• CCES Header Dec 2022
  • IB Nutcracker Banner Ad 2022
  • FOA Banner Nov 2022
  • GFS Level Up ad
  • SCCT Header - Winter Classes 2023
  • YMCA Header Dec 2022

Author Archive

Stunning Views With No Hiking at Bald Rock Heritage Preserve Near Greenville, SC

Posted on |

Views from Bald Rock Heritage Preserve, under an hour from Greenville, SC, are reason enough to visit this beautiful spot. Here’s what you need to know to visit this pretty place. 

I can’t remember exactly when I discovered Bald Rock. Maybe it was when I was curious as to why lots of cars were randomly parked on the side of the road heading up to Caesars Head State Park. I imagine that may be how a lot of people discover this place. 

It’s certainly a unique place and one that takes hardly any effort in order to experience a breathtaking view of Greenville and Table Rock. 

Bald Rock near Greenville

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve, a land that stretches 165 acres, is actually managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and is part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. There aren’t any signs that indicate where it is along the road but it’s easy to pull up on Google maps and it’s about five miles south of Caesars Head State Park. 

Once you park at the pull-off, it’s a short, easy walk to beautiful views. There’s a small wooden bridge next to garbage cans that you walk across and then up the granite, which opens to wide, beautiful views of the Carolina foothills.

There are pockets of granite that my kids like to think were made for them since they fit perfectly in many of these holes carved out by years of weather. There are also two headwater streams that run through the preserve, which provide an environment for rare fauna and flora.

There aren’t really hiking trails at the preserve but there is plenty of space for a picnic and to walk around the huge outcropping and explore the area near the streams in the woods.

Clean Up Efforts

The large rock outcropping has been vandalized with graffiti and excessive amounts of trash for the last several years, unfortunately. We always advocate following the seven principles of Leave No Trace when you enjoy the outdoors and it’s a sad sight when people leave a beautiful place much worse than when they found it. 

The Friends of Bald Rock, a volunteer-based organization that started in 2021, has led substantial clean-up efforts for the preserve. They’ve hosted several days of community-wide litter clean-ups and provided power washers to start removing the graffiti. On one day of cleaning up the preserve in October 2022, the volunteers collected more than 300 pounds of litter. 

They still have a long ways to go because the preserve has been so trashed in recent years (which isn’t the first place to be a victim of this kind of disrespect, unfortunately). People have had illegal fires, dumped entire cars off the rock outcropping, and strewn the area with broken glass and beer cans. 

If you’d like to help in the clean-up efforts, sign up for the email newsletter that Friends of Bald Rock sends out and see their calendar of upcoming volunteer events.

Fireworks, drugs, graffiti, alcohol, littering, and campfires are all illegal and perpetrators can be fined up to $465. If you see anyone defacing Bald Rock or using drugs, alcohol, shooting off fireworks, or the like, you can report them by calling 1.800.922.5431.

Enjoying the Preserve

My kids and I really love Bald Rock Preserve and usually stop there if we are hiking in the area. It’s always worth the stop to enjoy the views. We’ve taken our hammocks up there multiple times to read and even do our homeschool work. 

Hammocks at Bald Rock

Parents do need to be cautious about broken glass though. While clean-up efforts are on-going, there is still broken glass around, especially in the forested areas and even on the rock outcropping where people have had illegal campfires. 

Camping isn’t allowed by the way.

Pets are allowed at Bald Rock Preserve but must be kept on a leash. The preserve is open sunrise to sunset because of the vandalism. You don’t get a direct view of either the sunrise or the sunset but you will be able to see some beautiful landscapes.

Activities Near Bald Rock

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve is very close to Caesars Head State Park, which has miles and miles of hiking trails like the moderate Raven Cliff Falls hike and the Dismal-Naturaland-Gum Gap strenuous hike. The overlook at Caesars Head State Park is nearby as well and in the fall you can see the migration of hawks.

It is also near Wildcat Wayside Falls, Table Rock State Park, and Jones Gap State Park. Table Rock and Jones Gap have many miles of trails like the hard Table Rock Summit Trail and the moderately difficult Rainbow Falls Trail at Jones Gap.

Table Rock Summit
Table Rock Summit

If you’re headed to Pretty Place at YMCA Camp Greenville from Greenville, Bald Rock is on your way up there so it’s an easy stop. Additionally, Sassafras Mountain isn’t too far away. This beautiful spot is the highest point in South Carolina and you can drive right up to it and take a short walk to the platform. Fun fact: the platform splits North Carolina and South Carolina so you can literally stand in two states at one time.

Getting to Bald Rock Heritage Preserve 

To get to Bald Rock from Greenville, take Highway 11 to Geer Highway and go about 2.8 miles. The pull-off to the preserve will be on your right. There is usually a guy selling honey at a small table there. The preserve is about five minutes from Wildcat Wayside waterfall and five miles from Caesars Head State Park. 

