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Tyger River Park Has One of the Biggest Playgrounds Around: Spartanburg, SC

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Have you visited Tyger River Park in Spartanburg County? This giant park is home to ball fields, a huge playground, a splash pad, and more. Read on to hear everything parents need to know about Tyger River Park.

You definitely want to make the time to check out Tyger River Park operated by Spartanburg County Parks. It is located at 179 Dillard Road in Duncan, South Carolina. Don’t let appearances deceive you- there is more to this park than perfectly kept baseball fields. It’s a playground experience for all ages, especially with the brand-new renovation in the spring of 2023.

Looking for more great parks in Spartanburg, don’t miss our guide to Great Parks in Spartanburg County.

Spartanburg’s Tyger River Park is For All Ages

When you first enter the gates to Tyger River Park, you won’t be able to see the playground areas from the road that encircles the enclosure. Look for the tall tower in the center of the grounds. The brand-new playgrounds and giant sandbox are located on either side of it. Follow the signs to the Clubhouse and park there. From the parking lot, it’s a short walk to the play areas. You can get a sense of the park’s scale and use this handy park map to help plan your day.

Tyger River Playground

Play Equipment for All Ages at Tyger River Park

There is truly play equipment for all ages.

The first playground is geared for younger children, toddlers to preschool age. There are slides, swings, play horses, and even a cute little house to stoke the imagination. This playground is within sight of the giant sandbox, too. Kids can bring their own sand toys or just play around in Duncan’s version of “the beach.”

The location is perfect for smaller children to independently play between the sandbox and the playground, and benches are provided for adult supervision if you are lucky enough to get a chance to sit down. The new playground includes shaded benches for parents as well.

Playground at Tyger River Park

The second playground is much bigger and caters to children ages 5-12. The many slides available are taller and faster than the smaller playground and climbing features are more challenging. There are also swings in this area.

The new playground has five benches with shade and is covered in astroturf.

Shaded benches at Tyger River Park

Splash Pad at Tyger River Park

The splash pad is open 9 am to 8 pm between Memorial Day to Labor Day. It opens on May 27, 2023. Located just past the playground area (opposite the direction of the Clubhouse), kids can easily go from the playground to the splash pad to cool off and back to the playground. Double bonus: the splash pad is fenced in.

Clean bathrooms

The bathrooms for the public are located on the side of the Clubhouse building. They were clean and well-stocked with soap and both paper towels and air dryers. As parents, you can never underestimate the awesomeness of a park restroom that doesn’t make you cringe

A Couple of Considerations for Tyger River Park

Bring sunscreen and water

The new playground has benches with shade and the shade screen above the sandbox does provide some relief but the playgrounds have no shade. Especially in the hot days of summer, it’s important to bring sunscreen and water. On warmer days, it is definitely best to plan on arriving early in the morning or in the late afternoon/early evening or spend hotter parts of the day at the splash pad.

Supervision may be challenging for children of different ages.

Tyger River is a big park and the playgrounds are on opposite sides of the tower, which can make it hard to watch kids of different age groups. So plan on negotiating how much time you will spend on which playground or bring a second adult for help with supervision.

Our Review

With proper planning, Tyger River Park is a must-do for a positive play experience for all ages. And we just love the new play equipment! With so much to do, the kids will be occupied for hours, so don’t forget to pack snacks and water or bring along a lunch to eat at the nearby picnic tables.

Check out Big Ben’s Desserts for a Slice of Something Delicious in Spartanburg, SC

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Searching for some delicious dessert in Spartanburg? Cakes, pudding, ice cream, we love them all. We visited Spartanburg’s Big Ben’s Desserts. And I think we’re all in agreement… it was a great spot to pick up a dessert treat. We’ve got some advice for what you should order when you visit Big Ben’s Desserts!

What do you get when you combine a hometown football hero and a love of baking?

The answer – Big Ben’s Desserts.

After opening in the fall of 2018 with a grand opening that left every last crumb sold, the Upstate has continued to show their love for Ben Hall and his dessert shop.

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Lake Cooley Needs to Be on Your Summer Bucket List

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Would your family like to spend time by a beautiful lake in Spartanburg but you’re not sure where to go? Whether you like fishing, kayaking, or just somewhere peaceful and relaxing, we’ve got just the place for your family! 

