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Three Seasons of Pick-Your-Own at Thompson Family Farms Near Campobello, SC!

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Upick pumpkins in the fall, Upick tulips in the spring, and Upick sunflowers in the summer, count us in! Thompson Family Farms in Landrum, SC and Campobello, SC has so many opportunities to pick your own. Picking blooming flowers and pumpkins is delightful, and Thompson Family Farms is one of the only farms near the Upstate that offers three seasons of u-pick. What a win! I adore this farm because it is well-maintained, it is run efficiently, the view of Hogback Mountain is perfect for photos with my kids, and everything we have picked has been high quality.

For pick your own cut pumpkins, Thompson Family Farms will open to the public on Thursday, September 21, 2023, until the end of October. Enjoy the gorgeous mountain views as you head out into the fields to find the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o-lantern or pie. Field pumpkins are precut from the vine for your convenience.

*Tulip U-pick is available in mid-March 2024.
* Sunflower U-pick is available at the beginning of July 2024.

Fall is Here: Pick Your Own Pumpkins at Thompson Family Farms!

As the fall season begins, so does the time of year to head down to the pumpkin patch to pick some pumpkins for decorating your home for fall and Halloween. Thompson Family Farms will open their pick-your-own-cut pumpkin patch in September at their Campobello location. There will be over 10 varieties of pumpkin to choose from, which is more than I even knew existed! The farm will also have prepicked and organized pumpkins near the farm stand if you aren’t too keen on picking yours yourself.

While at the farm, you can enjoy a sunflower maze, a selection of fall crops, and lots of photo opportunities! So, grab your sunscreen and closed-toed shoes (it’s a little bumpy out there in the fields) and head on down to the pumpkin patch at the farm.

U-pick Pumpkins

Pumpkins will be priced by size and variety and will start at $7 per pumpkin. The farm will have a limited number of wagons to help lug your pumpkins to the car, but they do recommend bringing a wagon if you want to have one out in the fields.

Pumpkins in the field are precut from the vine to ensure that underripe pumpkins are not picked. Any pumpkin still on the vine is not ready to pick, so please do not pull on their stems!

There will also be prepicked pumpkins, Indian corn, corn stalks, and cotton stems for sale as they continue to ripen throughout the season.

Sunflower Maze and U-pick Flowers

While at the farm, be sure to head to the sunflower maze! The maze is 7 acres and is a great way to spend some time with your kids doing a scavenger hunt. You will find scavenger hunt papers at the front counter, which include clues to the educational maze.

After the maze, you can also pick sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos for an additional fee and have them wrapped in a bouquet at the front counter to take home.

Homeschool Day

On October 4th, 2023, homeschooling families are invited to take a farm tour of Thompson Family Farms from 12 pm – 4 pm! Tours start every hour, at 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm. Homeschool students can pick a crop souvenir and will have access to the pumpkin and u pick flower fields. Pumpkins and flowers are an additional fee.

Tickets are $8 per student ages K4- 12th grade. Reservations are not required, but groups of 10 or more should contact the farm directly.

Hours and Admission

Thompson Family Farms will be open September 21, 2023, through the end of October for u-pick pumpkins along with other seasonal items. Hours are 10 am – 7 pm, Thursdays – Saturdays. Admission is free!

Things to Know Before You Go U-Pick Pumpkins

The Thompson Family Farms pumpkin and sunflower fields are located at 13830 SC-11, Campobello, SC.

  • There is a graveled parking area right when you enter the farm to park at.
  • Be sure to bring sunscreen or a UV umbrella, the farm is mostly un-shaded.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes or boots to protect your kids and your feet from ants, sticks, etc.
  • The fields are pretty bumpy, so strollers are not recommended. We recommend bringing a carrier if you have smaller children, as the ground has dips and holes that are hard for little feet to navigate.
  • The farm does have porta potties if you need to use the restroom.
  • Bring water! It gets hot out there in the fields.
  • There are honeybees enjoying some of the flowers, so be careful when picking your flowers to avoid getting stung.
  • Pets are not allowed!

Thompson Family Farms
13820 SC-11, Campobello, SC

Pumpkin Guide to Greenville, SC, pumpkins in Greenville

Love pumpkins? We have a whole guide for that!

Kidding Around Greenville Pumpkin Guide: where to get pumpkins, where to learn about pumpkins, tasty pumpkin treats, and lots more!

Offered in July… U-pick Sunflowers at Thompson Family Farms!

Thompson Family Farms, a upick sunflower field near Greenville, SC.

See the Sunflower Fields

U-pick Sunflowers

If you love sunflowers (it is hard not to) then Thompson Family Farms has a U-pick experience for you! You can mosey through fields of gorgeous sunflowers, and even pick a few to take home.

The U-pick sunflower fields are located in Campobello, SC, right past the Greenville County line into Spartanburg County off of Highway 11. The patch is huge, and overlooks Hogback Mountain, making for spectacular views. There are also several varieties, so you can create an array of yellows and orange colors for your bouquet!

In addition to the sunflower fields, there are places for photo opportunities, a kid-sized sunflower maze, and picnic tables to enjoy the view.

The sunflower fields at Thompson Family Farms.
The sunflower fields at Thompson Family Farms
A "face in the hole" sunflower picture stand at Thompson Family Farms.

Sunflower Photo Ops: More Than Just the Flowers!

There is not much needed to get some amazing photos, but Thompson Family Farms has made for some special areas to get those Pinterest-worthy shots. There is a pallet-style photo backdrop surrounded by sunflowers, a fun “face in the hole” sunflower wall, and even some adorable bamboo bean pole teepees near the entrance that make for some adorable photos.

There are also rows and rows of blooming sunflowers to use as the backdrop of your photos. The farm is offering daytime and evening hours (on Friday and Saturday) and even has sessions available for professional photographers.

The entrance at Thompson Family Farms in Campobello, SC.
Thompson Family Farms, Campobello, SC

Hours and Pricing for U-pick Sunflowers

Thompson Family Farms will open for u-pick sunflowers on July 1st, 2023. For updates, including weather changes and sell-out date, check out the Thompson Family Farms Facebook page.

Hours: Monday – Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm. They will have sunset hours on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 pm – 9 pm. The farm will be open on July 4th for their regular day hours.

Prices: Admission is $6 per person, but ages 12 and younger are free. U-pick sunflowers are $1 per stem.

Thompson Family Farms
13820 SC-11, Campobello, SC

Offered in Spring… U-pick Tulips at Thompson Family Farms

As some of the first pops of color to emerge from the ground, tulips are a welcome sign that spring is here. Fresh-picked tulips make excellent gifts, centerpieces, and decor. Plus, it is so much fun going out to a U-pick patch and selecting the flowers yourself. It’s pretty joyful.

Scenes from the tulip farm

Check out some of the beautiful scenes waiting for you at Thompson Family Farms.