If you type in “Bald Rock Heritage Preserve” into a map, it will come up and give you directions. It’s a very popular place so you’ll see a lot of cars parked there during most times of the year.

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve
6600 Geer Highway, Cleveland, SC 29635

Over 10 Ways to Volunteer with Your Kids

Posted on | 16 Comments

Looking for ways to volunteer with your kids in Greenville? It such a wonderful opportunity to teach children kindness, compassion, generosity and so much more. To help you out KAG Contributor Kristina Hernandez created this list of ways to volunteer with your family. You’ll find ideas from food preparation to toy donations and meal deliveries. Thank you for serving your community!

(more…)

Parents: You Don’t Need to do All the Christmas Things

Posted on |

The Christmas season is supposed to be all about joy, peace, and a fleeting holiday spirit that seems to be gone quicker than a wispy trail of smoke once the dishes are done after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s all of a sudden a whirlwind of school holiday parties, making a list of gifts and going all out to fulfill that list, trying to create magic at home with an elf just because everyone else is seemingly doing it, taking a holiday overnight trip, and trying to see all the Christmas lights and displays because your family will be deprived if they don’t do that. 

This is for all you parents who are hanging by a thread trying to make this season the most spectacular of all for your kids and just don’t know if you can hang on much longer. To all of you: you don’t need to do all the things. 

Your Christmas tree doesn’t need a giant stack of presents under it. Your kids don’t need the latest toys. You don’t need to stretch yourself so thin trying to cram the most you can into this holiday season. You and your kids are not deprived if you don’t do it all, buy it all, and sacrifice your sanity for an experience, toy, or magical experience that will soon be forgotten. 

Don't do it all at Christmas

You don’t need to do it all

Last year, parents estimated they would spend about $276 on Christmas gifts for each of their kids and a whopping 41% of Americans were willing to go into debt for gift-giving. Meanwhile, the estimated worth of unwanted gifts hovers around $15 billion. Those aren’t small figures, especially in today’s world where many families are struggling with everyday bills. Kids don’t need the latest toy, the most expensive phone, and all the other material things that they’ll forget in a month’s time. Smaller gifts or experience gifts, like memberships to places you and your family go often (hello, SC Parks Pass!) go a long way towards making great memories together all year long. 

I’m not sure why we parents sometimes feel like we need to do all the things during the Christmas season. Maybe social media, maybe endless ads, maybe just talking with friends about all the cool stuff they are doing, or maybe it’s what our parents did with us that we are trying to replicate with our own kids. Whatever the reason, it’s totally fine – more than fine – to back off from the deluge of activities that come with this season. 

You aren’t depriving your kids if you don’t do it all

Your kids will be okay if they aren’t doing everything their friends are doing and it’s a good opportunity for them to learn that not doing everything their friends are doing isn’t something to be ashamed about. We all have our own struggles and priorities and I think it’s good to learn early on that kids don’t need to fit in to have fun. I wish I would have learned that a lot earlier than I did in life. 

I didn’t grow up doing a ton of activities during the Christmas season. Sometimes our family would take a trip together, which was a blast. We would go during Christmas and experience it in another state or town and have fun together exploring a new city and making dinner together in a small kitchen in our hotel room. It was awesome.

We didn’t do parades but we did go drive around looking at Christmas lights in neighborhoods with popcorn that we cooked over the stove and tried not to let explode all over the kitchen. We had fun decorating our Christmas tree together. One year my dad found a tree that legit looked like the poor little tree from Charlie Brown’s Christmas and it turned into the joke that never ended year after year since we couldn’t do worse than that tree. 

I don’t remember the gifts I got or gave. I don’t remember sitting for Santa photos. The memories from the Christmas season that remain are those with my family. I do remember one gift: it was tickets to a New Jersey Nets (a professional basketball team) the day after Christmas or so. I had played basketball with a passion as a tween and teenager and that gift was special. That’s really all I remember in terms of gifts. 

Choosing sanity

Because of those memories and because I have zero desire to drive myself crazy during these weeks leading up to Christmas, I intentionally try to minimize what we do. While I love writing about new activities for Christmas for Kidding Around, aside from those excursions, I try to take these weeks of Advent to spend quality time together with my kids. We go look at Christmas lights, go ice skating, go to live nativities and remember the real reason for this season, take time to volunteer, and read books together on Christmas. And, I intentionally try to not go overboard on gifts for my kids. 

I want to get to Christmas and not be completely worn out or fed up or just plain unhappy. After all, this is indeed a season of joyful expectation. If you’ve got to seriously scale back your calendar to be happier and less stressed, then by all means, do it. You truly don’t need to do it all so your kids can experience the magic of the season. They will remember the special moments with you above all else and that’s what matters.

