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Posts Tagged ‘Educational Things to Do’

How Your Kids Can Avoid The Summer Slide…

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Summer is coming and with it comes BRAIN DRAIN! (Insert old horror movie scream!)  You know your kids learned a lot, but every fall it seems like they’re starting from square negative one!  How can the dreaded brain drain be slowed to a drip or even stopped all together?  KAG Contributor Erica McCall has a few ideas to try with your kids this summer! (more…)

Greenville’s Hidden Gem: The Linky Stone Park Children’s Garden

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Have you been to Linky Stone Park: Children’s Garden in Greenville, SC, yet? The best way to describe it is a magical, whimsical wonderland where you and your little ones can explore, learn, and play to your heart’s content! This charming garden that’s nestled and tucked away in the heart of downtown Greenville is a must-visit for families looking for a fun-filled day out.

Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC

A Little Linky Stone Park History

Linky Stone Park: Children’s Garden opened in 1994. This storybook park was named after Allene Lawton Wyman “Linky” Stone. The park was dedicated to her by her children and grandchildren.

Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC Dedication

Discover a World of Wonders at Linky Stone Park

From the moment you step into the garden, you’re greeted with a sensory feast of sights, sounds, and smells. With colorful flowers, towering trees, and chirping birds all around, your little ones will be captivated by the garden’s natural beauty. Even in early spring, we could see hints of colorful flowers starting to bloom. I’ve made note to return in a month or two once all the greenery is fully revived… I’m sure it looks even more lush and magical.

But that’s just the beginning – countless surprises and delights are waiting to be discovered! From secret pathways and hidden nooks to bubbling creeks and whimsical sculptures, the garden is a treasure trove of wonders waiting to be explored.

Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC Entrance
Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC Entrance
Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC Gingerbread House and Peter Rabbit

Learn as You Play

The Linky Stone Park Children’s Garden is not just a place for play – it’s also an outdoor classroom where your kids can learn about nature and the environment in a fun and engaging way. Throughout the garden, you’ll find interactive exhibits and educational displays that teach kids about different plant species. 

Various plants have plaques with QR codes where you can scan for more information about each species. There’s even an area where flowers are planted in a rainbow shape in rainbow colors.

Whether your kids are budding botanists or just love to explore, the garden offers endless opportunities for discovery and learning.

Secret Garden at Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC
Reeder River at Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC
Rainbow Row of Flowers at Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC
Learn at Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC

Create Lasting Memories

Most of all, the Linky Stone Park Children’s Garden allows families to connect, laugh, and make memories together. With a few benches and picnic tables, the garden is the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch or snack break. 

Hidden Gems at Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC
Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC
Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC

Where is Linky Stone Park

Linky Stone Park sits quietly under the Academy Street bridge at River Street and Reedy View Drive, just off the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Unity Park is a short 0.4 miles away.

24 Reedy View Drive, Greenville

Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC
Linky Stone Park Children's Garden Greenville, SC

Parking at Linky Stone Park

There’s a public pay-to-park parking lot right across the street from Linky Stone Park. You can also try parking across River Street at the River Street Garage or Riverplace Garage, or toss your luck at finding an empty spot on the street.

So what are you waiting for? Pack a picnic and head to the Linky Stone Park Children’s Garden today. Your little ones will thank you for it!

Editor’s Note: The Children’s Garden at Linky Stone Park is in a semi-secluded setting. Some mothers may prefer visiting during the busier hours on the weekend or with a group.

Gardens near Greenville, SC

Looking for more gardens to explore near Greenville, SC? We’ve got a list of the best beautiful gardens in the Upstate.

Take your kids on an adventure to one of the many parks and playgrounds near Greenville, SC.

Parks and Playgrounds Greenville and Spartanburg

A Model Train Museum is Now Open in Taylors Mill

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Does your little one love trains? A great addition to Greenville’s list of indoor kid spaces is the Model Trains Station at Taylors Mill. Our KAG writer Anna Artz was fortunate to get a one-on-one tour with chief Engineer aka Model Train Station Chairman, Bob Rayle. For a list of even more train related things to do in the Upstate see our list Trains in Greenville.

About the Model Trains Station

Mr. Rayle is the quintessential train hobbyist whose eyes sparkle when talking about the new Model Trains Station, “It’s run by train enthusiasts and made for families to have fun. We enjoy seeing smiling kids and see them getting excited when they see the trains and of course, to promote the hobby.” The Model Trains Station is run by volunteers. It is a registered 501 (c) 3 and charges a minimal admission fee. They also have a donor program and family membership for avid fans of trains. Bob also talked about phase 2 of their plans for future education programs. The Station plans to “…teach electricity to little kids, all about light bulbs, circuits and switches.” They are also open to hosting birthday parties, corporate events and meetings.

