• SCCT Pinkalicious Feb 2024
  • GFS Level Up ad
  • International Ballet Feb 2024
  • YMCA March 2024
  • Prisma Health Jan 2024
  • FOA March 2024
  • CCES Feb 2024

Archive for the ‘Things to Do Outside’ Category

Conestee Nature Preserve Offers Trails, Education, and Fun for Everyone: Greenville, SC

Posted on | No Comments

Conestee Nature Preserve in Greenville, SC opened in 2006, and quickly has become a favorite destination for families across the Upstate. We’ll tell you all about this amazing preserve right in the heart of Greenville.

Conestee Nature Preserve is an incredible park with miles of trails, wetlands, boardwalks, educational programs, and lots of hands-on opportunities to learn about the environment, conservation, and participate in some pretty cool things. We are big fans of the Preserve and can’t wait to tell you all about it here.

A salamander at Conestee Nature Preserve
A salamander at Conestee Nature Preserve

About Conestee Nature Preserve

First and foremost, it is easy to confuse Conestee Nature Preserve (CNP) with its neighbor, Conestee Park. Managed by Greenville County Recreation, Conestee Park has an enormous playground, stadium, baseball fields, dog park and picnic shelter. For more about Conestee Park check out Kidding Around Greenville’s mom review of Conestee Park.

The nature Preserve boasts 13 miles of trails that crisscross 640-acres of forest and wetlands. In 2020, the Preserve changed its name from Lake Conestee Nature Park to Conestee Nature Preserve to better reflect the park’s environment education and conservation mission.

Since its inception in 2006, the nonprofit has purchased more land and expanded the preserve, making it one of the top nature destinations in Greenville. They host events throughout the year like river cleanups, night hikes, bird watching, homeschool days, educational programs for kids, and even adult events like the Winter Wine Walk, which features wine and food.

Trails at Conestee Nature Preserve

With 13 miles of hiking and walking trails, you can easily get however many miles you’d like of the easy trails. We like to combine them and wander around. Conestee Nature Preserve has a helpful Trail Guide to get you started. We like using AllTrails as well in there to kind of see where we are and help us get to where you want to be.

There are boardwalks throughout the park as well where you can observe all kinds of cool things in the water like salamander eggs, salamanders, turtles, fish, ducks, geese, and lots of different kinds of birds. There are 11 observation decks so no shortage of places to check out the local wildlife.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail even goes through the heart of the Preserve. In the spring, be sure to look for all the cool wildflowers. We like using the free Seek app to identify them. Just don’t pick any and follow the Leave No Trace principles.

Conestee boardwalk
Conestee boardwalk

Mountain Biking at Conestee Nature Preserve

It may not be widely known but there are mountain biking trails at Conestee Nature Preserve. The trails are accessed by parking at 415 Churchill Circle, Greenville. They are located on the Brushy Creek Lands and are used by both pedestrians and bikers so trail etiquette is important.

The Preserve asks that bikes go right on trails on even days, and left on odd. Pedestrians should go left on even days, and right on odd. You can see the trails on this map.

Birding at Conestee Nature Preserve

Other than hiking and biking, there are many other fun things to do at Conestee Nature Preserve.  CNP is one of our favorite destinations for birdwatching. The National Audubon Society has designated the Preserve as an Important Bird Area of Global Significance, and over 220 bird species have been reported by the Greenville County Bird Club. You can join the Greenville County Bird Club on a guided bird trip in the Preserve on the third Saturday of every month.

They do a short and long walk so you can choose what suits you best.

Nature Discovery program
Nature Discovery program

Educational Programs at Conestee Nature Preserve

We have been to so many of the Preserve’s educational programs and have loved all of them. Here are some of the different programs they offer.

Field Trips

Ever seen an ant zombie or get up close to a snake? It’s all possible if your school group does a field trip at the Preserve! They offer field trips from pre-K all the way through high school and adhere to the South Carolina Science Standards. The field trips fill up really fast so if your group wants to do it, get in touch with them well before the beginning of the next school year.

Field trips are free for public schools. The cost for private schools are $10/student for a standard field trip (3.5-4 hours long) and $8/student for a two-hour field trip. For homeschoolers, the cost is $10/student, $5/adult or child ages 3 and 4 for a standard field trip; $8/student, $4/adult for two-hour field trip.

Classes & Programs for Ages 2 and Up

If you have been looking for educational but fun classes for your kids, then you are in luck! Conestee Nature Preserve offers classes for kids ages 2 through middle school! Classes are offered monthly, and they even have some specialized homeschool classes and adult classes you may want to check out. Some of the adult classes include themes like rain barrel workshops, guided hikes, and birding! Tickets must be purchased ahead of time.

Preschool Nature Discovery Club (Knee-High Naturalist)

For younger children ages 2 – 4 years old, this spectacular program gets your kids outdoors learning about local wildlife. Cee, our instructor during our hour long class, was amazing! She speaks to every child with kindness, making the class interesting and fun, while creating a fun craft to go along with our lesson.

For our class in February, we started off reading a book about the subject we would be studying, in our case, metamorphosis. The classes have a different theme each month and correspond with what is going on during that time of year. We then explored logs for larvae and beetles, and the kids were so excited to find some critters crawling around on the logs. Afterward, we made a fun craft lighting bug that paired with the theme while reading another book and talking about what we saw.

The class is an excellent bite-size science lesson for littles, allowing them to engage with nature and look a little closer at the world around them. Classes are available twice per month, usually on a Thursday morning or Saturday morning, during the school year.

knee high naturalists
Knee High Naturalists

Nature Discovery After School Program: Elementary and Middle School Classes

Nature Discovery is a really cool program that gives exclusive access to elementary and middle school students to parts of the Preserve that the general public cannot go to. Kids can explore well beyond anything they could if they just visited the Preserve and this lets them dig deeper into the environments present and learn all about the different wildlife and seasonal cycles.

We did a salamander-focused Nature Discovery with the middle school group and had such a fun time! We learned what the eggs look like, got to search for them, hold them, and look at them under a microscope. We even got to search around to find a salamander, which one of the kids in our group. It was the coolest thing. Like the themes for the younger kids, these classes also follow the seasons and what is happening that time of year.

The staff at the Preserve are so passionate about their jobs and it’s hard not to have some of that passion rub off on the students while there.

Nature Discovery is offered in the fall and spring and you can sign up for one class or the semester. They meet every other week in the late afternoons. The cost is $10/session or $60 for all eight sessions.

Homeschool Days

The Preserve offers multiple homeschool days throughout the year but they sell out quickly. This is a drop-off program and you must reserve tickets in advance. You can stay tuned to their events page or subscribe to their email newsletter for the latest updates on when those dates are released.

Visiting Conestee Nature Preserve

Conestee Nature Preserve is open daily sunrise to sunset. While there is no admission, the Preserve kindly asks for a donation of $3/person. All proceeds go to supporting the Preserve. It is entirely a nonprofit and funded by donations.

Conestee bridge
Conestee bridge

Other tips when visiting the Preserve

CNP has a brand new little shop, which you can check out at the main entrance near the playgrounds. You can purchase CNP-branded merch.

Dogs are allowed at the park but they must be on leash at all times.

Follow Conestee Nature Preserve on Facebook to get the most up-to-date information on trail closures. The Preserve often floods and sometimes these waters can damage or close trails.

There is absolutely no swimming at Conestee Nature Preserve, for humans or animals. The lake was created when the Reedy River was dammed at the Conestee Mill in 1892. The lake originally covered about 130 acres, but over the years industrial waste and discharge filled about 90% of it with sediment so toxic that the lake was classified a Superfund site. Safety studies of the brownfield site were completed, and it was determined that the best course of action would be to leave the toxic sediment in place.