We have everything you need to know about Lake Cooley, including how to obtain a fishing license, how to rent a kayak, and more.

About Lake Cooley In Wellford, SC

Lake Cooley is a 330-gallon watershed located in Wellford, just about 10 minutes north of Wade Hampton road. This hidden gem is home to the Lake Cooley Outdoor Education Center. The center is a two-story building that includes a classroom filled with live & mounted wildlife. Please contact the Outdoor Education Center to make an appointment to visit. The ground level of the center houses the 40-person rental facility.

Lake Cooley

Water sports on Lake Cooley

Several different styles of kayaks and paddleboards are available for rent on a first come first serve basis. The rates start at ten dollars for a two-hour rental and are currently available Thursday through Sunday. Swimming at the lake is prohibited to the public, so keep that in mind when the temptation to go for a swim arises.

  • May 28th and 29th
    8 am – 8 pm
  • May 31st – September 6th (closed July 4th)
    Thursdays and Fridays: 12 pm – 8 pm
    Saturdays and Sundays: 8 am – 8 pm

The current rates and hours can be viewed on the Lake Cooley website.

Things you will need to bring include a driver’s license, a credit/debit card or exact change, and a life vest for children under 10 (not provided). Lifevests for children and adults over 10 are available.

If you are fortunate enough to have your own kayak, then you’ll need to purchase a permit decal from SJWD in person Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. The office is located on Highway 29 in Wellford. The permit is $40 for Spartanburg County residents, is good through December of the year purchased, and is only valid for Lake Cooley.

Spending Time With Your Family on Lake Cooley

Our family recently spent a day on the lake. My son received a kid-size kayak for Christmas, and this was his kayak’s maiden voyage. He used his kayak, and we rented a tandem kayak. If you are bringing children under 10 and plan to use a rental, you will need to provide a life vest for them to wear. They are required the entire time you are on the lake. Also, be sure to allow plenty of time to check-in, fill out waivers, and get fitted for life vests.

Our day on the lake was memorable. Our son took to his kayak like it was second nature and the toddler was surprisingly well behaved. Towards the end of the rental time, she was getting ready to jump off the kayak and go swimming (which is prohibited, even though you might see it happening).

I like this lake because it seems like the boat traffic is minimal. Most of the traffic was kayaks or paddleboards. We did see a few pontoon boats, but they were anchored. We were already planning our next trip to the lake before we had left.

Lake Cooley kayaks picnic shelters Spartanburg

Fishing on Lake Cooley

If you are a fishing enthusiast, you’re in luck. There are two fishing piers at the lake and they also offer specialty fishing kayak rentals. Small fish are plentiful around the shore and make the perfect bait for the bass fish that lurk deeper in the lake, just be sure to bring a net. I can’t say I’ve caught one, but the bass have taunted me while swimming past my hook.

A freshwater fishing license can be obtained from the SCDNR website and is only $10 for an annual license. Children do not need a license if with a licensed adult.

Events at Lake Cooley

The Discover Your Watershed event, hosted by USC Upstate in May, is a great way to meet the environmental and conservation groups in the community. There are activities for kids, free giveaways, and the opportunity for everyone to receive a free boating permit from SJWD.

Picnic Shelters and Grills at Lake Cooley

If you pack a picnic or would like to grill at the lake – there are two picnic shelters available for rent as well as two picnic tables available first come first serve. There are also restrooms available. Not to worry if you forget snacks or refreshments! The rental area has drinks, bagged snacks, and frozen treats for just $1 each.

The Playground at Lake Cooley

As if we haven’t already given you enough reason to head to Lake Cooley, the playground is all the more reason. This is a great, small playground with lake views and right next to a huge picnic shelter.

This lake has everything you could want, and it’s conveniently close. I hope that you decide to check Lake Cooley out this summer. I promise you won’t regret a day on the lake with your family.

Lake Cooley
100 Cooley Dock Road, Inman | 864.949.1002

Five Playgrounds in Spartanburg, SC Your Kids Will Beg Not to Leave

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Ready to get outside and play? Spring has been taking its time making its debut in the upstate, but the warmer weather is finally creeping its way in. You’ve read about the wonderful playgrounds that Spartanburg and the surrounding area has, but after a long winter of planning indoor activities, here is a reminder of some of the best playgrounds in Spartanburg you can revisit, or check out for the first time.