Arriving at Thompson Family Farms for tulips in Landrum, SC

Located just 25 minutes from Greer, you will find Thompson Family Farms in Landrum at the base of Hogback Mountain. The Flower Patch can easily be found by following the signs off of Arledge Road. You can park in the gravel area, and head down to the tented shelter. The fields are not hard to miss, as they are busting with color from the blooms. Down at the welcome tent you will be greeted and shown baskets, buckets, and scissors to use for picking your tulips.  

The Flower Patch at Thompson Family Farms is open seasonally in March. The length of time the patch is open is depending on weather and bloom time, and the season is very short!

The Flower Patch at Thompson Family Farms, SC

U-Pick Tulips in The Flower Patch at Thompson Family Farms

Tulips are synonymous with the cool, breezy weather of early Spring. You can u-pick from 9 varieties of tulips throughout the short season. They have multiple colors, including pink, red, yellow, white, and variegated orange/red, and more.

Be sure to stay on the paths when walking through the flowers. In addition, if you cut the flower, you buy it. Be sure it is the flower you want before taking your scissors to the stem.

The Thompsons recommend cutting the flower at the length that you want, and we found cutting low on the stem to be best for us. Most importantly, make sure to not dig or stomp on the bulbs, as they will be left in the ground to bloom again next year! 

Once you have all of the tulips you would like, you can head back to the tent to have them wrapped in bouquets. If you plan to pick a large number of tulips, I recommend bringing something sturdy like a box to take them home in, so they are safe from damage. 

Tulips: Photo Opportunities at The Flower Patch

Other than the obvious photos of you and your children amongst the flowers, The Flower Patch also has two lovely photography setups on the property. If you head to the far ends of the fields you will find a red tractor set up with a rustic farm vibe of window panes and flower buckets that make for some adorable photos!

There is also a pallet-style backdrop with a chair and blooming flowers to take pictures with. The property itself is situated in a field that is surrounded by trees, so there are many opportunities to get that perfect spring picture. 

Photographers that are interested in renting the space can contact Thompson Family Farms directly through their sign-up link to book private sessions. There are a limited number of sessions available due to the short season for tulips. Private sessions occur from 5 pm until sundown.

Price of Admission and U-Pick Tulips

Admission is $5 per person for ages 12 and older. Children under 12 are free to attend. If you want to participate in u-pick, Tulips are $1 per stem. The farm does take cash, card, and Venmo.

Please follow the farm’s guidance for cutting and watch your step to ensure that the other tulips are safe for other people to enjoy their u-pick experience.

Tips to Keep Your Flowers Fresh

Sara Thompson, the owner of The Flower Patch, recommends making a fresh cut before putting your flowers in their water vase once you arrive home. You should then display your flowers out of direct sunlight. She also mentioned the fascinating fact that tulip stems continue to grow once placed in water, so they may appear to be longer after a few days in the vase. Be sure to change out your water regularly to elongate your bloom time. And most importantly, enjoy! 

Tulips at Thompson Family Farm, SC

Key Things to Know Before Visiting Thompson Family Farms

  • There are no dogs allowed at The Flower Patch.
  • There is only one porta-potty for emergencies, so be sure to take a potty break before arriving.
  • You can pack a picnic and enjoy the view. There are two picnic tables located by the creek, and plenty of grassy space to lay down a blanket. If you picnic, please pick up all trash before leaving.
  • It can be muddy in the field, so wear appropriate shoes. 
  • The farm is accessible but is bumpy because of the gravel parking lot. If you plan to bring a stroller, ones with wheels made for rough terrain are highly recommend. A soft body carrier for baby may be easier. 
  • Reservations are not required. However, you should follow the Thompson Family Farms’ Facebook for updates and information before heading to the farm.
  • The u-pick tulip fields are open in light rain but be prepared for mud in that scenario.
  • Don’t forget water, hats and sunscreen when you head out to pick sunflowers in the summer!

Thompson Family Farms
Tulip Upick at The Flower Patch
328 Arledge Road, Landrum, SC
Hours: Monday – Saturday
10 am – 5 pm

Sunflower Upick
13830 SC-11, Campobello, SC
Hours: Monday- Saturday
9 am – 2 pm
Additional evening hours:
5 pm – 9 pm on Friday and Saturday

Looking to make a day trip out of your adventure? Check out Campbells Covered Bridge located just a few miles’ drive of the Thompson Family Farms. You can also find other fabulous things to do in our discovery guide to Landrum, SC!

The Low Down on Long Shoals Wayside Park

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Local mom Andrea Beam reviews Long Shoals Wayside Park, a natural water slide in Pickens, SC. For more local natural swimming areas see our list of Swimming Holes near Greenville. Please remember that swimming in rivers is often “swim at your own risk” and presents unique hazards, such as rocks and strong currents. This is a helpful list of safety advice for swimming in natural settings.

Water Advisory at Long Shoals Wayside Park

Long Shoals remains a popular spot for locals to play in the water. However, for quite some time DHEC has placed a swim advisory at Long Shoals, due to bacteria in the water. This is a long-term advisory similar to the one in place at Falls Park and the Reedy River. According to DHEC, the water is not safe for swimming.

The following article is for information purposes only, because we know the Upstate still looks for information on Long Shoals. We do not recommend ignoring the swimming advisory from DHEC and we remind all parents and guardians to consider safety first.

About Long Shoals Wayside Park

It is no secret that I live to find free/cheap activities to enjoy during the summer.  Well, folks, Long Shoals Wayside Park has landed itself at the top of my favorites list.

I would describe it as the hidden gem of the Upstate. I’ve lived in Greenville my whole life (all twenty-five years) and I had no idea it existed. You and your kids don’t want to miss out on this natural water slide.

Things to Know if You Visit Long Shoals Wayside Park

A long-term DHEC swim advisory is in place.

Carry flops in your bag, but don’t wear them to walk down the hill. It’s a bit steep. Water shoes are the best idea although plenty of people walking around the waterslide and pools with no shoes.

The park is in a hole in the mountain and the sun is brutal. There is little shade on the rocks. Unless you plan on tanning or swimming, you will be hot.  Once the sun moves around, it is much more pleasant.  However, no matter when you go, you will have fun. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and plenty to drink. (With that in mind, remember that whatever you carry down the hill has to go back up, and that’s no easy task).  We brought towels, which were handy.

We saw other people with portable chairs, coolers, and even small grills.

There is a Porta John but it’s kind of gross.  If you have boys, you’re good to go because you’re in the woods, but if you have girls, be creative. That is my only complaint. I’m not a fan of portable bathrooms, so we were up a creek. Literally.

We had a great time sliding without floats, but if you’re interested in a faster ride, you’ll want to bring one. Tubes seemed to be the most popular floating device.

I wasn’t too worried about snakes, but I’m sure they are around. It is pretty open and the water is clear enough so you can see where you are swimming and what’s swimming with you.

My own personal preference is to carry a life vest or floaties for younger children.  JP swims pretty well without assistance, but there are a few places, (as you’re sliding), that could potentially land you under a rock. As with any place with rushing water and rocks, be careful where you step since the rocks are deceptively slippery.

