books and games. They also have lots of campground stickers. We have a collection on the back of our RV, so we always check.

Campground NameNewberry KOA
LocationNewberry, SC
DatesMay 24-27, 2024
Site NumberSite 37
Site SurfaceGravel
Hook-upsFull hookups + 50-amp electric
Cost$117 per night (including taxes and fees)
Water Pressure40-50 psi
Voltage115-120 V
AT&T Speed Test19 Mbps down; 13 Mbps up
Verizon Speed Test54 Mbps down; 6 Mbps up
T-Mobile Speed Test61 Mbps down; 53 Mbps up
Campground WiFi4.75 Mbps down; 20.75 Mbps up

What We Did

Buncombe Horse Trail, Sumter National Forest

Buncombe Trailhead Parking is less than five miles from the campground. Taking the first left after you turn onto Brickhouse Road will bring you straight to the parking area and trail information.

Buncombe Trail Travel Tip

Bring some cash with you. There is a day-use fee of $3/vehicle. Check the information/map display for a small envelope to put the money in. Detach the tag to hang in your vehicle and put the envelope in the fee box.

The trail extends in two directions from the parking area. If you’re facing away from the field entrance, the trail going north is on the right side and the trail going south is to the left. (You can also walk a little way down the gravel road you came in on and pick up the trail north from there.)

One morning we went south; the other morning we went north. We preferred the section of trail that heads north. It runs along a small creek for a little bit, so Corona was able to get her paws wet. The trail was a little narrow but nice and shady.

We saw lots of hoofprints, but no horses.

We came across a few muddy spots. They were manageable on the days we hiked, but I can see how the right combination of recent rain and lots of equestrian traffic could make for an unpleasant hike.

In the end, it was fallen trees that made us turn around. We went over/around two, but the third would have been significantly harder to get past, so we gave up. The trees looked like they came down recently, so hopefully they’ll be cleared soon.

We didn’t think the trail that heads south from the parking area was as nice. You walk along a road for a bit and then pick up the trail on the right. They’ve recently had some heavy machinery through the trail, and the tracks left behind make it difficult for walking.

Greenville Zoo

Greenville Zoo is a small, urban zoo in downtown Greenville, SC. At 14 acres, it might be the smallest zoo I’ve ever visited. Given its size, I wasn’t expecting much, but we had a nice time. We really lucked out with the weather. It was overcast, so the temperature didn’t get much above 75.

Between smudged windows and chainlink fencing, they don’t get the highest marks for animal visibility. Exhibit size is another area with room for improvement, but with only 14 acres, I understand why that’s a challenge.

Despite those things, the animals seemed healthy and happy. I didn’t see any stereotypic behaviors to indicate the animals were stressed. In fact, several animals were more active than I’ve seen at other zoos.

Greenville Zoo lacks a lot of the bells and whistles found at some of the other zoos we’ve been to recently, but there is something to be said for its manageable size. First, the path is just two simple ovals, so there are no worries that you’ll get turned around and miss something. Second, A smaller zoo means you’re not completely exhausted from walking when you finish. We took advantage of this by going back to a few of my favorite animals to get another look.

Gift shop and food

We’ve been to many zoos with a giraffe feeding station. We usually skip it, but today, we wanted to give it a go. Here, $5 gets you a token for three lettuce leaves. It was pretty fun to watch their adult male giraffe, Miles, wrap his long tongue around the leaf and pull it back to his mouth. Also, the best view of the giraffes is from the feeding platform, and you can only access the area with a token.

Greenville Zoo Travel Tip

The lettuce leaves from your token purchase can be shared among the individuals in your group. Of course, you can just get a token for each person, but their system offers flexibility. For example, if there are six people in your group, you could get four tokens, and then each person gets two leaves to feed. Or, purchase one token for three kids. Each child gets to feed a leaf, but the parents don’t have to buy tokens just to watch.

The Schmidt’s red-tailed guenon’s tail is so long!

There was a baby Angolan Colobus monkey!

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen two adults and a baby orangutan in the same enclosure. They were one animal we went back to see a second time, and I’m glad we did, because they were much more active the second time.

I thought this was an interesting visual to have at the exhibit.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a zoo alligator move this much!

Downtown Greenville

If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend walking around downtown Greenville. There is a lot of free parking, but you may have to drive around to find an open spot. It also seems like a very dog-friendly city. We probably saw a dozen dogs (or more) walking around with their humans!

Falls Park on the Reedy is a must-see spot if you come downtown. It’s a beautiful 32-acre park in the middle of downtown. The Reedy River runs right through it. You can get a terrific view of the falls from the pedestrian suspension bridge.

There are charming stone stairs and little garden areas throughout the park.

As we were crossing one of the bridges, we were lucky enough to spot this snapping turtle in the river below.

Riverbanks Zoo

At 170 acres, Riverbanks Zoo is a different experience from Greenville Zoo. There are more food options, it takes longer to walk around. There are more species to see.

Overall, I was not impressed with the size of most exhibits. It’s also not the prettiest entrance for a zoo, but we enjoyed the mixing of indoor and outdoor exhibits to provide a break from the heat.

Here are some of the most interesting moments.

We stuck around the gorilla exhibit to hear a keeper chat. One of the viewing areas is indoors (and air-conditioned). There was a keeper (out of sight) up on the roof asking the male gorilla for behaviors while another keeper inside the building spoke about the different behaviors and training in general.

It was interesting to see some of the different behaviors they teach, but it got just past my comfort level for crowds. They explained that the female gorillas were doing some training on the other side of the enclosure, so I can’t help wondering if there was a separate, less-crowded keeper chat going on at the outdoor viewing area.

I have seen Saki monkeys at several zoos this year, but this was the first time hearing one.

I’ve seen eels in aquariums before, but I believe this is my first time seeing one swim around.

I usually skip the flamingo exhibit, but I’m glad we didn’t this time! How adorable is this fluffy, white baby flamingo?

It is my personal opinion that the Gaboon viper is the most beautiful snake.

We loved this signage at the ticket windows. The closed windows had signs that said “Out for Dippin’ Dots,” “Browsing gift shop,” and “Grabbing an Icee.”

Where We Ate

Jack Brown’s

Jack Brown’s Beer and Burgers is just a five-minute walk from the suspension bridge in the middle of Falls Park on the Reedy. They have a simple menu, but the burger was delicious. It was cooked and seasoned well. The fries weren’t cooked enough for me, but Jesse liked them. We would definitely go again.

Happy travels!

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