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Roller Skating Rinks Near Greenville, SC

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Are you looking for local roller skating rinks near Greenville and Spartanburg, SC? For those of us that were born in a year starting with a “1”, chances are you have some kind of childhood memories involving a skating rink. Tik Tok is making the art of rolling around on skates cool again, and luckily there are roller skating rinks in Upstate, SC where you can show the young ‘uns how it’s done. 

This article includes:
Roller Skating Rinks Near Greenville, SC
Roller Skating Rinks Near Spartanburg, SC

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Express Your Inner Artist at Hearts of Clay

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Are you looking for a place to take your family for some creative fun? Hearts of Clay, right here in Spartanburg, is the perfect place for almost any occasion. It’s more than just a pottery studio, and we’re going to tell you why our family loves spending time there!

About Hearts of Clay

For over twenty years, families have been creating memories with Hearts of Clay (Formerly Flying Saucers). In that time this family-owned business has expanded to include glass fusing, canvas painting, and more.

A trip to Hearts of Clay is the answer whether you’re looking for some family fun time, gifts for family members, a fun place to host a birthday party, or even a place to bring the kids for a parent’s night out.

Hearts of Clay Studio in Spartanburg, SC

Our family has visited so many times, I don’t even remember the first time we went. Since that first time, we have celebrated my son’s fourth birthday there, commemorated every month of my daughter’s first year of life, and enjoyed a mommy and son date night. I even eat my morning cereal out of a Hello Kitty-inspired bowl I made there.

If you feel like you aren’t artistically inclined, you shouldn’t be intimidated. The pieces available range from beginner to intricate, and there’s always someone around to help. If you mess up, the glaze can be rinsed off and you can start over. Any age can have fun painting pottery, the glaze used is non-toxic and will not stain clothes. For the more artistically inclined you have the option to use the pottery wheel to “throw” your own piece to paint. Once your item is painted, you leave it behind to be kiln-fired and it’s ready in about a week. There are also pre-fired items that can be painted with acrylic paint if coming back is not an option.

Hearts of Clay offers options for everyone

If pottery isn’t your thing, they also offer canvas painting and other classes in the studio. The classes and events cost between $5-$12, and reservations are encouraged. I’m always looking for mom’s night out activities and canvas painting and margaritas, sounds like the perfect night!

Hearts of Clay also offers Kids events. With their convenient location, it’s the perfect opportunity to have a date night or get some holiday shopping done. You won’t have to worry about the kids, they’ll be fed dinner and get to create something. Reservations are required, and the cost is $5-$12 per child.

Home school families can register for the art enrichment classes offered once a month on Thursdays during the school year. These 60-minute classes cost $12 per child.

Preschool age children receive $2 off the item they paint as part of the “5 & under club” on Wednesdays.

If your church or school is looking for a fundraiser idea, Hearts of Clay can help with that too! They’ll include everything you’ll need to make pottery of your choice. This can even be utilized as just a fun activity for a large group. And a percentage of your cost will be donated to your school, church, or organization!

There are so many reasons to visit Hearts of Clay! I encourage you to check out the event calendar and head over to make some memories.

Hearts of Clay crafts, Spartanburg

Plan a visit to Hearts of Clay

Visit the Hearts of Clay website.
Tuesday-Thursday 11 am – 5 pm
Friday-Saturday 11 am – 7 pm
Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm
660 Spartan Boulevard, Suite #20, Spartanburg
864.576.2228

Have you ever visited Hearts of Clay?

I Took 5 Kids to Shipwreck Cove in Duncan and They All Had a Blast

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Looking for something new and exciting to do this summer that kids of all ages will enjoy? We sent local mom Erika to check out Shipwreck Cove in Duncan and tell us all about this water park. Filled with water slides, a lazy river, and a toddler play area, everyone is sure to enjoy a visit to Shipwreck Cove!

We were given tickets to Shipwreck Cove in exchange for this review. However, all opinions were Erika’s own.