There are picnic tables in the wooded area at the top of the hill. We ate our lunch before walking down to the slide. Once you walk down, you won’t want to walk back up until you’re ready to leave.

Unlike traditional water parks, all Long Shoals Wayside Park costs you is the gas it takes to get there. If you’re coming from Greenville, the park is past Table Rock and before Lake Jocassee on Highway 11.

Plan Your Visit to Long Shoals Wayside Park

Just off Scenic HWY 11, Pickens

Have you been? If so, feel free to leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts. Happy sliding!

Meet Andrea Beam
Andrea Beam works for the Greenville County School System, but her passion is writing! Greenville has always been her home. Her family enjoys exploring everything the town has to offer. She blogs at Sunshine & Rain.

Pristine Island, a Splash Park, & Cabins: Lake Hartwell at Big Water Marina

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Have you been to Big Water Marina? Lake Hartwell is home to this combination aqua park, campground, restaurant, and watersport hub! It is just an hour from Greenville, SC, and has tons of family-friendly entertainment, food, water options, and even beautiful cabins. So stay for a day, a weekend, or a week! Media tickets were provided to Splash Island for this review.

I came to the Big Water Marina at Lake Hartwell for Splash Island but stayed for the relaxing island vibe and really wish I could have ended our day watching the sunset from the restaurant, J.R. Cash’s, but had to get back home – which, thankfully, was only an hour drive back to Greenville. There are some pretty intense Margaritaville vibes happening here, which truly will leave you relaxed and happy and wanting to return.

It’s not just the amazing Splash Island waterpark with a floating obstacle course that shines here. It’s the tiny cabins, the delicious cuisine at the restaurant, the hammocks on the beach, the chill pirate ship playground right next to the restaurant, and the staff that make this place so cool. I’m here to tell you all about it.

Giant aqua park at Splash Island in Anderson, South Carolina

About the Big Water Marina: Lake Hartwell

The family-friendly atmosphere is immediately apparent at the marina and campground and once I met one of the owners, Trey Boggs, a fifth-generation Anderson, SC resident, who has three daughters of his own, it was easy to figure out why. He spoke my language immediately as he explained how his kids just love the aqua park so much and get so worn out while the parents chill on the beach in the sand – or join in on the fun if they want.

“If the kids aren’t having fun, they are going to whine about leaving and parents won’t have any fun either,” Trey said.

Isn’t that the truth? There’s no danger of that happening at the Big Water Marina thankfully. Trey and his brother bought the marina back in 2017 and gradually added more acreage as time went on so that today, the marina is now about 200 acres in total and an island unto itself with multiple RV slots, boat slips, Splash Island, a restaurant, and shop.

Kristina riding a hydrobike

Ever the entrepreneur, Trey, and his brother are planning a lot of new builds in the near future, including treehouses, yurts, more cabins (more on those in a bit), adding to Splash Island, more RV pads, and beach tent camping.

Splash Island Waterpark

Splash Island is an interlocking floating obstacle course on Lake Hartwell at the Big Water Marina. Wibit is a German company that manufactures the actual parts of the obstacle course and they are moveable to create new routes or add onto existing obstacles. This is the second Wibit course I’ve run (well, tried to run, more like slipped around) and it’s so much fun!

The course as they have it set up now is more than 80 feet long and is in deep enough water where you can safely jump off the highest obstacles and into the nice, warm water. They have monkey bars and running obstacles similar to the show, Wipeout, which I love to watch and laugh at all the people falling into the water. Now that I’ve done it myself, people are laughing at me falling into the water after failing to make it across some obstacle.

Splash Island aqua park
About to wipeout

My kids had such a blast and time just flew by. We were on the course for about two hours but it didn’t even feel that long except that we were completely and utterly exhausted. That thing is a major workout! Kids need to be 46 inches tall to do it by themselves. Kids under that height can still do it but they will need to have a parent or guardian with them on the course.

There was always a staff member on the course paying close attention to the kids – and adults – running it and just making sure everyone was safe. You have to wear lifejackets to do the course as well, which are provided. Tickets are $15/hour or $25/two hours. Splash Island opened for their 2023 season May 11, 2023.

The Beach & Other Water Rentals

There’s a good size beach with sand at Big Water Marina in front of Splash Island. And they have chairs and hammocks and strung lights and picnic tables and I never wanted to leave. It was so relaxing. You don’t need to be doing the water obstacle course in order to use the beach and there is no charge to park or to be admitted to the sandy space on the lake. Pets can be there but they must be leashed and owners must clean up after them.

Big Water Marina Beach

Big Water Marina at Lake Hartwell also rents paddleboards, kayaks, hydrobikes, and pontoon boats. I didn’t know what a hydrobike was and the good people at the marina let me try one. They are fun! You basically just work it like you’re riding a bike, super easy but also a little tiring. You have to wear a lifejacket and kids ages 8+ who can reach the pedals can ride one. They are $25/hour but also are available for day and weekly rentals.

If a hydrobike isn’t up your alley, give a paddleboard or a kayak a try. I personally love paddleboarding and find it to be an excellent water activity. Those are $25/hour and kids must be age 13+. With kayaks, you can rent a single ($25/hour) or a tandem ($35/hour) and you can bring a smaller child with you on a tandem.

Pontoon boat rentals, which can fit up to 13 people, start at $330 for a half day (four hours). You can rent by half day, full day, sunset cruise, or a weekly rental.

Tiny Cabins

I have a thing for tiny houses. My dream is to live in one somewhere in the woods and read all the books I want. But until I can do that, I’m always on the hunt for awesome tiny cabins to stay in and I’ve finally found the perfect – and I mean, perfect – one at the Big Water Marina campground.

I got a tour of a one bedroom tiny cabin with a double loft (so a loft on both sides of the house), full kitchen, living area, bathroom, and porch and I want it so bad. I wanted to take that little cabin with me to my non-existent plot of land in a forest somewhere. It was so cute and beautiful and decorated with a rustic minimalism. There are ladders that lead to each loft that kids would just love and the master bedroom was gorgeous. They face west so you’ll get to enjoy a glass of wine on the porch and watch a stunning sunset. Trey tells me the sunsets there rival those of Key West. I’m gonna need to test that out.

Inside of a tiny cabin at Big Water Marina in Anderson, South Carolina

There are one bedroom and two bedroom cabins. The one bedroom ones can fit a family of six and the two bedroom cabins can fit up to seven people. Cabins can generally fit between four and seven people comfortably. If a weekend getaway is on your mind or a quick summer family trip, this is the place. You’re saving on gas, you have the water and beach for activities, a restaurant to eat at or a kitchen in your cabin to cook in, and Splash Island to wear the kids out at. Prices vary for the different cabins and seasons.