Conestee Nature Preserve
840 Mauldin Road, Greenville (there are four other entrances to trails, which you can view on the Conestee website)
Conestee Nature Preserve Website | Conestee Nature Preserve Facebook

Love bird watching? Be sure to read our article about Upstate, SC birds at Lake Conestee.

What is your favorite place to visit in Conestee Nature Preserve?

Split Creek Farm: Learn all about goats – and even play with them – at this farm in Anderson, SC

Posted on |

Did you know there is a FREE self-guided tour at Split Creek Farm in Anderson, SC? Goats and educational opportunities are plentiful at Split Creek Farm in Anderson, SC. Plus, the farm shop sells award-winning cheese and must-eat fudge made from their goat milk. Get outdoors, enjoy some animals, and learn something new!

Split Creek Farm tours

If there are baby goats involved somewhere around the Upstate, we’ll be there. Goats, especially baby goats, make us so happy! Split Creek Farm is a Grade A goat dairy farm in Anderson, SC that we’ve written about and visited before to the delight of both us and our readers. But they are more than goats. Education is hugely important to the farm and to that end, they have recently designed and installed a new self-guided tour that anyone can take.

We tried it out because, well, goats. And I’m homeschooling and thought this would be a fun adventure.

If you’re looking for more cute animals, see our Adorable Farms and Petting Zoos story.

Goats 4 Goodness

Goats 4 Goodness is the non-profit arm of Split Creek Farm. It was established a few years ago with the intent to “do good things” and has delivered on that goal through goat yoga, virtual farm tours, allowing guests playtime with baby goats, and participating in Make A Wish.

But a big part of the vision of Goats 4 Goodness is the educational component of the farm. They do offer tours, both virtually (imagine surprising your co-workers on a Zoom call with baby goats!) and in-person, as well as field trips and other opportunities to educate the public on what their farm does, which is a ton. The goats are the backbone of the farm, supplying the milk needed to make their award-winning feta cheese, the delicious fudge, yogurt, and other products. The farm also supports the local restaurant industry and breeds nearly-extinct breeds of goats. They also participate in local and regional goat shows and research.

Sandra and Jessica, the owners of Split Creek Farm, are pioneers in many areas of goat farming and their non-profit helps to provide funds to further the goals of the farm and integrate them even deeper into the supportive local community, bringing the joy of the goats to everyone.

The new self-guided tour

While the farm store is open Monday – Saturday for purchases, self-guided tours are available only on Friday and Saturday. The farm employs a small number of people and as you can probably imagine, it takes a huge amount of work to run the farm, milk the goats, make the cheese, fudge, and yogurt, clean the pens, collect the eggs, take care of the babies, and care and feed the herd.

Split Creek Farm Self-guided tour sign

As much as Sandra and Jessica would like to take every single guest on a personal tour of the farm, they needed to find a way to make what they do more accessible and understandable for guests and their families. And so was born the self-guided tour with easy-to-read and follow boards around the farm.

The topics are broad and fascinating. Guests will learn about all the different breeds of goats and why they are unique. They will learn about how the cheese is made and where the goats are milked and how that process worked. They will learn about every animal on the farm and why their individual jobs are important to making the farm run smoothly. I’ve personally been to Split Creek Farm numerous times and still learned a lot walking through the tour and reading all the plaques.

For myself and my kids, learning about where our food comes from and what goes into that process often has led to a deeper appreciation for farms and all the work they do. My own love of goats is only compounded every time I learn more about them. And my goodness, they make me happy. And they make my kids happy, which is all the more reason to visit the farm and learn about the goats.

It’s totally free to visit the farm and take self-guided tours. If you come with kids, just be sure to keep a close eye on them as it is a working farm and guests need to be respectful of those rules.

Playing with the goats

Split Creek Farm treats their animals with extraordinary care. I’ve seen both Sandra and Jessica speak to these animals exactly like I speak to my own kids. But the difference is that the goats listen to them! The goats obviously love the owners and employees and the female goats are quite literally what makes the farm run due to the sale of the products made with their milk.

So it’s no wonder the farm is protective of their animals. However, the animals get a lot of freedom and you’ll probably run into goats wandering around and Sam, the border collie, making sure they are where they need to be. There are chickens and two enormous pot-bellied pigs roaming around as well.

Playing with goats at Split Creek Farm

As long as guests are respectful of the animals, they are allowed to play with them and pet them. This is glorious. Playing with the goats is just awesome, especially the smaller ones. They are super curious (one really enjoyed munching on my daughter’s hair) and sweet and fun. Sam likes to play fetch with his frisbee and the chickens, well, they do their own thing.

Sometimes the farm will do special events where guests are able to play with the baby goats or have goat yoga sessions. Follow their Facebook page for that info. It’s really fun to play with the goats especially after you’ve done the self-guided tour because, I feel, that you may have a greater respect for them and for what goes on at the farm.

Virtual farm tours

Split Creek Farm also does virtual tours for anyone anywhere. People have really loved these as seeing the goats on their computer screens always elicits a lot of joy. Virtual tours can be arranged here at Goats 4 Goodness.

Goats at Split Creek Farm

Visiting Split Creek Farm

It’s free to visit the farm and you don’t need to sign up to do the self-guided tours. Just follow all the posted rules, which include no pets. Once you arrive at the farm, you’ll see the space allowed for visitor parking on your left. The first couple of self-guided posts will be on your right near the huge penned goat pasture and on your left near the open barn. You’ll see the others around the farm.

Self-guided tours are available Friday and Saturday 10 am – 6 pm.

The farm shop is open Monday-Saturday 10 am – 6 pm.

For the latest on events and pictures of their baby goats come late winter, follow Split Creek Farm on Facebook.

Split Creek Farm
3806 Centerville Road, Anderson
864.287.3921

Bored on Sundays? Here are 20+ Things You Can Do to Have Fun!

Posted on | No Comments

Need some ideas for fun things to do on Sunday? While having kids and keeping them entertained isn’t exactly the typical R&R of a Sunday, making memories and enjoying each other’s company are certainly on the list of desires for Sundays. So here you go – we’ve come up with two lists of 20+ things to do on Sundays split into indoor and outdoor activities. Now go have some fun and enjoy some quality time with your kids before Monday morning!

Things to Do in Greenville, SC.

Searching for something fun to do in Greenville, SC? Check out our list of 50+ Amazing Things to do in Greenville, SC to start the fun!

Things to Do on a Sunday: Outdoor Activities

Swamp Rabbit Cafe

Swamp Rabbit Cafe is great for a relaxed Sunday. Grab a coffee, scone, and delicious stecca, and then hang out in the enclosed play area for a couple of hours while the little ones play. I’ve met some great parents here and love the relaxing feel (and good food) of the cafe. Stay for lunch and indulge in their wood-fired pizza.

205 Cedar Lane, Greenville
Sunday hours: 7:30 am – 7 pm

Hiking

Put together a lunch, snacks, and drinks on Saturday night, and head out to your favorite trail on Sunday morning. Lake Conestee is great for small kids and offers some sections of paved trails. Another option is to head to Yellow Branch Falls in Walhalla for an incredible three-mile hike to a gorgeous waterfall. Or go to Table Rock State Park and do the two-mile Carrick Creek Trail for a scenic hike. There are so many trails within a couple of hours of Greenville that cater to all levels of skills.

Hiking in Greenville, SC

Here’s a great Hiking Guide we’ve put together to help you.

Greenville Drive

A great Sunday family activity is a baseball game at Fluor Field over the summer. They even have a playground on site plus a big, grassy area for kids to run around in while you watch all the action on the field. Sunday games are often in the late afternoon and kids can run the bases after the game. You’ll also find some excellent events throughout the year at Fluor Field that tend to run the entire weekend, Sunday included.

