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Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

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!

Lots of Winter Family Fun at Black Bear Snow Tubing in Hendersonville, NC

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Are you thinking about snow tubing at Black Bear Snow Tubing in Hendersonville, NC? Western North Carolina has great snow tubing and Black Bear Snow Tubing is a stellar option for families! They have a huge mountain to get your winter in high gear with a fun snow tubing trip for the whole family! We took a trip up to try out that snow-tubing mountain and it was so much fun! Now we have all the details to share so you can plan your trip!

Media tickets were provided for this review and the opinions are solely those of the author.

Snow tubing at Black Bear in Hendersonville, NC

While there aren’t any places to snow tube in the Upstate, SC, there are definitely options nearby and one of them is Black Bear Snow Tubing in nearby Hendersonville, NC, just over an hour from Greenville, SC. The snow tubing family-owned operation has been in business for over seven years and they really have a good thing going there, which I’m going to tell you all about in this story.

Scenes From the Slope

Take a sneak peek at this video at Black Bear Snow Tubing.

Snow Tubing at Black Bear

The slope at Black Bear Snow Tubing is 600 feet long with an 80-foot drop and it’s pretty fast. They make their own snow (unless they get a big snowstorm, which doesn’t happen too often) and the hill is well-maintained by their attentive staff.

How it works is that when you get to Black Bear, you go to a little shed to watch a short safety video, where you learn how to get out of your tube on the run and not to start snowball fights, sign a waiver, and head inside the cozy lodge to pay. Then you get your tubes and head to the hill.

They have a pulley system to get you to the top of the hill, which works by slipping the handle of your tube on a cable that takes you, while sitting inside your tube, right up the hill to the top. Once at the top, you’ll wait for a few minutes before being situated into your group by the staff and then sliding down the hill.

On the snow tube pully at Black Bear in Hendersonville, NC
Black Bear Snow Tubing Pulley System

Why Black Bear is Different

I’ve snow tubed at many places in our area and I think Black Bear Snow Tubing is pretty fantastic. Here’s why:

  • You can (and should) make a reservation ahead of time, which is crucial for us in Greenville who need to travel out of state to go snow tubing. It’s quite a bummer to get to our snow tubing place and either find out that they are sold out or having to wait hours for an open slot.
  • The staff is attentive and efficient. They were always around watching the hill to make sure things were running smoothly and safely. When there was a slight backup at the top of the hill, they figured out how to manage to get us all down the hill and back up to keep snow tubing without interruption.
  • The lodge is super cozy and warm and has reasonable concessions. I got a $2 hot chocolate and it was amazing. Plus, they have food, including apple cider donuts, that is affordable and you can get warm by the wood-burning stove inside or watch on the deck if you don’t want to go tubing.
  • The setup takes into account smaller kids. There is playground next to the place where you wait in line to go up the hill so smaller kids can get out their energy and there is a big fire pit also near the waiting area where you can warm up.
  • If you forgot a hat or gloves, they have them for sale inside the lodge. I feel like us parents can relate when our kid gets out of the car to go snow tubing and forgot his or her winter hat.
  • The check-in is fast. This is important because you want to get on the hill and start having fun as soon as possible!
  • Black Bear has excellent communication. They post daily on their Facebook page about current snow conditions, which is super helpful when you’re unsure about the weather.
  • The snow is real. They don’t have any synthetic chemicals in the snow – it’s the real deal.

My kids, ages 11 and 8, and I had such a blast snow tubing at Black Bear Snow Tubing. We went down the hill about 10 times (maybe more, I lost count honestly) and had so much fun together. I really love places where adults can carelessly be kids again. My kids are already asking to go back. The hill was super fast and seeing my kids faces light up with joy was special. I love those moments.

Tips on How to Enjoy Snow Tubing at Black Bear

Winter being winter, it’s usually cold when you go snow tubing. I’ve found that bringing hand and foot warmers is a really good trick to keeping everyone warm and comfortable. You can get them at Wal-Mart, Amazon, or most drug stores and they stay warm for hours.

Sliding down in a tube at Black Bear Tubing

It’s also really important to make a reservation when you know you want to go snow tubing. This is especially true during school breaks and holidays. Snow tubing is an awesome family activity on a day off but a lot of people also have the same thought. Don’t forget to make a reservation.

You don’t need to wear snow bibs or snow pants. I had on fleece leggings, hiking boots, and a couple layers of tops with a heavy coat (it was really cold when we went!) and I was fine. I saw people wearing all kinds of clothes that worked for them like pants, leggings, jeans, and sweatpants. The snow wasn’t wet at all when we went but if you go on a warmer day, you may want to bring a change of pants in case they get wet.

