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Movies, Arcade Games, Bowling, and More at The Big E: Gaffney, SC

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Have you visited the awesome indoor entertainment complex, The Big E, in Gaffney, SC? We sent Local mom Rebecca Parrish for a fun day with her family! She shares what her family loves about The Big E in Gaffney, SC and all of the activities you will find there.

The Big E in Gaffney, South Carolina

What You’ll Find at The Big E: Gaffney, SC

Our family took a quick 45 minute road trip north on I-85 to exit 90 to visit Gaffney, South Carolina. Nestled next to the Gaffney Outlet Marketplace (A Simon Center), locally known as the “yellow mall”, The Big E in Gaffney, SC is an entertainment center promising fun for every age. It is a great place to spend the day and enjoy new experiences with your child, or a spot for birthday party joy.

The Movie Theatre

The Big E Gaffney features eight (8) movie theatres screening wide-release new blockbuster movies. They strictly enforce rating policies for ticketing. The theater is comfortable and has a high quality sound system, digital projection, and stadium style seating. You can purchase tickets ahead of time through The Big E online theatre portal, where you will find showtimes, movie ratings, and run times for each moving showing. Ticket prices run from $$8.25 – $10.25, which is slightly more affordable than some other movie theatre chains.

A Bowling Alley

The Big E also has a large bowling alley with 16 lanes where they feature open bowling ($5 per person plus $3.00 per person for shoes) and cosmic bowling ($6 per person) on weekends. You can choose to rent a lane by game or by the hour. Big E has mixed and youth leagues, and they participate in the Kids Bowl Free program in the spring and summer.

The bowling area also has flat-screen TVs and an area for food and beverages. The concessions include a variety of snacks and fries, pizza, wings, and “plates” like chicken tenders and hot dogs/corn dogs.

Bowling at The Big E in Gaffney, South Carolina

Playland Indoor Playground

Younger children will love the indoor playland which involves climbing up levels, over rope bridges, on swings, and down slides. They even have a Ballocity Blast Center, where hundreds of foam balls are propelled out of mini air cannons. The playland is padded, which is always a plus. Parents are welcome to hang out in the cafe area located nearby while their children play. The cost is $7 per child for an unlimited day pass. Be sure to bring socks, but they do have them for $3.00 in case you need to purchase a pair.

The Arcade

The playland shares space with the 60 game arcade area, which houses lots of arcade games (including old favorites like Skee Ball to high-tech games like a Star Wars simulator), and the bumper cars (my personal favorite). Don’t leave the Big E without taking a spin on these spinning, neon-round cars.

The best part about playing is the ease of it; the Big E Gaffney sells a “ Big E Fun Card” that parents can load with an amount of money. This card is used at each of the attractions and the arcade, so rather than keeping up with dollars and loose change, kids or adults just use the card. We found this so simple and a lesson for our child about making smart choices about what he wanted to try. They often run promotions for Fun Cards, which is a good way to get extra bang for your buck!

Bumper cars at The Big E in Gaffney, South Carolina

Laser Tag

By far, our favorite part of our Big E adventure was Laser Tag. For $8 per person, you get an amazing, action-packed game lasting about 10-15 minutes. Individuals are suited up with high-tech vests that react with vibrations and sound, and laser guns (called phasers) that you reload as you play on the multi-level course with teammates. Black lights, glowing barriers, fog, and music add to the excitement; and spectators can watch the action on a screen outside the arena. At the end of the match, points are tallied and a winner is revealed. My son is still buzzing from his victory!

Mini Golf and Zip Line

Outside, the complex includes an adventure mini golf course and a challenging zip line. The day we ventured out, it was too cold and windy to try these. However, the area looked fun for a future warm day when we have some funds for fun!