Where Is the Model Trains  Station

Housed in Taylors Mill Development, an upcycled old mill building complex, the Model Trains Station occupies about 16,000 square feet of space alongside artist studios. Visiting the Model Trains Station is like going to a giant train workshop. The building itself is fascinating, a former textile bleachery, the space is raw and full of history. The Model Trains Station joins the rest of the creative Taylors Mill group in making historic buildings an alternative venue for  the community. The mill gets busy when the weather gets warmer. (See their March calendar for special events, food truck festivals, a weekly farmer’s market and the Made South Craft Fair in the fall).

Model train on track next to rocky mountain with tunnel

The Model Trains Station opened last December 2017 with their fantastic O-scale Christmas village set-up. Presently, the holiday decor has long been removed but the three running Lionel train lines continue to be a source of fun especially with a scavenger hunt designed for the kiddies to explore and enjoy the train village. My kids enjoyed running around hunting for the hidden figures. They were also delighted that they could play engineer themselves and operate a Thomas the Train railroad within the village.

Also featured in the exhibition space is a donated model of the city of Baltimore (HO train). Beautiful and professionally done cityscape, children will have fun viewing the trains running thru an urban landscape. On the other side of the room, is an HO scale model of Waynesville. Beautifully done by a master artist, the mountains surrounding the realistic lake are a labor of love.  Lots of little scenes to spot in this scene, but you may have to lift your child to get a closer look or bring a step stool. (MTS plans to add a viewing platform in the future).

When you and your tots are tired of looking at trains on the move, MTS has a play corner where toddlers can tinker with wooden toy trains. The play area is located right beside a structure which will house their train repair depot. MTS plans for the office to have glass windows so visitors can see trains being repaired. Currently also in the works is a G scale railroad German Village donated to MTS, in pristine condition. There’s also the really cute N scale railroad set-up by the children’s play area.

Our visit ended with soft rumble of the Norfolk Southern Line in the background. Yes, the mill is situated right next to a train track! One of the staff mentioned that they will most likely have an outdoor camera hooked up to a TV inside the building so one can see the train as it passes by. Meanwhile, railroad enthusiasts can view the dispatcher ATCS display of train locations along the NS, in real-time. Little details like this combined with the knowledge and enthusiasm of its volunteers is what makes this place truly special. We’re so glad they’re here to stay!

How to enjoy the Model Trains Station

Play the scavenger hunt which can be found at the Lobby. Submit your completed form for a chance to win a raffle.

Play engineer and run Thomas the train track in the Lionel O display.

Talk to the resident volunteer engineer and ask them about how the models were made.

Check out the dispatcher ATCS display.

Learn about the different types of model train scales: G, O, HO, N, while examining the display cases filled with trains and model villages.

For tots, play with toy trains in the children’s area.

Model trains on glass shelves

A few things to know

If you’ve never been to Taylors Mill, be prepared to drive thru a seemingly group of old buildings. Look for a red sign.

To view some of the exhibits, you will need to carry your child to see some of the details. Bring a step stool if you can. Our visit lasted about 2 hours.

Inside the development, there is a big parking lot across the former bleachery buildings or Dock 2. Model Trains Station is in the building called Print Works 1, to the right of Southern Bleachery. You’ll have to climb a few steps to get to a glass door entrance. There is no ramp for strollers. Upon entry, the first thing you’ll see is a multipurpose hall, keep on walking till the next set of doors that leads to the artist warehouses and the train museum.

Public restrooms available (but not as spotless as one would like).

Visit the Model Trains Station

Hours: Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 5:30 pm, Sunday, 1 pm – 5 pm

Spring Break 2018 Special: Open from Tuesday through Sunday

Children (2- 12) $4, Children under 2 are FREE

Adults $6, Seniors $5, Military $5

Visit their website here.

250 Mill St. Suite BL1250, Taylors, SC, 29687

Tel. 864.605.7979

Would your kiddos love a visit to Model Trains Station?

Meet Local Author Melinda Long of How I Became a Pirate

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Ever wonder where the words come from? Children’s books have always been my passion, so I was excited to sit down and chat with children’s author, Melinda Long. As the author of many wonderful books for kids, including How I Became a Pirate, she’s someone you’ll want to learn more about too.

Meet Melinda Long

KAG: Where are you from and what led you to Greenville?

ML: I am originally from Spartanburg, SC. Growing up, my family lived in Tennessee and Columbia, to name a couple. We moved to the town of Travelers Rest when I was ten years old. Once I met Tom and got married, we moved closer to Greenville.

KAG: At what point did you decide you wanted to be a children’s author?

ML: I’ve been writing since I was six years old. I would make up stories and write on anything I could get my hands on. I remember my mother buying me a typewriter to “keep me company!” In elementary school, I was always making up stories and telling them to my friends. The teacher even allowed me to perform puppet shows for my classmates. When I was in college, I had a professor at Furman University who loved Children’s Literature. She encouraged me and that’s when I decided I wanted to pursue children’s writing as a career.