There are port-a-potties outside the lodge to use and no bathrooms indoors.

Double-check Black Bear’s Facebook page before heading out. Snow tubing is very dependent on weather, which changes often in the mountains. They will post current conditions and if they are open or closed most days.

Ticket Prices and Policies at Black Bear Snow Tubing

Tickets are $30/hour or $40/two hours for snow tubing. Kids must be 4 years old in order to go snow tubing. You can either sign a waiver when you get to Black Bear Snow Tubing or print one out online ahead of time. Either is fine.

While Black Bear Snow Tubing does take walk-ups, it is much better to make a reservation ahead of time instead of getting there and finding out they are full. Online reservations are fantastic for this very reason so definitely make use of them.

And be sure to check Black Bear Snow Tubing’s Facebook page before heading out to double check they are open and running. Winter tubing runs mid-December through February usually depending on the weather, of course.

And if you want to tube during other times of the year, you totally can! They have warm-weather tubing in the fall.

Black Bear Snow Tubing
373 Kerr Road, Hendersonville, NC
828.685.1155

Want to spend the day in Hendersonville? We’ve got lots of ideas on what to do in this fun town!

Things to Do in Hendersonville, North Carolina

Hendersonville is full of family fun.
Check it out!

Kidding Around Guide to Hendersonville

7 Amazing Winter Hikes for Families Near Greenville, SC

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Does your family love to go hiking? If you are looking for winter hikes near Greenville, SC, you’ve come to the right spot! Here’s where to go hiking around Greenville this winter and what to bring.

Taking your kiddos on a hike in winter may seem like a crazy feat, but if the unpredictable upstate weather is in your favor it can be one of the best times to go. Cooler temperatures bring broader views, a change of scenery, less sweat, and fewer bugs. It makes hiking the tougher trails just a bit easier and also allows you to choose hikes that offer a view, rather than a water feature, as a payoff – something you wouldn’t opt for in the summer months. Get your camera ready and read on for a list of tips to help you and your little troops make the most of your adventure.

Hiking in Greenville, SC

For even more hiking suggestions see our Full Guide to Hiking in Greenville.

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Keep Your Kids Busy During (2023) Holiday Break with Winter Camps in Greenville, SC

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Kids need something to do over winter break near Greenville, SC? In your rush to shop, wrap gifts, prepare for the holidays, are you thinking about what your kids are going to do with all of their free time?  No?  Well, no worries because we’re doing it for you.

We have compiled a list of Winter Camps offered around Greenville that might be just what you need and we’ll keep updating it throughout the holiday season. With so many fun Winter Camps happening all around town there’s no reason for your kids to be complaining that they’re bored during their break from school. And, P.S., you get a break too.  Perfect!

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10 Ways to Celebrate Your Child’s Birthday Around the Holidays

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Does your child have a birthday near Christmas? Have you found yourself celebrating a birthday sitting around a Christmas tree in the living room? How can you celebrate a Christmas birthday or a birthday near Christmas and still make your child feel special? What’s the secret to making December birthdays special amid all the Christmas presents and Christmas decorations? Should we add birthday decorations to the party, too? What do birthday traditions look like mixed in with Christmas?

If you are looking for ways to celebrate birthdays near holidays, you’ve come to the right place.

Celebrate a Christmas birthday

Make Your Child’s Birthday Memorable

The holidays are usually a busy time of the year for everyone, which can make birthdays near Christmas difficult to celebrate with a group.. From traveling out of town, having family over, decorating, cooking, and wrapping presents, it seems like your ‘to-do’ list just doesn’t end. Throwing a birthday party for your child into the mix can make things even more overwhelming. Nevertheless, it’s important to make your child’s one special day of the year, just that…special!

Here are some ideas to help make the day all about them, and others you may want to avoid.

Plan Something Special Instead Of A Party

Sometimes, all the planning in the world won’t allow you to plan a birthday party that your child’s friends can attend. An actual party isn’t always necessary. Your child will be excited to have a day dedicated just to them with only having their immediate family involved.

Take them out on a day that works for your family, let them pick a fun place they would like to go (or surprise them). Try an entertainment center with games, bowling, or laser tag. Let them choose which restaurant you will go to for lunch or dinner, and take them out to pick out their birthday gift. This is an easy option that requires little planning but still makes your child feel special.