Host Your Birthday Party at The Big E: Gaffney, SC

Having a birthday party at The Big E would make a epic memory for you kids. You can have a Mini Golf Party, Playland Party, Movie Party, or a Bowling Party. You can even add on laser tag. Parties for up to 10 guests cost around $205. You’ll get access to one attraction, pizza, drinks, ice cream, and arcade cards. You’ll also get a party host to make everything go seamlessly.

Plan Your Trip to The Big E: Gaffney, South Carolina

The Big E Gaffney
1100 Factory Shops Blvd.
Gaffney, SC 29341
Hours vary by day and by attraction.

Does a family outing to The Big E Gaffney sound perfect for your crew?

Meet Rebecca Parrish
Rebecca Raulerson Parrish is a former English teacher turned non-profit administrator who currently works with Women Giving for Spartanburg and Five Twenty Consulting. She serves on the board of the Spartanburg Little Theatre and is proudly balancing books as Treasurer for the Jesse Boyd Elementary PTSO. A native of Lakeland, Florida, Rebecca loves living in Spartanburg, where she enjoys lots of adventures (and four seasons) with her husband, nine-year-old son, dog, bird and three pet chickens.

Buy a Summer Pool Membership In Spartanburg, SC

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Looking for pool memberships in Spartanburg, SC where you can buy a summer membership for your family this year? Even if you do not have a pool in your backyard or neighborhood, several community pool memberships are available for Spartanburg families. Check out the list below of neighborhood pools offering memberships in Spartanburg.

girl with pink swim goggles in pool

Pools require time and maintenance in order to enjoy them. What if there was a way to enjoy a pool without all the testing chlorine, skimming leaves, and other work that comes along with pool access? There are several pool membership options in Spartanburg, SC that can have you floating in a lounger in no time, without any work involved!

Where to go swimming and play in splash pads near Greenville, SC.

Looking for other places to cool off this summer? Here are all the best places to swim in Greenville, SC!


The Most Romantic Dates in Spartanburg, SC

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Are you looking for ideas for date nights in Spartanburg, SC? We’ve identified some of the most romantic dates in Spartanburg. The various date options on this list make it possible for Spartanburg couples to enjoy a variety of dates year-round.

date night ideas in Spartanburg, SC

Spartanburg’s Most Romantic Dates

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and the pressure is on to make the day extra special. Have no fear! You can plan a romantic evening with your love right here in town – no matter your budget. And, even better, you can go on dates any time of year – not just Valentine’s Day.

Local Restaurants in Spartanburg are Perfect for Date Nights

Spartanburg has several amazing restaurants that offer delicious meals and date night atmospheres. Depending on your tastes and your budget, here are some of the most popular date night restaurants in Spartanburg:

If you’d like to find out a little more about some of the most romantic restaurants in Spartanburg, don’t miss our list!

There are so many [date night options]! City Range has a beautiful fireplace to help set the ambiance. The Kennedy provides a unique chef’s table experience. Longhorn has a killer steak with a fun atmosphere. Renato’s is fabulous for authentic Italian.


The Peddler Steakhouse for a nice relaxed dinner.


Take It to the Roof

In addition to the popular restaurants listed above, Spartanburg also has a few rooftop dining options for couples. At Bar 1884, you can enjoy a bite to eat, a beverage, and each other’s company under the stars.

Also, Level 10 on top of the AC Hotel has amazing food options and views of the city. Plus, if you want an ultra-romantic date, you can reserve the sunset deck for private dining.

Enjoy a Picnic

If you would rather avoid the restaurant scene and save some money, you can always pack a picnic and enjoy it at one of the lovely parks in the area. I suggest Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve or Milliken Arboretum.

Embrace the Arts

Fan of the movie Ghost? You can take a pottery wheel class date night at Hearts of Clay, which offers various pottery and adult painting classes all year long.

Have Some Drinks

For those wanting to skip a big meal, you can plan a romantic date with just drinks in downtown Spartanburg easily. Coffee fans will love the atmosphere of Little River Coffee Bar, where you can enjoy coffee and baked goods and then peruse the bookstore. (That sounds like a dream date to me!)

