Looking for a fun way to explore our state’s different sources of plant- and animal-based products? The SC Agritourism Passport Program is an incentive program where people can earn free goodies for visiting places that are probably already on your to-do list! The good news is there are nearly two dozen farms not far from Greenville and Spartanburg. Visiting farms is more than a fun, family activity; it’s also a field trip-worthy educational opportunity!
If you adore fall, you may be planning a visit to a local farm with activities your whole family will love. One of our favorite farms is Denver Downs Farm, which offers a huge corn maze, a jumping pillow, a zip line, and much more. We’ll give you the details of all the activities they will offer this season!
Don’t miss the Family 4-Pack of Tickets giveaway at the end of the article!
If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family this fall in the Greenville-Spartanburg area, Strawberry Hill Farm needs to be on your list. In fact, it should probably be on your bucket list every year.
Strawberry Hill and Cooley Farms have been family-owned and operated since 1947, and they truly understand and value families. With a cafe, ice cream shop, and produce stand of fresh pumpkins, jellies, jams, corn, and more, you’ll find plenty to satisfy your cravings. Plus, the hay ride and corn maze provide more than enough entertainment and memory-making for a couple of hours.
We visited one late morning in September and quickly discovered we weren’t the only ones who found this local gem. We wandered around the Shed, took plenty of photos, and went on the hay ride. If you’re thinking of visiting Strawberry Hill Cooley Farms, I’ve compiled lots of info and details for you below, including some extra tips before you go.
The Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor at Strawberry Hill
While we personally didn’t visit the cafe or ice cream parlor during our trip, it was PACKED and had a long line out front. Clearly, it is popular with families around the Upstate. The ice cream parlor has 32 flavors of freshly churned ice cream made with fruit straight from the farm. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch and has a variety of items to choose from. Breakfast is served until 10:30 am.
The Shed at Strawberry Hill
We parked at the Shed, and our toddler was immediately excited about all the pumpkins she could see from the car. Strawberry Hill has a large variety of pumpkins in all shapes, colors, and sizes to choose from. Not to mention their large supply of jellies, jams, boiled peanuts, and other snacks. They even had 3 flavors of slushies while we were there: Apple, Blackberry, and Peach. We grabbed a Peach Slushie to enjoy on our hay ride. It was delicious!
If you wander outside of the Shed covering, you’ll discover more pumpkins and some other fun things to bide your time. You’ll find a couple of tractors, a swing, and stacks of hay bales and pumpkins that are styled for the perfect fall photo op.
The Hay Ride at Strawberry Hill
If you want to go on one of the hay rides, purchase your tickets in the Shed. Each ticket includes a trip to the playground, opportunity to feed the big cows, visit some other farm animals, go down the GIANT slide, and access to the big jumping pillow. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but we’re glad we went on it!
Once you purchase your ticket, you’ll wait until your group is called, and then you’ll board the wagon. Don’t worry about getting itchy by sitting on bales of hay—Strawberry Hill has cleverly covered the hay bales in plastic for your comfort.
The tractor and wagon will take you through Strawberry Hill’s property, giving you fun facts along the way. (Fun fact we learned: they plant their strawberries by hand every single year! This was mind-blowing to me because their strawberry field is massive).
While on the hay ride, you’ll see cows and get the chance to feed them a little treat! Then, the tractor will drop you off at an exclusive area that’s only accessible for those who hop on the hay ride. You’ll find more farm animals to pet (Queen Victoria, the farm’s pig, was a big hit!), a sandbox, seesaws, a variety of games, several large slides, the pumpkin patch, and a giant Jumping Pillow!
Once you and your kids are done playing, you can hop back on a wagon to head back to the Shed.
The Corn Maze at Strawberry Hill
Strawberry Hill has 3 corn mazes: two larger ones and one kiddie maze. The two larger corn mazes take 20-30 minutes to complete, and the kiddie maze takes about 20 minutes. While they have offered the maze during the evening in the past, they are not offering night mazes in 2023.
Admission Cost & Hours for Strawberry Hill
Cost: $15 per person over 2 years old
September 2023 Hours:(Opens September 30, 2023)
Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm
Sundays 12 pm – 5 pm
*Last wagons load at 5 pm
October 2023 Hours (last day is October 30th):
Fridays 1 pm – 5 pm (October 20th and 27th only)
Saturdays 9 am – 5 pm
Sundays 11 am – 5 pm
*Last wagons load at 5 pm
Corn Maze Only
Cost: $10 per person 8+ years old, $8 for those over 3 years old
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm
*Last corn maze entry at 6 pm
Hayride & Corn Maze Combo Ticket
$20 per person over 3 years old (Combo tickets for 2-year-olds will only pay for the hayride)
Tips for Visiting Strawberry Hill
Wear closed-toe shoes if you plan on visiting the Corn Maze and/or go on a hay ride. It’s sandy, dirty, and—well, there are farm animals.