Reader Favorite Hot Chocolate in Greenville, SC

Posted on | 10 Comments

Looking for an amazing mug full of hot chocolate in Greenville, SC? Hot chocolate can be incredible – warm, chocolatey goodness and if you’re lucky, with a hefty helping of tiny marshmallows. Our Kidding Around Greenville readers recently revealed where their favorite places to find hot chocolate in Greenville.

(more…)

Where to Ride in a Horse & Carriage at Christmas near Greenville, SC

Posted on | No Comments

Thinking about a carriage ride in Greenville this Christmas? There are few things as exciting for little kids or as romantic for grown-ups as cozying up in a horse-drawn carriage during Christmastime. We wanted to make sure our readers have every opportunity to hear that clickety-clock of hooves on pavement and feel the magic of this experience during the holiday season so here are all the places around Greenville to ride in a horse & carriage.

(more…)

Four miles, four million lights, and drive-in movies at the the Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas Lights in Concord, NC

Posted on | No Comments

With more than four million lights, the Speedway Christmas display in Concord, NC, under two hours from Greenville, SC, is one of the biggest in the country and we’re here for it! Thanks to Explore Cabarrus for media tickets and an overnight at the Embassy Suites in Concord so we could review the experience for our readers. All opinions are our own.

(more…)

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland Huge Light Display and Winterfest Village at the Tryon International Equestrian Center

Posted on | 1 Comment

Millions of lights are on display through more than 2 miles of entertaining Christmas lights in Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. We sent Kristina and her family to try out this holiday day trip and give readers the scoop on everything they need to know. Media tickets were given so Kidding Around could review the Christmas Wonderland and Winterfest Village.

In one of our area’s best drive through Christmas light displays, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland has set up millions of lights synchronized to an orchestra of holiday music in Tryon, North Carolina at the beautiful Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), just an hour from Greenville, SC. The theme for this year is Santa’s Beach Party. And Winterfest Village is a great add-on to the drive through light show with ice skating, s’mores, live music and entertainment, and lots more.

2022 Dates for Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland: November 17th, 2022 through January 1st, 2023. Winterfest happens Thursdays-Sundays through December 23, 2022.

(more…)

10+ Great Christmas Date Ideas

Posted on | 2 Comments

Ready for a date night out in Greenville? The Christmas season is a beautiful time to sneak away on a date with your significant other sans kids if you can manage it. We’ve come up with some great ideas to make that special night even more memorable during this time of the year.

For even more holiday fun, don’t miss the Ultimate Holiday Guide to Greenville, SC. It’s packed full of things to do, gift ideas, events and more!

(more…)

Christmas in NYC Coming to Greenville, SC this Holiday Season

Posted on | No Comments

I grew up just outside of New York City so I was fortunate enough to see the city during Christmas time and what a sight it was! The festive shows on Broadway, the beautiful tree at Rockefeller Plaza, the people skating at Rockefeller Center with angels lining the sidewalks and just an overall feel that something special was happening. Greenville is quite a ways from NYC but thanks to the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, we can experience that same holiday spirit right in the heart of town at the Peace Center this year.

(more…)

Where to Mail a Letter to Santa in Greenville, SC

Posted on |

Are you looking for a place where you can drop off your letter to Santa in Greenville? Writing letters to Santa is such a joy for kids and their parents. The innocence they have at those ages is precious, isn’t it? After they are done writing out their letter, there are places here in the Greenville, SC area where kids can drop their finished masterpiece and send it on to the North Pole.

We’ve gathered up the information for all of Santa’s mailbox locations near Greenville.

If he’s able, Santa will respond to these letters as long as they have a legible return address on them so don’t forget that important part!

Santa Mail: Letter boxes in Greenville, SC

Places around Greenville to drop off a letter to Santa

Cabela’s in Greenville
Head to Cabela’s where you can visit with Santa and get a free photo (reservation required). You will also find a letter box at Santa’s Wonderland to send your list. You can pop in anytime the store is open to mail your letter.

3125 State Park Road, Greenville
This family puts up the Santa mailbox usually at Thanksgiving.

100 N Main Street, Fountain Inn
This mailbox is in front of Lilies on Main in Fountain Inn. The mailbox is up starting December 1 and all letters will receive a reply within three business days (this is a pretty efficient Santa we must say). Be sure to put your child’s name on the letter and you can pick it up at the flower shop through December 20.

Dickens of a Christmas in Spartanburg
This one-night event has a Santa’s mailbox for letters. It happens on December 6th, 2022 from 6-9 pm.

Dickens of a Christmas Santa Mail Drop Off

902 Whitemarsh Ave, Simpsonville (34.6944731, -82.2951430)
This is the big Anthony’s Family Lights annual home display. They have a Santa mailbox and a big holiday light display.

Downtown Seneca, SC
Look for it downtown starting November 29, 2022

For places to see Santa, don’t miss our Santa Sightings List full of places to see Santa this year. And, for all the holiday-related events in the Upstate, check out our 2022 Holiday Events and Things to do Near Greenville.

X
X