*Melinda’s first children’s book, When Papa Snores, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2000.

KAG: What made you decide to write a series about Pirates?

ML: Believe it or not, I loved to play pirates when I was a kid. I’m no artist, but I would draw pirate hats on paper. Mom’s earrings were the perfect “treasure” to hide in the backyard! After I finished my first book, I remember walking through Barnes & Noble with Tom, envisioning the exact spot where my books would be placed on the shelf. A sales lady walked up and we began chatting. At some point in our conversation, she told me that “there aren’t many books written about Pirates…” And the rest is history.

*Fun Fact: How I Became A Pirate is being performed around the world as a play. There’s even a Christmas musical with the same characters based on a short story written by Melinda (Jingle “Argh” the Way).

KAG: What was your favorite children’s book – what did you read to your children?

ML: When I was growing up, all we had was Little Golden Books (insert a few chuckles here). One of my favorite authors is C.S Lewis.  I loved reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my kids.  A Wrinkle in Time is another great one, by Madeleine L’Engle.  I love her too. Of course, my favorite children’s book is probably Where the Wild Things Are.


KAG: How do you balance writing and speaking in schools with being a wife and mom?

ML: I set my own hours so I can be as flexible as I need to be. When my children were younger, it was more difficult because I wanted to be involved in everything they did.  I had to schedule my work around their activities. Now that they’re grown, it’s much easier.

KAG: What is your favorite part of being an author?

ML: I love creating stories. I get so excited when one of my books is about to come out. I also love traveling around to schools. I taught school for twenty three years, so speaking to students is my way of staying connected.

KAG: Let’s change things up a bit and find out a little bit about Melinda on a non-professional level.  What does a typical Friday night look like for you?

ML: There’s so much to do around our town. We love the live music during the warmer months and the Shakespeare in the Park series. Although it’s not uncommon for my husband and I to enjoy one another’s company and relax in front of the TV, either!

KAG: What is your favorite thing to do in Greenville?

ML: Tom and I really love the Greenville Drive games. A lot of times our kids will give us suggestions of things to do. It’s always fun to try things out that they’ve enjoyed. Greenville is growing so much!

KAG: Which of your books would you say is your favorite?

ML: Probably Pirates Don’t Change Diapers. Honestly, it changes. I’ll really be hung up on one, but when a new one comes out, it’ll be my favorite for a while.

KAG: If you could travel to one place in the world, where would it be?

ML: Actually, I’m a homebody. I love everything about where we live and I’m content to stay around home. Wait… I do want to see New Orleans at some point.

KAG: Do you like to read in your spare time? (Insert more chuckles at the word “spare time”), If so, what genre is your favorite?

ML: Yes! I love to read when I have time. Anything filled with suspense. I love a challenge – putting pieces of a story together. Character development is important to me, I want to get to know the characters. I love to read young adult suspense novels because I’m interested in writing for young adults, too. I love reading novels by Janet Evanovich. And, of course, it’s always nice to read funny stories – you know, just enjoy the ride of a book without having to think too hard.

KAG: Is there anything you would like to share? Something you’d like our readers to know about you?

ML (without hesitation): I love to act. I’m a member of a theatre group at my church, St. Peter’s Episcopal on Hudson Rd. We typically perform two plays a year.

Learn more about Melinda Long

Visit her website here. Learn more about (or purchase) her books here.

This interview was so much fun for me! The only thing I value more than the words is the writer. Now that you have the low-down on Melinda Long, check out her website and be on the look- out for her next book, Mates!

If you only get books at Spartanburg County Library, you are missing out!

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The local library is a great source for books for all ages and reading levels. Whether you want a quiet place to sit and read or bring home one or a handful of books, one of the Spartanburg County Library locations more than likely has something that will spark your interest.

Books only scratch the surface of what Spartanburg County Libraries have to offer. From crafts, fitness classes, games, clubs, how-to classes, guest author events, story time, and free movie times, there seems to be an endless number of activities offered to the public; and best of all, most of these activities are free!

More than just books

With an abundance of things to do for kids of all ages, it makes it easy to find an option for keeping your children busy after school and during school breaks. Various story times are offered and targeted toward children of specific ages, from infants, preschoolers, elementary school aged, and tweens. This is something parents can do at home, of course, but changing the atmosphere and being around other children can make story time a whole lot more fun!  Scheduled crafting time allows children to get creative by making slime, painting, making their own Harry Pottery wand, crafting with beads, and seasonal crafts, such as pumpkin painting, to name a few. Best of all, the library supplies the materials they need for their craft, and they get to bring their masterpiece home. Movies for tweens to allow children to just relax and hang out, video game tournaments for the gaming enthusiasts, and outdoor game times to have fun while getting some fresh air add to the variety of activities that are offered.

