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Tweetsie Railroad: Review of A Nostalgic Theme Park Full of Surprises

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Are you wondering if a trip to Tweetsie Railroad is right for your family? The Tweetsie Railroad theme park in North Carolina is full of nostalgic family fun. Elizabeth Faulkner shares her own Tweetsie Railroad experience so you’ll know what to expect when you visit, plus all the great mom tips you’ll want to know.

Media passes were provided for her visit to Tweetsie Railroad, however, all opinions shared in this post are her own. 

Confession of a bad mom. My family has spent a lot of time in the North Carolina mountains; specifically, the Boone, North Carolina area. Lots of time. For years. And we’ve driven right by Tweetsie Railroad many times over the years. Since my oldest daughter, who is now 7, was able to speak she’s been begging me to take her to that ‘place with the ferris wheel’ that we pass on our way to the mountains. And I (the bad mom) had never taken my girls to Tweetsie Railroad. Until today.

If you don’t know Tweetsie Railroad, it is not exactly a new theme park. Nope. I have lots of friends who tell me about their childhood memories visiting Tweetsie – it’s been a theme park since the 1950s. Heck, it was the very first theme park in the state of North Carolina. But a theme park was not how Tweetsie Railroad began.

The history behind Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie began as a railway between Tennessee and North Carolina in the late 1800s. The extension into Boone, NC began in the early 1900s, as a passenger train as well as a method of moving lumber out of the mountains. The train was referred to as Tweetsie because of the “tweet tweet” whistle sound the train made that echoed through the hills. And the name stuck.

Many years later, road development bringing competition from automobiles, and later flooding in Boone, brought an end to the much adored Tweetsie Railroad. Though initially Tweetsie Locomotive No. 12, the only original of the 13 steam engines from the rail line, was moved to Virginia, No. 12 later returned to her home in Boone, NC and the Tweetsie Railroad that we know today began.

Though the history of Tweetsie Railroad is truly fascinating, the North Carolina mountain theme park has been loved by children for generations. If you’re a history buff you can read the Tweetsie Railroad history for yourself right here.

Today’s Tweetsie Railroad is a sweet theme park located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. If you are like I was, unaware of all the fun hiding in those hills, you’re in for a real treat.

Tweetsie Railroad Blowing Rock NC
Photo Rights to Tweetsie Railroad

Our day at Tweetsie Railroad

Our first stop after entering the gates this morning was the train ride, of course. After all, I’ve never ridden a 100+ year old steam locomotive.  Winding through the hills near the theme park this short train ride was complete with replica old mountain towns, cowboys, and even a shoot out. The train ride was so fun we did it again later that afternoon.

Once we got off the train we decided to take in a show – one of many shows featuring cowboys, can-can girls, magicians, musicians, dancers and more. Though there were lots of fun shows to see, this was the only one we made it to. The girls and I all loved it. I’d say their favorite part was the end of the show when they got to get up on stage and try a little can-can dancing of their own.

Then we were on to some rides. I think one of the great things about Tweetsie Railroad was that we didn’t run into even one ride my 7 and 3 year old were too little to ride (though there was one ride I was too big to ride!). Now, that said, we did not get to one portion of the park that included the bigger rides – the few I’m pretty sure my little ones wouldn’t be able (or brave enough) to ride. We’ll check that out next time.

After a yummy pizza lunch, we took the chair lift up to Miner’s Mountain, the little kid portion of the park. The chair ride up to Miner’s Mountain was an adventure all on its own. If you’ve been on a ski lift it’s the same idea. Beautiful views, and a little bit of praying no one wiggles along the way – it’s a long way to the ground. I thought for sure my husband would have us walking back down the mountain – he’s not a fan of heights – but we rode the chair lift back down the mountain too.

Deer Park

Honestly, once we got to Miner’s Mountain, we were running out of steam so after the girls played on the playground a little while we headed directly to Deer Park Zoo. Given that we’ve been to a bunch of zoos, I didn’t have very high expectations for this one but it may have been my favorite part of the day.

This animal park petting zoo includes about 90 animals that we got to be up close and personal with, including several kind of goats, deer, emus, llama, miniature horses and many more. Plus, we were able to buy ice cream cones filled with feed (for 50 cents each) before we walked in which made for a ton of fun. Think animals eating feed right out of your little ones hands – it just doesn’t get sweeter than that!

Though, personally, I really loved watching the animals when they finally got to their favorite snack – the ice cream cone. What a riot. I could’ve spent all afternoon in the sweet Deer Park but we did finally head out. It was way past nap time after all.

Though there were many rides we never got to ride and shows we didn’t see, we were all tired out after spending most of the day at Tweetsie Railroad so it was time for us to go home. All in all, it was a great first (though not last!) visit to Tweetsie Railroad.

Tweetsie Railroad Review

Truth be told, I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or me. The park was small enough that is was easy to navigate and didn’t feel overwhelming, perfect for little ones, full of super friendly staff, and never felt crowded at all.

I also really appreciated that the tickets included everything – all the rides and shows, unlimited train rides, and the zoo. This old fashioned, family oriented theme park is a local and regional favorite and now I understand why. Like it is for so many others, Tweetsie Railroad will become a family tradition for my own family.

