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Posts Tagged ‘Free Things to Do’

Hunting for Toads on Trade in Greer, SC

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If you’ve never hunted for the Toads on Trade in Greer, SC, add it to your list of things to do. Inspired by Greenville’s Mice on Main, the downtown Greer scavenger hunt features 16 tiny toad statues tucked away on historic buildings. And if you’ve never ventured to find all 16 toads? We’ve got everything you need to know (including a short history lesson) before you go toad hunting.


25+ Free (or Inexpensive) Winter Things to Do in Greenville, SC

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If you have experienced a Greenville, SC winter, free things to do are everywhere! We’ve gathered up our favorite free and inexpensive winter activities in Greenville. “Inexpensive” in this case means the total cost of the activity is less than $20 for a family of four to do.

Free and cheap winter things to do near Greenville, South Carolina

Winter can put a damper on outdoor activities because of the cold but do not fear, here’s a list of free and inexpensive things to do in the Upstate, South Carolina that will keep you and your kids from crying boredom and will help relieve that cabin fever.

Looking for more? If our winter list isn’t enough, check out our full list of Free and Inexpensive Things to Do in Greenville.

A quick tip: if you don’t have one already, we highly recommend purchasing a Greenville Attractions Dining & Value Guide ($25), which has great coupons to use at not only tons of restaurants in the area but also has vouchers for many entertainment venues and attractions and significant discounts off of admission to the Pavilion and Pump It Up bounce houses, water parks, and DEFY, among others. I saved over $200 last year using it.

Now to the fun part.

Greenville, SC: Winter Free Things to Do!

Outdoor Winter Fun

Go sledding if it snows!

Typically staying in your neighborhood is a good idea, especially if the roads are bad (and it’s free). Ideas for improvised sleds: tape up the seams of larger cardboard boxes with duct tape, use pool toys, a large cookie sheet, lunch tray, tops of garbage cans, an old car hood, laundry basket, or plastic kiddie pool. [disclaimer: don’t blame us if these ideas don’t work]

But if you’re looking for something more (that does cost money) KAG readers recommend Maggie Valley,  Moonshine Mountain, and Jonas Ridge, which are all in North Carolina.

Go on a driving waterfall tour of North Carolina waterfalls that involve little to no hiking at all. Bonus is that you may get to see a frozen waterfall or two!

Winter Hikes are free (depending on your hiking location) and have lots of fun. Enjoy the crisp, fresh air and a hike without the sweltering summer heat! Caesars Head State Park has particularly stunning views year-round. We have 6 Upstate Winter Hike locations for you to try.

Explore Falls Park on the Reedy in Downtown Greenville to watch the ducks and geese swim around, they are usually there all year. Then you can stroll the streets of Downtown Greenville and window shop. Camperdown Plaza is also pretty fun to walk about, with art in every corner.

Spend an afternoon at one of Greenville’s Park with Sunny Spaces and Playgrounds.

When the weather cooperates, take a bike ride or walk on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

Indoor Winter Activities

Sign up for a free trial toddler classPiano Central Studios, and The Little Gym.

Eat for free using our Kids Eat Free list.

Library: Both the Spartanburg and Greenville County library systems are enormous and they have a ton of free stuff to do – virtual storytimes, craft kits, and special online events. Most branches have free parking but the ones downtown do charge anywhere from $1-$2.

Enjoy the fish at the small aquarium at Bass Pro Shops on Woodruff Road and have your kids pick out their favorite wild animal on display all around the massive store.

Looking at the aquarium of fish at Bass Pro Shops in Greenville, South Carolina

Visit small creatures at local Petco or PetSmart stores, the Greenville Humane Society, or Greenville County Animal Care.

Continue kindness! Just because the holiday season is coming to a close, shouldn’t mean the end of being kind and thoughtful. Write a nice note for a service member and send it with a care package, bake cookies for your local firefighters, volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and catch up on thank you notes for all those Christmas gifts.

Inexpensive Things to Do During the Winter in Greenville

Warm-up with hot chocolate at these places with great hot chocolate in Greenville.

On sunny days, take your young kids to play in the enclosed outdoor playspace at Swamp Rabbit Cafe after a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. You can grab a hot chocolate or snack from the market to enjoy.