A Home School Program is offered, and usually takes place during the hours that school is in session. Parents can bring their home schooled children to a scheduled educational workshop. Whether it is a craft or a science experiment, the library can help add more fun into their learning curriculum.

Most of the children’s areas in the libraries offer a variety of educational toys and puzzles to keep the children entertained, and allow parents to enjoy some quiet time. The Headquarters library, located in downtown Spartanburg, also offers a playground in a fenced in area, which is easily accessed from the children’s book area. Benches and tables are available for parents while their children play, or can be used as a place to enjoy a book with your child when the weather is nice.

Their Lego Club allows children to get creative and build using the plethora of Legos they have. Best of all, the kids don’t have to clean them up when finished (and parents don’t need to worry about stepping on one that was left out…ouch!). The Chess Club is offered to learn how to play chess, or, you can find an opponent and challenge your chess skills.

Adults also have access to multiple events/activities with the Spartanburg County Libraries. Various fitness classes are offered, such as yoga, Zumba, and gentle exercise, allowing you to stay healthy without a gym membership. How-to classes are available to keep your skills sharp, such as Job Interviewing 101 and classes on basic home repairs you can do yourself. Authors occasionally visit the library, giving you the opportunity to hear directly from them about their book, and even have your book signed.

All events and activities offered by the Spartanburg County Libraries are posted on their calendar located on their website. Simply click on the event you are interested in to read a brief description about it. Most activities are free; however, very few do require a small fee to participate. If there is a fee, it will be listed on the description of the event on the calendar. Some crafting activities have a limited number of spaces available, due to supplies and seating, and may require advanced sign up to participate. This information will also be listed on the activity description on their calendar. As the Spartanburg County Library has multiple locations, you can filter the events by location on the website, or view all at once. Activities and events vary by location.

Did you know the library has 3-d printers and more for patrons to use? Learn more about the Spark Space: Maker Space at the headquarters library, with KAS’s Melanie. She’s taught floral design and cake decorating classes their and can’t wait to tell you all of the exciting stuff that it offers patrons.

Visit a location near you

Cyrill-Westside Library
525 Oak Grove Road
Spartanburg, SC 29301

Inman Library
50 Mill Street
Inman, SC 29349

Landrum Library
111 East Asbury Drive
Landrum, SC 29356

Headquarters Library
151 S. Church Street
Spartanburg, SC 29306

Boiling Springs Library
871 Double Bridge Rd.
Boiling Springs, SC 29316

Chesnee Library
100 Pickens Avenue
Chesnee, SC 29323

Cowpens Library
181 School Street
Cowpens, SC 29330

Pacolet Library
390 West Main Street
Pacolet, SC 29372
864. 474.0421

Woodruff Library
270 East Hayne Street
Woodruff, SC 29388

Middle Tyger Library
170 Grace Road
Lyman, SC 29365

What’s your family’s favorite thing about the Spartanburg County Library?

This Fascinating Historical Site Is Free to Visit in Pickens, SC

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Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center was built as a grist mill in 1825 by Benjamin Hagood. Today the site is managed by Pickens County Museum and features a grist mill, a working water wheel, historic buildings, and nature trails. It is a beautiful and interesting place to visit, especially if you enjoy stepping back in time and learning what life was like for the people who lived here years ago. Local mom, Kristen Alcock, brings us all the details and helpful hints to make your visit to Hagood Mill a wonderful spring adventure!

Folklife Center

Walking around Hagood Mill, you will see two restored log cabins, a moonshine distillery, blacksmith shop and a cotton gin. Inside the cabins are a giant loom, spinning wheel and other historical items. My son loved watching the cotton gin demonstration and touching the raw cotton. “Our favorite part was seeing the grist mill!” said Christel Price, a KAG reader. “The kids loved seeing it in action and learning how the whole process works.”

Hagood Mill historical site

Nature Trail

The walking trail, through the woods and around historical buildings, is great for hikers of all ages. The trail is unpaved and a little bumpy. It’s short enough for little walkers to manage, and is usually very shady. My family did not walk the entire trail, but Elizabeth Lamb from Hike it Baby Greenville said, “It’s a beautiful 3/4 mile trail with a fun bridge. It’s perfect for young walkers.”

Petroglyph Site

This fascinating archeological site highlights 32 distinct petroglyphs, mostly human forms, and is one of the best petroglyph sites open to the public. Discovered in 1993, it is estimated that the drawings were left by a prehistoric culture 1,500 to 2,000 years ago. The drawings are pretty eroded but the exhibit has a great audio presentation, photographs and explanation of the historical significance of the drawing and the people who left them.

Special Events

My family was lucky enough to visit Hagood Mill during one of their monthly festivals which included banjo and fiddle music, local pottery as well as moonshine, cotton gin and gristmill demonstrations. The once a month events are noted on their calendar. Hagood Mill holds a kid’s fest in the spring, military celebrations and various music festivals.