It’s the last month of summer vacation and I feel like I’m running out of ideas on how to keep the kids entertained. I take that back. I have plenty of ideas on how to keep them entertained. I’m just getting a little tired of trying to wear them out! Over the weekend, I thought of the perfect way to do just that. Shipwreck Cove, here we come!

About Shipwreck Cove in Duncan

My crew, including 5 kids and 1 (super brave) mom, arrived at Shipwreck Cove slightly before they opened that park at 10 am. First word of advice before heading out: apply the kiddo’s sunscreen either right before leaving the house or at the car before you enter the park. If you’re juggling at many as I did today, it might be hard to keep them all still once they walk through the gates and see the fun that awaits them.

Not only did I think of heading to this nearby water park for the sake of trying to tire everyone out; it was a place I thought everyone would enjoy, from age 2 to 13. From the moment we arrived, my theory was proven correct.

The kiddie area at Shipwreck Cove

As you walk into Shipwreck Cove, the kiddie area for the younger children sits front and center. With a zero-entry pool that goes no higher than six inches deep, my two-year-old made a beeline right for the mini pirate ship in the middle of the kiddie pool. This pirate ship was her focal point while we were there- with two softly padded staircases, only about four to five small steps high, two pint-sized water slides, and a bridge, she felt like she could conquer it all.

Shipwreck Cove Duncan toddler water slides

The top of the pirate ship where she could walk around had a rougher texture (but was still easy on the bottom of her feet) so the surface wasn’t slippery. Bonus points go to whoever came up with that design idea. We all know wet surfaces can easily mean your child might fall, and this was just one less thing I had to worry about while we were there. All the slides in the kiddie area had a soft padding to land on. They really kept the little ones in mind here!

The older children weren’t so interested in the pirate ship, which was fine because they try to restrict it to just the younger children using it. The kiddie area also had a tall fixture with cone-shaped buckets that would fill up with water and eventually tip over (right on top of your head if you were standing under it). This was a big hit even for the older children. The suspense of “when is the water going to come down” really made them smile. A fountain and another small slide complete the kiddie pool area, and that was more than enough because, you know, younger kids and repetition sort of go together.

Shipwreck Cove water park toddler play area

The pools, the slides and the lazy river

All the pools at Shipwreck Cove are connected to each other, which makes it easy for the kids to swim from one area to the other without them getting out and you having to yell “stop running!” The larger pool can be entered either through steps toward the back part of the kiddie pool, through stairs that go directly from the deck to the pool itself, or through two tall windy water slides that the 11 and 10-year-old boys referred to as “awesome!”

Once they went down the slides, that is where they stayed a majority of the day. There is a yellow slide, which is covered like a tunnel, and a red slide that is a bit wider and is open. At first the red slide seemed to be the favorite because the boys said it was the faster of the two; that is, until one of them discovered “if you lay back on the yellow slide, it goes way faster!”

I personally didn’t go down the water slides (I’m not a chicken, I promise), so you might have to go test which slide is faster for yourself. There is a 42 inch height requirement to go on the slide, so not all kids may be able to test it out.

Shipwreck Cove water slides

Connected to the larger pool is a lazy river. Grab an inner tube provided by the park (which is required to hang out in the lazy river), lay back and let the “current” take you for a smooth, relaxing ride. Try to keep your eyes open though or you may get surprised by one of the water fountains that spray into the water. This was the primary hang out spot for the 13-year-old I brought along. She told me, “I like going down the water slides a few times then going over to the lazy river to take a break from climbing up the stairs to get to the slide.” Who could blame her?

There are plenty of chairs and loungers pool-side, some next to umbrellas if you want shade. I opted for the row of chairs that were closest to the kiddie pool area, but also gave me a good view of the larger pool. The bathrooms are situated right behind this area near the entrance. Lockers are located near the bathrooms and are available to rent if you want to lock up your personal items.

Enjoy lunch at Shipwreck Cove

Time flies when you’re having fun, and before I knew it, it was lunch time. Outside food and beverages are not allowed in the park, so I didn’t pack anything. No worries though because food is available to purchase inside the park and the prices are fair. Fries, nachos, mozzarella sticks, chips, popcorn, burgers, chicken sandwiches and tenders, hot dogs, a variety of drinks, and some tasty desserts are available to purchase.