If you are a wine lover, Bond Street Wines downtown offers wine flights and serves wine by the glass. And if beer is more your style, downtown Spartanburg has several great options for you, such as RJ Rockers, Ciclops Cyderi & Brewery, and Holliday Brewing.

Get A Little Sporty

If your idea of romance involves more play and less googly eyes across a dinner table, then you will love playing Sparkle City Mini Putt (for free!) or bowling a few strikes at UnderPin Lanes ‘N Lounge. Another downtown hangout, Fr8 Yard, offers a huge screen for viewing sports, cornhole, ping pong, and fire pits. If you feel the need for speed, Speed Factory Indoor Karting is a great place to get an adrenaline rush together.

For my husband’s birthday, we ate lunch at Sidewall Pizza, then bowled at UnderPin Lanes & finished up with a beer at Growler Haus.


Underpin was really fun!


Worth a Drive to Greenville

Greenville has a lot of great date night options, but many of the things you can travel to Greenville for, you can enjoy in Spartanburg. However, Spartanburg does not have The Chef’s Table Culinary Tour. For the foodies, this is a dream date option that takes couples on a walking tour to enjoy some of the best restaurants in Greenville.

Splurge Ideas

If you want to go all out and plan a super romantic date, you don’t have to travel far. Simply traveling to Landrum will open several romantic date possibilities. Landrum is home to the amazing Red Horse Inn, as well as the pick-up location for limousine wine tours that takes you to various wineries right over the North Carolina border.

Do you have a date night idea to add to our list? Share it in the comments.

Guide to Date Night in Greenville, SC

Looking for more great date night ideas near Spartanburg? We’ve got your ultimate guide to date night near Greenville, SC.

10 Fall Date Ideas to Kick Off the Season in Upstate, SC

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Are you looking for fall date ideas in the Upstate? If you are hoping for a date that represents the season, you’ve come to the right place. We have tons of date ideas to chose from to help you embrace fall and the ones you love. 

Dates are fun and necessary for healthy relationships. Now that the temperatures are dropping, it’s time for some festive, fall-themed dates. These can be family date activities, Daddy and Daughter/Son dates, Mother and Son/Daughter dates, romantic couple dates, or any combination. All will provide memories and fall fun!


Foothills Equestrian Nature Center Provides the Love of Horses Through Equine Therapy

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Do you know a special needs child or adult who could benefit from a unique friendship? Did you know that the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center offers an Equine Therapy program only 40 minutes from the Upstate? The program works with children and adults who have autism and other physical, cognitive, and emotional disorders, giving them a beneficial activity to engage in. We have information about their therapeutic riding program and the cost of lessons, so you can get your little one into their program as quickly as possible.

Foothills Equestrian Nature Center in North Carolina

The FENCE equestrian center is just over the state line in Tryon, North Carolina, and under 40 minutes from most of Spartanburg. We have all the information you’ll need to see why the drive could make a world of difference in a child’s life.

For over fifty years, horses have been used as a source of therapy for people with disabilities. The relationship built between the rider and the horse, helps those with disabilities lead fuller, more satisfying lives.

About TROT at Foothills Equestrian Nature Center

At the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE), they’ve been offering TROT for over 18 years. Therapeutic Riding of Tryon offers lessons in small classes and individual classes. Each rider is accompanied by three volunteers to help guide the horse and as side walkers for safety.

Classes are available for children and adults and strictly follow the standards of PATH, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Individuals in the North Carolina counties of Henderson, Polk, and Rutherford are welcome at TROT. South Carolina counties of Spartanburg and Greenville are also welcome in the program.

Benefits of Equine Therapy

Equine-type therapy is beneficial to so many. Horses provide a non-judgmental relationship in a rider’s life. It doesn’t take much to fall in love with these horses. Some of the challenges that can be eased by the companionship gained through the classes at TROT are eating disorders, PTSD, Autism, ADD, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and more.