If you plan on going on the hay ride, dress your kids in play clothes and not their Sunday best. Between the large sandbox, slides, and petting zoo, they’re bound to get dirty.
Use the restroom before you go on the hay ride.
Be prepared for lines and a wait at the Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor.
Keep in mind that no pets are allowed on the hay ride or at the corn maze.
Do you want to visit McLadke Orchards for some fall fun? This adorable family farm in Seneca, SC, only an hour from Greenville, SC, has pumpkins, a hay ride, maze, apple slingshots, and adorable animals. We are here to tell you all about it!
NOTE: In 2023 the McLadke Orchards is only open for field trips and private events, except for their October Trunk or Treat and Christmas Santa Shop.
I was tripping over myself as soon as I opened my car door at McLadke Orchards in Seneca, SC because I saw an adorable piglet running in front of the farm store. I could not get out of my car fast enough to try to catch this adorable animal. I nearly melted into a puddle. Then I saw the cute little calf named Romeo just waiting for some treats and pets next to the farm store. What was this place?!
Well, it’s a family farm and it is so cute. They’ve opened up the farm for visitors for the first time this fall and I honestly would have been there sooner if I had known about the cute little piglet, which doesn’t even have a name yet. Visitors can write a name and drop it in a bowl for the grand naming at the end of October.
McLadke Orchards is the perfect place for a day trip to enjoy a hayride, pumpkin patch, that cute little piglet, feeding animals, slingshotting apples, and making those precious family memories we are all after.
Ever have an Asian Pear? They are incredibly delicious, juicy, and a must-try fruit. Pilot Mountain Pears has acres and acres of them available for u-pick this fall in Hendersonville, NC.
I have been obsessed with Asian pears for years and get ridiculously excited whenever I see them in grocery stores or farmers’ markets. They are generally light brown in color with the texture of an apple and a crunchy but juicy center- like the kind of juicy where you bite in and the juice runs down your arm – that kind of tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear.
If you’re also a fan of Asian Pears, you might be wondering, “Is there any place with u-pick Asian Pears? Or any Asian Pear picking near me?”
At Pilot Mountain Pears in Hendersonville, NC, and only an hour from Greenville, SC, not only can you buy these wonderful fruits but also pick them yourself. You’ll definitely want to add this orchard to your fall adventures!
About Pilot Mountain Pears
The orchard is owned and run by the Laughter (pronounced LAW-DER) family. I met Beth and her husband David and they showed me around the orchard, the little shop, and the packing barn. David really loves Asian pears and he planted about 1,000 of the trees more than a decade ago and just kept replacing the apple trees with Asian pear trees until that’s pretty much all they grow now.
The couple are both locals and have been married for 27 years. They have two grown children who help out on the farm when they are home but mostly, it’s Beth and David who are the driving force behind the orchard. They’ve done a lot on the farm in terms of making a fun u-pick experience for guests since they first opened to the public three years ago and word has spread almost solely through word of mouth about how amazing their Asian pears are.
Why Asian Pears Are So Amazing
I love apples just as much as the next person but Asian pears are on a whole other level. The Asian pears come from a tree native to East Asia and were originally eaten by the rich, noble people of China. Around 1850, the exotic fruit was brought to America by Chinese laborers. There are hundreds of varieties and you may hear them called apple pears, sand pears, Japanese pears, or Korean pears.
The pears aren’t like regular pears that are literally ripe for ten minutes and then turn to mush. Asian pears last a lot longer, especially if you refrigerate them. They are juicy and sweet and delicious and crunchy. They are usually ripe when they turn a little past light brown but can also be eaten when they have a green color to them or light brown.
U-Pick at Pilot Mountain
With 5,000 Asian pear trees at Pilot Mountain Pears, you’ll have plenty of fruit to choose from. The farm grows mostly Olympic Asian pears, which are huge.
When you arrive at the farm, you’ll see the orchard store. Park there and you can go get a wagon or bag and if you’re really brave, you can grab a pick stick (a very long stick with a metal cage at the top to pick the highest fruit on the trees – also known as long swords for kids).
You’ll be directed where to start your picking. Once you’re done, you go back to the store, where your amazing Asian pears will be weighed and you will pay for your goodies.
They also sell fried apple pies like apple turnovers, apple slushies, and pear juice. I tried the Asian pear juice and whoa. Like, major whoa. This was the sweetest, but not too sweet, tangy, but not too tangy, most refreshing drink. You’ll want to drink it straight from the container.
The store also has really cute tumblers, hats, pottery, shirts, and other fun stuff that you’ll probably want to take home to remember your awesome experience at Pilot Mountain Pears.