Splash in the fun indoor slide and play area at the Kroc Center Pool (daily passes available, $5-10). Reserve space online.

Kroc Center indoor waterpark, Greenville, SC

Family Fun Gym at Acrosmith Gymnastics is offered Monday – Thursday at 9:00 am and 10:15 am, and Fridays at 10:15 am. The 9 am time slot is for kids walking through six years old and the 10:15 am time slot is for kids up to age 12.

It is an open gym with parent participation, remaining within the arm’s reach of the child. Kids get to bounce around on trampolines, try the balance beams, and test their ninja skills on the obstacle course.
You must pre-register. Registration closes at the start of Tot Time.  The cost is $6 per session, and sessions are limited to 50 children – winter schedule is available online.

Spend time at the TRee House Cafe & Art Studio in Travelers Rest where your kids can make art right at the table while you enjoy a warm cup of coffee.

Visit a Trampoline Park: Take children ages 6 and under to DEFY, for the KidsJump hour every Monday-Friday from 9 – noon. It’s $17.99/child and parents/caregivers jump for free.

If you buy a membership pass to Big Air, it works out to be inexpensive fun. They offer open jump as well as Toddler Time, Homeschool Jump, and Cosmic Nights! That coupon book we mentioned earlier can really save you a good bit at Big Air too.

Head to Kids Play & Cafe, where your kids can play dress up and make-believe, climb the indoor play structure, slide, and run around all within the safety of the indoor play place. Younger children and babies may enjoy Village Play in Fountain Inn as well.

Play structures indoors at Kids Play and Cafe in Easley, SC

If you live near Greenville, SC, what winter free things to do are you most excited about?

Winter Guide to Greenville, SC

Check out our KA Guide to Winter near Greenville, SC, with tons of ideas to beat the winter blues!

See Historic Planes for FREE! Western North Carolina Air Museum in Hendersonville, NC

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Did you know Hendersonville, NC has a FREE airplane museum? The Western North Carolina Air Museum is in a hangar beside a small runway full of historic airplanes. Learn about the history of the planes, how they’re made, and how they fly. There are even aircraft that kids can climb in, explore, and experiment with the controls. If you have an aviation enthusiast in your family, no matter their age, this is not a place you’ll want to skip. Let us introduce you to this amazing little gem in Hendersonville so you can plan your visit soon!

WNC Air Museum planes

What is the Western North Carolina Air Museum?

The museum consists of a single hanger filled to the brim with interesting and historic aircraft, informational exhibits, and knowledgable staff there to answer your questions and explain everything about these planes. There is also an aviation library that takes up almost an entire wall of the hanger, full of information for anyone researching an aviation topic whether it’s historical, technical, or anything in between.

Plane at the WNC Air Museum

Is the WNC Air Museum a Place for Kids?

YES! Definitely bring kids to this museum. Signage at the museum asks parents to supervise their children at all times, which makes sense since there are so many valuable aircraft and exhibits densely packed into the space.

That said there are definitely things for kids to touch, explore, play with, and enjoy. There are photo ops for kids in the form of a wooden painted plane. And your kids may also notice some stuffies doing a little piloting. Both a plane and a gyrocopter are available for kids to climb into the pilot’s seat and move the controls. They’ll actually be able to move the rudder, ailerons, and elevator. This was definitely my kids’ favorite part of the museum.

Kids lpiloting at WNC Air Museum

The staff at the museum were very kind to my kids, answering all their questions and complimenting us on their inquisitiveness and behavior. And really, what parent doesn’t want to hear things like that about their kids?

On our way out, my kids were offered copies of some aviation magazines which they eagerly accepted. Members of the Air Museum donate copies they are done with to the museum so kids can bring them home to learn more.

WNC Air Museum Stuffed Pilots

When Can We Visit the Western North Carolina Air Museum?

The regular hours of the museum are as follows:

  • April – October: Wednesday & Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday 12 pm to 5 pm
  • November – March: Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, 12 pm to 5 pm

The museum may also be open for additional hours for special events, like the Hendersonville Apple Festival. Visit the Western North Carolina Air Museum website for special event information.