J.R. Cash’s Grill & Bar

The restaurant on site at the marina, J.R. Cash’s Grill & Bar, has some Margaritaville vibes going on, complete with open air dining overlooking the lake, teal chairs, and strung lights. The food is upscale bar food with burgers, fish platters, chicken tenders, and shrimp, plus a creative cocktail menu.

View of Lake Hartwell

On the suggestion of one of the staff members down at Splash Island, we got an order of the Chicken Tenders and oh my gosh, these chicken tenders were the most tender, flavorful and light chicken tenders I’ve ever had. The honey mustard sauce was really good as well. I may have to go back to this place just for these chicken tenders. We also tried a burger, which was super tasty. But oh, those chicken tenders.

Besides the chicken tenders at J.R. Cash’s, the pirate ship playground really made this place stand out. There is a legit pirate ship that has slides, swinging rings, rope ladders, and even a covered bow. So cool. My kids really loved this and once again, Big Water Marina proved they know what parents want when going out to dinner – a place for the kids to play and them to enjoy their drinks and food. The play area also had a hammock and tire swing for the bigger kids.

Honest Mom Review of Big Water Marina

I’ve been to a lot of neat places in our area but really, really loved this one for a few reasons. I felt that the owners thoughtfully took into consideration the needs of families to have quality time together in a fun and safe environment without having to even leave if they were staying at the campground. Everything they need is right there and it’s set up for maximum enjoyment. I was also so impressed by the staff members. They were attentive and kind and interacted with my kids and were just cool people. You could tell they liked being there.

Play wooden pirate ship
Pirate Ship Playground

I think the biggest shocker for me was that this place was only an hour away from Greenville. An hour! This is easily a day trip or a weekend trip if I can snag one of those tiny homes. I can’t wait to see what Trey and his family does next at the Big Water Marina.

Tips on Visiting the Big Water Marina: Lake Hartwell

There are a few important things to note if you want to visit the marina and Splash Island.

Aeriel view of Big Water Marina
Aerial photo provided by Big Water Marina
  • Splash Island is open Wednesday-Sunday so don’t go on Monday and except to achieve all your Wipeout dreams. Check the schedule before you go. They are open 10 am – 6 pm and may add more hours after Memorial Day weekend. The management has been turned over to Destination Water Sports since we went so the experience may be a little different.
  • Purchase your tickets online to ensure your spot at Splash Island. They have a limit of 55 people per session. The cost for an hour is $15 and for two hours is $25. You’ll have to call to book: (864) 332-9125
  • Height and age restrictions: For adults & children 7+ years old OR 4+ years old and at least 42″+ tall If a participant does not meet the specifications, they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Please note: children 42″ in height are required to be directly supervised by an approved guardian (18+ years old) at all times while in the Splash Island zone.
  • J.R. Cash’s restaurant is open Thursday-Sunday as well and they don’t open until 3 pm on Thursday so just plan accordingly. We went to Splash Island first and then to eat and it worked out great since we were so hungry after doing the floating obstacle course.
  • You can bring chairs, tents, and coolers to the beach. There’s no admission or parking charge.
  • Bring water and a change of clothes. I hate driving around in a wet bathing suit and it’s hot so you really need to make sure you’re hydrated.
  • Restrooms and showers are available near the restaurant for the public to use.

Are you planning to visit Big Water Marina?

Big Water Marina & Campground
320 Big Water Road, Starr, SC

Aqua parks in South Carolina and Georgia

Check out our list of 6 aqua parks and floating obstacle courses in SC and GA!

6 Floating Obstacle Courses at Aqua Parks in Georgia and South Carolina

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Are you curious about Aqua Parks? Need something different but also super fun to cool off during the summer and get out all your kids’ energy? Here are six floating obstacle courses in South Carolina and Georgia to do just that!

Floating obstacle courses are one of my new favorite summer activities. Here’s why:

  • I get to make my Wipeout and ninja warrior dreams come true
  • I get in an awesome workout
  • My kids are obsessed with and so happy to enjoy these aqua parks
  • My kids are completely wiped out afterward because it’s super exhausting
  • They are excellent for both kids and adults!

If you haven’t tried one of these, I’ve compiled a list for you so you can try them all too! I’ve noted the differences between the places to help you out in choosing your adventure. I’ve been to all of the places listed below so these are firsthand reviews and comments. Most are open all summer through September, depending on the weather.

Splash Island
Splash Island at Big Water Marina

Who says you need a lazy river and wave pool to have a water park, just head to one of these aqua parks on a lake! So, if you have been wondering “Where are the water obstacle courses near me?”, don’t worry. We have all the information you need!

Water Obstacle Courses Near Me: Upstate, South Carolina

Splash Island at Big Water Marina

This huge floating obstacle course opened in the summer of 2022 on Lake Hartwell. It is like a theme park on the water! The Splash Island floating water park is situated at Big Water Marina and Campground, which has a sandy beach, hammocks, chairs, shaded spots, tiny cabins, TV pads, and a delicious restaurant, J.R. Cash’s on-site (it has a pirate ship playground!).

Cost: $15/hour; $25/two hours; kids must be 42″ tall (under 46″ are allowed with an adult)
Hours: Thursday-Sunday from 10 am – 6 pm and the two-hour sessions are 10 am – Noon, 1-3 pm, and 4-6 pm.
Distance from Greenville: One hour
Highlights: Sandy beach, restaurant, hydrobike/SUP/kayak rentals, tiny cabins for rent, restaurant with a playground
Address: 320 Big Water Road, Starr, SC
Kidding Around Review of Big Water

Big Water Marina Beach
Splash Island at Big Water Marina

Aqua Zone at The Shores at Asbury

The Shores at Asbury has their giant Aqua Zone floating obstacle course on Lake Hartwell also. It’s situated on a huge sandy beach, with sand imported from Florida, kayak and SUP rentals, and a restaurant on site. They also have a kids obstacle course for kids who are under 47″.

Cost: $18/hour or $25/two hours if bought online; $20/hour on-site; $35/all-day pass, $120/family four pass for all-day access; follow on Facebook for deals on tickets
Hours: 11 am – 7 pm daily, closed Noon-1 pm, and 3 – 4 pm for safety checks and lifeguard breaks
Distance from Greenville: One hour
Highlights: White sandy beach with tents and lounge chairs, kids floating obstacle course, lawn games, a restaurant
Address: 1600 Asbury Park Road, Anderson, SC
Kidding Around Review of the Shores at Asbury

Floating obstacle course at the Shores of Asbury
Aqua Zone Shores at Asbury

SouthTown Wake Park

Located in Rock Hill, SC, SouthTown Wake Park has wake boarding plus a big floating obstacle course. This is a great activity to tire those kids (and adults) out, as it takes a ton of energy to climb and jump over the obstacles. Kids have to be 7 years old to participate on the aqua course.