Birthday party at Christmas

Throw A Holiday Time Birthday Celebration: Close to Christmas Birthday Party Tips

Figure out the best timing

If you want to do a party, schedule the party a week before or a week after your child’s actual birthday. This is especially a good idea if your child’s birthday falls on the same date as the holiday. If your child’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving, consider celebrating the weekend before. The weekend after Thanksgiving tends to be a busy time for most people, as they are traveling home, bidding their holiday guests farewell, or starting their holiday shopping. If your child’s birthday falls on Christmas, consider scheduling their party even earlier than one week ahead. Some families travel for the holidays and head out of town as soon as the school winter holiday begins.

Get invites sent out early

If you plan on inviting friends and/or family to your child’s birthday party, give as much notice as possible. At any other time of the year, a one to two weeks’ notice would suffice; however, with people traveling or scheduling family holiday photos, it’s a good idea to give as much notice as possible.  This will also help if a majority of your potential attendees can’t make it to your party date- and gives you the opportunity to change it to a date that works for both you and your guests.

Decorate a ‘birthday only’ room

If you plan on having your child’s birthday party at home, and you have already decorated your house for the holidays, designate a room that is free of holiday decorations. Have your child pick a theme, whether it is a specific charter or color scheme, and decorate with balloons and streamers- away from all the snow globes and Christmas trees. Party City, offers a variety of themed birthday party supplies throughout the entire year.

Celebrate their half birthday

The holiday months tend to have cooler weather, so it may leave limited options for ways to celebrate your child’s birthday. Consider celebrating their ‘half birthday’ in the summer. The warmer weather opens up more outdoor options to celebrate, and schedules may be easier to coordinate since children are on school vacation. Try a local waterpark. You can still have a cake and sing happy birthday with the family on their real birthday, but wouldn’t it be a nice surprise for your child to celebrate their birthday by splashing around in the pool?

birthday gifts

Choosing The Right Gift: Birthday Presents Dos and Don’ts

Don’t use holiday wrapping paper

You may already have a closet full of holiday wrapping paper, and how convenient would it be to just grab part of a leftover roll and wrap your child’s birthday present in it? Although convenient, something as simple as ‘Happy Birthday’ wrapping paper can help separate their birthday from the holiday.

Don’t give holiday-themed gifts

During the holidays, themed or special addition toys often become available. As much as you think giving your child an Elf on the Shelf might be a good idea (since you need to buy one anyway), stick to something that doesn’t need to be put away after the holidays are over.

Get seasonal appropriate gifts

With keeping the last recommendation in mind, it’s important to stick to gifts that your child can use now. If their birthday is in December, don’t get them a blow-up swimming pool and slide for the backyard or diving sticks for the pool. While you want to separate the holiday from their birthday, it’s a good idea to get them something they can enjoy without having to wait to use it.

Skip the joint birthday/holiday gift

It sounds like an easy thing to do- two birds, one stone. It may seem like the opportune time to get your child that expensive gift they have been asking for, and make it a combined birthday/holiday gift. While it may be exciting for them for a moment, it takes out some of the fun and surprises that birthdays and holidays deliver to children.

Embrace The Holiday Birthday

As stressful as they can be, the holidays really are a fun time of the year. A holiday theme may not be a bad idea after all, if your child likes the idea. Have a birthday party where your child and their friends build gingerbread houses or decorate cookies, which they get to take home instead of a goody bag. Play ‘pin the nose on the snowman or make homemade ornaments. Michaels arts and crafts store is a great place to get seasonal crafting kits for children to make it easy to plan holiday crafts for the party. While this might not be something you want to do every year to celebrate their birthday, it’s a fun way to mix it up and embrace the holiday season!

Planning a birthday party? Check out the Kidding Around Guide to Birthdays in Greenville and Spartanburg, SC

This Indoor Winter Farmers Market Is No Longer a Secret: Greenville, SC

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Miss the local farmer’s markets in the winter? We’ve got the scoop on Greenville’s best indoor farmers market and it’s really a lot more than a farmers market. The Toasty Farmer is no longer an Upstate secret; however, parents in the know have discovered that the family-friendly winter farmers market can be the perfect outing on a dreary winter’s day.

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Get Tickets Now! Great Smoky Mountain Railroad’s Polar Express in Bryson City, NC

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Wondering about the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad’s Polar Express? Bryson City offers one of the most magical experiences of a kid’s life on this themed train ride based on the book The Polar Express. Whether you love an early beginning to the holiday season or wish you could put it off, this North Carolina attraction is one very good reason to start your own planning early this year. KAG Contributor Liene has all the information you need to know about this very popular holiday attraction.