This video was originally published on The Stinehart’s YouTube channel and showcases the Storytelling Festival.

Other upcoming events include the annual Fiddling Championship and Storytelling Festival. Look for a Native American Celebration in November and a Celtic Christmas in December.

Hagood Mill also occasionally offers some really interesting classes. Past classes include Hearth Cooking, fermenting wild foods, a Sketchbook workshop and a learning how 19th century southerners survived winters on the homestead.

Hagood Mill homeschool lesson

Gift Shop

Shop local at the Hagood Mill gift shop. You can buy products such as jams, honey, and jewelry, pottery and soaps made by local artists. They also have books about local history, t-shirts and CDs. The gift shop also sells cornmeal and stone ground grits made right there at the grist mill!

Planning Your Visit

138 Hagood Mill Road
Pickens, SC 29671

Hagood Mill, the trails and the petroglyph site are open every week; Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free, however on Saturdays with a festival there is a $5 parking fee.

Festivals are the third Saturday of each month. For a complete list and calendar of events visit their website.

Hagood Mill

We read a book that mentioned mills and what they do before our visit and it helped my son understand what he was seeing. Here are a few books that mention gristmills and petroglyphs:

Books that mention or explain mills, grain, flour, etc:
Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle
Any version of the Little Red Hen
The Grist Mill Secret by Lillie V. Albrecht

Books that describe or mention petroglyphs:
There Was an Old Man Who Painted the Sky by Teri Sloat
Early Humans (DK Eyewitness Book)
Magic Treehouse #7: Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osbourne

Would your kids enjoy visiting Hagood Mill?

Everything You Need to Know to Treasure Hunt (AKA Geocache) in Greenville

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Local mom Jackie Vest is giving us everything we need to know to geocache in Greenville! For more ideas of things to do outside in Greenville see our list.

Unbeknownst to many people, at any given moment there could be hundreds of small treasure chests hidden in public places around you – just waiting for you to find them! This worldwide game is called geocaching, it’s a blast to do with your kids, you can play nearly anywhere, and the best part is it’s free. Searching for these ‘caches’ can take you from your favorite trails, to your most frequented parks, to the places you have passed a hundred times on Main Street, locating hidden objects you never knew were there! Greenville’s downtown area is home to over twenty-five caches, the Swamp Rabbit Trail has a couple dozen, and Paris Mountain is home to an infamous Bucket of Toys.

What exactly is a Cache?

Caches are containers ranging in size from a tiny thimble to a paint bucket and everything in between. There are millions hidden worldwide! They might be a coffee can hidden in a tree hole, a medicine jar under a rock, or a magnetic container (such as a hide-a-key) fastened to everyday objects like handrails, bridges, benches, signs, stuck to landmarks, and the list goes on and on. Each cache has been logged into a system with its exact GPS coordinates, a unique name, a description of its size, and perhaps a clue or two if you’re lucky.

What’s inside?

Caches almost always contain a log book inside which you should sign upon finding. Larger caches may contain small cheap toys (think an army man or random beads), coins, or nature finds like acorns or interesting rocks. Occasionally you may be lucky enough to find a ‘Trackable!’

What is a Trackable?

Any object fastened with a GPS tracker. You may have a task to complete if you decide to take the Trackable. On our first hunt, my kids found a Trackable; it was a toy fixed with a tracker and a note. The note explained that the car was in a race! It had been placed in a geocache in Florida along with two other cars at the same time. The task was to take the car and place it into another geocache as far west as possible. The family which set the cars in motion was tracking them online to see which car would make it across the U.S. to the coast of California first. You could take down the code yourself and watch the car you ‘helped’ as it continued to make its way across the states. HOW COOL WAS THAT!? From that day on, my kids were hooked.

What to bring?

Bring a pen to sign the log. If you are planning on collecting any items from a cache, you must go prepared to leave something behind. The general rule is take one, leave one. So have fun with your kids picking out small items from home before you head out. Research the size of the caches you will be locating ahead of time; if the cache is tiny, there will not be anything to collect. If it is medium/large, you can generally expect to take something and leave something. Unfortunately, not all seekers follow the rules! Prepare your kids in advance by letting them know there may be nothing to take, or the things may be undesirable. We like to leave things if size permits (even if we haven’t taken something) because it makes the finding fun.

How do I get started?

The easiest way to geocache is to use an App. Some may be free, but the paid versions will be worth your while. We like a $5.00 App called Cashly. It will show you all the caches around you, along with details, photos, and logs from people who have recently found it, and it will turn into a compass which guides you to within about 20 yards of the cache. You can pay more for hints, but we haven’t found this necessary. I do not recommend geocaching with small kids without using a good App. Put on the compass, hand it to your tot, and let them guide you to the cache – simple! Then roll up your sleeves and search.


-Each cache is different in terms of difficulty. Some are nearly in plain sight and some are nearly too difficult to find. Check the ratings before you head out.