Cost: $18 for 45 minutes
Hours: Open daily Noon-6 pm
Distance from Greenville: 1.5 hours
Highlights: Big aqua park, wakeboarding, disc golf, cornhole
Address: 255 E Rambo Rd Rock Hill, SC 29730
Kidding Around Review of SouthTown Wake Park

Aqua Parks in Charleston, SC

Charleston Aqua Park

The Charleston Aqua Park is super cool because it not only has an aqua park but also the only ropes course over water in the country. It is also one of the area’s only floating water parks. The owner assured us there aren’t gators at Trophy Lake, too. We had such a blast at this park and the water felt so good on a hot, summer day. Plus, it’s really close to the beautiful Angel Oak Tree!

Cost: $19/hour; discounts available during the week and/or if you book both the aqua park and ropes course
Hours: Open daily 10 am – 6 pm
Distance from Greenville: 3 hours and 20 minutes
Highlights: Big aqua park, a little beach, and swimming area for smaller kids, only over-water ropes course in the country, kids summer camps (you can send a kid there for a day while you’re on vacation), covered picnic areas, other water activity rentals
Address: 3050 Marlin Road, Johns Island SC
Kidding Around Review of Charleston Aqua Park

Charleston Aqua Park
Charleston Aqua Park

Aqua Parks in Georgia

Marina Station Water Park

This is one of the most family-friendly aqua parks in Georgia. The park is located on Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, GA, and also has a sandy beach with chairs and umbrellas for rent. They just upgraded their equipment and life jackets for 2023 and it’s so much better than previous years. They also have a smaller kids course for ages 4-7 years old, making for a great floating playground. We really enjoyed our time at Marina Station Water Park.

Cost: $18/hour or $42/all day; kids have to be 45″ tall or 7 years old for the big course; $150/family of four all-day pass
Hours: Open daily 10 am – 7 pm (last ticket sold at 6:30 pm)
Distance from Greenville: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Highlights: Huge splash island, kids floating obstacle course, sandy beach, chair, and tent rentals, offers season passes
Address: 3379 US Highway 76, Hiawassee, GA
Marina Station Water Park

View of the obstacle course at Splash Island aqua park in Georgia
Splash Island at The Ridges Resort in GA

Terminus Wake Park

We loved the aqua course at this outdoor adventure park near Cartersville, Georgia. You can also go wakeboarding here but I’m not coordinated enough for that. There’s also a lot to do in the Cartersville-Bartow area to make your trip here an overnight adventure.

Terminus Wake Park in Cartersville, Georgia.
Terminus Wake Park

Cost: $24-$28 a person depending on if it’s a weekday or weekend/holiday
Hours: Open daily usually from Noon-8 pm but check the website for updated hours.
Distance from Greenville: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Highlights: Huge aqua course with body slides, climbing wall, cabanas with beanbag chairs for parents/spectators, wakeboarding, big bathroom for changing
Address: 171 LakePoint Pkwy, Cartersville, GA 
Kidding Around Review of Cartersville-Bartow (includes Terminus Wake Park)

Would you try out one of these aqua parks? Did we miss your favorite place? Let us know in the comments

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

If you are looking for more places to swim, check out our Guide to Where to Swim and Splash This Summer!

Float Down a Lazy River with Brevard Tubing in NC

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Want to float on down a cool, lazy river over the summer? Then Brevard Tubing in Brevard, NC, about 90 minutes from Greenville, SC is just the place to do it. Thank you to Brevard Tubing for inviting us out to try tubing with them!

River tubing is a true favorite activity for my family over the summer and we go to Brevard, North Carolina often since it’s less than 90 minutes away and has some incredible waterfalls and hiking trails. I was thrilled to learn of Brevard Tubing, a new tubing outfitter who opened the summer of 2023, and couldn’t wait to try out tubing with them in the French Broad River.

About Brevard Tubing

The tubing outfitter is brand new, only having opened in May 2023, but is already on their way to becoming a favorite of families and those looking for a fun time on the river during the summer due to its ideal location, all-access tubing pass, and family-friendliness.

Brevard Tubing was started by the same guy who founded Zion Tubing out in the national park in Utah. I had no idea this existed so now I’ve got a new goal whenever I can travel out to Zion National Park!

Tubes with Brevard Tubing
Tubes for your tubing run

Ideal Location

Brevard Tubing is located right along a calm section of the French Broad River not even a ten-minute drive from the entrance to Pisgah Forest. I really loved this because it’s not far from my favorite waterfalls, hiking trails, and brewery, which I’ll get to in a bit.

When you’re driving to Brevard Tubing, look for the big, pink tube at the gravel driveway and turn there. You’ll park in the small parking area, sign your waiver, get your life jacket if you want one (they are mandatory for kids ages 12 and under but adults can wear them if they want), and then get on the bus for the short drive to the put-in location on the river.

Also, I was impressed with how the owners of Brevard Tubing considered safety. The weather was pretty iffy the day we went with rain on and off but they checked the weather apps for lightening or any inclement weather right up until we got in the water. The weather held out for us but I appreciated how the owners took safety seriously.

Tubing the French Broad

I’ve tubed at a lot of places and this run was very calm. The rapids were really small and easy. There was only one larger one, which was more like some faster water over a few big rocks. If you’ve tubed the Green River, this was the complete opposite. This section of the French Broad is more like a lazy river. And the tubes all have bottoms so while you may get splashed, you won’t be in the water if you don’t want to be.

Both sides of the river during your tube run is on private property so you have to stay in the river except for the confluence of where the Davidson River pours into the French Broad. There’s a little rocky beach and swimming area that you can hang out at. You can also walk up the Davidson a little ways if you’re feeling extra adventurous.

The river, for the most part, was pretty shallow, about up to our waists. The initial drop in part was probably one of the deepest. Our kids fell in (or rather, intentionally tipped their tubes over) many times and were able to touch the bottom. Either way, kids have to wear a life jacket if they are 12 and under.

We didn’t see much wildlife except for a beautiful Blue Heron that checked us and then flew over the river behind us. There are probably turtles around and *gasp* snakes (because, well, it’s the outdoors) but we didn’t see any. The water is chilly but not freezing. It felt great when we were in the direct sun and heat.

The entire tubing trip took us a little over an hour. Depending on river conditions, it could be more or less. But Brevard Tubing allows you to tube as many times as you want the day you go!

Booking Your Tubing Trip

You don’t need to book your trip beforehand. You can just show up, sign your waiver, pay, and get on the river. If you have a bigger group, give Brevard Tubing a call (828.515.3556) so they can prep the tubes and life jackets.

Tubing on the French Broad River
Look at how relaxing this is

Kids need to be 4-years-old to get on the river and kids ages 12 and under need to have a life jacket. Sandals or sneakers – basically shoes that will stay on your feet – are also required.

Based on our tubing experiences, it’s best to bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and a change of clothes. As of now, there aren’t changing rooms on site but they do have a porta-potty.

Tickets are $30/person and includes unlimited shuttle and tube rides. If you’re tubing on July 4th weekend or Labor Day Weekend, tickets are $35/person. If you’re a NC local, your ticket is $25/person.