Tips for visiting Tweetsie Railroad

And now that we’ve finally made it to this tourist hot spot I have some tips for you when you go:

  • The park opens at 10 am most days.
  • If you do go early make sure the top parking lot is full before you park in the lots right inside the entry. You can save yourself a little extra walking to get inside the park.
  • Yes, there is a mock robbery with “bad guys” but this doesn’t occur on the train itself. Rather you watch the show from the train. I was relieved that it wasn’t at all scary to my little ones.
  • If you want the best view of the show from the train possible choose the 2nd, 3rd or 4th car and sit on the right side of the isle.
  • Though I didn’t see this happen, I was told that kids can get embers from the train in their eyes. You may want to bring along some sunglasses for your kids to wear on the train ride.
  • Walking can get tiring for little legs – bring a stroller or wagon. Plus you have somewhere to hold your drinks and purchases. Should you not have a stroller and need one there are several options available to rent. Rental rates are $10 per day and you can choose from single or double strollers or various wagons.
  • Don’t feel like spending money on lunch? No problem – pack your own!  You can bring your own food into Tweetsie, which can help a little with the budget.
  • Take pictures! There are lots of beautiful photo opportunities at Tweetsie – after all, the mountains are the backdrop. Our family shot in front of No. 12 is going to be a perfect Christmas card this year!
Tweetsie Railroad Blowing Rock NC
Photo Rights to Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad is open for the 2023 season!

300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane*
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
*approximately 3hrs from Greenville!

Summer hours

June 19 – August 13, Thursday – Monday, 10 am-6 pm, See the entire schedule here.

Special Events for 2023

The 2023 season at Tweetsie Railroad is loaded with special events, including the ultra popular K9s in Flight Frisbee Dogs®, Riders in the Sky, Railroad Heritage Weekend, and more! See the entire list of special events here.

This year’s K9s in Flight Frisbee Dogs® event happens July 22-24 & July 27-30, 2023. These high-flying pups will amaze you with their flips and tricks! Shows are included with regular park admission.

Ticket pricing

General admission tickets are $60 for adults, $40 for kids 3 – 12 and free for kids 0 – 2. General admission tickets are not valid for Ghost Train or Tweetsie Christmas.

If you enter the park after 3 pm, the next day is free! Keep your ticket stubs and present them at the Ticket Office for another full day of family fun.

If you are lucky enough to get to Tweetsie Railroad more than a couple times in a season you might want to consider a season pass.

Ready to buy your tickets?! Purchase general admission tickets here.

Where to Stay Near Tweetsie Railroad

Find the perfect place to stay near Tweetsie Railroad with the map below. Kidding Around earns when you book through the links in the map through as part of an affiliate relationship with Stay 22.

Kidding Around WNC: things to do in Western North Carolina towns

Find more fun in WNC! Check out our huge guide to Western North Carolina, Kidding Around WNC.

Contact Elizabeth Faulkner

Local realtor, Elizabeth Faulkner, takes great pride in working hard and providing top-notch service to her clients. Her goal is to make the buying and selling process a smooth one for each and every client she serves!

Elizabeth Faulkner
[email protected]

Read more about Elizabeth Faulkner on Kidding Around.

Family Beaches With Fun Things to Do: Carolina Beach, NC

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If you are looking for a family beach that also has a lot of fun things to do, Carolina Beach in North Carolina is an excellent choice! KAG contributor Jennifer and her family checked out Carolina Beach at Pleasure Island and found it to be the perfect mix of family entertainment and beach fun.

Read all about what made this beach town a hit for her family and why your own may want to visit soon!

Things to do at Carolina Beach in North Carolina.

What makes Carolina Beach special?

My family recently headed up the North Carolina coast and discovered Carolina Beach. Located approximately five hours from the Upstate, Carolina Beach makes the perfect beach destination for summer vacations.

This popular NC beach is an excellent choice if you are looking for a family-friendly beach. How you choose to take a beach trip is a personal preference. Some families like to go to beaches like Myrtle Beach, with many entertainment options and crowds, whereas others prefer quieter beaches with fewer entertainment options.

This beach fits right in the middle of these categories. It has plenty of things to do with the whole family, such as the Boardwalk amusement park; however, it is not as crowded as other beach destinations. Plus, with tons of vacation rentals, you can choose to stay closer to the Boardwalk where the action happens, or you can stay further away from the crowds.

The Boardwalk at Carolina Beach, NC

The standout feature of Carolina Beach is the Boardwalk. It is one of the few true boardwalks on the East Coast. And I don’t mean just a simple pier. This is a true boardwalk with amusement park rides, a Ferris wheel, shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The boardwalk comes alive in the evenings, so be prepared to spend lots of time there after lounging on the beach daily.

The Boardwalk at Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Carolina Beach Has A Family-Friendly Shoreline

Another big plus for Carolina Beach is its family-friendly shoreline. Unlike more isolated beaches, the beach has several lifeguard stands along its three miles of shoreline. With ever-changing currents and hesitant swimmers, I always feel safer knowing there are lifeguards nearby.

Additionally, Carolina Beach is wheelchair accessible. Directly off the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, there are accessible walkways making it accessible to those in wheelchairs or families with an extra set of wheels.

The shoreline of Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Worthwhile Things to Do: Carolina Beach

On top of the fun standard beach attractions, such as mini golf, my family absolutely loved visiting the nearby North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Fort Fisher State Recreation Site is only ten minutes from Carolina Beach, and visiting the aquarium is a must! The North Carolina Aquarium has several hands-on exhibits, plenty of marine life to observe, and even a fantastic playground.

The playground at Carolina Beach in North Carolina.