-Read the past logs on the Apps before you hunt. You may find that the cache has very recently been “Muggled” i.e. stolen by a non-game playing person. You need to know this!

-You must return the container to the exact same spot you found it.

-Look high, low, under, behind, get creative! The Apps will get you close, but it’s up to you to seek the treasure. They can also be off. Rely more upon the clues (like the name of the cache) than the precise point the phone GPS takes you. Use your detective skills and common sense over, “But it says it’s right HERE?” It is never exactly where the App takes us, instead it’s close.

-Caching in the city is generally MORE difficult than caching in the park or woods. It is much easier to hide an object from “Muggles” in the woods than the city. Things downtown are more of a puzzle, and often small.

-Expect to miss sometimes. Prepare your kids for the chance of not finding it, or the toys being sad, or the log missing, etc. These things do happen! We rarely find every single cache we set out to.

-If the geocaching goes south, there’s always ice cream!

In Greenville, we have found several along Main Street, the Reedy River, and all of them at Paris Mountain.

Happy treasure seeking, arr!!

Meet Jackie

Jackie Vest is a writer and at-home-mom of two energetic little boys. She enjoys adventuring around the beautiful Upstate, the hilarity of kiddo-raising, outdoor fitness with friends, and her Favorite 5 C’s: cooking, crafting, camping, coffee, and chocolate. You can connect with her via her blog at: JackieVest.com.

The Downtown Spartanburg Headquarters Library Even Has a Playground

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Jennifer Curry reviews the Downtown Spartanburg Headquarters Library. For more ideas of things to do inside see our list of Things to Do Inside in Spartanburg!

Looking for a place your kids will love that is always free with tons of stuff they can borrow to take home and enjoy? Does this magical place exist? Yes! The Headquarters Library in Downtown Spartanburg is full of excitement every day and has free items to borrow that everyone in your family will enjoy.

What makes the Headquarters Library so great?

Located on the 1st floor of the Headquarters Library is a massive children’s area that is enclosed and contains books, hands-on learning toys, a children’s computer lab, and more! As soon as you enter the area, you find the train depot. This special space has a gigantic train mural for the Hub City, as well as a train wall and the train depot where librarians await.

In this space, you will find several different hands-on activity tables such as the light-up magnetic blocks. Children are drawn to the space because of the toys and colors, but the library has specifically chosen activity tables that help children learn and be creative. Plus, this is not your typical “quiet” library space – play is encouraged!

Even more exciting is the beautiful outdoor children’s garden that includes a fully enclosed playground. Not only is the playground enclosed, it does offer shade! With a mixture of climbing equipment and musical play instruments, this playground is a hidden gem. There is plenty of seating for parents, so you can rest easy while your children run and play.

Plus, there are restrooms in the children’s area including family restrooms and a private nursing area.

Even your big kids will want to stay

Also located on the 1st floor is a room made just for tweens. If your kids are between the ages of 10 and 12, they are welcomed to the Tween Zone. This room is a hang-out space for this age group and is where several events just for tweens are held.

Did you know the Headquarters Library also has an entire private space just for teens? The Teen Services department is located on the 2nd floor (also the main floor of the library). Tell your teens to look for the orange walls.

This space not only holds the young adult book collection, it also is a unique hang-out space just for teenagers – no adults allowed! With televisions, computers, tables, booths, and even a stage, teens are invited to enjoy this space designed just for them. The Teen Services department hosts several teen-only events each month as well.

This library offers free programs too

Spartanburg County Libraries offer a huge number of free programs each month. Since Headquarters Library is the main branch, there are multiple programs happening here weekly. For example, the Headquarters Library hosts over 10 story time programs each week!

In addition to story time programs, the Headquarters Library also hosts movie viewings, author lectures, books clubs, and more. They even offer fitness programs such as yoga. All of these programs are free of charge!

During the summer, the library hosts a summer reading program for all ages (separate programs for children, teens, and adults). Each division offers prizes to those who complete their summer reading program. The adult and teen programs encourage patrons to attend the free library programs, which count towards winning the summer reading prizes.

See our calendar for a list of library events.

This library is not just for checking out books

Often, people are under the assumption that libraries are just for checking out books. This could not be further from the truth. One visit to the Headquarters Library will let you see there is so much more available to patrons than books.

For example, the third floor of the library offers a large computer lab for those needing internet, Word programs, or printing. In addition, the Headquarters Library also has private study rooms patrons may use. If you or your teen has a big project, these are great spaces to utilize.

But, more than books and computers, the Headquarters Library also has an entire audiovisual section that allows individuals to borrow movies, television series, music, video games, and more. These are not old movies or music either – these are brand new releases you may borrow for free. This section is located on the main level.