Visiting Pilot Mountain Pears
The orchard opens to the public Friday, August 25th and will be open likely through the beginning of October. Hours are Fridays-Sundays from 10 am – 5 pm. Follow Pilot Mountain Pears on Facebook and check before you go to make sure they are sticking to their regular hours.
Prices for u-pick Asian pears are $1/pound. You can also purchase pre-picked pears.
No pets are allowed in the orchard. There are porta-potties on the property.
And if you want to hang out and eat all your Asian pears, fried apple pies, or drink your slushies, there are picnic tables behind the farm store that overlook the orchard with mountains on the horizon. It’s gorgeous.
Nearby Things to Do
Making a day trip to Hendersonville is one of our most favorite activities, so we have plenty of options for a fun day trip there:
Black Bear Fall Tubing
Go tubing down a giant hill at Black Bear Snow Tubing – but without the snow (that’ll come in the winter). The tubing place is open starting September 2, 2023. Read our full review for all the details.
Hike Bearwallow Mountain
Bearwallow Mountain is easily one of our favorite family hikes because it’s not that hard and the views are unbeatable. It’s a 2-mile roundtrip hike and you get 360-degree views of the mountains. Bring up some Asian pears for a snack.
Play with Llamas
Ellaberry Llama Farm is super close to Pilot Mountain Pears and you can take a llama through an obstacle course or go on a hike with them. We love this farm!
No story on Hendersonville is complete without me telling you that you can play with the goats at the Carl Sandburg Home for free. It’s a beautiful place for a hike as well.
Eat at the Village Bakery
This small eatery in nearby Flat Rock has some pretty fantastic brick oven pizza and salads. They close at 5 pm so be sure to get there before closing. If they have any bread left over on their Day Old Bread shelf, grab it because it’s 50% off.
Would a fun day be an adventure with your family to a farm or petting zoo near Greenville, SC? It’s hard to resist a photo of your child petting or interacting with a cute animal at a farm or petting zoo.
I know what you are thinking, “are there any petting zoos near me?”
Yes! There are quite a few! We’ve pulled together a huge list of petting zoos and farms where you can interact with animals. These farms and petting zoos are located near Greenville, SC, in Western North Carolina, Northern Georgia, as well as in Charlotte, NC, and the Midlands. So wherever you are, find a petting zoo near you, or a farm that makes a great day trip.
Our list includes places open year-round places to pet animals, plus seasonal farms, and mobile and event-based petting zoos. We have tried to make sure these are places that treat their animals kindly and with respect as well. If we missed any, let us know in the comments.
Is There a Petting Zoo Near Me?
If you’re wondering “where are farms with animals near me?” the answer is likely somewhere close by. We’ve visited lots and lots of petting zoos and farms and added them to our lists. So yes, you will probably find a petting zoo on this list near you! Use the links below to navigate this list by location.
Are you looking for a place to go peach picking? SC peach picking spots are located near Greenville and into Western North Carolina. And, just in case you’d like to skip the picking and just get some delicious peaches, we’ve added some great places to get local prepicked peaches. That means if you’re wondering “Where can I get peaches near me?” you’ve come to the right spot.
I love peaches and summer is the perfect time to enjoy the juicy fruit.
While there are not a lot of local places you can pick your own, there are plenty of places to get locally-grown peaches. We’ve got both of those lists right here for you so you can get to eatin’ some peaches.
Elf Leaf Farm is the only lavender farm in Greenville County, SC and their u-pick lavender field is beautiful with views of the mountains. Lavender season is upon us and we’ve got all the details on how to experience this incredible farm with your family in Greenville, SC.
The family love is strong at Elf Leaf Farm in Landrum, South Carolina, just a 35-minute drive from Greenville, SC in the Upstate. The farm is run by Allison and Derek Garrett and their children. Their two youngest daughters, Deirdre and Georgia, are bubbly, cheerful and welcoming and I immediately wanted to be their best friend. They are really fun!
Elf Leaf, which is Scottish term for “lavender” (a nod to Derek’s side of the family), is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, anchored by the prettiest farmhouse I’ve ever seen and built on land owned by the Campbell family. If you’re familiar with Campbell’s Covered Bridge, that’s the same family. The bridge is actually just a few minutes away from Elf Leaf Farm.
But let’s get back to the lavender, which is oh-so-gorgeous, and in season during the month of June. I’ll tell you all about how you pick your own lavender plus enjoy the special offerings of the family trade right at the farm.
Elf Leaf Farm’s Roots
Every farm has roots and Elf Leaf’s run deep as the land was part of the Campbell family for many, many years. When Allison and Derek started thinking about retirement, they wanted a farm. Derek always loved farming and Allison always loved soap-making. I promise this is relevant.