Chicken tenders and chicken sandwiches were our choices today, and we chose well because the kids ate it all (even my picky eater two-year-old)! After lunch, of course they all wanted to get back to running up the stairs to go down the water slide, but I put my foot down on that one. Time to take it easy for about 20 minutes so no one feels sick after inhaling their lunch. Hello, lazy river!

Shipwreck Cove water park in Duncan

Safety at Shipwreck Cove

One worry I had when I arrived was “how am I going to keep an eye on five kids going in all different directions?” Two things gave me a very simple solution to that. One- since all the pools are connected, I was able to stand near the back part of the kiddie pool while I was with my youngest and keep an eye on everyone else at the same time. Solution number two- lifeguards! The lifeguards are situated around the lazy river and the larger pool.

There is also a lifeguard at the top of the larger slides to regulate when people can go down and a couple lifeguards at the bottom of the slides in case someone needs a little help getting out of the water. Since I haven’t quite figured out how to grow eyes on the back or sides of my head yet, these lifeguards put my mind at ease to make sure everyone stayed safe. There is no lifeguard around the kiddie pool though, so I stuck around there pretty much the entire time.

Another way Shipwreck Cove looks out for the safety of their guests is by having life jackets available at no extra cost, and there are various sizes available to choose from. They do have traditional life jackets available for younger children, but they do not carry Puddle Jumpers. I’m personally a fan of Puddle Jumpers for my little one, so I brought it along with me. If you feel more comfortable using your child’s life jacket from home, they will allow you to bring it into the park.

The future of Shipwreck Cove in Duncan

While I was there, I was able to speak with the manager and asked him about the park expanding. I’d heard it through the grapevine and wanted to get more information from the source. During the next off season, they will be building an events center. The events center will be open year-round and available to rent out. There are currently no details on the capacity it will hold, so stay tuned!

The following off-season, they will be expanding the water park. There are also no specific details on what they will be adding, but just know that more fun will be in store.

My kids’ thoughts on Shipwreck Cove

Into the afternoon hours, I knew my youngest was ready for nap time. This was the time I dreaded: telling everyone it was time to go and hearing their objections. Boy was I shocked when no one objected to going home because, (((drum roll please))), they were tired!  Yes! Mission accomplished!

I managed to not only wear out all five kids, but they all had a great time as well. The ride home consisted of two of them falling asleep and the others talking about the fun they had. Shipwreck Cove provided a fun day for the kids, and an easy day for the parent (me). We will definitely go back for more fun!

Plan a visit to Shipwreck Cove

119 South Spencer Street, Duncan
864.949.0290
$8 for 41″ & under
$11 for 42″ & over
Open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm
Open Sunday 1 pm – 6 pm
Visit their website.

Have you ever taken your kids to Shipwreck Cove?

Barnyard Flea Market is the Ultimate Bargain Hunter’s Dream

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If scouring Craigslist, eBay or local yard sales is your kind of fun there’s a place in Greer you’ll want to visit! A place that is seemingly the ultimate bargain hunting mecca, yep, that’s Barnyard Flea Market. It is equally diverse in their offerings as eBay, somewhat questionable in their taste of décor as a Craigslist ad, and customers have as good of a chance of finding a great deal as their neighborhood garage sale.

The Barnyard Flea Market is only open on weekends, offers free parking at an easy-to-find location, wide aisles for strollers, and hundreds of vendors that will sell you nearly anything you need.

Tell me about Barnyard Flea Market

Need a dog collar, a hunting knife, a Barbie, some dish soap, and a slow cooker? You can find all of that and more at this flea market. How about some luggage and an adjustment from a chiropractor? Yup, that too.

There are hundreds of vendors, most of which are under huge barn-like structures. Some vendors are outside as well. The aisles are easy to navigate and I saw lots of kids and families there.

It’s a lot of fun to walk around and see what people are selling. Some vendors have tables there every week and are permanent or semi-permanent. Others, like the nice couple I bought a couple dolls from, were just selling what they couldn’t sell at their garage sale the day before. It was their first time there – as was mine – and they divulged that they only paid $14 to rent a table and were doing pretty well with their leftover goods.