Did you know you can also check out magazines from the library? Instead of spending money on subscriptions or stocking up on new magazines at the grocery checkout aisle, you can borrow magazines from the library. Headquarters Library has a huge magazine section with current and past issues.

Additionally, the Spartanburg Libraries offer several library apps that you can use from home (i.e. Freegal, Hoopla, Overdrive, Zinio). These apps allow you to use your phone or device to check out eBooks and audiobooks outside of the library. But, that’s not all. These apps allow you to borrow and download current music, movies, television, and magazines to your devices for free as well.

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got your library card!

While program events are free and open to the public, if you want to take advantage of the library’s collection (or borrow materials), you will need a library card. Library cards are free to Spartanburg County residents. You just need proof of identity and proof of residency (if your driver’s license includes your current address, you can use it).

Most books, magazines, and music CDs may be checked out for 28 days. DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and video games may be checked out for 7 days.

The Headquarters Library is located at 151 S. Church Street in downtown Spartanburg. It is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Has your family ventured to Headquarters Library yet this summer?

Meet Jennifer Curry
Jennifer relocated to Spartanburg seven years ago, and now spends her days working from home and taking care of her two kids. She loves this area because we can go from rural areas to urban areas to the mountains within an hour. Her favorite things to do with her kids are using their imaginations and visiting Spartanburg County local libraries. Follow Jennifer at www.litlovingmom.com.

Don’t Miss Fort Moultrie on Your Next Trip to Charleston

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Local mom Jackie Vest shares her experience touring Fort Moultrie on her trip to Charleston. See our Charleston page for even more suggestions of things to do and places to eat in Charleston, SC. We even have a 2-3 day itinerary for Charleston, SC!

A visit to Sullivan’s Island is not complete without a tour of Fort Moultrie, and with just a few dollars needed to get through the gate, you’ve got to put it on your Charleston Bucket List. This one location tells the tales of defending our soil from our nation’s earliest history through World War II. The visitor center holds many artifacts, educational bits, souvenirs, books, and useful information before you head across the street to the fort.

To an adult, this fort serves as a gateway back in time, beginning with the most recent historical use of the fort and progressing further and further back in history as you progress through the walls and tunnels. To a child, this is an ocean-view maze peppered with massive cannons, enticing them to run the whole place over in a matter of about an hour. Both parties will leave feeling like the afternoon was well-spent.

A bit of history…

The fort’s earliest battles were in defending young America from British warships in 1776. The original fort was built of palmetto logs and inspired the nickname and flag of our Palmetto State. It remained in use from that year until 1947! The fortifying walls speak of seacoast defense for the entire life of our nation. It has seen everything from pirates, to the British, from Civil War battles, to support in the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, and everything in between. It was decommissioned in 1947 when new technologies outdated seacoast defense.

Plan your own trip to Fort Moultrie

Visit the website here.

1214 Middle Street
Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
(843) 883-3123

Open Daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Have you ever visited Fort Moutrie?

Meet Jackie

Jackie Vest is a writer and at-home-mom of two energetic little boys. She enjoys adventuring around the beautiful Upstate, the hilarity of kiddo-raising, outdoor fitness with friends, and her Favorite 5 C’s: cooking, crafting, camping, coffee, and chocolate. You can connect with her via her blog at: JackieVest.com.

Lost Valley Ranch is the True Ranch Experience

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Local mom Lacey Keigley shares her family’s trip to Lost Valley Ranch in Colorado. Find out why she says it’s worth the trip from Greenville! Find even more travel ideas on our Travel from Greenville page.

It’s during those long winter months and darker days when people like me start to think about spring and summer and vacations and trips and sunshine.

It’s true, I like the planning nearly as much as I like the traveling.  Well.  I don’t know if that is entirely true.  The point is, I love planning trips.  I like looking at maps and measuring distances and thinking of ways to make the road trip fun.  I like looking up funky road side attractions and making lists of where we could stop for the best BBQ in Nashville or the most delicious dessert in Kansas City.

Our trip to Lost Valley Ranch

And thinking about summer makes me think about the ranch that my family fell in love with last summer.  (This picture looks all postcard and unreal – but – you guys, it is SO for real.  Just my little iPhone’s camera and it was THIS beautiful.)

I’m not actually sure I ever did its beauty and charm full justice through my blog posts, but I wanted to try again to share our ranch experience.  And to tell you, if you’re thinking about visiting this summer, you should be making your reservation already.

From the minute we arrived at Lost Valley Ranch, we felt welcomed and celebrated, like royalty or something.  (And that is how they treat everyone who crosses the cattle guard.)

It’s all the little things at Lost Valley Ranch

Your name and a personal message on your door’s chalkboard.

The Keurig stoked with hot cocoa, tea and coffee in our cabin.

The logs stacked carefully to build a cozy fire with a fire starter and matches and a log with the LVL emblem burned into it.

Nightlights scattered around the cabin.