Hours are 9:30 am – 5 pm daily. The last tube drop is at 4 pm.

Things to do Nearby

There’s a lot to do nearby if you want to make it a day trip.

Looking Glass Falls

This roadside waterfall is a favorite of ours. Lots of people swim in the chilly waters so bring a towel and change of clothes if you’re feeling adventurous. There is no hiking to get here but there are lots of steps to go to the bottom.

Highway 276, Brevard, NC

Sliding Rock

This super popular natural waterslide gets packed over the summer. You slide down the slippery rockface into a pool below and then do it as many times as your cold body allows. They are open 10 am – 6 pm daily from May 25-September 4, 2023 and there are bathrooms, changing rooms, and lifeguards on site. During opening hours when staff is present, the cost is $5/person and kids under 3 are free.

Highway 276, Brevard, NC

The Cradle of Forestry

We love this cool spot in Pisgah Forest because you can learn all about the natural environment, history of the area, and explore hands-on activities. There is also a one-room schoolhouse and small village outdoors. Admission to the Cradle of Forestry is $6/ages 13+, $3/ages 4-12, $3/federal pass, and half price if you have the America the Beautiful Pass. For special events, sometimes there are extra fees and sometimes they are free. They are open Wednesday-Monday 10 am – 5 pm.

11250 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest, NC

Sierra Nevada Brewery

The Biltmore of breweries, Sierra Nevada is very family-friendly with a small play area for kids outdoors, cornhole, lots of covered spaces to relax and enjoy music or the views, and delicious food and brews. It’s a little over 20 minutes from Brevard Tubing. Hours are Sunday – Thursday from 11 am – 9 pm, and Friday – Saturday from 11 am – 9 pm.

100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River, NC

Downtown Brevard

You can shop, go gem mining, or explore the original O.P. Taylors in downtown Brevard. The town is downright adorable and is one of our favorites to wander around in.

Brevard Tubing
44-98 Everett Road, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

Have you been tubing yet with Brevard Tubing?

Where to go tubing near Greenville, SC and find great "tubing near me".

For more places to go tubing, check out our Guide to Tubing in NC, SC, GA, and TN.

End of Summer Bucket List for Greenville, SC

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Stressing about soaking up the very last of summer break and need ideas of things to do with your family in or near Greenville, SC? We’ve got the perfect summer break bucket list for you!

If the last couple weeks of summer break have snuck up on you and you’re blanking on ideas of things to do with your kids that haven’t yet done or just need some places to make those memories before sending kids back to school, we’ve put together some ideas for you based on cost (because budgeting matters, right?).

Ready to transition to Fall? Here’s over 30 things to do this fall near Greenvile, SC.

Last of Summer Break Bucket List

Free/Cheap Things to Do

All of these suggestions will be either totally free or cheap, under $5/person.

Fairy Trail at Bullington Gardens
Fairy Trail at Bullington Gardens

Things to do $5-$12/person

All of these things are a little more per person, from $5 up to $12.

SUP rentals at Sesqui
SUP rental at Sesqui State Park

Things to do for $12+/person

These fun adventures are a little more costly per person but also fun!

Splash Island at Big Water Marina
Splash Island at Big Water Marina & Campground

What are your end of summer plans with your family?

The Ultimate Summer in Greenville, SC Guide

Looking for more fun? Here’s your ultimate list of things to do in the summer near Greenville, SC.

The Kroc Center is the Perfect Indoor Play Destination

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Have you been to The Kroc Center in Greenville, SC? One of its key features is the kid-friendly heated indoor waterpark! Greenville, SC residents can also enjoy a lap pool, tennis, indoor basketball courts, a gym, soccer fields, and so much more when they visit the Downtown Greenville location. We have all the information you need to enjoy a day at The Kroc Center, or maybe even become a member!

Kroc Center in Greenville, South Carolina

10 Shopping Tips for Tax-Free Weekend

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Ready to shop for Back-to-School, and perhaps save some money too? Tax-free weekend in South Carolina is coming up and we have all the details! Check out these tips and take full advantage of the tax-free weekend!

Tax-free weekend in South Carolina for 2023 starts at midnight on Friday, August 4th, and continues to 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 6th. It’s a great opportunity to knock out the school supplies list plus stock up on other items like clothing, footwear, bedding, and even computers.

Tax-free weekend shopping tips and deals

A tax-free weekend means that hundreds of items are exempt from the state’s 6% sales tax. So, doing the math, say you spend $200 on school supplies, books, uniforms, and shoes. Minus the 6% sales tax, you pay $188 instead of $200. The more you spend, the more you save, which is why we’ve come up with 6 tips to save 6% this tax-free weekend.

10 tips for tax-free weekend

Make a list of what is required by the school

Greenville County schools have ready-made lists for parents to download and print out of what their children will need to bring. This can be stressful (seriously, I was that parent freaking out last year in Walmart because I couldn’t find the primary notebook). 

You can look up your child’s Greenville County school location and then look for the school supply list for their grade. Print that out and take it with you to the store as a checklist.

Make another list of items you would like to get

This is a separate list from the school supplies. There are a lot of things exempt on the tax-free weekends that would be great to purchase and avoid paying the sales tax on, like: pajamas, bed sheets, pillows, shower curtains, towels, printers, those boots you’ve been eyeing for a month, and computers.

Think about what you would really like to have over the next few months (hey, Christmas is only five months away) and make a list of that stuff.

Be sure to do your homework ahead of time so you know a good deal when you see one and not just a retail markup for the sale.

Bring entertainment for the kids

If you have to shop with the kids, bring snacks and something to entertain them. It can take a while to find everything on the school supply list. Snacks may be a bit harder in the stores, so consider saving those for the car ride between stores.

Shop Online

This is one you can start now–load up your shopping cart ahead of time and then hit “purchase” when the tax-free weekend rolls around. Big retailers like Walmart, Target, Kohls, and Amazon are honoring tax-free weekends online.

Bonus: You can shop after the kids go to bed and you have a minute to think and you can avoid crowded stores.

Know what is exempt and what isn’t

We’ve made a handy infographic to help with this one.

You can also view the entire tax-exempt list from SC Department of Revenue. Here are the basics:

The tax-free savings apply to these items

  • Clothing
  • Accessories (such as bedspreads and linens)
  • Footwear
  • School supplies (such as bookbags)
  • Computers
  • Computer equipment (such as printers)

The tax-free savings do not apply to these items

  • Jewelry
  • Cosmetics
  • Eyewear
  • Furniture
  • Items placed on layaway

Take advantage of sales

Take advantage of sales on tax-exempt items. It’s even better if you can match up sales with coupons. You can search for coupons online or in newspaper circulars. Use store apps, and check coupon apps like Ibotta! Don’t forget to check those clearance racks and shelves.

Check out the local deals and events

Some local businesses are going out of their way to lure customers with extended hours and good deals. We will be adding to this list as more deals become available:

Adidas Open House

Addidas Open House Tax-Free Weekend: Open to all – no invite needed!