Fluor Field, 945 South Main Street, Greenville

WNC Nature Center

Located right outside of Asheville and a little over an hour from Greenville, the WNC Nature Center is a great option for Sunday entertainment. The Nature Center is like a zoo except I’d argue even cooler. They have several playgrounds inside the campus plus all of their animals are local to the area so it’s educational and interesting. Learn more in our KA review of the Western North Carolina Nature Center.

75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville, NC
Sunday Hours: 10 am – 3:30 pm (Park closes at 4:30 pm)

Go to a Family-Friendly Brewery

There are lots of other family-friendly breweries in our area that are open on Sunday and are great places to relax with a brew and good food while the kids play.

Visit a Playground

Greenville is dotted with playgrounds all over the place so it’s not too hard to find a good one to take the family to for some outdoor fun. Here is our list of our readers’ 5 Favorite Playgrounds and here’s another list of 9 More Awesome Parks & Playgrounds. You can also see our Playground and Parks Reviews page.

Bike Riding

The Swamp Rabbit Trail is one of the best places to ride a bike in the whole state. You can pick it up at several points in Greenville and it’s a fun activity to do as a family, especially if you love being active together. You can also check out the Doodle Trail in Easley for a fun-filled bike riding day!

Here are some other great trails to ride your bike.

Biking at the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina
Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville, SC

Flying Rabbit Adventures

Looking for a thrill? Flying Rabbit Adventures located off of Laurens Road in Greenville, has a ropes course that will challenge your entire family. They are open on Sundays, so get outside and enjoy the adventure.

821 Laurens Road, Greenville, SC
Sunday hours: 9 am – 5 pm

Flying Rabbit Adventures near Downtown Greenville, South Carolina

Flying Rabbit Adventures is awesome! Read our review of this awesome ropes course near Downtown Greenville, SC.


Things to do on a Sunday: Indoor Activities

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate

Those lazy Sundays are a particularly good reason to grab a TCMU membership – it’s so easy to head over there and spend hours among all the exhibits and interactive games. A boring Sunday could be a good excuse just to go check out one of the most popular attractions for families in Greenville. If you’re in Spartanburg, that location is also open and it’s just $7 to get in or free if you’re already a TCMU member.

300 College Street, Greenville
130 Magnolia Street, Spartanburg
Sunday hours: 11 am – 5 pm

projectROCK Easley

This huge indoor rock-climbing facility in Easley is a lot of fun! They have the nation’s highest indoor climbing wall at 84 feet high plus have a great little room for smaller kids. You can have hours of entertainment here. You can also find some additional indoor and outdoor rock climbing gyms near Greenville in our handy guide.

2121 Farrs Bridge Road, Easley
Sunday hours: Noon-8 pm

Climbing walls at projectROCK in Easley, South Carolina
projectROCK Easley

The Big E

An indoor playland with laser tag, a movie theater, an arcade, and bowling are all part of The Big E in Gaffney. It’s a bit of a hike from Greenville but worth it to spend lots of time together with friends and family.

Exit 90 off of I-85 at the Gaffney Premium Outlet Mall
Sunday hours: 10 am – 8 pm

Frankie’s Fun Park

Enjoy mini golf, go-karts, an indoor playground, laser tag, a batting cage, an arcade, bumper boats, and more at Frankie’s Fun Park.

45 Park Woodruff Drive, Greenville
Sunday hours: Noon – 10 pm

Hughes Main Library or the Five Forks Library

Most Greenville Library branches are not open on Sundays. However, the Hughes Main Library in downtown Greenville and the Five Forks branch in Simpsonville are both open on Sunday afternoons so grab the kids and your favorite book for an afternoon in the kid’s sections.

Hughes Library: 25 Heritage Green Place, Greenville
Five Forks Library: 104 Sunnydale Drive, Simpsonville
Sunday hours: 2 pm – 6 pm

Five Forks Greenville library at Five Forks in South Carolina

Barnes and Noble

Take your kids to Barnes & Noble for the free train table and LEGO table. These can keep most kids entertained for a good while. And it’s free. You can also spend a few dollars and grab a coffee at the in-house Starbucks.

735 Haywood Road, Greenville (Sunday hours: 10 am – 7 pm)
1125 Woodruff Road Suite 1810, Greenville (Sunday hours: 10 am – 7 pm)

Upcountry History Museum

With awesome rotating exhibits and permanent ones about the history of the Upstate, the Upcountry History Museum is a great option for indoor fun on Sundays.

540 Buncombe Street, Greenville
Sunday hours: 1 pm – 5 pm

Greenville County Museum of Art

Most Sundays from 2 pm – 3 pm, the Greenville County Museum of Art has a program called Sundays at 2 that features music or family art adventures. And it’s free! Check beforehand to make sure you don’t have to register ahead of time.

420 College Street, Greenville
Sunday hours: 1-5 pm

Bounce Houses & Trampoline Parks

Spending a rainy or cold day indoors on a Sunday is a good idea – even better when it’s someplace where kids can get out lots of energy. Trampoline Parks Big Air, DEFY, Urban Air, and Sky Zone are all open on Sundays. Kangaroo Jax and The Pavilion are both open on Sundays for indoor fun.

Carousel at Kangaroo Jax in Greenville, South Carolina

Spare Time

The indoor entertainment facility, Spare Time hosts a state-of-the-art bowling alley, arcade, birthday parties, and an escape room. It’s an indoor playground for any age.

822 Congaree Road, Greenville
Sunday hours: 10 am – 11 pm

Mad Smash Rage Room

Get out stress by taking a bat and smashing lots of things in an enclosed (and safe) space at Mad Smash in Taylors Mill. Kids ages 8+ can participate!

250 Mills Street, Taylors
Open Sundays by appointment

Roller and Ice Skating Rinks

There are a handful of roller skating and ice skating rinks in Greenville, which are great options for spending time indoors on a Sunday. During the winter, you can skate outdoors in downtown Greenville right near the Peace Center. See individual sites for Sunday hours.

Golden Lanes & Golden Skate, 108 Balcome Boulevard, Simpsonville

The Pavilion, 400 Scottswood Road, Greer

Roller Sports Skating Rink, 328 W. Main Street, Taylors

Ice on Main, Village Green, Greenville (only during winter)

Swamp Rabbits

Head to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and watch our city’s minor league ice hockey team, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, play on a Sunday. They usually have at least one Sunday home game a month.

Bass Pro Shops

Why is an outdoor store on this list? Because Bass Pro Shops has pretty neat animals on display that kids love. They also have a small aquarium with lots of cool fish in the back of the store. And Santa is there most Sundays during the holiday season. And it’s free. Be sure to taste-test the fudge (and then buy a few pounds because it’s amazing).

1025 Woodruff Road, Suite H101, Greenville
Sunday hours: 10 am – 7 pm

Haywood Mall

Besides the obvious shopping, Haywood Mall has a small indoor play area perfect for smaller kids.

700 Haywood Road, Greenville
Sunday hours: Noon – 7 pm

What’s your go-to family destination on a lazy Sunday afternoon?

You can also find events throughout the Upstate in the Kidding Around Events Calendar! You will find educational events, festivals, free events, and more on the calendar.

Amazing Discoveries at Roper Mountain Science Center

Posted on | 39 Comments

Have you explored the Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, SC? You may have heard the name of the Roper Mountain Science Center and wondered what in the world this is or maybe your kids attended a field trip there. But really, do you know how cool this place is?

With a dinosaur trail, a living history farm, a Marine Ecology lab, and active classrooms you can explore, you can visit multiple times and find something new and exciting at each visit! Plus, RMSC has the only planetarium in Greenville, SC and a giant 23” refractor telescope that you can look through during special events. It doesn’t get much cooler than that!

Things to do at Roper Mountain Science Center
Things to Do in Greenville, SC.

Looking for more things to do near Greenville, SC? We’ve got you!