But, that’s not all! The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher also has an amazing dinosaur exhibit. The animatronic dinosaurs are placed naturally throughout a shaded walkway making their appearance seem realistic. My kids loved seeing the dinos up close – especially the one dinosaur that sprayed them with water.

The entrance to the North Carolina Aquarium.

Outdoor Adventures

While you are visiting the aquarium at Fort Fisher, be sure to check out the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, where you can hike, explore the dunes, and maybe even see Loggerhead turtles nesting (from a distance, of course!)

You can also head south to the Fort Fisher State Historic Site at Kure Beach, a civil war site that makes a great educational lesson while you’re vacationing. There are guided tours to take, exhibits to view, and an impressive fort.

If you’re feeling up to an outdoor adventure during your beach trip, check out Carolina Beach State Park, where your family can hike, bike, and even camp if you’re up for it! Fun fact: the state park is home to the Venus Flytrap, so you can teach your kids about this near-carnivorous plant while you venture through the coastal park. There is also a 50-foot sand dune, Sugarloaf Dune, that will have them in awe.

If you’re wanting to stay close to town, the Carolina Beach Lake Park is a wonderful lake to spend an afternoon kayaking, have a picnic, or let your kids burn off some energy at the playground. There are also free outdoor movies on Sunday evenings, perfect after a long day on the beach.

Delicious Eats Near the Beach

Of course, we couldn’t spend time exploring Carolina Beach without sampling some of the most popular restaurants. We tried out Hang Ten Grill after hearing about its popularity. After eating there for lunch, we understood why so many people headed in that direction! Hang Ten Grill is a typical beach restaurant with surfboards decorating the walls – and even the ceilings.

The menu has plenty of seafood and grilled favorites. I had a shrimp burger, and it was delicious! But, it was the kid’s menu that sold it. My son had a hamburger, and my daughter had nachos – and each came with an ice cream sundae!

The restaurant regularly has live music, food and drink specials, and events like yoga and coffee. Check out the Hang Ten Grill Facebook page to see what events are happening while visiting the area.

Some additional restaurants you may like to check out with stellar reviews include SeaWitch Cafe and Tiki Bar for live music, Cape Fear Boil Company to satiate your seafood craving, and Kate’s Pancake House for a delicious breakfast! If you are into craft brews, Good Hops Brewery is a highly recommended local brewery that is located in the heart of this beach city!

The Hang Ten Grill in Carolina Beach, NC.

For those families looking for a beach that is quintessentially beachy, then head to Carolina Beach. With the lively boardwalk, the beautiful shoreline, and pastel-colored beach houses, it screams “Summertime Fun!”

Day Trips Ideas for Couples: Plan the Perfect Day for You and Your Numero Uno this Summer

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Thinking about a couples day trip somewhere near Greenville, SC? If you want to plan a dreamy day trip with your significant other this summer, we have a great list of day trip ideas for couples. We have put together a whole list of romantic day trip ideas! Whether you want to do something romantic, visit a new town, or have some adventure our list will help you plan the perfect day trip.


Escape Artist Is One of Greenville’s Best Places for Fun and Mystery

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Do you think you can beat the clock at Escape Artist Greenville SC? Several years ago, some friends were visiting from out of town and wanted to meet up. When we asked them what they would like to do, they suggested that we meet up at one of Greenville’s top escape rooms, Escape Artist Greenville. We are very glad that we said yes. In fact, we had such a great time we can’t stop recommending Escape Artist to all of our friends in Greenville.

Escape Artist Greenville

Liberty Bridge at Falls Park

Looking for more fun things to do downtown? Check out the KA Guide to Downtown Greenville.

What is Escape Artist Greenville Like?

Upon arriving, we were energized immediately by owners Will and Kim Rutherford’s enthusiasm. It was impossible to not catch the excitement about trying to test our group’s wits against one of their escape rooms.

After a short explanation of rules such as “don’t tear apart the ceiling” followed by a creepy story intro we handed over our iPhones and headed into  “Dr. Fratelli’s cabin”. Inside the mad scientist’s cabin, we quickly got to work looking inside and under the many objects in order to start finding clues. These clues then led to puzzles that had to be solved in order to find the special locked exit and escape the room where Dr. Fratelli had trapped us. Of course, the primary entrance remained unlocked so we weren’t actually physically locked in. It is just a game!

We were given just one hour to escape the room, but we had the ability to ask for three clues during our hour. Will was watching us through his surveillance cameras and was quick to offer the exact help needed for each clue. The puzzles were challenging but still simple enough for a group to solve.

Did We Escape?

Of course, the first question everyone asks is “Did you escape?” Actually, Will told us that only 20-25% of the groups that try the room “get out”. We made it though with only a couple of minutes left to spare and we used all 3 hints.

Will greeted us after we finished and shared his own observations of how we solved the puzzle. We then were allowed to grab our phones again so that Kim could take a victory photo for us showcasing our time.

Objects and clues at Escape Artist Greenville SC
Photo Credit: Eli Warren, used by permission from Escape Artist Greenville

Is Escape Artist Greenville Worth the Money?

Escape Artist is a little bit more expensive than most of the attractions my husband and I visit, starting at around $30/person. It was worth every penny we spent. We had so much fun working together, laughing at our mistakes, and bragging about what we solved. The room was very well designed, all of the clues were clear and worked correctly, and Will & Kim executed everything wonderfully. It’s no wonder that they have received so many 5 star reviews.

Any hints?

Well, of course, I can’t give any hints on how to solve the puzzle because that would ruin the fun, but here are a couple tips to help you have the best chances of victory:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for a clue when you are stuck. It’s better to use them up than not get out!
  2. Get started quickly. Don’t be shy about looking around the room when you enter it. The sooner you find your first clues the better.
  3. Don’t overthink your clues. None of the clues will require knowing weird facts and you won’t mess up your clues by touching or moving objects in the room.
  4. Playing an escape room game on your tablet or phone ahead of time will help give you an idea of the types of puzzles you might encounter.
  5. Have fun! Don’t get too stressed out. This activity is all about having a good time.

What About Kids?

I visited Escape Artist Greenville with 3 other adults and I thought that it was a great adult activity but older children and teens would definitely enjoy it as well. Children under 16 are allowed to attend with an adult, and Will told us that he had even recently hosted a party of 11-year-olds. Will did tell us that he adapts the clues as necessary for children and that the children who have come through really have enjoyed the puzzle. All of the content in the story and inside the room was appropriate for any age audience and there weren’t any thematic elements that would scare a child.

About Escape Artist: Greenville SC

Be sure to book your time ahead of time online. Due to the nature of the event, space is limited and 2 hours advanced reservation is required.

This attraction is completely unique to Greenville. While there are other “escape rooms” in Greenville and in other cities, Will & Kim specifically designed this room and story making it a one-of-a-kind adventure.

The attraction can fit 2-8 people at a time. Your group may get placed with another group if you don’t purchase the entire 8 tickets.

In addition to Dr. Fratelli’s Cabin, there are four other escape rooms including our current favorite Starlight Motel (a spooky, interactive room for adults). You can read about Starlight Motel in our review.

There is a second location of Escape Artist Greenville, located at Hampton Station. The Hampton Station location has fewer rooms (Help Wanted and Dark Lullaby), but the proximity to dining, breweries, and shopping makes it a great activity.

The Escape Artist Greenville: SC Has Two Locations!

209 East Stone Avenue, Greenville, SC
[email protected]
Book the Downtown Greenville location

Hampton Station
1320 Hampton Avenue, Bay 11C, Greenville, SC
Book the Hampton Station location

Have you ever visited The Escape Artist or another Escape Room in Greenville? We would love to hear what you thought in the comments!

Guide to things to do indoors, Greenville, SC

There is still fun to have indoors!

KA Premier Guide to Things to Do Inside

Enjoy great food, breweries, activities, and more at Hampton Station in Greenville, SC

Things to do at Hampton Station in Greenville, SC

Asheville Adventure Park: Kid Zip Lining, Treetop Ropes Courses, and Canopy Zip Lining in WNC

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Have you visited Asheville Adventure Park? In Asheville, NC, this zipline course offers so much for adventurous kids. We visited the Asheville Adventure Park for some fun so we could tell our readers all about it, and help them plan their own trip!

Complimentary tickets were provided for this review in 2018, and it has been updated with 2023 information.

ashville adventure park at the asheville adventure center

Last week the kids and I took the kind of adventure you just want to share with everyone you know. (You guys – it is just so fun to have big kids!) This adventure involved helmets and heights and wires and harnesses and conquering fears and pulling together as a team. And it was pretty close to home too.

The Adventure Center of Asheville is just a couple of minutes from downtown Asheville, NC. As soon as I heard about their KidZip, the first kid zip line in the country to be built especially for kids ages 4 to 10, I wanted to try it with my kiddos. (Our family received tickets for writing and reviewing and sharing about the park. Our opinions are absolutely all our own.) P

lus, they have one of only a few Asheville zip-line canopy tours located only minutes from downtown Asheville with beautiful views of downtown. Sounds like the perfect day trip to me!

Find a place to stay in Asheville, NC. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Our day at Asheville Adventure Park at the Adventure Center of Asheville

We arrived a little early because I wasn’t certain how long the drive would take or the length of the paperwork process. The check-in process was laid back and simple. There was a waiver to sign per kid, of course.  And this time, for the first time, I actually had my writers fill in their own info and sign their own names. Man – that made that process so much faster.

We watched zip liners climb way up high on the adult course and wondered if our zip lines would be that high. Turns out – they were not. For which all of the kids were grateful.

At the course we were given helmets and harnesses and instructions. I’m not going to lie – the older I get the more young adults look like children to me. And a lot of the workers at the KidZip area certainly looked young. I watched closely as they harnessed my kids in and checked the equipment. I can tell you this – these young men and women were professional, calm, well-spoken, and careful about their work. I saw zero cell phones in their hands and they all kept their own helmets on and they were focused on their jobs at hand.

asheville adventure park kidzip

Maneuvering the KidZip Course at Asheville Adventure Park

After we received our instructions we started on the kid zip line. There were nine ziplines I think and each had an obstacle before you zipped off down the line.

At first the zipping and the obstacles were easy but goodness, they got more complicated. You are always attached by your trolley to the zipline and always harnessed in but you had to maneuver your trolley over several tracks and something they called “sharks” which could be a little tricky for tiny hands and arms. The kids did a stellar job though.

At tough obstacles, they talked through them and worked together to help their younger siblings reach the sharks and conquer the heights.

If I had realized this would be helpful, I would have positioned myself between the kids differently. Once your trolley is on the zipline you can’t change orders or get off so occasionally I was several kids behind Otto and Piper and they could have really used a grown-up’s helping hand. Or – if you were zipping with multiple grown-ups you could plan to stagger grown-ups and kids accordingly. We managed just fine in the end since Berg and London and Mosely really helped out a lot.

(Actually – I think one thing I most valued about this entire experience – aside from the fabulous just plain fun factor – was the fact that the kids really pulled together. They spoke encouraging words. They laughed. They gave each other a helping hand. They were a family – up high and all together.)

The climbing wall on the next-to-last zipline was my least favorite – I seriously did not like balancing on that high-up wall and trying to pull down the sharks for my trolley to pass over. Piper almost panicked at that one, but she reigned it in bravely and conquered it.

Can you guess which little Keigley was the least afraid throughout the entire experience? If you guessed Otto then you guessed right. That little man is as fearless as they come. He was usually the leader on our excursion and would continually look back at us and ask, “Can I head to the next one guys?” with the biggest happy grin all shining out of his sweet boy face.

TreeTop Adventure course at Asheville Adventure Park

One thing I really appreciated about the Asheville Adventure Park was that, after we finished our zipping, I assumed we were done. One ride, so to speak.  But nope – the staff smiled and said, “Want to go again?” Which we did, of course! Because on the second round, you felt more like an expert and could be a little bolder. By the third round, yep – the third round – Bergen was putting his hands behind his head, relaxing style, and zipping across like a champ. I loved that you could go round and round as often as you wanted. It certainly would make you feel as if you received your money’s worth.

The Big Courses at Asheville TreeTops Adventure Park

After we had all the zipping we could handle, we stared up in wonder at the Asheville TreeTops Adventure Park, situated right beside the KidZip area. It looked fascinating and terrifying and awesome and challenging and exactly like something we all wanted to try but were afraid to try – all at the exact same time. The TreeTop Adventure park ages range from 4 and up, though some of the higher-up and more difficult courses should be reserved for older kids and adults.

The obstacles were wild – lily pads two stories up that you jumped across, a kayak strung between trees about five stories high that you paddled across on ropes and air, skinny wires to walk on, trapezes to swing through the trees, hula hoops dangling between trees, ropes swinging for balance, a slide to come down and so so much more. We gulped and decided we’d try that adventure too.

The really great thing about the TreeTops Adventure Park is the fact that its appeal is so wide to so many ages. There are five courses of varying levels and enough dizzying challenges to frighten even the most adventure loving grown up big kid.

The hook-up and safety procedures for the TreeTops Adventure Park were a bit different. You are always attached to your harness and the wires through the use of two hooks and a cleverly designed system using tweezles. (Yes, that’s a real word.) It is impossible for both tweezles to be unlocked at the same time so you can trust that you (and your beloved kiddos) are safe and sound and secure.

There is definitely a learning curve to the tweezles and I’d say the kids got the hang of it before I did. It was certainly a big part of the challenge to switch your carabiner from side to side while balancing on a little platform far up in the trees. There were several obstacles for which I was legitimately scared. I think I would have liked to have tried to challenge myself to some of the even harder courses but time didn’t allow for that bravery. (Yep, I’m blaming time when it was probably because I was too scared!)

We could have stayed for hours and hours longer but we did eventually grow hungry and exhausted. We had so much fun and we all were steady non-stop talking about which obstacle was the scariest and how hard it was or how easy it was or how scary it was. London, my stay-at-home-every-day kind of kid, pulled me aside as we were turning in our gear and whispered, “Momma – I’m sorry for not having the best attitude about this trip when you told us about it. It was way more fun than I ever thought it would be.”

Planning Your Family Trip to Asheville Adventure Park

Asheville Treetops Adventure Park features lots of other options for adventurous souls. There is one of the more popular Asheville zip line canopy tours, a bungee-style jump, and the Kolo bike park for mountain biking with bike rentals and pump tracks.

I know I have an unusually large family. (Although, ironically, lately London says she feels as if our family is small.  I think I agree with her. It’s all perspective, people.)  But I know not everyone has to fork over entry fees for five kids when they take adventures.

The prices at Asheville Adventure Park seem high. It’s pricier than a movie, for sure. (Although, not by  much!) You certainly do get a lot of bang for your buck. After having spent a long morning at the park though, I can guarantee, the prices are worth it!

The adventure is fun. The challenges are great. The bonding can’t be beaten. Sharing pictures and telling others what you can’t even believe that you conquered – just the perfect amount of thrill. It’s so conveniently located that you can treat it as a staycation option or as a choice for when out-of-town friends come for a weekend visit. Reservations are recommended, especially if you plan to travel with a larger group.

Asheville Treetops Adventure Park
1 Resort Drive
Asheville, NC 28803
See Asheville Treetops Adventure Park website for current hours and directions

I hope you decide to go. And I hope you take lots of pictures and I hope you get to make as many sweet and solid memories with your cool kids as I got to make with mine.

Are your kids brave enough for Asheville Adventure Park?

Sunflower field at Biltmore

Looking for more to do in Asheville? Check out KA’s Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Asheville, NC

The Best Family-Friendly Gyms in Greenville and Spartanburg

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Are you wondering what gyms in Greenville and Spartanburg are the most family-friendly? Or maybe you’re searching “gyms with childcare near me”? Being able to access a gym with a quality daycare that your kids could check into while you are exercising, a gym with a pool, or a gym that has exercise programs for the whole family is an amazing thing to have. Here’s what other local parents in Greenville and Spartanburg recommended when we asked them where their favorite family-friendly gyms are!

This article includes:
Best Family Gyms Near Greenville, SC
Best Family-Friendly Gyms in Spartanburg, SC
More Family Fitness and Things to Do

Gyms with childcare Greenville, SC Spartanburg, SC

About this list: These recommended gyms are based on recommendations from our readers. We have updated information as we are able to but we always recommend checking the websites and/or calling to get the latest information. If you know of a gym that’s kid-friendly that didn’t make our list (or have a review to add), just add a comment at the bottom of this post.

Reader Recommended Gyms For Families in Greenville

Prisma Health Family YMCA

864.963.3605 | 550 Brookwood Point Place, Simpsonville
Childcare: Up to 2 hours of free child care each day and a Parents’ Night Out included with membership on the first Friday of each month (ages 2-12)
Facilities: group exercise classes, two pools, wellness equipment, and more
Children’s Fitness and Health: After School Program, Adventure Guides, Aquatics, Summer Day Camp, Dance, Overnight Camp, and more

GHS Family YMCA definitely! They are very sweet and kind to the kids. My kids love going there. They have fitness classes for them almost every day.


Prisma Health Family YMCA all the way! They have childcare, kids classes (fit kids, sports performance, dance, swim) and have summer camps and after school programs


Prisma YMCA in Simpsonville is good. They have a 2 hour limit each day for child watch. If you are one who enjoys a good workout and showering before leaving,you do have to be very strategic in your arrival time. I have yet to find the sauna they advertise, but they do have a steam room. The pool is outdoors and under a dome in the winter. High winds will shut it down. The waters been 72-74 so far. All instructors have been amazing.


Kroc Center

864.527.5948 | 424 Westfield Street, Greenville
Childcare: Child watch services are limited to 2 hours at no additional cost.
Facilities: Fitness facility, gymnasium, swimming pool, group fitness, and tennis
Children’s Fitness and Health: Family fitness classes, aquatics, and children’s fitness classes

location, location, location



Multiple Upstate Locations
Childcare: up to 2 hours for children 8 weeks-14 years at no additional cost with membership; otherwise, it’s $5 per day
Racquetball, Fitness Studios, Pickleball, Training Area, Women’s Only Fitness Area, and more
Offers: Children’s Fitness Class

Sportsclub!!!! The Five Forks one is fabulous (haven’t been to the others). The child care facility is great and they offer classes like zumba for the kids. My kids love going to the gym while I work out.


My kids love going to the childcare at Sportsclub. My 7-year-old thinks the Big Kid Room is super cool – they play games, watch movies & even have a Wii. My 3-year-old loves all the fun toys in the Little Kid Room. The staff is attentive, loving, and genuinely likes working with kids! I also recently tried Sportsclub Kids at the Congaree Road location over Christmas break. My 7-year-old had an absolute blast. They do a different activity every 45 minutes (the kids pick from 3 activities per block of time) — everything from crafts to indoor games to swimming! They even have a huge playground there specifically for Sportsclub Kids but unfortunately it was raining that day. Truthfully my child wants me to return to working a full-time job so she can go to Sportsclub Kids after school every day. Seriously…


SportsClub. They have 3 locations, Childcare, Moms morning out, Parents Night Out, Swimming lessons, parent/child classes and SportsClub kids has some great programs.


Pivotal Fitness in Taylors

864.292.8875 | 5000 Old Spartanburg Road, Taylors
Childcare: Free childcare for children 6 weeks to 6 years.  Additional programs for children 6-12 from 4-8 pm.
Facilities: Fitness Studios, Strength Equipment, Children’s Fitness Area

Caine Halter Family YMCA

864.679.9622 | 721 Cleveland Street, Greenville
Childcare: Up to 2 hours of free child care each day and a Parents’ Night Out included with membership, on a first come first serve basis.
Cardio equipment, indoor pool, sauna, whirlpool, wellness center, walking track, express fitness, strength equipment, and more
Children’s Fitness and Health: Afterschool program, aquatics and swim lessons, summer day camp, dance, Overnight Camp, and more

I love the Caine halter y. Lots of classes, access to the swamp rabbit trail and childcare is included. I will say though that I lived in simpsonville for a while and the prisma family y out there is amazing! Fantastic childcare staff!!!


YMCA offers similar great family programming at their other Greenville locations, and we also love that membership at many of the branches comes with a free parent’s night out each month. Find all of the YMCA locations via their website, and consider an Upstate membership for access to all of the branches.

The YMCA memberships now include access to all locations with the location you attend most often designated your home location.


Gyms in Spartanburg Perfect For Families

Spartanburg Athletic Club

864.582.5050 | 2420 Andrews Road, Spartanburg
The nursery is for members’ children ages 6 weeks through 9 years (no exceptions)

Spartanburg atheltic club is the best!!❤we love the weight room. They have an indoor and outdoor pool. The daycare and workers are wonderful. They have zone training which is similar to crossfit. They have unlimited classes. The managers are awesome and genuinely care about you. The locker rooms are roomy and each have a sauna in them. There’s tons of lockers. Also for tennis lovers they have tons of courts!!


Burn Boot Camp – Spartanburg

864.715.2267 | 1802 Drayton Road – Unit 110, Spartanburg

Burn Boot Camp – Spartanburg, SC hands down! Best gym I have ever been a part of. I love it and my kids love it! The childcare is the best and so clean!


Burn Boot Camp at Drayton Mill is the place to go!!! My girls love going with me. They treat you like family. We won’t go anywhere else.


