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Author Archive

Where to Find (or Donate) a Free Prom Dress in Greenville, SC

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Are you wondering how to find free or cheap prom dresses in Greenville, SC? Do you know someone planning to attend prom this spring? Prom season is coming up but for some girls, while the prospect of going to the prom would be great, affording a dress is a challenge. The good news is that there is a fairy godmother-like organization in our area that is willing and ready to help out these would-be princesses for their big night.  

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projectROCK in Easley, SC Will Bring Out Your Inner Adventurer

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A new, huge indoor rock climbing facility is open in Easley, just outside Greenville, SC, and it is fun for the whole family, no matter if you’re a beginner or expert rock climber. And it’s home to the highest indoor climbing wall in the country. We checked it out and have all the details why projectROCK is a must-visit for your family!

I’m always up for a new adventure and wow, my kids and I found one at projectROCK Easley, a massive indoor rock climbing gym. This place is really cool and the story behind how it was designed is perhaps even cooler. I’ll tell you all about it right here plus let you in on special climbing events they host, birthday party options, and why your family should try them out. 

Bringing the Outside Indoors

ProjectROCK began out of a dream of a couple who loved rock climbing and lived in South Florida where elevation, and therefore, rock climbing, is non-existent. They had traveled all over the country to rock climb and decided to open their own indoor rock climbing gym that brought the outdoors in. 

How did they do that? They designed the gym and climbing routes all based on places they had been, like Wyoming, Tennessee, California, Alabama, and several other amazing spots. The second location of projectROCK opened in Easley last year. It is based on the same concept and as an outdoor lover myself, seeing the different rock formations inside the gym that I recognized from my own travels was really cool. 

For example, there is a literal arch the color of sandstone that is based on the famous arches out in Utah. Another climbing wall is based on Devils Tower in Wyoming. The climbing structures are all unique and provide routes for any level of climber and you can quite literally climb your way around the United States.

Another cool fact: projectROCK Easley is home to the highest climbing wall in the country at 84 feet tall. 

There are more than 31,000 square feet of climbing activities at the gym plus they have a birthday party room, bouldering room (climbing without ropes), and a smaller kids’ room where kids are clipped to the climbing apparatus instead of using ropes. 

Getting Ready to Climb: What to Expect

When you first come to projectROCK and want to climb, you need to take a short belay course ($10), which teaches you how to properly and safely tie knots needed to climb the towers with your partner or kid. I’ve never done this before but had no problems learning how to tie the proper knots and use the safety equipment. This course took about 25 minutes total and once I passed the belay certification course, I had to hide my excitement from my instructor. I was certified in something cool! This was momentarily thrilling.  Whenever I had questions afterwards when I was the belay for my daughter, there was staff to help me out. 

If you’ve never climbed before, projectROCK offers an intro class for beginners, which consists of all the gear you need, a belay class, and as much time as you want climbing. We’ll get to memberships in a bit. Once you take that class, you’re good to go for climbing! 

projectROCK Easley

Day Passes allow you to climb for the day. You can even climb, go get lunch nearby (we recommend Tropical Burger in Easley), and then come back and climb the rest of the day. An individual day pass with gear is $30 and $21 without gear. A youth pass is a little cheaper at $18 without gear and $27 with gear. 

Kids need to be at least five years old to climb and they can do so for just $10/day pass in the American Valley room, which is a super cute room with American monuments like the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty. This room is great for smaller kids since they just have to clip themselves to the climbing apparatus and no ropes are necessary. 

Bouldering and the Big Walls 

ProjectROCK offers several options for climbing no matter your ability or adventure level. 

You can climb in the bouldering room, which has different routes for different abilities (I was definitely on the lower end of climbing these!) and the floor is padded. These structures aren’t that high because you’re climbing without ropes here. 

Look at me climbing!

If you want to climb the big walls, you can do so after you take the belay course and get your gear. There are more than 100 climbing lanes, 18,000+ holds, and 200+ routes at projectROCK. Having never been in a climbing gym before, it was quite the sight to behold. My kids were ecstatic as well. There is just so much to see and do. 