RMSC is part of the Greenville County School system and during the week they host classes for science exhibits and hands-on learning for the public school system. However, they have greatly expanded their offerings and hours for the general public in the last several years and there several wonderful opportunities to explore this gem in Greenville. Every season offers something new and exciting at the RMSC.

This article includes:
What is at the Roper Mountain Science Center?
Friday Starry Nights
Laser Shows at Hooper Planetarium
The Nature Exchange
Afternoon Explorations: September to May
Summer Adventure
Summer Camps
Science on Wheels & Educator Tools
Membership

What is at Roper Mountain Science Center?

The Roper Mountain Science Center is absolutely the place to go for STEM activities in Greenville, SC that are fun and engaging. During special events throughout the year, Roper Mountain is open to the public, and it is truly worth a visit (or ten). From September through May, you can visit during Afternoon Explorations on Thursdays and Fridays.

You can also explore June through July during their Summer Adventure programming, during which an exciting traveling exhibit is set up. And don’t forget their year-round Friday Starry Nights at the Hooper Planetarium.

Kids of all ages will love the RMSC. There is so much for them to see and do from the Dinosaur Trail, the touch tanks in the Marine Lab, the rainforest with its small waterfall, the outdoor play area, the pirate and castle playgrounds, and traveling exhibits.

Environmental Science and Sustainability Building

There is so much to explore at Roper Mountain Science Center that we promise you’ll need lots of visits to see everything. When you first arrive, you will enter through the Environmental Science and Sustainability Building. The building is dedicated to water ecology and sustainability practices and is filled with immersive experiences, a traveling exhibit (in summer), live animal displays, and more.

You can see a Timber Rattlesnake and Copperhead snake mere inches away and see a Hellbender up close as well. Kids love the interactive exhibits that teach them what not to flush down the toilet (parents like this one as well) and how to lower and raise the water level in a lake. Pretty neat stuff.

One of the most popular exhibits is the Nature Exchange. Here, your child can bring in items they found in nature, including moss, rocks, shells, lichen, or other items in exchange for points that they can use to spend on awesome items like crystals, fossils, and even owl pellets.

The Environmental Science and Sustainability Building is only open to the public during special events and Afternoon Explorations and Summer Adventure.

Harrison Hall of Natural Science

As you leave the lower level exit of the Environmental Science building, you can follow the path toward the Dinosaur Trail to the left or the Harrison Hall of Natural Science to the right. I am a huge ecology lover, so I immediately gravitate toward Harrison Hall. Here you will find multiple active classrooms to explore. There are live animals to meet and even touch like docile snakes, lizards, and sometimes even an alligator.

I love the permanent rainforest exhibit since it’s nice and humid and has a small waterfall, cocoa tree, and benches to enjoy the warmth, which feels especially nice during the colder months.

You can explore taxidermied animals, bone collections, specimen collections, and living animal exhibits. Your child can touch snakes, meet a skink, and learn about ecology and biodiversity during their exploration.

The Marine Lab is super popular because you and your children will be able to touch stingrays, starfish, and other sea creatures in the tide pool while learning about them.

The Ecology Lab showcases South Carolina habitats with their native animals, which include a Mountain Trout Stream, a Beaver/Turtle Pond, a Cypress Swamp (with an alligator), and a Salt Marsh. Guests can also check out a live honeybee hive at work.

Harrison Hall of Natural Science is only open to the public during special events such as Summer Adventure.

Dinosaur Trail

If you decide to head to the Dinosaur Adventure Trail first, then your dino adventure will start with a meet and greet with a Triceratops. All the dinosaurs are life-size models, so be sure to notice the awe in your young kid’s eyes as they notice them towering above them.

T-Rex on Dinosaur Trail at Roper Mountain Science Center

Be mindful of the ropes, as RMSC does not allow climbing on the majority of the exhibited dinosaurs. There is a big slide and play area that was designed to look like dinosaur bones coming out of the ground that kids can play on.

In 2023, a brand new animatronics T-Rex was added, which moves and roars. It’s motion-activated so you have no idea it’s going to move until you (or your kids) walk in front of it.

The Dinosaur Adventure Trail is open to the public during special events, Afternoon Explorations, and Summer Adventure.

Pirate and Castle Playgrounds

In 2023, RMSC added two new playgrounds: a large pirate playground for older kids and a smaller castle playground for toddlers.

playground at Roper Mountain Science Center

Both are located next to Harrison Hall and are partially in the shade depending on the time of day. There are benches for parents to sit on as well. Kids really love these new playgrounds as they foster lots of imaginative adventures on the high seas and in the world of knights and ladies at the castle.

These playgrounds are open during Summer Adventure and Afternoon Explorations.

Living History Farm & Butterfly Garden

One of my earliest memories as a kid was visiting the Living History Farm when I was in Kindergarten. With authentic log cabins, a schoolhouse, a working barn, and a reconstructed former slave cabin, there is so much history that you can live the experience. Walking through the gardens, fields, pasture, farm pond, and farm animals certainly lend itself to easily imagining that time period.

The Living History Farm also has an incredible garden in the summer. You will find the Butterfly Garden on the outskirts of the Living History Farm. The garden has native plants that are frequently visited by butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

The Living History Farm is only open to the public during special events and Summer Adventure while the Butterfly Garden is open during Afternoon Explorations, Summer Adventure, and special events.

Living History Farm, Roper Mountain Science Center
Living History Farm, Roper Mountain Science Center

Symmes Hall of Science

If you are a lover of all things STEM, then the Symmes Hall of Science will be the highlight of your trip to the Roper Mountain Science Center. Though Symmes Hall is only open during special events, it is worth it when you get to explore chemical reactions through experimentation, explore Tesla coils and solar panels, and interact with robotics.

Hooper Planetarium & Daniel Observatory

Last, but not least, the incredible Hooper Planetarium and Daniel Observatory. If you are wanting to spark a love for science in your child, this is a great place to start. The Hooper Planetarium is designed with a 360-degree dome with 4K projection and a truly immersive sound system.

The Hooper Planetarium offers special space-themed programming called Friday Starry Nights throughout the year. The planetarium is also equipped with a Laser Fantasy projection system, which is spectacular, to say the least! You can enjoy Laser Days of Summer, Halloween Laser Shows, and Special Laser Events throughout the year. 

If you’re looking for a truly magical experience for adults and kids, then head to the Daniel Observatory after your planetarium showing to look through the historic 23’’ refractor telescope. The telescope is the 8th largest of its kind in the United States! You’ll be able to observe Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, and more as you climb the steps to look through the scope.

Friday Starry Nights at the Roper Mountain Science Center

You can find out everything you need to know about Friday Starry Nights in our KA review. 

Friday Starry Nights at the Roper Mountain Science Center on Friday nights is a favorite activity for many. Shows sell out quickly and RMSC suggests purchasing tickets online beforehand.

Friday Starry Nights are offered on Friday evenings throughout the year at the Hooper Planetarium. Typically, there are three showings (4:30 pm, 6:00 pm, 7:30 pm), with each showing offering a unique feature film themed around space. The 4:30 pm show is excellent for younger children to attend and is recommended for ages 4 and older. The 6:00 pm show is also kid-friendly and features a film that is more exploratory of space in a kid-friendly way. The 7:30 feature showing is most appropriate for older children and adults. 

Tickets to Friday Starry Nights are $8/adults and teens, $7/kids ages 3-12. Starry Nights is free for RMSC members. The shows are generally not recommended for kids three and under (I can vouch for this – to my dismay, my toddler was scared when we visited the planetarium during an event).

Laser Shows at the Hooper Planetarium

The planetarium also features several special events throughout the year, including Laser Days of Summer, Halloween Laser Shows, Holiday Laser Shows, Pink Floyd Laser Shows, and more. I saw the Laser Days of Summer Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon a couple of years ago, and it was EPIC.