The Polar Express in Bryson City, North Carolina

The Polar Express: Bryson City, NC

Bryson City is a gateway city to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but is it also home to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot, with scenic rail excursions through the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. Beginning November 9th, 2023, a very special train will be departing from the historic Bryson City depot: The Polar Express. This is one of two very popular train rides on the Polar Express near Greenville, SC, so get your tickets soon!

Based on the popular children’s book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, this magical train ride recreates the journey to the North Pole complete with hot cocoa and a warm cookie.  At the end of the train ride, Santa Claus himself will be waiting at Santa’s Village to board the train and present each child with their very own silver sleigh bell.

Things to Know About the Ride on the Polar Express

You’ll want to arrive in Bryson City at least an hour before your departure time. This will give you time to park, which is not an easy task in this little town that brings upwards of 90,000 passengers through for the Polar Express. Parking charges are already added when purchasing tickets ($6) and parking attendants are on hand to direct traffic.

Once you’ve walked to the depot you might want to explore the GSMR train museum, and you’ll find a dozen little souvenir and snack shops lining the street to explore while waiting for your train’s boarding time. Hint; the Smoky Mountain trains museum is free with tickets, but you can purchase pictures with Santa if you arrive early.

When it is time to climb on board, passengers join the queue at their assigned boarding station, which correlates to the train car in which you will be riding.   The beautifully restored vintage coaches date from the 1920s to the 1940s, and the interior has been festively decorated in the holiday spirit. Friendly employees are on hand to help the boarding process and get everyone situated, and before you know it, the whistle blows, and the Polar Express is off, headed for the North Pole!

While music plays in the background (from the motion picture The Polar Express), the conductor comes through to stamp the ‘golden train tickets.’  These tickets, based on the book, make a cherished souvenir for the children. Hint: make sure to bring your copy of “The Polar Express” on the trip so that you can read along while enjoying the hot chocolate brought to you by the singing and dancing chef.  

Like most parents, we had changed the kids into their pajamas so that they would be cozy and comfortable on the journey.  And, the singing of Christmas carols and antics of the Polar Express characters kept them mesmerized the entire trip.

Bryson City, North Carolina Great Smoky Mountain Train view

Tips to Make the Most of Your Trip

With three different ticket options (First, Crown, and Coach), families have a variety of choices concerning seating, snacks, and memorabilia – only reserve your tickets soon, as the tickets for the weekends approaching Christmas tend to sell out by the end of October. We opted for Coach and were completely satisfied with the seating, the service, and the benefits that came with our package.

We purchased tickets on the 5 pm train, meaning it would still be light out for the first 1/2 hour of the journey (and we could watch the gorgeous mountain scenery roll by). The sun had set and darkness descended just before our arrival at the North Pole, and so the Christmas lights adorning ‘Santa’s Village’ twinkled in the darkness, helping convince reluctant believers… On our return trip, lights from homes along the route sparkled in the distance, adding a magical dimension to the ride.

When selecting seats, you might want to choose to be on the left side of the train (that would be the opposite side where you board the Polar Express), as the river and the majority of North Pole lights will be on that side. Also, Santa boards on the front of the train, so be prepared for him to come through rather soon after stopping if you’re in Coach; have your copy of “The Polar Express” ready for him to sign, and the kids ready to tell him what they would like for Christmas.  He even makes some time to ask some disbelieving adults about what they would like under the tree – so make that list and check it twice!

More information on the Polar Express: Bryson City, NC

The first Polar Express departure is on November 9, 2023, and the train operates through December 31, 2023, with the exception of certain weekdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas day. They do have a Christmas Eve ride if you want a truly memorable night. Most days, there are three departures a day and tickets sell out quickly.

For detailed information on the different seating available, visit the Polar Express website.

Bryson City is about 2 ½ hours by car from both Greenville and Spartanburg, optimally a weekend destination, but doable in a day (since the kids will sleep on the way home!).

There are several classes to choose from with Coach Class being the cheapest of the tickets starting at $29 for kids ages 2-12 and $44 for adults up to First Class, which is $47 for kids and $68 for adults. Crown and Premium Crown Class are in between those prices. Depending on what ticket class you choose, you’ll receive a cookie, hot chocolate, and a souvenir of some type for a full Polar Express experience.

You can book tickets by calling 800.872.4681 or you can book them online.