Competitive and Rec Climbing 

If you’re a competitive climber, projectROCK offers both a competitive and semi-competitive league that meets regularly. The Competitive team is for kids who have competed in the past and are looking to build on their skills and compete on a local and regional level. The Semi-Competitive team is more for those new to climbing and interested in competition. Both of these teams are for ages 7-17 years old. 

The Competitive team costs $190 per four-week session and includes: 

  • Membership and gear during the 4-week session
  • Team Member parents get 50% off a Belay Class
  • 2 Climbing Team Shirts
  • Discounted rate for Private Coaching Session for team (ask coach)
  • 10% discount in Pro Shop as members
  • Bring a Buddy Day (1 time per every 2 months as announced per coach)
  • Parents and siblings receive family membership pricing for their climbing memberships.

The Semi-Competitive league costs $150 per four-week session and includes everything that the Competitive league does. Competition costs are extra. The Competitive and Semi-Competitive league meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-7 pm. 

American Valley at projectROCK Easley

The Recreation league is also for ages 7-17 years old and meets weekly and is a lot more laid back than the Competitive league but just as fun. Kids will learn the basics of climbing and safety from coaches. This league meets either every Wednesday from 5-6:30 pm or Saturday from 10-11:30 am. The cost for the Recreation league is $100 per 4-week session on weekdays or $150 per 4-week session on weekends and includes:

  • Discounted Membership Rate Available
  • Club Member Parents get 50% off Belay Class
  • 10% discount in Pro Shop as members
  • Discounted rate for Private Coaching Session for team (ask coach)
  • Bring a Buddy Day (1 time per every 2 months as announced per coach)
  • Parents and siblings receive family membership pricing for their climbing memberships.

Special Climbing Events: Homeschool Days, Full Moon Climbs, Community Nights 

There’s a lot happening at projectROCK and you’re bound to find something engaging for your family. 

ProjectROCK has Homeschool Days a couple times a month where kids can climb for two hours for $25/child. That includes all gear and the belay. You can watch your kids from the beautiful balcony that overlooks the tall climbing walls area.  If you have a smaller child, they can climb for just $10 (includes gear) in the American Valley room during Homeschool Days. 

ProjectROCK also hosts members-only events like the Full Moon Climb where the gym opens only for members at 10:30 pm and they get to climb in the dark with a headlamp. How cool does that sound?! 

If you bookmark the Activities page on the projectROCK website, you can stay updated with the latest happenings. 

Birthday Parties and Camps

As soon as I walked into projectROCK, I thought it would be such a cool place to host a birthday party. My kids agreed and have already planned out that they want their birthday party in 2024 at projectROCK. 

The gym has a dedicated birthday party room right next to the American Valley climbing room (and a restroom, yay!). Birthday party packages start at $150 for members and $275 for non-members for up to ten climbers for two hours with two guides. 

ProjectROCK will also have camps for kids but they have not yet released those details. As soon as they do, we will update our story and add them to our Summer Camp Guide. 

Memberships

Like many cool places that you may want to visit again and again, projectROCK offers membership options so you can enjoy lots of climbing. Individual monthly memberships are $70/month for auto pay. They do not include gear, which you can rent for $9. Or you can purchase gear at some point if you really want to make a habit of indoor rock climbing. 

ProjectROCK also offers day passes for $30/person, including gear. Or you can go bouldering without gear for a $21 day pass. Day passes for the American Valley climbing room are just $10. That room is perfect for smaller kids as it is auto belay and has shorter walls.

If you’re not sure what you want to do in the long run, you can save a little money by getting a six-visit multi-day pass for $143/with gear. Other passes are available as well. The climbing gym tries to make it easy to climb when you want but not commit to anything long term if you’re not sure what you want to do yet. 

Honest Mom Review

Having never gone indoor rock climbing before, this was a real treat. My youngest daughter is totally fearless and couldn’t wait to get climbing so it was right up her alley. She went straight for the big walls once I got my belay certification and we were cleared to climb. It was a lot of fun. 

Let me say that the staff was amazing. Again, having never done this before, I didn’t know what to expect and was a little nervous once I saw those climbing walls rising very high up. I’m adventurous but was still a bit apprehensive. Every single staff member was polite and helpful and encouraging. They never made me feel inferior for not knowing what in the world I was doing. You could tell they wanted their guests to have a great time and really enjoy the sport. 

Big climbing walls at projectROCK

When I was belaying my daughter on the high walls, a staff member told me he could belay me while I climbed. I was psyched to do so! I chose a route that wasn’t that hard to get some confidence and didn’t do that bad. It was really high up there but oh-so-fun. I appreciated the time he took to make sure I got to have just as much fun as my daughter was.  

I would definitely go back to projectROCK (and likely will just due to the persistence of my kids) and learn how to climb more of those walls. I’d love to be able to really get my confidence up to tackle some of the tougher routes! 

ProjectROCK Easley is open daily Monday-Friday from 3-10 pm, Saturday 10 am – 10 pm, and Sunday from Noon-8 pm.

projectROCK Easley 
2121 Farrs Bridge Road, Easley
864.307.9152

Kids Can Burn off Energy Indoors at Acrosmith’s Family Fun Gym Time

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Looking for toddler or kid open gymnastics play? Local mom, Kristina, visited Acrosmith Gymnastics for family gym time where her kids got to play on all the equipment for an hour.

A great activity for little kids any time of year, but especially when it’s brutally hot, unbearably cold, or rainy, is Family Fun Gym Time at Acrosmith Gymnastics (formerly Tot Time) located just off West Georgia Road near I-385 in Simpsonville.  It’s just $6 for one full hour’s worth of kid-friendly free time at the gym.

Family Fun Gym is offered Monday-Thursday at 9:00 am and 10:15 am and Fridays at 10:15 am. The 9 am time slot is for kids walking through six years old and the 10:15 am time slot is for kids up to age 12.

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Parenting on a Budget: 15+ Ways to Save Money and Still Have Fun in Greenville, SC

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Most families have to be on some kind of budget but that definitely doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all that the Upstate, SC has to offer. We have lots of ideas on how to save money and enjoy time together. 

Some months I really cringe at my credit card statement, even though I am a conscious spender and try to be frugal and thrifty with our family’s resources. But, my goodness, those grocery trips, shopping for shoes yet again that my kids have somehow outgrown, planning a family trip, and trying to keep the heat low or the AC not terribly high certainly are all at the top of my mind as a parent. 

I’ve got a few ideas on how to handle these daunting tasks as a parent while having fun with your kids. 

Unity Park Splashpad
Unity Park Splashpad

Save Money on Groceries

At this point, no one is surprised that grocery bills have shot up in the last year due to several factors like supply chain issues and inflation. The USDA estimates that families spend more than 10% of their income on groceries. I’d say it’s more. The government agency breaks down grocery spending for a family of four into four groups: the thrifty plan, which costs $939/month on groceries, the low-cost plan, which they estimate families will spend about $1,000/month on groceries, the moderate plan, which they estimate costs up to $1,263/month on groceries, and the liberal plan, which costs more than $1,500/month on groceries. 

This doesn’t even take into account teenage boys, which they estimate will eat a boatload of pasta daily. I’m only half-joking. How in the world do you manage this? 

Meal Planning

You’ve got to plan out your meals or you’ll be reaching for your credit card and buying either a lot of junk food or a lot of take-out meals. I sit down once a month and try to plan out meals for at least a month in advance using less inexpensive ingredients like rice, beans, bulk meat, pasta, vegetables, and things I can freeze or buy on sale. 

Shop the Sales

Pay attention to grocery store circulars and compare prices. Be sure to look at the unit cost and not the total cost so you aren’t paying more for less. 

Use a Grocery Pickup or Delivery Service

I use Instacart and have for the past several years. Yes, it costs a bit more and I pay a monthly fee to use the service but I save way more money in time and impulse buys than I would if I had to take my kids with me in the store and buy whatever I felt like instead of only the items on my list. 