Derek was working at the Oconee nuclear plant and would drive home to Greer a different way most days, checking out various farms and properties along the way. When he found the current property that is now Elf Leaf Farm, the couple knew they had found home. They purchased about 48 acres in 2016 and then later added two more acres later on.
As one of only two lavender farms in the Upstate, I had to know why lavender was the crop of choice. It’s because Allison just loves lavender and made soap with it for years and years. She made a lot. And it took up a lot of space at home and while she did sell it at local farmers markets and at The Shoppes Off Trade in Greer, she kind of needed a bigger space. And more lavender of course. And that’s how lavender became the focus on the farm.
Lavender is not native to South Carolina and is very, very hard to grow. Allison and her family really had to figure out how to dig deeper in the Southern soil, past the red clay to make it work. They attended lavender conferences (yes, there’s such a thing) and talked to other lavender farmers and eventually, after a lot of trial and error, were able to grow some pretty spectacular lavender plants.
Events at Elf Leaf Farm
While u-pick lavender is certainly the focus of Elf Leaf Farm in June – and the family is truly all hands on deck during this time since it’s the only time of year to harvest – the farm also has a huge permanent tent to host events like weddings, corporate lunches or dinners, or whatever other things that people may want to do at a lavender farm.
They even have two separate cottages for a bride and groom and the view from the tent is directly at the mountains. Flowers and blueberries and more lavender are planted around the farm and Deirdre and Georgia have big plans for hosting people throughout the year at the farm.
These ladies are a lot of fun to be around and if their events are anything like their personalities, they are going to be awesome. Deirdre actually went to acting school and lived in Brooklyn, New York for awhile and in 2016, she did the most Brooklyn thing ever and went home to help on the family farm. When the pandemic hit, she started working there full-time. Her and her family are so invested not only in the farm but in each other and that shines through in how they run the farm.
One event you really don’t want to miss is their inaugural Date Night at Elf Leaf Farm on Friday, June 9th from 6-8 pm. For $75/couple, you get a bottle of wine, a picnic blanket, a charcuterie picnic basket, and a bluegrass band. Pretty romantic if you ask me.
2023 U-Pick Lavender
The lavender fields at Elf Leaf Farm will be open to the public these dates from 9 am – 4 pm:
Wednesday, June 7 – Sunday, Jun 11, 2023
Wednesday, June 14 – Sunday, June 18, 2023
Wednesday, June 21 – Sunday, June 25, 2023
There is no admission to Elf Leaf Farm for u-pick dates. You only pay for your lavender, which are sold in 2 inch bundles for $8. You get shears and a beautiful basket to go pick your lavender.
If you’re a family who would just love from family photos in a lavender field, that’s possible! There is a $50/hour charge to use the field for professional photography. You can contact the farm to arrange your amazing lavender photo session.
Lots of Lavender Products
The first place I went when I got to the farm after meeting Derek was the Elf Leaf store. Oh my gosh, I thought I went to heaven. The scent of this little shop was perfection. I really didn’t want to leave. I only left because my new best friends, Deirdre and Georgia, promised my kids and I lavender brownies and iced tea at the farmhouse.
The shop is small but mighty. They have everything you can think of that involves lavender: tea, lotion, lavender coffee, lavender scone mix, lavender simple syrup, soap (the soap is always involved), lavender honey right from the bees on the farm, dried lavender, and just so many other things. They also have tea towels, local pottery, and even a lavender cookbook. It’s pretty amazing. Take your time. Smell the lavender, buy some stuff.
You can also find Elf Leaf’s products at the Landrum farmers market or buy directly online if you happen to need more lavender things (which you probably will).
Tips on Visiting Elf Leaf Farm
To make the most of your visit at Elf Leaf, we have some suggestions:
Leave your pets at home. The farm does not allow them.
Wear sunscreen and a hat. It’s hot and lavender likes full sun, hence you’ll be in full South Carolina summer sun.
Bring lunch or snacks. The farm is a beautiful place to hang out.
Wear closed-toed shoes. It’s a farm and there are ants and bugs and other things you don’t want on your feet.
Follow the directions of the staff. There are certain plants you can pick from and others you cannot. Just be courteous and follow directions.
The farmhouse is private. As much as you’d probably like to live in the farmhouse on the property, it’s the private property of the Garrett family so don’t go and invite yourself in.
There are beautiful bathroom facilities at Elf Leaf Farm so don’t worry if your kid needs to take a potty break!
Looking for a place to pick your own strawberries in Greenville, SC? Here’s the inside scoop about which local farms in the Greenville, Spartanburg, and Anderson areas are the best for strawberry picking.
And since we know how much you all love maps, we made one for all these strawberry farms:
Raise your hand if you love baby animals? We do! There are lots of great places in Greenville to not only see and cuddle with baby animals, but make it a learning experience for the whole family. Here are some great local farms and sites where you’ll find baby animals and a whole lot more!