Where to Stay Near the Polar Express in Bryson City, NC

This Stay22 Affiliate links map will help you find the perfect place to stay during your visit!

Sky Ridge Yurts

If you want to enhance your Polar Express experience with a super cool place to stay in town, try Sky Ridge Yurts, only about 20 minutes away from the city center and the railroad. The yurts are spacious, clean, and very comfortable. We tried them out over the summer and fell in love with the unique structures. Enjoy some warm cocoa and the mountain views during your trip!

Sky Ridge Yurt exterior

For other Great Smoky Mountains Railroad family-friendly adventures, check out the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad website.

“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

From The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg

Would a ride on The Polar Express be a trip your kids would cherish?


Tree farms in Bryson City, NC

Bryson City has a lot to offer during the holidays! Read more about the town’s holiday offerings while you plan your winter getaway.


See our list of Western NC Day Trips and our list of Holiday Day Trips for even more suggestions for fun around the holidays.

This post was originally published on Femme au foyer and is republished with permission.

Have an Epic Snow Tubing Adventure in Sapphire Valley: Frozen Falls Tube Park

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If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to go snow tubing, Sapphire Valley is the perfect option. Kidding Around contributor Kristina took her kids and had quite the adventure, which she is sharing with our readers.

Media tickets were provided for the experience. 

Having already gone snow tubing once with my kids, they were more than thrilled to learn we were going to do it again, this time at a place where our family has vacationed twice – but only in the summer. Experiencing the Sapphire Valley in Cashiers, North Carolina has a whole other feel in winter and just as fun!

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Go Sock Skating at the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC

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Indoor “sock skating” at the Schiele Museum is just the thing for kids to get out their energy during colder months. Located in Gastonia, NC, the Schiele Museum is only about an hour from Greenville, SC, or 35 minutes from Charlotte, NC.

Sometimes you just come across something so fun and unexpected that you have to share it – which is exactly what happened when we visited the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, NC during a rainy day and to our great surprise, learned that our kids could go ice skating but with socks!

If you didn’t know sock skating was a thing, don’t feel too bad. We didn’t either until we happened upon it at the Schiele Museum. It’s exactly as it sounds: skating with socks on instead of use skates on ice. We’ll tell you more in this story, plus give you the dates when you can get free tickets to the museum. 

Sock skating for the 2023-24 season opens November 24, 2023.

About the Schiele Museum of  Natural History 

We have a whole Schiele Museum story about this amazing museum, which is worth a read. This museum has extensive exhibits on animals, plants, gems and minerals, and dinosaurs. They also have an outdoor farm and Catawba Village. 

Schiele Museum Dinosaur exhibit

If you love learning about the stars, don’t forget to see a show in the planetarium. You can reserve your seat when you buy your tickets at the entrance. 

Sock Skating 

During the wintertime, the Schiele Museum has a room dedicated to a winter wonderland of Sock Skating. The room is lit to look like it’s snowing, complete with a little snowbank and a wooden house with a Christmas tree in the window. We have a short reel if you want to see how it all works!

There are benches for parents to relax and watch their kids enjoy skating on a slippery floor. All kids need are socks and they need to be sure to bring their own as the museum does not have socks to lend out. 

Sock Skating is for kids ages 2-10 years old and you need to purchase a wristband for $3 for each kid to participate. When we went, it was a busier day and the front desk ladies gave us a timed entry ticket, which was fine. We were basically able to go when we saw there weren’t many kids inside and it worked out great. 

Sock Skating at Schiele Museum

My kids absolutely loved this and I thought it was such a creative and unique idea for indoor fun. We spent a lot of time at the other museum exhibits as well, which were awesome. This is easily a great day trip from the Upstate. 

Sock Skating at Winter Wonderland opened November 25th and runs usually through February.

Tickets to the Schiele Museum

Tickets to the museum are $7/adults, $6/kids 4-18 and kids ages 3 and under are free. Planetarium tickets are $5/each and farm tickets are $3/each. 

There are certain dates every month where admission to the museum is free, thanks to the support of Duke Energy. Free museum admission is available the second Tuesday and fourth Friday of every month from Noon – 4 pm. 

Do you have a Roper Mountain Science Center membership? The Museum is part of the same ASTC passport program as RMSC which means great news! If you have a RMSC membership, then you get in free to the Shiele Museum. The ASTC Passport program gets you free admission into partner museums all over the world. If you plan to travel, it can pay for itself in just one trip to a partner museum. 

Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium
1500 East Garrison Boulevard, Gastonia NC