YMCA Locations in Spartanburg

Like the Greenville YMCA locations, the Spartanburg YMCA locations also offer childcare, child/parent classes, and the ever-so-popular “Parents Night Out”. Membership prices vary, but income-based scholarships and other discounts are available. Reciprocity benefits with some memberships allow you to visit any YMCA location nationwide!

Middle Tyger YMCA Family Center

864.433.9623 | 720 Shoals Road, Duncan
Parent’s night out is offered every 3rd Saturday night from 5:30 – 9:30 pm.

YMCA for our family is the best deal around. Child care. Great classes. Two locations close by. The pool!!! My big kids love the downtown location with the water slide. I love the hot tub! My almost 2 year old loves to play with his friends while I workout giving me some nice me time.


Y in Duncan has mom and child yoga classes


Thomas E Hannah Family YMCA

864.585.0306 | 151 Ribault Street, Spartanburg
Parent’s night out is offered every 1st Saturday night from 5:30 – 9:30 pm.

Currently the YMCA is the best fit for us – a family membership provides childcare while parents work out; indoor heated swimming pools for fun and for lessons; discounts on their sports programs; and the money we save on babysitters by using Parents Night Out (date night childcare on Saturday evenings) is amazing


The YMCA on Pine Street. They have childcare, sports for kids are half off with membership, they are really nice, and my kids love the pool with splashpark.


Pine street YMCA has a great program and you can watch your child on a camera from your treadmill. Not to mention the water park that you can enjoy with your kids


Willis Road YMCA (Formerly Westside Club)

864.310.6400 | 501 Willis Road, Spartanburg
Parent’s night out is offered every 2nd Saturday night from 5:30 – 9:30 pm.

Fitness Ideas for Parents with Kids Outside the Traditional Gym

Barre 3

864.627.3900 | 2815 Woodruff Road, Greenville
Price: $22 per class / Class package deals available
Childcare: can be booked in advance

Barre3greenville has play lounge for the kids during many of their morning and afternoon classes.


Total Fitness Family Center

864.295.3687 | 9801 Anderson Road, Piedmont
Kids have their own fitness program

Total Fitness in Powdersville is awesome. Childcare included. Christian gym and atmosphere is awesome.

local mom

Burn Boot Camp

864.483.6388 | 215 Pelham Road, Suite B101, Lower Level, Greenville
864.609.7401 | 1618 Woodruff Road, Greenville
864.715.2267 | 1802 Drayton Road – Unit 110, Spartanburg

Total Fitness in Powdersville is awesome. Childcare included. Christian gym and atmosphere is awesome.


Burn Boot Camp – Greenville, SC has child care and enthusiastic women working out! We all cheer each other on! The only competition is with yourself. Our trainer does a great job of helping with techniques and form while celebrating your growth!


Burn Boot Camp Five Forks! I have worked out a lot of places in this is by far the best! Child care is full of friendly ladies who also workout at the gym. My kids love it ,and have made lots of friends. They also do fun family camps, outside events, etc. We are a HUGE family there, and it so welcoming!


Burn Bootcamp Five Forks! I love it and my children do. Awesome ladies in childcare and the best community of people. You won’t find better trainers or more support anywhere else.


Hiking in the Upstate

Hiking is an excellent physical fitness activity you can do as a family for very little money. Check out our Hiking Guide to Upstate, SC to find some gorgeous trails to explore. We have ideas for all ages and abilities!

Biking in the Upstate

What is your favorite family-friendly gym in Greenville? Let us know in the comments and we might add your suggestion next time we update this post!

Things to Do in Greenville, SC

Looking for even more things to do in Greenville, SC? Here are 50+ Amazing Things to Do in the Upstate.

Explore Ocean Animals and Meet Penguins at Ripley’s Aquarium: Myrtle Beach Reviews

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If you are looking for things to do in the Myrtle Beach area, you should certainly consider a trip to Ripley’s Aquarium. Myrtle Beach reviews of the aquarium say it is an excellent choice for a family-friendly outing. Plus, it is located at Broadway at the Beach, one of Myrtle Beach’s most visited attractions. This two-story attraction includes multiple touch tanks, a shark tunnel, and lots of fish, jellies, frogs, and more to watch and learn about. There has also been a recent expansion, with the Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach now having a penguin exhibit! Here’s what you need to know for your visit.

Thank you to Visit Myrtle Beach and Ripley’s Aquarium for hosting us for this review. To read all about our adventures at Myrtle Beach, see our Spring Break Itinerary for Myrtle Beach.

I’ve actually been to at least 5 other aquariums, two of which were outside the US. I was pleased to find that the Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach was very clean and brightly decorated, had several significant exhibits such as the shark tunnel and tank, and that the hands-on exhibits were all in working order. The aquarium is a smaller aquarium, but still has so much to explore!

Lower Level Exhibits at Ripley’s Aquarium: Myrtle Beach, SC

Ray Bay

This tank is full of rays and sharks! The Ray Bay sting-ray exhibit at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach has a full tank where you can watch divers swimming in the tank at showtimes, hand-feeding the rays. That part is pretty neat. The touch tank in the shallow area is one of my favorite exhibits at the aquarium. This large, shallow area allows you to touch the stingrays! You can run your hand along their back as they glide past you in the tanks, feeling their smooth skin. These stingrays are really large and it’s fascinating to watch them up close. This exhibit can get pretty crowded on super busy days, so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to get to the edge of the touch tank.