These events are fully immersive, and allow you to sit back and listen to classic albums of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Stranger Things, and more while lasers tell a story across the 360 degree screen. Regularly check the Roper Mountain Science Center website for updates about their upcoming special events and laser shows

Tickets for Laser Days of Summer can be purchased now, and the event will begin July 18th, 2024. Multiple showings are offered from Thursday through Saturday from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm on most nights. Tickets for Laser Days of Summer are $8 per adult or child, and $4 for members.

The Nature Exchange

There are 12 Nature Exchanges in the country and they are like little shops for kids that focus on learning about things you find in nature and seeking out neat things that you may not otherwise see if perhaps you weren’t looking for them. 

The Nature Exchange at the RMSC is the only one in the state but it’s connected to the other 11 through a database. When your kids sign up, they are entered into this national database. As they rack up points, if they visit another Nature Exchange on a trip, they can use those points to get something from that particular place they visit. 

At the Nature Exchange at RMSC, there are lots of neat items already that kids can choose from if they earn enough points. Each person who signs up automatically gets 100 points plus they get points for their birthday, also. Kids can then choose something from the big Nature Exchange wall that is the same number or less than the points they have accumulated. Or, they can accumulate their points and save up for something super cool like a dinosaur fossil plate or a pretty stone or a big bug. 

Kids will find everything from gemstones to intricate shells to mummified grasshoppers and tarantulas. The Nature Exchange is located on the top floor of the Environmental Science and Sustainability Building, to the left of the main entrance.

RMSC Nature Exchange scenes
Nature Exchange at Roper Mountain Science Center

Afternoon Explorations at Roper Mountain Science Center

Afternoon Explorations is when RMSC is open to the public during the school year. For 2023-24, they will open on September 14, 2023 and be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 1:30-5 pm. Guests will have access to the Environmental Science and Sustainability Center, the Rain Forest Room, Marine Lab and Ecology Lab in Harrison Hall of Natural Science as well as the Living History Farm when weather permits.

You will also be able to hunt for dinosaurs on the Dinosaur Adventure Trail, play in Wildwood, visit the Butterfly Garden, and play on the Pirates of the Carolinas playground.

Tickets for Afternoon Explorations are $8/adults and teens, $7/kids ages 3-12. Members receive free admission.

Summer Adventure and 2024’s summer Traveling Exhibit

Summer Adventure dates for 2024 have not been announced as of publication. You can typically visit during Summer Adventure Tuesday – Saturdays from 10 am – 4 pm. Explore all the exhibits RMSC has to offer, including a traveling exhibit that is only accessible during the summer.

The traveling exhibit changes every year, so it’s something special and unique to experience. Summer Adventure also offers special programs, including cockroach racing, the Eat a Bug challenge, farm animal interactions at the Living History Farm, period costume volunteers, and more to get children engaged and excited about science.

Traveling exhibit at Roper Mountain Science Center

2024’s Traveling Exhibit hasn’t been announced as of publication. But for 2023, the traveling exhibit theme was ‘How People Make Things’, located on the top floor of the Environmental Science and Sustainability Building. This exhibit is a lot of fun as kids can create different objects at various stations throughout the exhibit like a trolley car (based on Mr. Rodgers’ show), a pressed coin, or a small box made from cut-out paper.

Admission is free for members, and tickets are $12 per adult and $10 per child 3 – 12 years of age. EBT cardholders can purchase tickets for $5.

The Butterfly Garden

The butterfly garden is located beside the parking lot in front of the Harrison Hall of Natural Science.  It’s definitely something to check out, enjoy the beautifully landscaped garden, and see some butterflies.  If you’d like to make it a homeschool adventure, try some of the books, ideas and activities below.

Make it Educational

Math:  Draw the butterflies with colored pencils (maybe take pictures with a cell phone to reference later) and keep a tally count of how many of each variety you see.  Once you return home, turn your tally count into a bar graph.  Siblings can compare their graphs and see how they differ.

Science: Use some butterfly books or websites to help you name the different species of butterflies you see.  If it’s too much to manage “in the field” just take pictures and look them up when you get home.  The following resources may be helpful.

Discuss the butterfly life cycle before or after your visit to the garden.  Here’s a great freebie coloring sheet of the life cycle.

Language Arts: Come up with some super sentences about butterflies. Make them factual or fictional. Use the bright colors and textures of the insects and the garden to dress up your sentences with adjectives. Look at how the butterflies move and what they do to pick some great verbs for your sentences.

Resources

This website deals with butterflies specific to our area, and has pictures that may be helpful to you when trying to name species.

The Life Cycles of Butterflies: from egg to maturity, a visual guide to 23 common garden butterflies  (J 595.789 Burris) by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards  -This book shows the life cycle of butterflies, but also shows pictures of common butterflies and areas where they are found.  The Greenville libraries have many other fine books on butterflies with photographs under the call number J 595.789.

If you’d like to know a little more about the purpose of butterfly gardens, or the specific plants and landscaping you see at the garden, check out this portion of Roper Mountain’s website. It lists the host plants and nectar plants found at the science center’s butterfly garden.  Many of these plants are labeled in the garden.  Spend some time examining these plants.

Summer Camps at Roper Mountain Science Center

RMSC is focused on making STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics- fun for kids, and summer camps are no exception. But summer at Roper Mountain is more than just science: they also offer camps focusing on art, literature, moviemaking, mythology, photography and so much more. Summer camps at the Roper Mountain Science Center are available from K5 through Grade 12, and early drop-off and lunch stays are available for students attending separate morning and afternoon sessions.

Summer camp registration begins in March and camps fill up very quickly. Members will get first dibs on summer camp registration and if you really, really want your kid in a certain camp, you can get the concierge membership, which will ensure you will be able to register your kid(s) before anyone else.

Bring Science Lessons to you with Science on Wheels

If you are looking for a unique and science-driven demonstration for a school program or public outreach program Science on Wheels will bring the experimentation to you. They even have a portable planetarium! The program is perfect for school science days, preschools, library events, family audiences, afterschool groups, evening school events, summer camps, and community centers.

If you think RMSC’s Science on Wheels would be perfect for your group event, you can request more information by contacting the Roper Mountain Science Center directly. Educators can also utilize the many amazing programs Roper Mountain has to offer, including field trips, virtual field trips, elearning Live From Roper, and more to boost their science curriculum for their students.

Roper Mountain Science Center Membership

Speaking of membership to the RMSC, they have some worthwhile packages, especially if your family loves science and technology.

Memberships include free admission to Afternoon Explorations, Summer Adventure, and Friday Starry Nights, special pricing for special events and Laser Days of Summer, and early registration to summer camps. A family membership costs $125 and is easily paid for in just a couple of visits to the RMSC.

Additionally, members get free or discounted admission to over 300 science centers and museums worldwide. This is a great perk when traveling or planning day trips or summer vacations.

For instance, if a family of four travels to nearby Asheville and goes to the Western NC Nature Center, admission for them would be free with a membership to the RMSC.

Bottom line: A membership to the RMSC is a good investment in both learning and entertainment!

Have your kids ever been to Roper Mountain Science Center?

Snow Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip in Mars Hill, NC Delivers Fast, Wintry Fun

Posted on |

Head up to Zip ‘N Slip in Mars Hill, NC for a fun, fast ride on any of their eight snow tubing lanes. We checked them out and have all the details on enjoying this fun, winter entertainment. 

You cannot miss Zip ‘N Slip Snow Tubing Park in Mars Hill, North Carolina. It’s right off Highway 26 heading through NC towards Tennessee, about an hour and 40 minutes from Greenville, SC. And wow, you’re in for some fast and fun rides at this snow tubing park. 

Zip 'N Slip Snow Tubing Park
Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip
Best snow tubing, skiing, and tubing near Greenville, South Carolina

Want more? Here’s our guide to all the fun places to hit the slopes.