Here’s a list of grocery delivery services in the Upstate.

Shop Seasonally and Locally

Farmers Markets are a good way to obtain quality ingredients. If you go later in the day, you may be able to score a good deal on food they would rather sell at a lower price than cart home. Here is a great list of Greenville Farmer’s Markets and farm shops where you can find local produce in the Upstate. Seasonal produce and vegetables are also going to be a lot cheaper than when they aren’t in season. I will usually buy a bunch of strawberries and blueberries over the late spring and summer and freeze them for later on. Same with peaches. Yum. You can also consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to get local food every week from a farm here in the Upstate.

Kids Eat Free

There are several restaurants in the Upstate that offer Kids Eat Free (or cheap) nights where a kids meal is free with an adult purchase. This could be a lifesaver some nights!

Save Money on Travel

I really enjoy traveling. It opens up a whole other world for my kids and me and gives us quality family time together. While traveling isn’t inexpensive, there are definitely ways to save money.

Hilton Head Island

Go During the Off Season

If you and your family can travel during the off-season, prices are always lower. For example, right after leaf peeping season – so late October through January or February – is the off-season for Western North Carolina so hotels and AirBnBs will typically be a fraction of the cost than during other times of the year. Same goes for the beach. If you travel during the fall through early Spring, you can usually score better deals on lodging.

Stay Someplace Where You Can Cook

Eating out when you travel is often a huge part of your budget but if you stay at a place where you can cook, that cuts out a big portion of your travel budget and saves a ton of money.  Look for hotels with kitchens or kitchenettes or stay in an AirBnB. If you don’t want to cook while on vacation, make a bunch of meals beforehand and freeze them to take with you (if you’re driving). This is what we do when we travel and it’s awesome. We also do eat out a couple of times during our trips but definitely not the majority of meals. 

If you do decide to eat out, try to plan your restaurant meal at lunchtime. You’ll likely save money as lunch menus tend to be cheaper. Then plan an easy low-key dinner at your hotel or rental house. Try something like sandwiches or a charcuterie-type meal and keep it simple.

Keep an Eye Out for Promotions

I’m on the email lists of several of my favorite resorts and hotels so I can check for promotions. I also watch their social media accounts for special deals and since I homeschool, I’m always on the lookout for homeschool deals like the ones at Dollywood, Wilderness at the Smokies, or Ripley’s Aquarium. 

Having Fun in Greenville on a Budget

This is an easy one since there are so many free things to do in Greenville! 

Greenville Things to Do
Artisphere

Do the Free Stuff

We have lists of more than 50 free things to do in Greenville in general plus put out seasonal lists of free things to do. Think parks and playgrounds, splash pads, hiking trails, waterfall chasing, Halloween and Christmas light driving tours, farms, and special events and festivals. 

Get Outside

I love, love the outdoors and you’ll find me on a lake or chasing waterfalls in the summer, on a mountaintop in the spring and fall, and probably back on a trail in the winter. There are many lakes, parks, and playgrounds that are all free in our area. Camping and fishing are also low-cost (or free) activities to do with your family and don’t forget the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville – totally free to bike, run, or walk on.

Don’t Overlook Memberships/Passes

I calculated one year how much money having a South Carolina Parks Pass ($99) saved me. If I didn’t have the pass, I would have spent something like $330 in park entrance fees so yeah, that was a big savings. I also have a Roper Mountain Science Center membership ($95), which has saved me a ton of money since we use it to not only go to their planetarium shows, Summer Adventure, and Afternoon Explorations events but also use it for free entry into other science centers. I’ve gotten in free to places using that reciprocal membership in North Carolina and Florida, saving my family probably more than $100 in entrance fees.

Save Money With Frugal Shopping

Kids grow out of clothes and shoes at lightning speed plus us parents need to update our wardrobes occasionally. So how do you do it while not emptying your wallet? 