Vendors can rent a table for as little as $10 a day or pay a monthly fee to stake out their spot at the flea market.

Another plus at the flea market was that bathrooms were really easy to locate and they were clean, which was a huge positive for my two little girls, one of whom is potty-training.

If you get hungry, there are plenty of options to grab a snack. We saw taco booths, vendors selling pigskins, boiled peanuts, fried dough with powdered sugar, soft pretzels, and drinks. There is a little café indoors as well that sells reasonable eats.

The only drawback was that the Barnyard Flea Market is perhaps one of the very last unregulated places for smoking. People are allowed to smoke wherever they like. This place definitely isn’t like bars used to be before smoking bans were instituted – it’s not smoke-filled, but the smell is noticeable, so just be aware of that when you go.

My kids and I stayed about an hour and they loved checking out all the different stuff and were reasonably controlled in their desires for toys, girly clothes and dolls. I had fun too checking out all the crazy stuff that was for sale and the rock bottom prices of everything under the sun. It was entertaining and a great way to spend some down time on the weekend.

Plan your own trip

Office hours are Thursday from 9 am – 2 pm and Friday from 8 am – 4 pm. Market hours are Saturday from 7 am – 4:30 pm and Sunday from 8 am – 4:30 pm.

Barnyard Flea Market
2000 Highway 101 S., Greer; 864.968.1700
Visit their website.

What would you hunt for at Barnyard Flea Market?

Croft State Park

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Wooden dock, clear lake, tiny minnows sparkling in sunny shallow waters, tall trees, horses, hiking trails, and a playground.  Sound good?  Then you’ll want to check out Croft State Park the next time you’re looking for a family adventure.

STATE PARK POLICIES have changed due to current public health safety issues. We encourage you to check the updated COVID-19 State Park policies, before heading out to a state park.

A little about Croft State Park

The 7,000 acre Croft State Park offers miles of hiking, biking, and even equestrian trails.  On our visit, we walked the short Lake Craig connector trail and then enjoyed views of an absolutely beautiful Lake Craig.  We ate snacks we brought sitting on an adorable little dock and watched the tiny minnows in the shallow water around us.  The nearby fishermen were also quite entertaining for my crew.

croft-state-park

We enjoyed a very peaceful morning in the park.  My homeschoolers were able to practice making super sentences with quality adjectives about all the things they were noticing from the dock.  “The sun sparkles on the backs of the wiggling minnows.”   The next time we go I will bring sketchbooks and writing paper so they can write down their sentences and illustrate.  There were definitely plenty of places to sit near the lake, and lots of grass for blankets, if that’s your preference.

You will find bathrooms conveniently near the parking lot for Lake Craig, and a short walk up the hill brings you to a nice playground with views of the park’s equestrian facilities.  While there were only a handful of horses and riders when we visited, my children really enjoyed watching as we walked past.  The playground was great for my children (ages 4 through 8), but younger children will need to be watched carefully due to the height of some of the equipment.

Hiking in Croft State Park

Croft State Park has many hiking trails, including an easy Nature Trail that’s about one and a half miles.  We went to the park intending to hike this trail, but even with a map, we struggled to find the trailhead.  We gave up and went on our little adventure at the lake and playground instead.  However, as we drove back down the park road headed for home, we noticed work crews clearing a few trees, and their trucks had been parked in front of the trailhead for the nature trail.  We could have driven by 20 times and never seen it! 

Fortunately, there’s so much to see and enjoy at Croft State Park, it didn’t matter much to us.  But, do bring a map with you, and if you’re looking for the nature trail, the trailhead is on the right, just before you get to the parking lot for the equestrian facilities.

croft-state-park-playground

Want to go?

Admission for Croft State Park is $3 for adults, and $1 for children 6- 15. Children under 6 are free.

You can rent canoes and kayaks:
Canoe rentals are available for $15 for four hours or $25/day. Kayaks are available for $10/hour.

The park is open 7 am – 6 pm daily (8 p.m. on Fridays), and 7 am – 9 pm daily during daylight savings time.

The park address is 450 Croft State Park Road, Spartanburg 29302.  We had no problem finding it with our phone GPS.

Have you ever been exploring at Croft State Park?