Turn down service every single night.  Seriously!  While we enjoyed a delicious dinner, fairy elves were in our cabin, setting the extra pillows to the side, turning down the covers and leaving a little chocolate treat on the pillows.

Beds made every single morning.  Yes!   While we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast with many options, those same fairy elves were in our cabin, making our beds, tidying our space and doing all the hard work for us.

Flashlights in the cabin – just in case.

Quality soaps and a sewing kit and lotion you actually want to use.

Homemade fresh cookies available every minute of every day in the lobby area with the giant leather seats and the comfy couches.

Their hospitality is a gigantic part of the beautiful service of the week at the ranch.

The first night the ranch owner is welcoming us all and the kids and I are grinning non-stop, happy to have arrived at the end of this dusty road and happy to be free from distractions and chores and responsibilities. Tony says in his welcome, like I wrote before, “Beyond these cattle guards, we know you’ve got issues and problems and struggles – but this week, let us handle them all. Let us feed you and let your cell phones not work and let us take care of you.” Words like that can make a mama like me cry genuine tears of relief and hope.

Lost Valley Ranch is sort of like a family summer camp. Kind of. It’s all inclusive, which aids the relaxation and no pressure attitude of the ranch. Once you’ve paid your price you are good to go. (I mean, obviously if you want to buy souvenirs at the Trading Post, you’ll need to spend more money, but you know what I mean. You’re not paying extra for horse rides or meals or whatnot.) Each evening a cute newspaper is waiting in your cabin with the next day’s activities and weather forecast and anything else you might need to know.

After breakfast with your family, where you can sit with other ranch guests, you can plan your day.  Kids are divided by age and head out to the corral to go on a ride.  You – the grown up – can go on a ride in the morning.  Or, you cannot.  You can learn to fly fish or skeet shot or you can hike a mountain, soak in one of the several hot tubs or hang out in your cabin all quiet and cozy like.  Also, if your kids don’t want to ride horses that day, no problem.  They don’t have to.  At lunch you meet back up with the kids and have lunch with all the other guests.

There was a touch of the element of a get-to-know-you mixer at first, but since everyone is pretty much on their A Game – kids happy, no cooking required, no distractions – it was fun to meet and chat with the other guests.  Lots and lots of them were long time fans of the ranch and many had been visiting with their families for years and years, summer after summer.  (I did struggle the first few days remembering who was who – especially when people look so very different when they switch from baseball caps to cowboy hats.)

At every meal, when the waitrii (that’s the name they call themselves) ask you about the next meal’s options (it’s always food, food, food there – SO many delicious meals), you should always choose half and half. That is – half of each option. “Would you like to try the salmon or the fiesta salad or half of each?” It never mattered what they offered, I always answered, “Half of each, please.”

In the afternoon the schedule looked much the same.  Kids can ride with their wranglers and kids their age.  Adults can do the same.  Or not. As for our gang, we all rode every day.  Otto awoke each morning, “Mom, I get to ride today – right?”

The flexibility was phenomenal.  All the good choices all day long.  Ride or not ride.  Hike or hot tub.  Southwestern salad or pulled pork.  Fly fishing or target shooting.

The evenings have a lovely rhythm and routine too. One night there’s a square dance. One night a melodrama that was equal parts quirky and goofy and the kids found it hilarious and it was loads of fun. One night there’s a cookout down at the “jail” and we all ride hay covered wagons and watch the most amusing night of sing alongs and talent show style entertainment. One evening the teens get their own campfire and late night experience. There’s a guest rodeo the last day and a wrangler rodeo the first day. Sand volleyball is available and swimming and lounging poolside and chatting with your horse – the one you get assigned the first day and make buddies with through the week.

All good things must come to an end

It’s such a great week that the crash when you leave Sunday morning is actually physically painful.  I mean, if you are my family, anyway.

It sounds like a cliche, but we actually made friends at the ranch that we’ve stayed in contact with throughout the year, friends that we’ve actually visited with since that summer trip.  Like a magical summer camp for grown ups and kids too, it’s a ranch paradise in all the best ways.

Oh you guys, just writing about Lost Valley Ranch makes me itch to break out my cowboy boots and hop in the car and start that long journey all over again.

About Lost Valley Ranch

Lost Valley Ranch
29555 Goose Creek Rd
Sedalia, Colorado, CO 80135



Website: www.lostvalleyranch.com

Would your family love a dude ranch vacation?

Find even more travel ideas on our Travel from Greenville page.

Meet Lacey
Lacey KeigleyLacey Keigley is the mother of six children – five of whom she homeschools. She thinks old wooden crates make the best bookshelves. She hangs worn out barn tin on her walls and calls it art. She believes raising her six children is the scariest and the wildest journey she has ever taken. She likes the magic of sunlight through the old bottles on her kitchen shelf. She blogs about education and parenting and grace and unexpected adventures on her blog SoEveryDay. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest.