Have you seen the Oconee Bell? Spring is the perfect time to spot this rare flower. It doesn’t bloom in very many places, but Devils Fork State Park is one of the few places you can see the Oconee Bell.
Spring Break is the perfect time to have some fun and explore Spartanburg. We’ve rounded up over 100 family-friendly things to do in Spartanburg this spring break. Spring Break for Spartanburg school districts is April 3-7, 2023. With this list, your kids will have no reason to say they are bored!
Every year around the middle/end of May a rare phenomenon appears in the southern Appalachians. Wan blue-ish lights hover above the floor of the forest, appearing by the thousands in undisturbed, high-moisture areas. The annual return of the blue ghost fireflies is a very special occasion; loss of pristine forest has shrunk suitable habitat for the blue ghost down to just a small area around DuPont State Recreational Forest in North Carolina, and on top of that, the fireflies only appear for about a month each year!
What’s a blue ghost firefly anyway?
Although DuPont has become synonymous with blue ghost fireflies, there are many public lands in nearby counties where this night marvel can also be seen, including the Nantahala & Pisgah National Forests (NC) and the Mountain Bridge Wilderness right here in the Upstate. And it’s actually not so very difficult to see the blue ghost; you won’t need special night vision equipment, nor do you have to venture far from your car to see them.
Mid-May through mid-June is prime viewing time. Choose a high-moisture destination in or near DuPont (a trail that is close to a river, a sheltered cove…), and head out before sunset to scout. (Tip: this is the perfect time to visit one of the dozens of waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Escarpment and enjoy a popular destination without the crowds!) Finally, once the sun sets, use the last bit of light to hike a short distance out on your pre-selected trail, and then wait… and wait a little more. Be patient! The blue ghosts come out late – after sunset and not at twilight like all the other fireflies.
One May, we headed to DuPont on our annual blue ghost excursion. We took along a picnic, and enjoyed dinner outdoors while we waited for the sun to set. Other species of fireflies appeared around dusk, fireworks against the dark forest that had the boys standing still in silent awe. We had just about given up on seeing the ghosts and were set to begin the journey home when we walked out one last time – and there they were! As our eyes adjusted we saw more and more of them, glowing for up to a minute at a time, hovering above the forest floor in an eerie scene that had us all captivated. The blue ghosts are notoriously hard to photograph, and I didn’t even try – we just soaked in the scene before us, marveling at the rather spooky scene.
As thousands flock to DuPont to search for the elusive lightning bug, the NC Forest Service has had to take steps to protect the blue ghost populations within park boundaries. We have seen temporary trail closures in response to an overwhelming number of visitors during blue ghost season, and forest officials observed a high level of habitat disturbance and disruption by the large nighttime crowds, which could have long-term impacts on local populations of fireflies. Forest officials ask that the public observe trail closure signs and stay out of closed areas.
Double check to see what trails are closed before your visit. Over the past year especially, Dupont Forest has seen an explosion of visitors and they’ve had to close trails more often for maintenance.
Plan a trip to visit the blue ghost firefiles
In your quest to find the blue ghost firefly, I hope you’ll respect the work that forest service employees and other public servants are doing in preserving the habitat of this seldom-seen insect. Please stay on the trail, visit during official hours, park in designated areas and obey posted signs & trail closures (and make sure to pack a flashlight!). The fireflies are a wonderful opportunity to instill in our children an awe of the beauty of nature, but if we’re not careful, their light will blink out forever.
Where in Greenville can you make a snowman, bounce with a giraffe and possibly see a Penguin? If you couldn’t answer “The Pavilion Recreation Complex” then let me fill you in on one of the Greenville area’s greatest spots to play! With ice skating rinks, a bounce house, athletic fields, and more, there are plenty of activities for every age.We’ve complied all the details you need to know for a visit to Greenville County’s Pavilion Recreation Complex.
It’s baseball season and in Greenville, SC, that means it’s also the perfect opportunity for some quality family time at an affordable price!
Since moving to the Upstate, KAG guest contributor Lauren Lochel had been looking forward to visiting Flour Field and seeing the Greenville Drive play a game. Lucky for us, they did not disappoint! She shares with us her trips and tricks for enjoying a Greenville Drive game with your family.
1. Check for Promotions
It happened to be “Bark in the Park” during our visit, which worked out perfectly for our family! All the dogs were on leashes and very friendly! This not only provided a good distraction for our 22 month old, but we enjoyed seeing all the furry friends as well. However, if you have allergies or a child with a fear of dogs, this would not be a great game for you to attend! This information can easily be found on the Greenville Drive website.
2. Take Advantage of FREE Parking
Park at County Square (for FREE!). You can easily walk from this lot OR you and your family can enjoy a free Trolley Ride! It was a very short wait and we enjoyed it. The Trolley also runs throughout the entire game so whenever you need to head home, just head back out and catch a ride back to your car!
3. Take What You Need
The Greenville Drive has changed their bag policy so you’ll want to read it closely before you go to the stadium. Gone are the days of being able to walk right in with a diaper bag stuffed with everything you care to bring!
4. Beware and Be Aware in the Play Area
With good intentions, the rules state that children should be under a certain height and should be supervised while playing. Unfortunately, neither of these things were happening on Sunday afternoon! My husband and I took a couple of turns taking our daughter to run and play, but it didn’t last long because it was a little chaotic! Stick close by your little one if they need a play break…this is not an area I would advise one to sit and watch!
5. Get Tickets in Advance
The Sunday we went also happened to be Masters Sunday so the crowd was a little lighter than usual. My husband went back on a Friday (fireworks) night with his brother and the game was sold out! Standing room only!
Has your family been to a Greenville Drive game? What tips do you have?
Has your family visited the STEAM festival, iMAGINE Upstate? iMAGINE Upstate STEAM Festival is a free, interactive festival held annually in downtown Greenville. Due to weather, the Festival is rescheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2023 so head to Main Street from 11 am to 5 pm. The outdoor festival is free, family-friendly, and will inspire your kids (and you) to learn about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).
The festival features more than 75 interactive exhibits and stage shows along Main Street in Downtown Greenville. The festival stretches from Main Street and Court Street and ends at Main Street and River Street. Free parking is available at County Square on University Ridge, the Richardson Garage, and the Washington Parking Deck. Trolleys will shuttle visitors throughout the festival. Or, ride the bus with your kids (they will think it’s so cool!) You can follow the Real-Time Bus Tracker app to find out where the bus is and where to be picked up and dropped off.
Thank you to iMAGINE Upstate for sponsoring this content.
Featured Exhibits at iMAGINE Upstate 2023
There will be dozens of exhibits from local organizations and companies that are grounded in STEAM backgrounds, including BMW Manufacturing, GE, ScanSource, World Explorers, and so many more! You can find a full list of sponsors and exhibitors on the iMAGINE Upstate Festival website. Exhibitors will have unique STEAM based demonstrations, crafts, and hands on learning opportunities that will engage both you and your children. All of the activities are free, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of thinkers, tinkerers, and brilliant minds!
Coolers, pets, skateboards, skates, and bikes will not be allowed in the festival area. This is a smoke-free and alcohol-free festival too.
Some of the Exhibitors to Visit at iMAGINE Upstate 2023
Fluor: Get Certified!
Fluor, a title sponsor for iMAGINE Upstate, will offer an engineering and construction exhibit. Your child can grab a hard hat and team up to earn their certification in Design and Planning, Environmental Stewardship, and Site Safety. Then, they get to build
Kyocera-AVX : How do Electronics Work?
Take a look at science and technology and their usage in electronics by observing physics and the relationship between electricity, magnetism, power storage, and more!
Dodge Industrial: Friction!
See if you can fight the friction on different surfaces. Can you dodge a windmill to get your golf ball into the hole? Ever wonder how a conveyor belt works and maintains an optimal speed? Find out at this exhibit.
Verizon: Stay Connected!
Learn about solar powered robotics and how it is used to keep the Verizon network and you connected.
Food Trucks at iMAGINE Upstate 2023
There will be food trucks on site at iMAGINE Upstate, including Aspen Street Treats, The Black Thai, Everything Eggroll, HipBurger, The Pound Cake Man, and Kona Ice. You can find everything that the festival has to offer, including additional information, on the iMAGINE Upstate interactive map. And don’t forget to visit the Info Tents to pick up your free goodie bag and brochure with site map.