Child looking at horse at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center

Equine Therapy Course Information

The weekly therapeutic riding courses utilize specially trained horses and each rider has volunteers supporting them before and during the lesson. Typically, three volunteers are assigned to each rider to ensure their safety.

These courses are based on the needs of each student. They teach riders to do everything that goes along with riding a horse from start to finish. Each student spends hands-on time with the horse before each class grooming and learning how to saddle the horse. After each lesson, students help remove the saddle, clean their horses, and offer treats.

Courses are about thirty minutes in length and are encouraged to be taken weekly. You can choose to join one of two riding seasons TROT offers in ten-week blocks – March and early June, and another between September and early December.

For those who are unable to ride astride a horse, TROT also offers an unmounted course. These courses include caring for the horse and learning how it communicates, basic horsemanship, and relating the horse’s behavior to humans. The unmounted courses are typically an hour long.

Pricing of TROT

TROT currently charges $250 for a 10-lesson mounted session and $100 for a 10-lesson unmounted session. Financial assistance in the form of a “ridership” is available for those in need who meet certain criteria.

The peaceful surroundings at FENCE only lend to the therapeutic effects that the horses have. These majestic creatures are just waiting to help people feel better. For a child or adult struggling with an emotional or physical challenge – the victory of learning to care for, and/or ride a horse is life-changing.

Check out Foothills Equestrian Nature Center

3381 Hunting Country Road, Tryon, NC
Visit the FENCE website.

Here is the FENCE TROT Information and registration link.

We hope you share this info with anyone you think might benefit from equine therapy!

Eden Farms horse

Looking for more horseback riding lessons? These local stables offer horseback riding lessons for kids of all skill levels to learn about horses and how to ride them safely.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Carowinds

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Are you thinking about a trip to Carowinds? There is so much family fun waiting for you at this amusement park near Charlotte, NC, but there’s also a lot to know. We’re telling you here how to save money on tickets and food, plus our tips on rides, visiting with small children, special events, and even what to pack. If you are wondering how much is parking at Carowinds, we know that too! Enjoy a day trip to Carowinds with the family any time of year at the Carolina’s best theme park.

Swings at Carowinds

Family Restaurants in Spartanburg, SC That Kids AND Parents Will Enjoy

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Looking for family restaurants in Spartanburg, SC? We have a list of restaurants in Spartanburg where kids and parents can enjoy a sit-down meal together. Spartanburg has no shortage of restaurants, but the trick is finding that perfect balance of grown-ish and kid-friendly.

We think we have a few options that fit the bill with great kids’ menus or a perfect family atmosphere. So, pack up the family and prepare to enjoy a nice meal out!

Check out our Spartanburg restaurant guide to discover more amazing restaurants in Spartanburg, SC.


Spartanburg Restaurants Your Family Will Love

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Hunting for a great local restaurant that your family will love? Local mom Jennifer put together this list of awesome restaurants in Spartanburg to check out. This list includes hot spots downtown, family-friendly dining in Boiling Springs, and more.

Hungry? It’s a good thing you’re in Spartanburg! Our charming town is quickly becoming a foodie haven. At this point, I have lost count of all the new restaurants opening up in Spartanburg. As we all #seespartanburgrise, we also get to enjoy the perks that come from this revitalized growth like incredible restaurant options.

While my family likes chain restaurants just as much as the next family, we love eating locally. When we eat locally, we support small businesses and boost the local economy. And, we get to enjoy unique food dishes and dining experiences. Plus, when out-of-towners come to visit, we’d much rather take them to a local restaurant than to a place they can eat back home.

With that being said, I’ve prepared this list of ten of my family’s favorite local restaurants. It no way covers all the many outstanding restaurants in the county. For instance, with so many new restaurants opening in 2017 and 2018, we simply have not had the opportunity to try them all. (But, it is my stomach’s ultimate goal!)

This list is perfect for those new to Spartanburg or visitors looking for some local flavor.