Ripleys Ray Bay

Dangerous Reef

Dangerous Reef at Ripley’s Aquarium is one of the coolest exhibits they have. This extra large shark tunnel and tank has a number of fish that swim above and around you. It is amazing watching the sharks swim overhead in the shark tank. There are thousands of fish, which makes for a lot of awe while you travel down the tunnel on a convey belt glide path. This is where you will find most of the large fish, including large sharks, at Ripley’s Aquarium.

Ripley's Aquarium dangerous reef exhibit

Rainbow Rock

Rainbow Rock, aka the Indo-Pacific Coral Reef, is a super colorful exhibit of fish and animals. These fish are from the Indo-Pacific and include Clownfish, Blue Tang, Clown Trigger-fish, and Emperor Angelfish. The reef itself is pretty neat since most of us have never or may never see a reef up close in person. The exhibit is a great way to learn about their defense mechanisms and why they have such bright coloring.

Living Gallery

My little kids absolutely loved this exhibit. The Living Gallery includes some of the ocean’s most beautiful creatures such as seahorses, jellies, and living coral. My favorite animal on the planet, the Octopus, can be found here. They also have some really cool sea dragons, which are relatives of seahorses, but look way cooler.

Upper-Level Exhibits at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, SC

Rio Amazon

I love the rainforest. The biodiversity is spectacular, and being able to see even a snippet of what lives there was really cool and fed my inner ecology nerd. The Rio Amazon exhibit at the Ripleys Aquarium has piranhas, colorful poisonous dart frogs, rainforest native fish, and more. They also have freshwater stingrays, which I honestly did not know existed until our visit.

Friendship Flats

If you’re wanting to learn even more about stingrays, you can head upstairs to the Friendship Flats exhibit, where you can touch stingrays as they glide by. You can also get an educational lesson on the rays, horseshoe crabs, and more from the Aquarium Educators. If you are super adventurous and willing to fork out the money, Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach offers a Stingray Experience where you can swin alongside the rays.

Planet Jellies

This exhibit was pretty cool, not going to lie. The way the Planet Jellies exhibit is set up, you can watch several types of jellyfish swim through the color-changing displays. The way the lighting plays off of the jellyfish’s colors really adds to the experience, making it super fun to watch. There are moon jellies, Japanese Sea Nettles, and even unique-looking jellies like the Upside Down Jelly to watch. My 3-year-old was mesmerized by the jellies floating around the tanks, so we spent a good bit of time here in awe of them gliding through the water.

Ripleys aquarium Myrtle Beach

New Addition: Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse

Though we didn’t get to visit this particular exhibit during our visit, this recent expansion has people talking. Ripley’s Aquarium Myrtle Beach reviews sound amazing, so we had to mention it! With over 5500 square feet added on to the aquarium, the addition offers penguins, 8 new tanks with a worldly array of fish, classrooms, and more! One of the key features of the expansion is the penguin exhibit, with 21 penguins you can observe (and potentially interact with!). The Ripley’s Aquarium website has all of the penguins’ names and information, so you can learn about their personalities. The exhibit also has a 360-degree tunnel you can crawl through as penguins swim above you. There is even a penguin nursery! How adorable.

Other features at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, SC

  • There was a small playground and food court available. The playground was more suited for small children and provided a nice break.
  • One of the exhibits Systems Control allows you to see the pipes, pumps, and filters behind the scenes that keep all the tanks running smoothly.
  • You can pay an additional fee to ride the Glass Bottom Boat across a coral reef for a close look at the shark tank.
  • The new penguin exhibit also has penguin encounters for a fee, where you can get up close and personal with those adorable little birds.
  • If you are interested in the ecology of the aquarium, you can purchase tickets for the Marine Science Research Center Tour, where you will get a behind-the-scenes look at Ripley’s Aquarium.
  • Be sure to check online before your visit to find out what shows are going on that day. You can even see a Mermaid show on some weekends.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach: Ticket Information

Ticket prices for the Ripley’s Aquarium are $24.99 for kids 3-11; $39.99 for 12 and older. Purchasing online also allows you to skip the long ticket booth lines. (Note: prices may change, please check the website for current deals).

You can also purchase Ripley’s bundle and save money if you want to also visit additional Ripley’s Attractions during your trip to Myrtle Beach. The aquarium also has online deals for tickets that include animal encounters, breakfast with mermaids, pancakes with penguins, and more!

About Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach
1110 Celebrity Circle
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

Have you ever been to Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach? What did you think?

Travel Guide to Coastal SC: Myrtle Beach

Plan Your Trip to the Coast
KA’s Guide to Myrtle Beach

15 Day Trips with Teens Near Greenville, SC

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Are you looking for a fun day trip with teens? Need a way to spend a day with your teen near Upstate, SC? These are a great way to spend some quality time exploring together or just having fun. Here’s our list of the 15 best day trips for teens & tweens near Greenville!


Here are the best Daddy/Daughter Dates in the Upstate

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Here’s our list of fun outing ideas for dads and daughters, including daddy/daughter dances, daddy/daughter dinners, and other fun ideas. Most of these ideas are seasonal and happen around Valentine’s Day.

our list of 20 Parent/Kid Dates for a ton of ideas that are perfect for any season, budget, or family situation.

Valentine’s Day is approaching, which means mom and dad have a good chance to get away on their own, but it’s also a great reminder of the importance of dads and daughters having special time together.  Here are a few ideas for dads and daughters to hang out—no matter how old the daughters are.

Dad walking with daughters down a paved trail.