About iMAGINE Upstate iMAGINE Upstate fueled by ScanSource is a program of the Upstate SC STEM Collaborative and part of South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics Science (SCCMS) at Clemson University. Its mission is to create meaningful experiences that promote a culture of lifelong learning and professional growth with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), innovation, and entrepreneurial activity in South Carolina. For more information visit www.iMAGINEUpstate.org and follow on Facebook and @imagineupstate on Twitter. #iMAGINEif
Being a home school parent is not easy. I know, since we decided to bring my oldest home for school at least temporarily to give him more one-on-one instruction and hands-on learning experiences. Overwhelmed with the decisions and responsibility involved, I decided last spring to attend Great Homeschool Conventions’ (GHC) regional convention in Greenville, SC.
I was undecided on curriculum, philosophy, and more going into GHC. Due to our particular circumstances, we were sure that homeschooling was the best choice for our child but we also knew that we needed help getting started. The SouthEast Homeschool Convention ended up being the perfect place to get that help!
2015 SOUTHEAST Homeschool Convention
March 12-14, 2015 at the TD Convention Center in Greenville, SC
The Great Homeschool Conventions is a large Christian conference that is offered in four cities, which luckily for us includes Greenville. The conference is large with hundreds of workshops on both parenting and homeschool topics. They have a HUGE exhibit hall with two hundred plus exhibitors for a hands-on look at a large variety of curriculum.
The GHC does not require an agreement of their statement of faith in order to participate in the conference. As a result, the vendor hall and speakers included some secular options such as online charter schools in addition to Christian publishing houses. I personally liked the opportunity to interact with more options in the vendor hall.
My husband and I found the workshops insightful and thought-provoking. The topics ranged from help with teaching specific subjects to parenting topics. The schedule was full and offered many excellent choices, so many that we had trouble deciding which sessions to attend. Fortunately, most sessions are recorded and available for purchase at the event only to those who attended.
Find this year’s schedule here!
The Greenville 2015 Great Homeschool Convention highlights include:
An Evening with Benjamin Franklin, sponsored by WORLD News Group
Plus much, much more!
Price of Conference
This year’s conference is affordable at just $45/individual or $60/family. (Pricing will increase as the event gets closer). This price includes admission for the entire event and parking is free.
In addition, families can add-on the special night sessions and a children’s program is also available for a fee.
Register here to get this price before it goes up!
What We Learned from GHC
At last year’s conference, my husband and I came into the conference overwhelmed but left with information that helped us get a good start in our first year.
We attended several excellent sessions by a reading specialist that gave us tools and ideas for engaging our struggling new reader.
One math session that I attended provided me with a stack of books that taught math concepts and games to practice math facts.
We learned that South Carolina has several free online charter schools as part of the public school system, a choice that we did not choose to pursue this year but are considering for the future.
In the vendor hall we had the opportunity to read and look through the curriculum we were considering, allowing us to choose more effectively.
We met other families that homeschool in our area.
Tips for Attending GHC
If this is your first year attending the Southeast Homeschool Conference, you may want to consider the following to make your time easier:
Get a babysitter for small kids. Even though kids are welcome at the conference, there is really very little for babies or small children to do. My husband and I were really thankful that a friend offered to watch ours so that we could attend without the distraction of children. Children 6-12 can be enrolled in an affordable children’s program (sign up early to ensure a spot).
Bring a rolling crate. If you plan on buying curriculum, be sure to bring something to make toting it easier.
Study the schedule ahead of time. The GHC offers a LOT of workshops, so it helps to have a plan of what you want to attend ahead of time. Write down what your biggest questions are and schedule sessions that answer those questions first. A preliminary schedule is now posted on the GHC site for their SouthEast event. The final schedule will be marked “final” and will be posted right before the convention. A more detailed descriptions document of the sessions will be posted so you can read the bio of each speaker and the title and description of each session the speaker will be presenting.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will do a lot of walking and the exhibit hall is concrete.
Layer! Last year the TD Convention Center was sweltering hot in some rooms and freezing in others.
Have you been to the Southeast Homeschool Convention before? What did you think?