Wade’s Southern Cooking

Wade’s is a local icon. You cannot live in Spartanburg without visiting Wade’s at least once. And, I highly doubt that will be your one and only visit. It has been serving Spartanburg locals Southern classics and meats and threes since 1947.

Why kids love it – Mac and cheese are considered a vegetable.

Wade's Restaurant in Spartanburg

Photo credit: Wade’s

Bubba’s BBQ and Bash

If you have guests visiting, you have to feed them good ole’ Carolina barbecue at least once. With tons of barbecue options, I am going with my family’s personal favorite, Bubba’s BBQ and Bash. In addition to excellent barbecue, they also offer fall-off-the-bones ribs and baked macaroni and cheese that always leaves me craving more.

Why kids love it – Barbecue is messy and gives them an excuse to lick their fingers clean.

Taco Dog

Can’t decide between Mexican or American? Look no further than Taco Dog! Located in the Hillcrest Shopping Center, Taco Dog has been settling restaurant debates since 2003. Its unique menu offers tacos, nachos, burritos, and uniquely-topped hot dogs.

Why kids love it – Do I even need to explain this one?

Downtown Deli & Donuts

Just like the name suggests, Downtown Deli & Donuts is a downtown breakfast and lunch spot serving deli food and donuts. However, it is far more than your traditional deli or donut shop. They offer artisan donuts with unique flavors (as well as gluten-free donuts) and a lunch menu that is full of healthy and tasty salads and sandwiches.

Why kids love it – They get to decorate their own donut.

Downtown Donuts & Deli restaurants in Spartanburg


Manny’s in Boiling Springs is always packed! This is because they offer a wide selection ensuring everyone finds something they will like, and it is budget-friendly. This Greek and Italian style family restaurant offers pizza, calzones, wings, subs, spaghetti, gyros, and more.

Why kids love it – Chicken fingers, fries, and spaghetti

Monsoon Noodle House

Located right in the middle of downtown, Monsoon Noodle House has a cool atmosphere and excellent food. Their noodle bowls have been satisfying Spartanburg locals since 2008. If my opinion isn’t enough for you, they’ve been voted Best of the Best Chinese Restaurants for three years now.

Why kids love it – Smaller plates of Lo Mein just for them

Mon Amie Morning Café

Mon Amie Morning Café, on the Eastside, serves savory French food for breakfast and lunch (or just dessert). The restaurant is delightful, and the food is outstanding. No matter if you visit for breakfast or lunch, you will walk away with your belly full and happy.

Why kids love it – Crepes are more fun than sandwiches.

Gerhard’s Café

Hidden inside a shopping center is one of the locals’ favorite restaurants that offers both fine dining and a pizzeria. Do not let the fine dining fool you – Gerhard’s Cafe includes a pizzeria that is great for families with more budget-friendly and kid-friendly menu options.

Why kids love it – It is a lively atmosphere with big tables and a small outdoor green space.

Without a Children’s Menu, But Still Worth It

If you feel safe taking your kids to local restaurants that do not offer kids menus (but offer great food), then you absolutely must try these two:

Willy Taco

Since opening in 2013, Willy Taco has quickly become a local favorite. People kept coming back and waiting on busy nights to taste their funky tacos and try their fun drinks. While they do not offer a kids’ menu and you have to pay for chips and salsa, they do offer a plain cheese quesadilla and an atmosphere that will entrance your children.

Do you have a restaurant your family loves to add to our list? Add it in the comments!

Don’t Miss Spartanburg Philharmonic’s Kid-Friendly Performance

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Thank you to Spartanburg Philharmonic for sponsoring this giveaway (note: giveaway over).

This performance by Spartanburg Philharmonic is the perfect way to introduce your kids to the orchestra.

Imagine the flash of light sabers as they clash together while the triumphant sound of the iconic Star Wars theme plays on.  Now, are you thinking you’re at the movies? You would be wrong. You’re actually at the Spartanburg Philharmonic’s The Music of John Williams Concert.