WNC Air Museum

Getting to the WNC Air Museum

When you plug the address into your GPS or maps app you should have no trouble getting to the museum. It’s located just a few miles from downtown Hendersonville, but the area is residential and you may feel like you’re headed off in the wrong direction. The drive is gravel and you’ll see the hanger from the road.

WNC Air Museum entrance

Western North Carolina Air Museum
1340 Gilbert Street, Hendersonville
FREE admission and parking

Free Things to Do in Hendersonville, NC

There are so many more free and fun adventures in Hendersonville, NC!

Here’s our list of totally free fun in Hendersonville, NC.

Watch Free Holiday Movies at NCG Theaters (2023): Here’s How

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Free holiday movies? Yep, you heard that right. NCG Cinemas has brought back their FREE Holiday Family Film Fest. Your family can load up on holiday cheer for free with three different holiday family movies throughout December 2023, and it won’t cost you a dime! We love free family fun and we know our readers do, too! Happy, happy (free) Christmas family fun!

NCG free holiday film festival

NCG Cinemas 2023 Holiday Film Fest Schedule

13 December days with free Christmas movies at NCG movie theater? If that doesn’t put a little jingle in your step this season, we’re not sure what will. See the following movies free at NCG Cinemas in December 2023! Plus, each movie showing will have the option for a sensory-friendly viewing for 2023.

  • The Grinch (2018): December 8th-10th, 2023 at 10 am
  • ELF: December 15th – 17th, 2023 at 10 am
  • The Polar Express: December 18th – 24th, 2023 at 10 am

NCG Free Christmas movie calendar

  • December 8, 2023, see The Grinch free at 10 am
  • December 9, 2023, see The Grinch free at 10 am
  • December 15, 2023, see Elf free at 10 am
  • December 16, 2023, see Elf free at 10 am
  • December 17, 2023, see Elf free at 10 am
  • December 18, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 19, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 20, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 21, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 22, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 23, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 24, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am

Free Christmas Movies Near Me?

Is there an NCG Cinemas with free Christmas movies near me?

In the Upstate, we are lucky to have NCG Cinemas right in Spartanburg, SC. You’ll be able to see NCG’s free Christmas movies at the Spartanburg location on the designated days.

NCG Cinemas Spartanburg
1985 E Main Street, Spartanburg

Not in the South Carolina Upstate? To see if there is an NCG Cinemas near you, head to the NCG Cinemas locations website.

New for 2023: Sensory Friendly Showings

For 2023, with each regular showing of the movie, the theatre will also host a sensory-friendly showing at the same time. When purchasing your tickets, be sure to select the showing you think is best for your child or family.

More Info for NCG Free Holiday Movies

  • Will there be popcorn and snack deals for the holiday film fest?

For 2023, guests can purchase a $5 Kids mini combo, which comes with a drink, popcorn, and a small treat (typically, fruit snacks). One combo per ticket.

  • Do I need tickets for the free movies at NCG Cinemas?

All guests will need a ticket and will reserve an assigned seat when purchasing their tickets online. Tickets sell out quickly, so purchase online.

Regal Cinemas holiday movies in 2023

More Christmas Movies, Cheap!

$5 Holiday Classics at Regal Cinemas

Holiday in Greenville, SC, Celebrate Christmas, Greenville, SC

Find lots more holiday things to do in our HUGE holiday guide to Greenville, SC.

(2023) FREE Fun & Photo With Santa at Cabela’s & Bass Pro Shops

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If you are thinking about bringing your kids to Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s, Santa will be there too! Kick off the holiday season with Santa’s Wonderland at Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. Truly FREE, a visit to Santa’s Wonderland includes not only a chance to talk to Santa, but also a free studio-quality printed 4×6 photo. You’ll enjoy free activities, candy cane, games, and more. This is one place where holiday magic is really, actually free, and we love it.

See Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Santa in 2023

  • Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s: Santa arrives on November 4th, 2023!
  • Free 4×6 high-quality photo
  • Lots of Free fun all season long!
  • Reservations are open NOW! Make your reservation to see Santa at Cabela’s!

Saturday, November 4th, 2023: Santa’s Arrival Parade at 5 pm in front of Bass Pro Shop.
November 5th, 2023 through December 24, 2023: FREE photos with Santa at Cabela’s.

