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Express Your Inner Artist at Hearts of Clay

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

About Hearts of Clay

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

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

Hearts of Clay Studio in Spartanburg, SC

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

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

Hearts of Clay offers options for everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hearts of Clay crafts, Spartanburg

Plan a visit to Hearts of Clay

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

Have you ever visited Hearts of Clay?

You Can Hunt for Treasure at Bon Ami Mine in Emerald Village

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Are you looking for a day trip that combines a history lesson, beautiful scenery and fun for the whole family? Whether you are looking for activities for a day along the Blue Ridge Parkway or just wanting a quick respite from the city, this day trip is the answer! Local mom Melanie shares her review of Emerald Village in North Carolina’s  Little Switzerland, including all the information you’ll need to make the most of your day in this “Hidden Gem” off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

About Emerald Village

Set just a few miles off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the picturesque town of Little Switzerland is so small that most mapping systems don’t recognize it. This resort community was founded in 1909 by a Supreme Court justice. Included in this town’s history is a fight against the Blue Ridge Parkway, which resulted in the narrowest part of the Parkway in North Carolina being found here at just 200 feet wide.

The highlight of a visit to the town of Little Switzerland, and what draws most of its visitors, is the Emerald Village Mine. I learned about this place while browsing through Groupon. I’d been to a ruby mining attraction in Franklin, North Carolina pre-children and husband, and it sounded like a fun day trip adventure to enjoy with the family. The season runs March through November, and we went the last weekend of the 2017 season. It was a cold and rainy day. Luckily most of the Emerald Village activities are indoors or under some sort of cover.

When you first arrive at the Emerald Village, you’ll want to stop at the building on the right where the entrance to the Bon Ami mine is located. This tour includes a history of the mine and access to the mouth of the mine. Bon Ami scouring powder is an all-natural, scratch-free cleaning agent that was made from feldspar, mined here until the mine was closed and production was moved to Illinois.

I have to admit, not having any experience with actual gemstone mines or tours like this, my expectation was very different from what was actually there. The descriptions I’d read led me to believe that the tour included actually going into a mine. This is not the case. The mouth of the mine, just a few hundred feet, is what is accessible. Inside of this area are boards set up with information about the history of the mine along with some of the equipment that was used.

There is a blacklight tour that would definitely be more fun for children. It is conducted several times a year and the current dates can be found here.

The mine tour is not stroller friendly and I suggest wearing your infant (that’s what we did).

A short drive or walk up to the building on the left, will bring you to the Discovery Mill building.

Emerald Village mine in Little Switzerland, NC

Mining at Emerald Village

The Emerald Village also offers two different types of mining depending on the age of your children and the energy level of your group.

For families with younger children or those less adventurous types, the “gemstone mine” will be where you’ll want to head. With the purchase of a bucket (starting at ten dollars) you can have a seat at one of two different covered water flumes to sift for treasure from the contents of your bucket. Most of the buckets, with the exception of the “native bucket”, are peppered with gems from other mines. This insures that  no one leaves empty handed.

We split two ten dollar buckets between the four of us and came  away with more beautiful gems than I could count. Unfortunately, we were there right up until closing time, so we weren’t able to utilize the free gem identification service they offer. They will also cut down and set a gem for you on the spot.

A trick that I learned from past gem mining adventures that I taught  my son on this trip, was to keep an eye out for what other people discard at the flume. Whether it be impatience, lack of knowledge or just people being in to much of a hurry – you’ll be amazed by what you’ll find other people let wash down the flume. We sat at the very end of the flume for this reason. We could have had a nice little souvenir collection without even purchasing a bucket, although I don’t recommended that. With assistance, even our two year old was having a fun time looking for “beautifuls.”

gem mining in North Carolina at Emerald Village

Gold panning is also available at this location, although I was unaware of that until I recently stumbled across that information on their website.

For families with children over twelve and a more adventurous spirit, the Crabtree Emerald Mine option is for you!

In the entire United States there have only been two significant sources of emeralds. At Crabtree mine, you’ll be at one of them. For only twenty dollars a day, you can search the dump piles from the mine that for just under 100 years supplied emeralds to jewelers which include Tiffany & Co of New York.

The task of unearthing gems in the mine piles is not for the faint of heart or casual adventurer. The day permit doesn’t include the tools you’ll need to break rocks and move earth. They are available for rent, however the task at hand is still not an easy one. The hard work could definitely pay off with the pride of being able to find an heirloom quality gem, that will have an exciting origin story!

Housed in the Discovery Mill building is a small mineral exhibit and different gem related souvenirs for sale. The exhibit is up a flight of stairs, so it is not stroller accessible.