Fri 8/4, Sat 8/5 & Sun 8/6

  • Store Hours: Fri – Sat: 10 am – 9 pm | Sun: 11 am – 7 pm
  • The Adidas Employee Store is open to the public! Shop 50% off the latest back-to-school styles, tax-free and without an invite. Prep for picture day with our exclusive Adidas photo booth. Photo is provided with any purchase.

Book Warehouse Outlet Sale

Saturday 8/5 and Sunday 8/6, 2023

Inside the book warehouse outlet in Easley

Consignment Shops

Consignment: Don’t forget to check out Children’s Consignment Stores in Greenville, SC to stretch your dollars even further.


Target is offering Teachers and homeschool families an extra 15% off school supplies.
When you register, you’ll receive a one-time use 15% off coupon in your target app. School supplies, school organization materials, tissues, hand sanitizer, and more are all included. This deal actually runs through August 26th, 2023.

A Full Day of Excitement Awaits at Six Flags Over Georgia

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Do you have a family adventure to Six Flags planned for this summer? local dad, Chad Bredderman visited Six Flags Over Georgia with his family and shared the highlights with us (complimentary tickets were provided)!

Six Flags Over Georgia is a traditional regional theme park with thrill rides, coasters, water rides, games, and more. If you haven’t been to Six Flags Over Georgia lately (or ever) you won’t want to miss this review! His review focuses on park features for families with young school-age children.

Recently my wife, six-year-old son, and I had the opportunity to visit Six Flags Over Georgia. We were provided admission and parking vouchers for the purpose of writing this review.

Getting to Six Flags Over Georiga

The first thing to remember, fellow locals, is that the park is just west of Atlanta. If you want to be there when the park opens, which was 10:30 am on the day we went, you will need to plan on, roughly, a three-hour drive. We followed the directions from the Six Flags site; and they recommend taking 85S to 285W, then 20W, which takes you right to the park.

My phone’s navigation system recommended staying on 85 and going into Atlanta as it said that was a faster route. There were two accidents on 285, so perhaps my phone was right. That being said, we were more interested in testing the Six Flags directions, and they were super easy to follow and brought us easily to the park.

Entering Six Flag Over Georgia

Parking was a breeze!  They have banners on many light posts in the parking lot with a number and a cartoon/comic character so it is very easy to remember where you park. If you’re a forgetful type, snap a photo with your phone of your nearest sign, so you can remind yourself later!

There are also three tram pick-up locations in the parking lots that will shuttle you to the front entrance. We walked and were to the entrance before people that we saw waiting for the tram.

Now it’s time for what is likely going to be my best recommendation/tip you’ll find. Lines were LONG to get in the park, at 11 am. However, all the way to the left of the entrance lines we saw a separate entrance area with NOBODY in line.

Coming from the parking lot, you’ll actually see this entrance area first, and it is only for people with a Discover card. All you have to do is show them your Discover card and give them your tickets and you get an express entrance!

Gotham City

Once in the park, we quickly got a map, and Caleb decided we should head to the Gotham City section right away. The majority of the park is all connected to each other part, but it seems that Gotham is not, so this seemed like a good strategy to get in and out of this area and then hit the rest of the park. There were plenty of rides and lots of carnival-style games (for an additional cost) as well as shops and food vendors. We rode some rides here and then decided to get some drinks.

The Food at Six Flags Over Georgia

This was where we encountered our biggest difficulty. Six Flags has two special drink mugs for purchase, one that provides free refills for the season, and another that will offer free refills for the day, with the cost being based on how many are being purchased. We waited in line at four separate locations before finally being able to purchase a single-day mug as everywhere else was sold out. This process took us close to an hour, and we spoke with some other people that had been looking for more than one hour.

Once we got our drinks, we decided that it was close enough to lunchtime so we set off in search of food. We enjoyed a good lunch; pulled pork bbq for my son, chicken strips for Mrs. Chad, and a foot-long hot dog for me. All came with fries, and with our special mugs, free refills on the drinks! The meals were all quite good, however, I did not get the chili and cheese on my hot dog, as gut full of chili and roller coasters aren’t always the best of friends.

Dahlonega Mine Train roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia

Rides at Six Flags Over Georgia

We then took the Six Flags steam train to another part of the park and continued our quest for fun! My son, who has ridden small and medium-sized roller coasters before, and is tall enough to ride most of them at Six Flags, was a bit intimidated by the size of the coasters. Therefore we choose to stick with the smallest of the roller coasters, the Dahlonega Mine Train.

We rode in the front car, and really enjoyed it! This coaster is perfect for younger kids who are not quite ready to try the big ones, and has a height requirement of 42 inches. Our wait was a little less than 30 minutes.

We met back up with mom, who had been exploring while we waited, saw some costumed characters walking about, and went to the Monster Mansion. This dark boat ride was a nice break out of the heat, and a fun animatronics break from the heat of the day. As we headed towards the water park (which is included in your ticket admission) we went on the bumper cars, and had a blast! They move pretty quickly and you get a pretty long time to drive.

More Six Flags Parks Ride Favorites

Popular rides you might want to check out on your trip:

Water Park at Six Flags Over Georgia

At Hurricane Harbor, the water park found inside Six Flags Over Georgia, we rented a large locker. There are small, large, and jumbo, with the bigger the locker, the higher the cost. Then we headed for the wave pool to cool off. There are plenty of life jackets for kids that may need them and they have multiple sizes. My son had a great time in the wave pool, but the large Paradise Island structure was calling his name, and we went there to watch him play.

Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags Over Georgia

Now, anyone that has lived around this area for a while knows that the weather is VERY unpredictable in the early evening hours. And while the entire day had been virtually cloudless to this point, all of a sudden a thunderstorm came through. The water park was immediately shut down, so we changed back into our regular clothes.

Unfortunately, in the time, we were changing a severe storm warning was issued, and ALL of the rides in the park were turned off. We quickly left the water park area and stopped in a t-shirt shop for about 15 minutes. When the weather broke, we took off again, and got ice cream while the rain started again.

Ultimately it was getting rather on into the evening, with no indication that rides would start up again anytime soon. From the time they shut down the water park at 5 pm, and we got back to our car at 6:30 pm, no rides were running. It was a nice cool down, though.

Six Flags Over Georgia’s rain policy according to their website is: “There are still a ton of activities that are amazingly fun in any kind of weather––including indoor shows, restaurants, shops, games, and arcades. If rain, wind, or electrical storms force us to close certain rides for your safety, they will re-open as soon as safe operations can be assured. Refunds or rain checks for inclement weather are not offered.”

So, our day was cut somewhat short. We had a great time prior to the storm, and my son said he really liked Six Flags a lot. I think we will probably wait until he’s a bit older to go again, however, as the biggest attractions at Six Flags Over Georgia are the roller coasters. There are a LOT of them.

