Shelter Cove Marina a Mediterranean like waterfront extravaganza fun for the whole family

Water sports rule at the picturesque Shelter Cove Marina! This Mediterranean style marina features Hilton Head’s largest deep-water yacht basin with 170 boat slips for boats up to 135 feet in length. Here you can enjoy deep-sea and inshore fishing, sport crabbing, nature excursions and dinner cruises. During the summer months there is a spectacular and FREE to attend fireworks show.

What’s fun to do around Shelter Cove Marina:
• Dolphin and wildlife watch cruise go either with Adventure or the very kids-friendly Captain Hook)
• Shop at the nearby Mall or the marina mini-shops.
• Relax on the rocking chair watching the boats come and go, drinking a cup of coffee, surfing the net (FREE Wi-Fi at Shelter Cove Marina).
• Go to Shelter Cove Park – every Tuesday during summer months there are free concerts, fun kids programs and breath-taking fireworks. Make sure to bring a chair or blanket.
• Visit the Palmetto Dunes Resort to see the mysterious and ghost haunted Skeleton Tower Lighthouse and enjoy miles of pristine biking trails.
• Take your children to Adventure Cove that features two mini golf courses ($12 per game) and Hilton Head’s largest arcade. You can print a $1 off coupon from their website.

Where to eat:
Kingfisher – picturesque dinning (steaks, pasta, seafood), spacious decks and live entertainment. One of the best Happy Hour on the island.
Old Oyster Factory – an island landmark built on an original oyster cannery. Claims to have the best seafood and steaks in Hilton Head.

Here is my Top 5 Fun Things to Do with Kids on the island that are free or very affordable.

Enjoy your family vacation to the fullest on Hilton Head island!

Carolina Adventure World video, Canopy Zipline Fun from the Cedar Tower (weekend fun things to do near Charlotte)

Outdoor enthuziasts, thrill seekers and fun loving guys and gals unite at Carolina Adventure World “Where to ATV ride“!

Here is another awesome canopy zipline video this time from the 4 stories high Cedar Tower. Get the inside scoop on all the zip lines from my previous post.

Can you tell the guy is having the time of his life? This is the perfect company team building and offsite celebration your employees will actually enjoy! And is only $25 for all three zip lines including the famous Blue Sky Line!

So what are you waiting for?

Highlands dream vacation – gem mining, rock sliding, drive thru waterfall and awesome kids camping trip (things to do at Oconee and Lake Jocassee)

Arrive in North Carolina mountains. Wake up in Europe.” A great slogan that’s absolutely true. Highlands reminds me of Switzerland. Old Edwards Inn photo Nature all around, waterfalls, hiking trails, outdoor adventures at every step. And you don’t have to leave comfort behind. There are excellent places to stay, eat, shop and indulge your artistic spirit. Like the Highlands Playhouse, the Instant Theater and the Nature Center. The Old Edwards Inn, established in 1878 and part of the National Register of Historic Places, is the city’s landmark and an extraordinary spa resort.

Highlands and its natural forest, bog and wetlands surroundings represent the most diverse biologic area in the Appalachian Mountains, boasting over 160 species of birds and 500 species of flora. Its unique ecosystem offers incredible opportunities Lindenwood Lake for exploring wildlife and plants equaled only by the tropics.

The Highlands Botanical Garden covers 11 acres on the shores of Lindenwood Lake. There are nature trails that lead to displays of carnivorous plants, native azaleas and medicinal herbs. The Coker Rhododendron Trail is an old growth hemlock hardwood forest.

Things to do at the Garden

1. Visit the Nature Center, test your nature and survivals skills; Meet the bears, touch snake skins, turtle shells and dried animals scat. Say hello to the busy working bees…literally. Just keep some distance so you don’t get stung.

2. Bring your kids for Kids fun camping at Highlands Botanical Gardens an awesome day camping trip. We’ve witnessed one in action. The little ones were flabbergasted by the live snake demo. Then they started their hiking journey along the many yet short and easy going trails.

Along the way they learned how to spot predators, trace animals, think like a bat and hide like a bunny. Lana and I had to settle for something more mundane like watching a snail go by.

3. Hike the trails around the lake, through hardwood forest, and over an old beaver dam. Along the way admire some unusual plants at the Cherokee, Herb, Butterfly and Wildflower gardens.

4. Sing and perform at the Amphitheater. Nothing like playing American Idol…

Things to do and see downtown Highlands
Enjoying Kilwin ice-cream downtown Highlands 1. Get a taste of heaven at the Kilwin’s chocolate, fudge and ice-cream shop.

There is so many sweets inside you’ll need more than a minute to make up your mind.

2. Wash the sweets off with some deliciously aromatic coffee and catch up on all the gossip at Buck’s Coffee Café next door.

3. Get your hands on one of kind gifts only Highlands can put forth.
My 4 years old really liked the frogs; I preferred the Little Flower Shoppe.

4. Arts frog shop in Highlands See a play at the prestigious Highlands Playhouse theater.

Call (828)-526-2695 for tickets.