Consignment shops

There are several great kids consignment stores around our area that have gently used (and even some new stuff with tags) clothing, shoes, outerwear, and toys that you can get for a fraction of the cost of brand-new items in stores. You can also sell your gently used items back to many of these places so you end up with a credit to the store or cash. Win-win. Some of our favorites are Once Upon A Child for kids and Clothes Mentor for women. And if you love the outdoors, REI has garage sales on used items for members throughout the year and there are some great used gear shops in our region (Next Adventure Outdoors in Brevard, NC is amazing).

Thrift Store Shopping

This takes a bit more effort sorting through clothes, shoes, and toys but the finds could totally be worth the effort, especially if you pay attention to days when a certain color of tags is half off or even 75% off the price. Miracle Hill is a popular one for our readers. I managed to get brand-new roller skates for one of my kids at a local Miracle Hill for under $5!

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook isn’t just for posting your photos of family and friends. It’s actually pretty awesome for buying second-hand items or selling them. You can score lots of great deals locally, just be sure to search by “pick up” and not “shipped”. This is especially helpful for appliances since many people will sell appliances that are in great working condition when they are remodeling. 

Big Consignment Sales

There are several huge consignment sales during the year in Greenville, usually in the fall and spring. You can shop for clothes, home goods, toys, shoes, books, backpacks, stuffed animals, and baby items. Prices are set by the individuals who consign items so they really vary but you can find really good deals usually. 

These are just a few ways that my family and I try to spend wisely while raising kids and having fun together. If you’ve got more ideas, drop them in the comments!

15+ Things to Do When You’re Stuck at Home

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Looking for things to do when you’re stuck at home? Whether you’re home because of illness in the family, school closings, or because gas is too expensive, you need ideas to help you not lose your sanity and entertain your kids. If you’re looking for things to do at home with kids, we have lots of ideas (because that’s what we do here). This may be the perfect time to cross off some of your bucket list items.

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Have an Epic Snow Tubing Adventure in Sapphire Valley: Frozen Falls Tube Park

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If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to go snow tubing, Sapphire Valley is the perfect option. Kidding Around contributor Kristina took her kids and had quite the adventure, which she is sharing with our readers.

Media tickets were provided for the experience. 

Having already gone snow tubing once with my kids, they were more than thrilled to learn we were going to do it again, this time at a place where our family has vacationed twice – but only in the summer. Experiencing the Sapphire Valley in Cashiers, North Carolina has a whole other feel in winter and just as fun!

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Smoky Hollow Outdoor Resort: Live a pioneer overnight adventure

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Want to sleep in a covered wagon or authentic tipi at a brand new resort near Gatlinburg, TN? Smoky Hollow Outdoor Resort is not even a three-hour drive from Greenville, SC. Your family won’t stop talking about what a cool place this is once you’ve visited!

Media accommodations were provided for this review. 

Smoky Hollow Wagon

My kids, ages 10 and 7, are obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder and we have listened to every book in the series. They have asked to learn how to sew, to see where she lived, and what in the world her covered wagon looked like. So imagine their surprise when they got to sleep in an authentic Conestoga wagon, which was used in the late eighteenth century. It was a lot of fun to witness their enthusiasm. But really, I was just as excited because it is genuinely cool to sleep in such unique accommodations at the new Smoky Hollow Outdoor Resort.

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30 Things To Put On Your Family’s 2023 Greenville, SC Bucket List

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Are you working to fill your 2023 bucket list with fun, family things to do in Greenville? Kidding Around is here with some fabulous ideas to get your started, including outdoor adventures, free things to do, and things everyone in Greenville should do at least once. Make 2023 a year full of fun and adventure.

Hi, 2023. I don’t know where 2022 went but whatever, welcome. I’m not one for resolution lists but I definitely am one for adventure lists, hence this 2023 bucket list. I’m always looking for my next adventure with my kids and while I’ve done some of these items on the list, I plan to do some new ones as well and make wonderful memories with my family this year.

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13+ Places to Ski, Snowboard, & Snow Tube: North Carolina & Beyond (2023)

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Looking to hit the slopes near Greenville, South Carolina this winter? Heading up into North Carolina you’ll find so many great ski and snow tube options from full North Carolina ski resorts to super family-friendly North Carolina snow tubing parks.

We also have some great options for snow tubing in Tennesee, including America’s first indoor snow tube park!

So, the cold weather is here and though some may not love it, winter can bring a whole lot of fun if you like to ski, snow tube, or snowboard. If you’re one of those people who see cold temps coming and immediately dream about a ski resort on top of a mountain somewhere, you’re in luck.

We have a list of the closest ski resorts, slopes, and snow tube runs to South Carolina including North Carolina slopes, plus some in Tennessee and Georgia.

Use our list to find the best snow ski slopes for your family!

Snow tubing at Black Bear in Hendersonville, NC
Blackbear Snow Tubing

South Carolina Ski Resorts and Snow Tubing

Are there places in South Carolina to ski or snow tube? Where are the ski slopes near me?

The short answer is “No.” If you want to ski, snow tube, or snowboard you’ll need to head out of South Carolina. But, the good news is that there is most definitely skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing very near South Carolina. You’ll just need to head up to North Carolina for most of it.

There are some great spots just an hour or two from Upstate, SC, and two to three hours from the Midlands, SC.

This article includes:
Ski Slopes and Snow Tubing in North Carolina
Slopes in North Georgia
Ski Resort Vacation Destinations on the East Coast

Quick Guide: Ski and Snow Tube Near You!

Here’s a quick list of locations by activity. Scroll down for a description of each park and resort!

Where to go Snow Tubing in North Carolina

  • Wolf Ridge, Mars Hill, NC
  • *Moonshine Mountain, Hendersonville, NC
  • *Black Bear Snow Tubing, Hendersonville, NC
  • Frozen Falls Tube Park at Ski Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC
  • *Zip N Slip, Mars Hill, NC
  • Highlands Outpost at Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center, Scaly Mountain, NC
  • Tube World, Maggie Valley, NC
  • *Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing, Jonas Ridge, NC
  • *Hawksnest Snow Tubing Park, Seven Devils, NC
  • Sugar Mountain, Sugar Mountain, NC
  • Beech Mountain, Beech Mountain, NC
Sliding down in a tube at Black Bear Tubing
Our trip to Black Bear Snow Tubing

Where to go Snow Tubing in Tennessee

  • *Rowdy Bear’s Smoky Mountain Snowpark, Pigeon Forge, TN
  • *Pigeon Forge Snow, Pigeon Forge, TN
  • Ober Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg, TN

*Tubing Only Parks

Ski Slopes in North Carolina

  • Wolf Ridge, Mars Hill, NC
  • Ski Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC
  • Cataloochee Ski Area, Maggie Valley, NC
  • Appalachian Ski Mountain, Blowing Rock, NC
  • Sugar Mountain, Sugar Mountain, NC
  • Beech Mountain, Beech Mountain, NC

Where to go Snowboarding in North Carolina

  • Wolf Ridge, Mars Hill, NC
  • Ski Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC
  • Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center, Scaly Mountain, NC
  • Cataloochee Ski Area, Maggie Valley, NC
  • Appalachian Ski Mountain, Blowing Rock, NC
  • Sugar Mountain, Sugar Mountain, NC
  • Beech Mountain, Beech Mountain, NC
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Ellaberry Llama Farm: Make Your Llama Dreams Come True in Hendersonville, NC

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Ellaberry Llama Farm is a completely unique farm in Hendersonville, NC, about an hour north of Greenville, SC, that lets guests interact in ways they likely haven’t experienced with a llama before!

 Media tickets were given for this experience.

I love llamas and alpacas and big, fluffy animals. I am also an avid hiker. So when I heard of a farm in Hendersonville that lets you hike with a llama and actually play with them and get up close, I was practically in my car driving up there already. 

Ellaberry Llama Farm is so much more than a farm though. This place not only has a very unique history but the family who owns the farms and its llamas are amazing. Plus, what they let guests do at the farm when it comes to interacting with their llamas is the stuff dreams are made of. 

About Ellaberry Llama Farm

The farm sits on more than 100 acres of farmland and is actually a sixth generation apple farm. They aren’t a u-pick apple orchard though. Their apples are for processing, which means they get made into applesauce and baby food that you’ll likely see in a grocery store. 

The farm is surrounded by gentle hills and sits at the foot of Bearwallow Mountain. While we went during the winter time and the apple trees were bare, they are full of blooms in the spring and only add to the beauty of the farm. 

The agritourism llama venture started out of creative necessity. When Hendersonville got hit with a late frost last year, the apple orchards in the area lost most of their crops. Ellaberry Farm was no different. But they did have llamas and these llamas were trained with human interaction – which I’ll get to in a minute – so the idea was thrown out there to open the farm for tours. Guests would get to interact with the llamas on the farm tour and if they wanted to hike, that would also be an option. Well, the idea thankfully caught on and here I am writing about these fluffy and loveable creatures. 

The farm currently has 26 llamas, including an adorable fluffy baby llama.

How Llamas Got on the Farm 

The Justice family (not to be confused with the other Justus family with the awesome weatherman and apple orchard) has four kids who are all homeschooled. The oldest, Allie, fell in love with llamas when she was 10 years old and the neighbors had llamas. Her sister also adored llamas and their dad, being the great father he is, decided to get a couple llamas. They had the farm and the space and barn so it worked out. 

But that wasn’t enough for Allie, now 17 years old. She learned how to care for llamas through the instruction of her llama-loving neighbors and became quite the expert. She worked with her local 4H group on caring for them and then started showing them at llama contests around the country. They probably aren’t called llama contests but these are basically to show how awesome your llama is and they can win prizes for the best llama. Allie’s llamas were champs and she came home with lots of ribbons. To train the llamas to do this well, Allie has to work with them constantly, like twice a day on doing all the cool llama things they need to do to get first prize. 

This kind of constant interaction lends itself to some very attentive llamas who interact well with humans. They are gentle and full of personality and oh-so-cute and fluffy. Allie also knows a lot about llamas, way more than my mind could possibly remember at once. I remember that they have three stomachs, that she taught them not to spit at people, that females are pregnant for a year, and that they have soft padding on their feet, which look like sheep feet. I promise you’ll learn a lot of interesting llama facts when you go to the farm. 

Interacting with the Llamas

We did the farm tour llama experience and got to do a short jaunt in the woods with the llamas to see how that part of the trek works. But the majority of our experience was the farm tour, which was amazing. Calling it a tour is not the right word. This was more of an unforgettable experience than anything. Honestly, when can you run with a llama through an obstacle course together? That’s more than a tour. 

You’ll learn a lot on the llama tour as the Justice family takes you either on a school bus or a tractor ride over the barn to meet the llamas. You’ll learn about the history of the farm and about llamas themselves and how to interact with them. 

Once you get to the barn, you are free to pet the llamas, take photos, and just enjoy their fluffiness. You can hug them and talk to them and ask questions of the tour guides, Donna and her husband, Jason, and of course, Allie. We got to give the llamas little treats also and some of them gave us llama kisses. No llama drama here. 

Allie and her family have trained the llamas not to spit at humans so you don’t have to worry about that.

Playing on the Obstacle Course

After you get to know the llamas a bit, you’ll lead them on their leash over to the obstacle course ring. This is a big sandy, enclosed ring that has fun obstacles like a pool noodle slide through thing, a balance beam, crates to step over and through, a tunnel, and things to jump over with your llama. 

The llama follows your lead here so you have to do all the obstacles with your llama. This was beyond fun. It was like being a kid again except better because you had a llama with you!

You can trade your llama for another llama and do the course again. You can even try some jumping obstacles with your llama, which is harder than it looks because you have to jump while trying to get your llama to come with you and jump themselves. They all have very different personalities and some llamas are all like, “nah, I want to watch you jump and I’ll walk calmly around the obstacle”. Others are all into it and will jump along with you. This was so fun and myself and my kids really had a blast playing with our llamas. 

Llama Therapy 

All this llama cuddling and playing got me wondering if llama therapy is a thing and sure enough, it is, although not very widespread or studied yet. Llamas are charismatic megafauna, a term biologists use for bigger animals like tigers, pandas, orcas, or polar bears that have a wide appeal to humans. Llamas are technically in that category but even cooler because humans can safely cuddle and play with them and they can be incorporated into therapeutic uses. 

Ellaberry Llama Farm doesn’t have an official llama therapy program but they do host groups that have suffered trauma in the past or have disabilities and welcome them to do all the things with the llamas that they are comfortable with. Ellaberry also takes llamas to local nursing homes so residents can interact with the llamas and as you can probably guess, the residents love it. 

From my own personal experience with these llamas, I can tell you I left the farm feeling more relaxed and carefree than I had been when I first got there. These llamas made me ridiculously happy, almost as happy as baby goats do – readers know that is a high bar to reach since I just love baby goats so, so much.

Hiking with Llamas

Since Ellaberry Llama Farm is situated on more than 100 acres, they have miles of trails they use for their llama hikes. We hiked a bit of one of the trails just to see what it was like and really, if you love hiking and llamas, this tour needs to go on your bucket list. 

The farm offers two trail options: a one to one and a half hour trek and a longer two hour moderate hike. Each hiker gets their own llama partner and the llama can carry a small pack with water and snacks if needed. 

Llamas are excellent hikers with sure footing. If you’ve ever hiked one of the trails to Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you may have seen the llamas carrying supplies up and down the trails to the lodge. My kids and I got to see the llamas once when we were out there and it was so cool.  They are very strong and can carry up to 20 percent of their body weight. But humans can’t ride on them so don’t try that.

The llamas are very well-trained and my kids had no issues walking with them even though the llamas are way taller and bigger. The animals are just so sweet and fun. I got such joy seeing the faces of my kids as they cuddled with their llamas and played with them. 

Special Events with Llamas

Ellaberry Llama Farm offers birthday parties and other special events right on their farm. The birthday party option is 1.5 hours and includes 15 kids plus the birthday child. They have picnic tables for parents to bring a birthday cake or cupcakes. Kids will get to run through the obstacle course with their llama and have the option to take lots of photos at photo booths at the farm. 

The farm can also bring llamas to you! They will take llamas to daycares, schools, birthday parties off site, weddings, nursing homes – you name it. Contact the farm directly for more info. 

Booking Your Llama Experience 

Ready to go have fun with llamas at Ellaberry? To book your own llama experience, contact Donna Justice directly at [email protected] or 828.606.3577.

You can also follow Ellaberry Llama Farm on Facebook as they will post when they have slots open for tours and hikes. 

Tickets for the farm tour are $20/person. Farm tours are about 90 minutes long. For the llama hikes, a minimum of four hikers are required for each hike and the shorter hike costs $50/person while the longer one is $75/person.

The farm is open all year round. Be sure to dress for the weather in whatever season you go and bring sunscreen in the summer. 

Things to do Nearby

While you can’t take the llamas up to Bearwallow Mountain, you can definitely fit in a hike there while you’re visiting Ellaberry Llama Farm. The hike is a moderate two-mile trek with sweeping 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s stunning. 

Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are only 20 minutes away from Ellaberry as well, where you can visit the free Flowering Bridge, stroll through the Chimney Rock Village, or take a hike at Chimney Rock State Park

During apple picking season, you will have no problems finding an apple orchard nearby to pick your own apples. The farm is very close to several big apple orchards. 

And if you visit during the wintertime and want to add on a few hours of snow tubing, Black Bear Snow Tubing is less than 15 minutes away. 

If you’re looking for more fun in Hendersonville, including lots of free/cheap activities, check out our Hendersonville Guide

Ellaberry Llama Farm 
4178 Old Clear Creek Road, Hendersonville, NC
828.606.3577