Six Flags Over Georgia Roller Coasters

They have traditional seated coasters, feet-free coasters, one where you stand up the whole time, and one where you are held so that it is like you are laying down and flying face-first like Superman! At 6, my son was a bit apprehensive of riding on these, but said he would like to “in a couple of years.” They have a small area for kids 6 and under, but he was in that perfect age where he was too adventurous for that, but not enough for the big rides.

Parent Tips: Six Flags Over Georgia

This was our first trip ever to Six Flags Over Georgia, and I think it really showed in our preparation. I would very much recommend downloading a park map before your trip, and planning out exactly what you want to do. The staff was very helpful and gave us great directions, and we did enjoy ourselves.

The park was quite a bit bigger than I was expecting, and even with a map, we sometimes got a little lost. I think this park is best for kids that are closer to 10 and older, unless they are both very adventurous AND tall enough to ride the roller coasters, 42 inches for the smaller rides, 48 for medium coasters, and 54 for the biggest. The next time, we’ll have a better idea of where we’re going, and what we want to see and ride.

Roller Coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia

Visit Six Flag Over Georgia

275 Riverside Parkway SW, Austell, GA

See Six Flags website for days and hours of operation.

Has your family ever visited Six Flags Over Georgia?

Georgia Travel Guide

Planning a trip to Georgia? We’ve got your Ultimate Guide to Family Trips to Georgia.

Educational Fun! Things to Do at Mount Vernon During Your Family Trip

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Love history? If you are taking an educational family road trip and are in need of fun things to do at Mount Vernon, then we have you covered! Recently we were fortunate enough to send KAG contributor Lacey Keigley to visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Her family loved their visit to the plantation home of the first United States President. This estate offers history, nature, and more. Plus it’s only a short trip from Greenville.

Complimentary tickets were provided for this review.

Front entrance view of Mount Vernon.

About George Washington’s Mount Vernon

It was a bright Monday morning and we headed to northern Virginia. We actually arrived at Mount Vernon before the sun had risen to its highest midday point.  (And for a trip with five kids, I’d say that was a good start!)

Traffic to the historic site wasn’t at all bad and the brown road signs marked the turns clearly. Parking was simple but we struggled a little to find the entrance once we got out of the car. The signs are sufficient but they are small and we wandered a few minutes before we found the path leading to the main entrance to pick up our tickets.

Find a place to stay in Mount Vernon, VA. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

The Estate at Mount Vernon

After picking up our tickets – a few complimentary media passes plus a few paid passes – we headed through the museum entrance in order to head to the historic home itself. Our tickets had a time stamp on them for when our tour was scheduled to begin. We examined the giant model of George Washington’s home but we did not linger in the museum because we didn’t want to miss our tour time.

The kids (as well as myself and my sister-in-law who was visiting with us) loved the giant model – all of the perfect interior features were fun to examine. There were even little rolled towels on the shelves and perfect cutlery on the dining room table.

The walk up to the home is flat and easy to traverse and the grounds were not at all crowded on our visit. You see the lawn of the back of Mount Vernon as you walk and I realized after the visit was complete that I always assumed that was the front of the home, but actually, the side facing the Potomac River with the long porch type setting looks more like the front to me.

We had to wait only a short time for our tour to begin and the line moved quickly and the waiting was spent almost entirely in the shade – for which we were all grateful as the day was getting considerably warmer with each passing minute. Very professional and polite, the staff and tour guides worked seamlessly together and presented their information in easy conversational tones.

The home is simple and elegant and lovely and extravagant, all at the same time. Unlike some mansions and historical sites our family has visited over the years, Mount Vernon feels accessible and welcoming. Livable – I think. Which seems like the very feeling George and Martha Washington wished the home to have actually.

Things to Do at Mount Vernon: Explore the Grounds!

The grounds are in perfect condition and made for a lovely morning of strolling. My kids were especially enthralled by the gigantic Tulip Poplar that was planted in 1766 by George Washington himself. (This tree also was the background for my favorite picture from our trip.) It feels a little magical to touch a tree the first president planted.

Children standing at a tulip poplar planted by George Washington.

Had the day been less on the warm side I think we all could have strolled for another hour. As it was, however, the kids welcomed the opportunity to ride the shuttle from the house to the wharf. We were not allowed to walk onto the wharf, but it looked so lovely and peaceful there on the Potomac that I really wanted to spend some quiet minutes closer to the water’s edge.

The sixteen-sided barn near the wharf is a clever creation by Washington to allow draft horses to do the burdensome work of separating the wheat berries from the stalks. A costumed interpreter was at the barn and the kids all were able to take wheat stalks, pull off the wheat berries, blow away the chaff in their hands, and crunch on George Washington’s wheat.

We walked back through the woods on the trail to see Washington’s tomb – as well as his wife’s. A short walk brought us back to the house where we had already visited the blacksmith shop and the gardens and the animal pens. My seven-year-old thought the piglets were especially cute.

The Museum at Mount Vernon

Just as the day’s heat was reaching uncomfortable levels, we stepped inside the museum at Mount Vernon. At first the kids, hungry and hot, moaned at my suggestion of walking through and seeing the exhibits. They all quickly changed their tune though as we entered the building.

If you have a history buff in the family that is interested in George Washington, Mount Vernon is a must. Immediately you learn about a group of historians creating life-like wax figures of George Washington at various ages. Then you get to see those figures up close and personal.

The museum is also filled with family-friendly exhibits that engage both grown-ups and kids. There is a hands-on history room where kids can reconstruct artifacts and read books and play with a model home of Mount Vernon, dress up in costumes, and even take coloring pages and activities home with them for the drive back south. You kids can learn about the Revolutionary War and the country’s history, all while having fun.

Our family spent about two and half hours at Mount Vernon. We could have probably spent another hour had we watched the museum’s film or lingered longer at some of the outbuildings around the house. It’s a beautiful location – certainly picturesque, but also a starting point of American history that is absolutely worth your family’s time to take in on your next trip to the Washington DC area.

Things to Know Before You Visit

  • It is best to reserve your tickets online because you get a $2 discount per ticket.
  • Military Members, First Responders, and Medical Professionals can save $4 per ticket through the website portal.
  • There is dining on location at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant.
  • Water bottles, sunscreen, and an umbrella in the event of rain are highly recommended.
  • Strollers are not allowed inside the mansion, but are allowed everywhere else.
  • Only the first floor of the mansion is wheelchair accessible.
  • Mount Vernon does offer discounted rates for homeschooling and student groups.
  • Be sure to check out upcoming events at Mount Vernon to pair with your trip.

Plan A Trip of Your Own to Mount Vernon

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA
Open 365 days per year

Ticket prices:
Kids 6 – 12 years old, $15
Ages 12+ and adults, $28
Kids 5 and under are free
Save a buck or two by purchasing tickets online.

What would your kids love the most about a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon?

SouthEast Travel Guide

Looking for more travel ideas? Check out our travel page.