Note: The times listed above are for Santa at Cabela’s of Greenville, SC. Times and dates may vary by location, but the offerings will be very similar.

Just check with your local Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop for their Santa’s Wonderland schedule.

Santa arrives via boat at Cabela's
Photo credit: Cabela’s

See Santa and Where to Mail Your Letter: Video

FREE Arrival Parade Event

Santa will arrive on a boat straight from the North Pole at Cabela’s & Bass Pro Shops on November 4th, 2023 at 5 p.m.

The arrival event will include:

  • Carolers
  • Free special giveaways
  • Hot chocolate and cookies
  • Various vendors
  • Free games and activities

Free Photos With Santa and Visit to Santa’s Wonderland: Yes! It’s Really Free!

  • Make a reservation in advance.
  • Visits include a FREE 4×6 photo with Santa that you will receive on-site.
  • A visit to Santa’s Wonderland includes FREE crafts and games
  • Use the letterbox to drop off your list to Santa
Santa at Cabela's

Want more photos? Purchase Additional Photos with Santa at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops

Love your free photo? Copying is prohibited, but you can purchase a photo package for additional photos. They’ll print right in the store. Use your CLUB Mastercard® and you can purchase a special CLUB Members Exclusive Photo Package for just $20.

But, remember, no purchase is necessary to visit Santa’s Wonderland at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops. No purchase is necessary for a free photo with Santa. You can have a great time with the kids and spend nothing at all.

Santa’s Wonderland: What you need to know before you visit with Santa

Kidding Around Guest Contributor Lauren Justus brought her family to Cabela’s of Greenville for a visit with Santa. Here are her parent tips: everything you need to know before you go for your visit with the big man in red.

Plan Ahead

In order to visit Santa’s Wonderland, you are required to make a free online reservation with Santa. It takes just a minute to register and you will receive a confirmation email with your booking date and time.

Reservations are available up to seven days in advance, November 5-December 24, 2023. No walk-ins are allowed at this time. 

Visiting Santa at Cabela's
Photo Credit: Cabela’s

How It Works

Upon arrival, one of Santa’s helpers will ask to see your booking confirmation. After your photo is taken, each family will receive a complimentary 4 x 6 print as part of their free online booking. There are additional photo packages available for purchase.

Santa at Cabela's
Photo with Santa provided by Cabela’s at Lauren’s visit.

Extra Touches

Before our exit, Santa’s helpers provided our children with an individually packaged holiday activity kit full of festive surprises. They were also given a huge candy cane and a “Letter for Santa” printout to send to the North Pole in the coming weeks! 

Santa’s Letterbox

There is a letterbox at Santa’s Wonderland so you can send your list! You can take some time to fill out your list right away and mail it, or bring it back to the store to mail when you’re done.

Do some shopping or enjoy the displays

Don’t forget to take a walk through the store before or after your visit so you can enjoy the large aquariums and wildlife displays throughout each store. That’s actually something that’s great to do any day, but even more fun when you’re making a day of it and visiting Santa, too!

Where will your family visit with Santa this year?

Festival of Trees at the Hyatt in Greenville, South Carolina

The holidays do not always have to be expensive! Check out these Free Things to Do This Christmas Near Greenville, SC!

See Model Trains for FREE at Apple Valley Model RR Club in Hendersonville, NC

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Did you know there is a free model railroad museum you can visit in Hendersonville, NC? The Apple Valley RR Club is located in the historic train station in Hendersonville and visitors can check out the indoor and outdoor model trains, and climb aboard a real caboose, totally free. Read on to find out all the details to plan your visit to the Apple Valley Model RR Club.

Railroad scene at Apple Valley Model Club, Apple Valley Model RR Club

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I planned a stop on our day in Hendersonville, NC at the Apple Valley Model RR Club. But, I figured with free admission and several kids who enjoy model trains, it was worth a stop.

Wow, was it worth the stop! The station is full of some of the coolest displays we’ve seen. How rare it is to find something like with without an admission cost! We loved our time watching the trains and look forward to stopping by again.

Take a Peek!

Here’s a fun video from our visit so you can see some of the trains at the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club.