About Zip ‘N Slip Snow Tubing Park 

Zip ‘N Slip has eight snow tubing lanes that can run more than 800 feet long in optimal snow conditions. How long is that in terms of flying down on a tube? About 20 seconds! It’s really fast, especially in colder weather. 

My kids – ages 13 and 9 – had a blast at this snow tubing park and it was well worth the drive up there. The owner is really nice and has owned the property for more than a decade. He initially wanted to build a hotel and shopping center on the property but ended up having so much fun with the snow tubing park that he kept the fun winter activity as it was and updated the park and equipment. 

There are eight snow tubing lanes. At least there were when we went. Because of weather and snow-making abilities, this can definitely change each season or each week or month even as the park is able to create the snow needed for the hill. Or if they just get a ton of snow through Mother Nature, then it’s even more fun. It is always a good idea to check the social media pages or website of any seasonal activity before you head out to ascertain the conditions of the park. 

There are heated bathrooms at Zip ‘N Slip as well as hot chocolate and a fire pit. They sell hot dogs, nachos, and mac & cheese as well. We were promised free marshmallows to roast after our tubing run but headed out too fast. We saw some people with sticky fingers though so we know they enjoyed the treats. 

And if you forget your winter gear like hats, gloves, or even socks, you can purchase them at the park. 

Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip 

Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip was unlike most places I’ve been because the guests, once they got their safety briefing and tickets, were pretty much on their own. It was definitely fun but like the Wild West of tubing. 

Once you get your tube, you’ll head over to the Magic Carpet ride, an escalator-type contraption that you stand on while holding onto your tube. Pro tip: lean forward on it so you don’t fall backwards. Once you get to the top of the hill, you’ll step off ever-so-gracefully and be able to choose which lane you want to go down. 

Tubing at Zip 'N Slip
Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip

There aren’t any staff members at the top of the hill so you just choose your lane and go down or wait until the person in front of you goes down. We didn’t have any issues with waiting or choosing our lanes. Because there are eight lanes, we got in a lot of runs and rarely had to wait for a spot. 

But it does get a little tricky at the top pulling a tube amongst other people while navigating snow. I slipped twice but in my defense, it was a little icy. And I’m clumsy. I was fine. 

Once you choose your lane, you put your tube leash inside the tube and then get in your tube and shimmy to the edge of the great abyss, uh, lane. Ideally, you’ll want to check to make sure no one is at the bottom of the lane you are planning to slide down. If they are, wait until they are gone and then go. Also watch out for people who may be walking in front of your lane. Wait for them to get out of the way and then shimmy your tube closer – or get someone to push you- to the edge and go down. Wheeee!

Once you get down to the bottom, get out of your tube, grab the leash and get out of the way. Fast. I cannot emphasize how fast you need to move once you are at the bottom. There are no staff to tell you to get out of the way or signal anyone at top that it’s ok to send down the next people. You’re responsible for getting out of the way so do it. 

And pay attention. People are going to come down those lanes whether you’re paying attention to someone in a giant tube heading in your direction or not. 

And have fun! Depending on how many people are there, you may get through a lot of runs during your time on the hill. I can’t even count how many times my kids and I went down. It was probably at least 30 times. We had the first slot of the day when we went at 10 am and it wasn’t sold out. The slot at Noon was sold out and there were definitely more people. So when you go, maybe choose the earlier time slot.

Tips on Visiting Zip ‘N Slip 

We’ve been snow tubing to several places and some of these tips follow our previous advice but read on because a few are very specific to Zip ‘N Slip: 

Bring a change of clothes: depending on the weather, snow will melt and you’ll get wet. If you don’t want to drive home in wet clothes, bring a change of clothes, socks, and shoes. 

Wear layers: we were hot after the first 15 minutes and ending up shedding our hats, gloves, and jacket. It’s best to wear layers, especially if the temperatures will rise while you’re there.

You don’t need snow gear: it’s just snow tubing and you’re not skiing. Pants and boots, even hiking boots, hats, gloves, and a jacket are fine. 

Get out of the way at the bottom of the hill: when you finish your tubing run, move and move fast. The way the lanes are designed, unless you’re in the furthest half of the lanes, you’ll have to walk in front of most of the lanes to get back to the magic carpet. If you don’t move fast, you may be in the way of another tuber coming down the run. 

Pay attention: for reasons mentioned above, pay attention to your surroundings and make sure your kids are watching for fast tubers coming down the lane when they are making their way back to get in line to go back up. 

Watch the weather: if you’re going up on an unseasonably warm day, check with Zip ‘N Slip to make sure they are operating normally and secondly, get the first available time slot of the day. You’ll go way faster on colder snow than when it starts to melt a little when the weather warms up.

Keep an eye on your kids: this is standard advice but here, kids need to be watched as they go up the magic carpet and make their way down the lanes and then grabbing their tubes and doing it again. They just need to be aware of their surroundings. 

It can get muddy: at the bottom of the tubing hill, there’s a lot of straw and snow, which is great for stopping your tubing run. But when the weather is warm, the snow will melt and it will get muddy. This didn’t bother myself, my kids, and really anyone I saw there but just be aware that you may get dirty and refer to tip #1 about bringing a change of clothes. 

Be kind and respectful: we had a blast while tubing and everyone was great. But during busier times, there may be some jostling of uncontrollable giant tubes at the top or people not paying attention at the bottom or on . Have patience and be kind.

Fire pit at Zip 'N Slip
Fire pit at Zip ‘N Slip

Tickets to Zip ‘N Slip 

You can get tickets for an hour or two hours. One hour is $30/person and two hours is $45/person. Kids must be at least 3-years-old to go tubing and kids ages 3-5 are free and must ride in the lap of an adult. 

You can – and should, especially on busy holiday weekends – make reservations online. Save time by filling out your waiver and bringing it with you.

Zip ‘N Slip also offers discounted rates for school and homeschool groups of 15 or more. Keep an eye out for Homeschool Day as well since tickets are heavily discounted. We scored $15/person tickets for two hours of tubing during a recent Homeschool Day!

Hours 

The snow tubing park is usually open from mid-December through mid-January Monday-Saturday from 9 am – 9 pm and Sundays from 9 am – 6 pm. From mid-January through early March, the park is open Friday-Sunday and holidays like President’s Day and MLK Jr. Day. They also have special events like Homeschool Day. Follow their Facebook page for details.  

Stay in Mars Hill, NC

If you want to make your stay a little longer, here’s where to stay in Mars Hill, NC near Zip ‘N Slip.

Kidding Around earns when you book through this map through an affiliate relationship with Stay22.

Bonus Day Trip Fun 

Because the snow tubing park was a bit of a drive, my kids and I wanted to extend our adventure a bit. So we went to explore nearby Burnsville, NC and had such a great time! The little town has a beautiful downtown and town square. They have several shops that sell homemade items like scarves, clothing, and hats plus an adorable toy store, a huge general store, a specialty tea shop, a beautiful shoe store, and lots more. 

Burnsville NC
Scenes from Burnsville, NC

While we didn’t eat in Burnsville, there are a couple restaurants plus a coffee shop right along the main street area of the town. We spent about two hours wandering around the shops till our hearts content and could not have been more smitten with the town. I certainly plan to go back and explore it more when we are up in that area again!

Additionally, the Biltmore is on your way back from Greenville if you want to add that to your day trip itinerary. 

For more places to go snow tubing, see our big story on the Best Places to Go Skiing and Snow Tubing Near the Upstate

Zip ‘N Slip Snow Tubing Park
10725 US-23, Mars Hill, NC
828.689.8444
Zip ‘N Slip Website | Zip ‘N Slip Facebook

Driving Tour: Stunning Waterfalls in NC That Involve No Hiking

Posted on | 7 Comments

Want to see the great outdoors without actually hiking? Kidding Around’s Kristina loves hunting out great waterfalls. She’s created this amazing driving tour packed full of stops where you can see waterfalls without hiking. It’s a perfect day trip activity. She even included a map with all the stops. So fire up that GPS or pop open your favorite map app and get going!

Looking for more waterfalls?
💧Love waterfalls? Here’s our list of Waterfalls in the Southeast with great hiking in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennesse.
💧Also, if you happen to just love waterfalls like we do and are looking for opportunities to keep them clean and pristine, look into volunteering at any of these outdoor places.

There are few places I’d rather be on the weekends than hiking with my kids to some spectacular waterfall. I’ve done a lot of them and plan lots more. But sometimes hiking a few, or more, miles just isn’t happening. But waterfalls? Yes, I still want to see them!

So if you have the grandparents on board and can’t hike or if there is no way you are listening to kids whine for two hours in the woods or for whatever reason you aren’t hiking, we’ve put together an epic (yes, this is epic) waterfall tour in North Carolina for the ultimate day trip that will kill it on your Instagram feed.

If you need more fun in Western NC, see our big Guide to WNC!

North Carolina Waterfall Driving Tour Map

Just beyond the South Carolina/North Carolina border lies the “Land of the Waterfalls” – it’s true, there is an actual sign that says this – so this is where our epic tour takes you. And because we love our readers and want to make things super easy, we also put together a map of the tour!

I suggest you pack a lot of snacks, drinks, lunch, and some car entertainment since you will have to spend time on the road, even though the drive through the mountains is gorgeous.

You can do this tour starting at either the first or the last waterfall as it takes about the same amount of time as well.

Looking Glass Falls

This waterfall is huge and gorgeous. It’s been on my list since I saw an incredible shot of the falls frozen during the winter. I was really hoping to catch the same photo when I went but it wasn’t cold enough. However, ice did cover the stairs at the very bottom of the falls and the surrounding trees, branches and rocks. It was awesome.

You can literally see the falls from the car but park it anyways, get out and if you have people who are willing and able to walk down the stairs, you can get a close-up view. But if not, you will still get to see the falls in all their glory.

Directions

From Greenville, take 276 W to 25 N and take Exit 5 to 25 N. Take Crab Creek Road to 64 W in Brevard and then take 276 N into Pisgah National Forest. The falls will be on your right.

Sliding Rock

Right down the street from Looking Glass Falls in the Pisgah National Forest is the popular summer destination of Sliding Rock. During the winter, there is no one there and you don’t have to pay to enter (during the summer season, it is $5/person).

You can see Sliding Rock from the top where the bathrooms are located and it’s a short walk down the stairs to the platform that overlooks the gigantic natural waterslide.

The pool is about eight feet deep and during the summer there are lifeguards to keep everyone safe. It’s a sight to see though!

Directions

From Looking Glass Falls, keep going on 276 into the forest and Sliding Rock is about four minutes away on the left.

Bridal Veil Falls

It’s about an hour and 20 minutes from Sliding Rock to Bridal Veil Falls in between Cashiers and Highlands but the drive along 64 is gorgeous. And you can go through Brevard if you like and grab lunch (I’d suggest Square Root for higher end cuisine or grab some delicious pastries and bread to make sandwiches at the Bracken Mountain Bakery) to space out the trip and fuel up. We also love stopping at the original O.P. Taylors toy store in downtown Brevard.

Bridal Veil Falls is literally on the side of the road. You could even stay in your car and see this beautiful 60-foot cascading waterfall but really, you should get out because it’s so pretty, especially in the winter when it freezes over occasionally and icicles drop down and make the whole scene ethereal.

You can walk behind this waterfall too, which makes it even cooler. You used to be able to drive behind it but you aren’t allowed anymore.

Directions

Take 276 back to Brevard and make a right on 64 W. Take that all the way through Cashiers and the falls will be about 11.5 from Cashiers on your right.

Dry Falls

A two-minute drive down the road will bring you to Dry Falls on the left. Park in the lot and either use the handicap accessible ramp to go to the overlook or in the warmer months head down to the falls and walk behind them and take photos to make everyone you know jealous.

These falls are huge and loud and incredible. If you are able to walk behind the falls, stay on the path and behind the railing and don’t walk out on the rocks. Waterfalls are dangerous and you don’t want to become a statistic.

If you’re hungry on your way out from Dry Falls, stop at Slabtown Pizza in Cashiers for delicious pizza.

Directions

Stay on 64 W for .8 miles and the falls and parking will be on your left.

Bonus: Lake Jocassee Overlook

I wasn’t expecting this driving to the last waterfall stop so it was a bonus for me. About three miles or so from Whitewater Falls is this overlook that will take your breath away.

You can see all of Lake Jocassee and marvel at the beauty of the gorge. Stop, take photos, have a snack. It’s worth it.  

Directions

It’s on Route 130 from Cashiers to Whitewater Falls. You can’t miss it.

Whitewater Falls

The last waterfall on our list is the biggest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, standing at a whooping 411 feet tall, cascading down the mountainside in all it’s beautiful glory.

Whitewater Falls is just under 40 minutes from Dry Falls and is totally worth the trip. Even though I promised no hiking, don’t be mad about this quarter-mile paved trail to the falls. The sign says the falls are a half-mile from the parking lot but they mean round trip. The trail is very short and the view is amazing.

If you are ambitious and want to get out energy from the car ride, head to the stairs on the right, which will take you down to the viewing platform where you can see all of Whitewater Falls. It’s a nice little workout getting back up those 154 stairs.

Directions

From Dry Falls, go east on 64, hang a right at the center of Cashiers onto 107 South, and then make a left onto 130 North and follow signs to the falls. It’s about 25 miles total.

For other wheelchair accessible/short walk/roadside waterfalls around Western NC, see Blue Ridge Mountain Life Wheelchair Waterfalls and this list of roadside waterfalls.

For more waterfalls, see our Guide to the Southeast’s Best Waterfalls.

 

 

This Mountaintop Chapel is One of Greenville’s Most Beautiful Spots

Posted on | No Comments

Maybe you’ve seen stunning photos of this mountaintop chapel and wondered exactly where it was. Maybe you’ve heard of Pretty Place, South Carolina but have never been. Well, we know exactly where it is and have experienced the utter amazement of this beautiful spot and are here to tell you all about it.

Pretty Place, South Carolina

Video: Take a Peek at Pretty Place

Pretty Place

The actual name of this chapel is called the Fred W. Symmes Chapel but it goes by the more common name of Pretty Place, which I think everyone can agree is quite fitting. It is on the private property off Camp Greenville, which is owned and operated by the YMCA of Greenville. If you send your child to their summer camp, they’ll get to go here often.

Pretty Place is an open-air chapel that overlooks the Carolina Piedmont at 3,200 feet. It’s just one of those places that is difficult to put into words because of the incredible beauty that emits from the mountaintop there.

Camp Greenville has existed since 1912 but Pretty Place was built much later, in 1941, thanks to Mr. Fred Symmes. It was renovated in 2012 and 2018.

The inscription on the large beam overlooking the mountains in front of the giant cross is from Psalm 121. This is the full verse with the inscription italicized: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”

Visiting Pretty Place

Camp Greenville graciously lets the light of Pretty Place shine and is open to the public when not otherwise in use, which is most Saturdays and Sundays, especially during warmer weather when it’s wedding season. Go Google “pretty place” and “wedding” and you’ll want to get married there, or go find someone to marry solely to get married at Pretty Place.

Pretty Place is open daylight to dusk and is the perfect place to capture a beautiful sunrise. The roads are typical windy mountain roads to get up there so during the wintertime, it’s important to check the weather before you head out. It’s about an hour from Greenville.

Also, before you go, you need to check the schedule online, which is updated daily and sometimes hourly. Find the Pretty Place schedule online here.

There are no restrooms on site between December 1 and March 15 so plan accordingly. Visiting Pretty Place is free of charge but of course, they do accept donations.