Lightsabers at an orchestra?

Yes, you got it. The Spartanburg Philharmonic is performing the music of John Williams, from Indiana Jones, to Star Wars and Harry Potter.  Better yet, they are performing it in a super kid-friendly concert where costumes, lightsabers, wands, lassos and the like are not only welcome, they are encouraged!

What could be better, you ask?  We have an exclusive discount code to help you get your tickets for an even better price. Use discount code Kid20 for 20% of tickets, Sunday only.


The Music of John Williams

The Spartanburg Philharmonic will perform The Music of John Williams on April 14th and 15th at Twichell Auditorium on the beautiful campus of Converse College. The program will consist of some of John William’s most memorable music, including music from Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

The Music of John Williams

Saturday, April 14th at 7pm


Sunday, April 15th at 2pm

Twichell Auditorium, Converse College


A 5 time Academy Award winner, John Williams has composed more than 100 film scores. He is known for the use of the full symphony orchestra in his scores, bringing the sounds of the symphony well beyond the concert hall and into theaters, cinemas and homes around the world.

Wear Your Costumes and Take a Selfie with Star Wars Characters

The Spartanburg Philharmonic will be selling, red, green and blue lightsabers in the lobby before the performance. They’ll be pre-loaded with fresh batteries and ready for adventure when the program begins. Yes, the lightsabers are welcome IN the auditorium, throughout the performance. Harry Potter glasses will also be available for purchase.

Bonus: Musicians will also be dressed up and Star Wars characters will be hanging out in the lobby for high-fives and pictures.

5 Tips and Tricks

  1. Performances are April 14 at 7 pm and April 15 at 2 pm.  The 2 pm performance was added especially with the nap times of young children in mind.
  2. It can be hard to judge when a child is old enough to attend something like an orchestra concert. This performance will have an intermission, so children will have an opportunity to get up and stretch their legs. And due to the nature of the event, seat wiggling (and light saber dancing) is completely acceptable. So, if your child can sit for a movie, they’ll probably be just fine here.
  3. One little thing to think about is how your child does with costumed characters.  Will he or she be frightened if they catch a glimpse of Darth Vador? Maybe a little talk about characters and costumes before you hop into the car will set your child’s mind at ease.
  4. Shorter children may prefer a seat in the balcony where they can get more of a birds-eye view of the performance, rather than trying to peek around the backs of heads on the bottom level.  However, you should note that the auditorium does not have an elevator going to the balcony. So if stairs are a problem, you’ll need a ground floor seat.
  5. Please note that food and drinks are not allowed in the auditorium. If your child is thirsty you may offer them a drink in the lobby area of the auditorium.
  6. You can pre-order tickets online. Tickets for youth under 22 are 50% off, making tickets for youth $13-23 and adults $26-46.  Groups of 10 or more can receive 10% off when booking advance. Tickets will also be available at the door.

The Giveaway – Closed

One lucky Kidding Around reader will win 4 tickets to see Spartanburg Philharmonic’s The Music of John Williams. Valid on the April 15, 2018, 2 pm performance.

This giveaway starts now and ends on April 4, 2018 at midnight.

  • You must be 18 or older and live in the USA to enter this giveaway.
  • You must use a valid email address to enter this giveaway.
  • One entry per person per day.
  • We will contact the winner via the email address provided within three [3] days of the giveaway ending. The winner will have three [3] days (72 hours) to respond via email. If the winner does not respond within the three [3] days (72 hours), the prize will be forfeited and another winner chosen. Directions for claiming the prize will be given via email. A valid photo ID and/or mailing address may be required.
  • For a complete list of Kidding Around Greenville SC’s giveaway policies and terms and conditions, see the Kidding Around Greenville SC policy page. By entering this giveaway, you agree to comply with Kidding Around Greenville SC’s terms and conditions.

Have your kids ever attended an orchestra concert before?