Things to See at the Apple Valley Model RR Club

The model train displays at the Apple Valley Model RR Club flow through the several rooms that make up the historic train station. In one room you can watch club members work on trains and scenery and beyond that are rooms full of elaborate scenery, tunnels, and HO scale model trains.

Tunnels in a model railroad display

The station is filled with the sounds of running trains chugging and whistling across the displays. Train lovers young and old can watch as the trains go by, and meander from room to room to check out the different displays. Take as much time as you’d like, it’s free and there is a lot to see!

Huge model train displays

Outdoor Train Display at Apple Valley

A G-scale model train runs outdoors behind the station and there are some very special features of this outdoor display. First, young ones should head here to visit both Thomas the Train and Percy. They both chug through the large outdoor display.

G-scale outdoor train display with Thomas

Next, notice the mirrors along the back of the display. You’ll be able to watch the trains moving behind the display on their way to the other side.

But the biggest special feature is the onboard camera running on one of the outdoor trains. You can see this onboard view from the lobby. My kids enjoyed positioning themselves outdoors to be seen on the camera while their siblings watched for them in the lobby.

Climb Aboard the Caboose

Beside the train station is an old caboose. When the station is open, the caboose is also open. Climb aboard and check out the interior with its coal stove and storage, benches, and even a toilet.

Caboose at Apple Valley Model RR Club

Where to Find the Apple Valley Railroad Club

The Apple Valley Model Railroad Club is located in a historic 1902 train station beside the railroad tracks in downtown Hendersonville, NC. There is free parking beside the station and it is an easy walk to or from the restaurants and shops on Main Street.

Historic Railroad station in Hendersonville, NC

Visit the Apple Valley Model RR Club

  • Admission is FREE!
  • Hours: Wednesday 1 pm to 3 pm and Saturday 10 am to 2 pm

650 Maple Street
Hendersonville, NC
Apple Valley Model RR Club

Outdoor Music: Free Concerts Near Greenville, SC

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Love some family-friendly and free outdoor concerts? Greenville, SC sure does! Especially in the summer, Greenville and the surrounding areas host a number of free outdoor (and sometimes indoor) concerts. These concerts provide a great way to enjoy time as a family or couple while keeping expenses down. This list includes a wide variety of concerts.


Have tubes, will travel: Tube for FREE just 15 minutes outside Greenville, SC

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There’s a short track of the Saluda River that you can take your own tubes on for free via Dolly Cooper Park, not 15 minutes outside downtown Greenville, SC. We tried it out and have all the details for you!

When I heard about the new docks at Dolly Cooper Park in Greenville that opened up last year allowing guests to kayak or tube for free, I had to try it. It wasn’t until this heat wave though that I got over there with my kids and let me tell you, it was the perfect remedy for the 100-degree day we went. 

Also, the big draws for this place are that it’s free, it involves water on hot days, and it’s easy on the gas tank being so close to Greenville.

Tubing at Dolly Cooper Park

These Apple Store Classes and Camps for Kids are Totally FREE

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Did you know the Apple Store provides free classes and camps for kids? Classes include the free use of Apple technology plus instruction allowing kids to be creative with music, photography, art, video, and even coding.

Over summer break, the Apple Store even provides FREE Apple Camp for kids, which are class events that culminate in a final project. All this happens through a program called Today at Apple.

My own kids have participated in several of these camps and classes and have always enjoyed the programs, wearing their free Apple t-shirts, and sharing their creations with our family. Thanks to that experience, in this article we’re sharing everything you need to know about signing up and participating in these classes and camps at the Apple Store, plus a few tips.

Apple camp

This article includes:
In-Store Apple Classes for Kids
How to Sign-up for Apple Store Kids’ Classes
Apple Camp: Free Summer Camp for Kids
Sign-up for 2023 Apple Camp
Things to Know About Apple Events for Kids


McPherson Park Has a Free Mini-Golf Course in Downtown Greenville, SC

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Have you been to McPherson Park? This popular park is one of the only parks to have mini-golf in Greenville, SC, and it’s FREE! Be sure to pack your own putters and balls and get ready for a great time. The park is located in downtown Greenville and has long been a family favorite. Find out all you need to know about McPherson Park below!

McPherson Park Mini Golf in Greenville SC