There is an outdoor picnic area and snacks and refreshments are available. Packing a picnic with you is welcome and most likely your best option.

If dining at the mine doesn’t sound like a good fit, back towards the Parkway you will pass several of Little Switzerland’s country dining choices.

While In the area we had planned to also visit the Orchard at Altapass. Unfortunately, the inclement weather prevented this from happening. There are tons of family friendly events held here. It’s also, a location of a Kids in Parks Trail Track!

Emerald Village in Little Switzerland North Carolina

Plan a visit to Emerald Village in Little Switzerland

331 McKinney Pine Road
Spruce Pine, NC
828.ROK.MINE

Open daily until November 4th. Follow this link to see hours.

Would your family enjoy a visit to Emerald Village in Little Switzerland?

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

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

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

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

About Shipwreck Cove in Duncan

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

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

The kiddie area at Shipwreck Cove

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

Shipwreck Cove Duncan toddler water slides

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

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

Shipwreck Cove water park toddler play area

The pools, the slides and the lazy river

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

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

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

Shipwreck Cove water slides

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

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

Enjoy lunch at Shipwreck Cove

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

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

Shipwreck Cove water park in Duncan

Safety at Shipwreck Cove

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

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

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

The future of Shipwreck Cove in Duncan

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

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

My kids’ thoughts on Shipwreck Cove

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

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

Plan a visit to Shipwreck Cove

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

Have you ever taken your kids to Shipwreck Cove?

Two Small Spartanburg Stores with Insanely Low Prices

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When it comes to shopping, Spartanburg doesn’t offer a massive variety of shops. There are times when you need to venture to Greenville to shop at stores Spartanburg doesn’t have, or you may make the drive out to Gaffney to find some great deals at the outlets.

There are shops in Spartanburg where you can find some great deals. Two in particular are worth great mention: Cohen’s, and Wheeler Supplies LLC.  If you would rather only pay a fraction of retail price for great items, you definitely need to check these shops out!

Shops to Visit in Spartanburg

Cohen’s

307 W Main St in Spartanburg

Located in downtown Spartanburg at 307 W. Main Street, you will find Cohen’s; a shop owned by Jeffrey and Deede Cohen that opened 2001. Cohen’s is a wholesale shop that sells to larger retailers, which accounts for 95% of their business. The other 5% is savings that is passed on to the wonderful shoppers in Spartanburg.

When you first walk into Cohen’s, do not let the appearance throw you off. It’s definitely no Bloomingdales; however, it is kept organized. Merchandise is never thrown around the store- everything is in its place, making it easier to find what you are looking for. It’s very warm in the shop in the summer time, and cool in the winter, so dress accordingly. That’s only a small price to pay for some of the fantastic deals you will find there.  They carry clothing from multiple, well known, name brands, at prices 30-90% off retail. You can find clothing from Nordstrom, Columbia, Carters, Oshkosh, London Fog, Croft & Barrow, and the list goes on and on! There is usually a great selection of golf shirts, coats, dresses, leggings, pants, tops, belts, and socks for men and women, and even children’s clothing items. You may also find costume or silver jewelry and sunglasses. Best of all, you won’t be paying $45 for an item that retails for $60; you can expect to pay closer to $10, and all of the items are new. You may see some tags that state the item is ‘irregular,’ but don’t let that bother you. You won’t find holes or incorrect sleeve lengths in these irregular items. Chances are, it’s marked ‘irregular’ because the brand perhaps thought the color shade came out darker than the other items, and therefore, wasn’t up to their ‘regular’ standard.

The inventory at Cohen’s is always changing. If you see something in the store today that you want, don’t wait to take advantage of the deal, because once the item is gone, there is no telling if or when they will get it back in stock. It would be great to go check out Cohen’s on a weekly basis so you don’t miss out on a great find, but most busy moms and dads aren’t able to go shopping that often. Cohen’s makes it easy to stay on top of their current great deals without having to step foot in the store. One easy way is to sign up for their email list. Cohen’s will send promotional emails frequently with deals that they have in store. They are easy to read, and each email usually only shows a few deals, so you won’t use up a lot of time browsing through an entire ad. Being on this email list is not only a convenient way of learning the shop’s deals, but email customers typically get a better deal than the price tag shows in the store. Just simply mention you saw the sale through email, and if the price tag in the store is slightly higher, they will adjust the price to give you an even better deal. Another easy way to stay on top of Cohen’s deals is on their Facebook page.  Simply ‘like’ their page and watch the deals pop up on your Facebook feed.

As mentioned above, you can find Cohen’s at 307 W. Main Street, 3.2 miles from the Westgate Mall, heading toward downtown Spartanburg. They are open from 10 am – 6 pm, Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays and major holidays.  Their phone number is 864-342-0805.  They don’t have an official website, but all of the information you may want can be found on their Facebook page.