Pretty Place sits about 300 people and is super popular for weddings and memorial services.

For me, the mountains always bring a sense of peace and solitude. It’s no different at Pretty Place. The vast mountains, the breathtaking scenery, the reminder of the chapel as a place of prayer – it’s all peaceful. In that light, visitors are asked to be respectful. No alcohol, pets, or smoking are allowed.

Have you been to Pretty Place?

100 YMCA Camp Road, Cleveland, SC
Pretty Place Website
Pretty Place Facebook

Things to Do Outside Near Greenville, SC

Looking for more outdoor fun? Here’s your ultimate guide to things to do outside near Greenville, SC.

Winchester Creek Farm: Meet Alpacas and Feed Mini-Horses at This Farm

Posted on | No Comments

Love alpacas and mini-animals? Take a trip to Winchester Creek Farm in Waynesville, NC for a fun day trip with your family!

Media tickets were provided for this review, which was updated in January 2024.

The drive up to Winchester Creek Farm in Waynesville, NC is probably worth the trip alone. The beautiful scenery of mountain peaks and valleys, eventually wind their way to the feet of the Smoky Mountains, where the farm is situated. Winchester Creek Farm, about a 90-minute trip from the South Carolina Upstate, has alpacas and many miniature animals like cows, horses, and donkeys, as well as super fluffy sheep and an adorable little Juliana pig. 

And if you’re making a trip to Asheville, NC, be sure to check our guide of everything to do, eat, and see while you’re there!

(more…)

West Greenville Community Center’s Playground is a Total Hit!

Posted on | 1 Comment

Looking for a playground to visit? You may want to check out West Greenville Community Center’s playground in Greenville!

It’s winter and, yes, it can be cold. Really cold. However, we also get the occasional 60 degree day, in January. You know the kind. When you absolutely must spend as much time outside as possible, before it turns cold again. That’s the perfect day for one of the many awesome parks in Greenville!

Recently, I took the kids to a playground at the West Greenville Community Center. In case you haven’t noticed, Greenville’s West End is bursting with new life. The small, quaint streets are lined with art galleries, vintage shops and to-die-for restaurants. Tucked off the main road, away from all the activity, we found Greenville Rec’s newest addition to the community. It’s not very big, but the boys and I were impressed.

West Greenville Community Center Playground

A little about West Greenville Community Center’s playground

There’s ample space to throw down your picnic blanket. The next time we go, I plan to park myself under the huge Oak Tree. If the ground doesn’t appeal to you, there are two really nice, new tables and benches. The park has two regular slides, one double slide, several climbing apparatus and monkey bars. In spite of the cold, we had a really nice time.

There’s good news and bad news for parents of younger children. The good news is, there’s mulch. The bad news is, there’s mulch. You’ll want to use the set of eyes in the back of your head for the little ones who put anything and everything in their mouths.

Honestly, there’s only so much a girl can write about a playground. So, here’s a short list of comments thrown at me from the back seat on our way home:

“Do we have to leave?”

“Even though there aren’t any swings, it was still fun.”

“Can we come back tomorrow?”

“I’m glad we didn’t have to drive far.”

“I really want to ride that spin around-thingy again!”

Playground benches at West Greenville Community Center in Greenville SC

Visit West Greenville Community Center for yourself

8 Rochester Street
Greenville, SC 29601
Visit the West Greenville Community Center Park website.

Have you checked out the new playground at West Greenville Community Center yet?

Perfect for Families: Scuffletown Food Truck Park Opens in Simpsonville, SC

Posted on |

A new food truck park, the first of its kind in the Upstate, is open in Simpsonville, SC. There are six food trucks and a special addition for little kids. Read on to learn all about it.

When Justin and his wife, Allie, moved to the Upstate, they couldn’t find something they had become familiar with in their home out West: a dedicated spot for food trucks where families could hang out with each other and their kids could play. So they decided to start one.

The Scuffletown Food Truck Park opened in December 2023 and has been busy ever since. We’ve got all you need know to visit and have a blast with your family.

Scuffletown Food Truck Park food truck
Scuffletown Food Truck Park food truck

About the Scuffletown Food Truck Park

Justin and Allie knew they wanted a place in Simpsonville with a variety of dedicated food trucks and a space to have a fun time together for families, couples, and everyone in between.

Justin is a former firefighter but now runs the food truck park full-time. It has gotten a fantastic reception in the community and after visiting, it’s easy to see why. Imagine a smaller version of the outdoor space at Swamp Rabbit Cafe but with food trucks.

They have a picnic area enclosed on three sides, a taproom where guests can pour their own beers, a platform for bands, and a fully enclosed play area with a sand pit.

The Food Trucks

The food trucks at the park are all stationary and have their spot for a year. They have all kinds of food options from sweets to ramen to BBQ to Columbian cuisine.

Here’s a list of the food trucks at the park:

  • Too Sauc’D Up – they serve all kinds of chicken wings.
  • Rad Dad’s BBQ – they have BBQ, nachos, and grilled cheese.
  • Duck Donuts – they have amazing donuts.
  • BirriaBoy – they serve ramen, tacos, and burritos.
  • Half Rooted – they are a Columbian eatery with burgers, empanadas, arepas, and yuca fries.
  • One Love Fusion Foods – nachos, tacos, and rice bowls are their specialties.
Scuffletown Food Truck Park
Scuffletown Food Truck Park food truck

Having all these options are just perfect for families because people can have what they want. We got kids dishes at One Love Fusion and Rad Dad’s BBQ and they were both delicious. The BBQ kid nachos at One Love Fusion were especially amazing and pretty big for a kid size. The fries and pork sandwich at Rad Dad’s didn’t disappoint either. They had lots of BBQ sauces to choose from, which I really enjoyed.

Most of the food trucks we checked out had at least one dish that even the pickiest eaters will love.

The Taproom

The Taproom at the food truck park is pretty cool. It’s an entire wall of beer that is self-serve. You control the amount of beer you have and you are charged by the ounce.

I tried the Keeping It Teal from Snafu Brewing Company in North Charleston and whoa. It’s a fruity sour with raspberries and a hint of cotton candy. I’d have that again in a heartbeat.

Scuffletown Food Truck Park taproom
Scuffletown Food Truck Park Taproom

They have a large variety of beer and you can try as many as you like because you’re in charge of the pours. So fun.

If you need even more variety, there are canned beers available as well.

The Playground and Sand Pit

Here’s where the Scuffletown Food Truck Park really shines and where it’s incredibly obvious that Justin and Allie are parents.

The sand pit is huge and they have those small digging toys where you sit and pretend you’re a big dig operator. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does (*ahem, did*) this. There are sand toys and a small play apparatus.

Scuffletown Food Truck Park sand pit
Scuffletown Food Truck Park sandpit

And the entire area is totally fenced in. Fenced in. No kids are escaping. You can hang out with your delicious food and beer on a nearby picnic table under a heat lamp while your kids get their energy out in the playground. It’s absolutely perfect for parents and a much-needed addition to this area.

​Hours of Operation

The hours are a little confusing as the taproom and food trucks all kind of operate on different schedules. Before you go, be sure to check the Scuffletown Food Truck website to make sure the truck you want or taproom is open.

Scuffletown Food Truck Park outdoor area
Scuffletown Food Truck Park outdoor area

Taproom hours

Sunday and Monday: 11 am – 8 pm
Tuesday and Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 11 am – 9 pm
Friday and Saturday: 11 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 8 pm

For the food truck hours, follow Scuffletown Food Truck Park on social media as they regularly post the updated hours.

​Scuffletown Food Truck Park
206 Ladean Court, Simpsonville
Scuffletown Food Truck Website | Scuffletown Food Truck Facebook | Instagram

Don’t miss our guide to all the restaurants in Simpsonville, SC