Wheeler Supplies

3500 Chesnee Hwy in Chesnee

Wheeler Supplies LLC, located at 3500 Chesnee Hwy in Chesnee, is owned by Jason Wheeler and his wife, and opened in 2003. If you are looking for deals on toys, electronics, small appliances, bikes, and personal need items, such as deodorant, diapers, shampoo, and plenty more, this is the place to check out before you go anywhere else. This store recently jumped from 6,000 square feet of merchandise, to 9,500 square feet, filled with a mountain of great deals. Most of the items here are 60% of retail. This is not a second hand shop; these are new items.

Wheeler Supplies is a great place to check out first, especially if you are looking to purchase an item that is typically more expensive at other retailers.  For example, they recently had a Minnie Mouse Power wheels, brand new in the box, for $90 that would be $199 at a local retail store. That’s a huge savings! You may find some of the latest toys that all the kids are raving about, and the prices won’t be marked up just because it’s an item that may be hard to find. They also have a small selection of clothing, which is heavily discounted as well. Big screen HDTVs are another great find, for a fraction of the price of larger retail stores, and even include top brand names.

With new inventory constantly arriving, you may go in one day and find a great deal that wasn’t there the day before. If you are looking for a specific item, just ask one of the friendly staff members. It may not be out on the floor yet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have it out back and just hadn’t had the chance to put it on the merchandise floor. You can also message them on Facebook. Send them a message to see if they have a specific item in stock, and they usually respond rather quickly and sometimes even include a picture so you know exactly what they have. Their Facebook page is also the best way to stay up-to-date on their current deals, other than physically going to the store to see what they have. They typically post several pictures on a weekly basis of the new merchandise they put out.

Wheeler Supplies is open Monday –Friday from 10 am – 6 pm, Saturdays from 9 am – 5 pm, and closed on Sundays and major holidays, and will update their Facebook page should there be any changes to their hours of operation. Their phone number is 864-381-9213.

It’s always a great idea to support small businesses in the growing Spartanburg community, and why not find a great deal while you are doing that?  You may just end up finding your new favorite store.

Do you have a favorite local shop in Spartanburg?

Meet Erika Morelli
Erika Morelli is a proud mother of three wonderful, energetic children. She moved to the Upstate in 2012 and loves exploring the area, finding new things to do and new places to eat. Her family always love a good adventure!

The Spartanburg Science Center Offers a Fun and Educational Experience for Kids

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Are you looking for an educational and fun experience for the kids? The Spartanburg Science Center, located within the Chapman Cultural Center, is the perfect spot to get your reptile, amphibian, and psychics fix!

What to Expect

Located on the second floor of the Montgomery Building of the Chapman Cultural Center, the Spartanburg Science Center provides educational programs for local schools and homeschooling co-ops based on grade level, a travelling planetarium, and a hands-on interactive Science Museum for kids (and adults) of all ages!

In the Science Museum, you can marvel at snakes and observe the habitats of tarantulas, turtles, lizards, and more in the amphibian/reptile exhibit. Learning stations include an electricity demonstration with a real-life Jacob’s Ladder, a Lego building space with thousands of Legos, and hands-on experiences with physics concepts like levers and pulleys and other engineering models. The classroom features skeletons, fossils, taxidermy, and natural specimens. Don’t miss coming face-to-face with a dinosaur skeleton on your way upstairs, either!

When to Visit

The Science Center’s general visiting hours are Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but you can schedule private events or programs by contacting the center.  Admission is free for kids under 5.  Kids 5 and up and adults are just $5.  Science Club members are free, as well.

Extra Special!

If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience for your little one’s big day, the Science Center also hosts awesome birthday parties! Pick your hands-on program from a range of subjects like reptiles & amphibians, astronomy, dinosaurs, and more. The classroom can accommodate up to 20 children and has all the amenities necessary for serving cake and party goodies.

At the Science Center, it’s all science, all year round.  Check out the summer, holiday, and teacher workday camps available, too! The Kids Museum is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon learning through play.

Have you taken your kids to the Spartanburg Science Center yet?

Meet Juliet Wright
Juliet Autenzio Wright has lived in the Upstate for over 20 years. She is a proud alumna of Converse College and a former high school teacher. Now a stay-at-home mom to three little girls, ages five, two, and six months, Juliet loves exploring Spartanburg through the eyes of her children. Her favorite family-friendly activities include local parks and nature walks, library story times, and the many local festivals Spartanburg has to offer. In her spare time, she privately tutors, ghost writes, and reads as many books as possible. Juliet’s family and friends make her world go round!