Here is the upcoming shows calendar (2008):

– Till July 6: “Always Patsy Cline”

– July 10 – July 20: “On Golden Pond”

– July 24 – August 10: “70th Anniversary Salute to Broadway”

– August 14 – August 31: “Inherit the Wind”

Things to do in the area

Gem mining, drive thru waterfall and rock sliding…sounds like fun?
Bridal Veil drive thru waterfall

Unleash the “Indiana Jones” in you and go hunt for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC less than an hour drive from Oconee State Park and Lake Jocassee.

Who knows you may be the next “romancing the stone” star!

See Bridal Veil and Cullasaja waterfalls along scenic Hwy 64.

Located between Highlands and Franklin NC, Bridal Veil is the only waterfall in the Carolinas that you can drive through it.

Cullasaja river boasts the teens’ most favorite rock-sliding and swimming spot in the area. Motorists stop frequently to take photos, Swimming spot on Cullasaja River off hwy 64 enjoy the incredible views and just have a laugh watching the children jump Tarzan-style into the river.

Want to see more?

Read my previous post and visit the South Carolina Upcountry legendary waterfalls.


The fun is unlimited in the Carolina mountains!

Zip away at Carolina Adventure World video (fun activities with your dad near Columbia and Charlotte)

Still thinking of something fun to do with your dad this Father’s Day weekend? How about the ride of his lifetime? For just $25 he can zip all three lines over breath-taking scenery at the amazing Carolina Adventure World. That’s a standout gift he will enjoy and cherish for a very long time. The park is located right off of I-77, minutes drive from Lake Wateree State Park, about half an hour from Columbia and 50 minutes from Charlotte, NC.

Read my previous posts to get more facts about the Blue Sky “Giant” Zip Line and all other activities like ATV, motocross, RV and camping you can do in the park.

Here are 2 videos, first from the Giant zip line:

and second from the 3rd canopy zip line:

Happy zipping and riding with your loved ones at Carolina Adventure World!

Lake Jocassee, a mini “Caribbean” vacation in the South Carolina Upcountry (family almost free things to do)

The Buzz
As soon as you step on the beach at Lake Jocassee inside Devils Fork State Park you feel like you’re in one of the fanciful Caribbean islands travel posters: Lake Jocassee beach entrance crystal clear blue waters bordered by spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains covered in lush green forests and a sun-kissed beach with a pinkish “sand” to tickle your toes.

All for just $2 daily admission or even free with a SC State Park pass.

That’s a paradise weekend gateway on the cheap (pardon me…”at a huge discount”) worth shouting about! 🙂

Tips to know before you go
1. Use your State Park guest tag (the one you hang on the rear-view mirror of your car) to any other State Parks as long as it’s still valid. During our week stay at Oconee State Park I used the tag to get in for free at Table Rock, Keowee and Devils Fork.

2. Bring life jackets, especially if you have young kids. The water has a very narrow portion to stand up safely. Only 10 feet from the shore there is a steep drop and you can no longer touch the ground.

Best to have at least 2 adults keeping constant watch on the children. With no lifeguard on the beach you’re pretty much on your on.

3. Wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen. If possible bring an umbrella. There is no shade on the beach and the sun gets scorching in the summer.

4. It takes quite a hike through some big rocks to walk to and from the beach, so wear something comfortable and sturdy. If you’re not in a mood for exercising best to bring a cooler along with all the necessary refreshments.
Boys having fun at Lake Jocassee
5. At the top of the stairs there is a snacks stand, an equipment rental office, restrooms and showers.

Ice-cream is the king and you can get it for $3.

Beware the showers inside the women’s restroom didn’t work when I was there (first week in June).

Things to do at Lake Jocassee and Devils Fork Park
1. Fish in one of the Southeast finest lakes offering trophy smallmouth bass, crappy and bluegill.

2. Scuba-dive or boat the 7,500-acre clear and deep reservoir lake with 75 miles of shoreline and four boat-launch areas each with generous parking.

3. Swim, tube, jet sky, canoe or kayak year around. Beware there is no lifeguard at the beach.

4. Hike the 1.5 mile easygoing Oconee Bell Nature Trail (named after the rare wildflower found along) or the 3.5 miles moderate Bear Cove Trail through the hardwood forest.

Lodging
The main lakeside campground has 59 paved sites with water and electrical hook-ups and 25 tent sites with elevated pads, picnic tables, grill pits. Nothing like napping on the water On the northern shore of the lake there is a primitive campsite accessible only by boat. These sites are available on a first come first served basis and you need to pack out what you packed in.

The park also offers 20 mountain villas with 2 and 3 bedrooms. They have TV, screened porches, and fully equipped kitchens. Best thing of all each villa has its private beach, boat ramp and parking area. One drawback pets are not allowed in or around the villas.

Free and Affordable Area Attractions:
• Duke’s Power World of Energy – kids learn how electricity is generated from water, coal and uranium. At Upper Whitewater Falls
Your best chance to safely get up close and personal to a nuclear reactor!
• Walhalla Fish Hatchery
Numerous waterfalls like the Upper and Lower Whitewater (highest in the East) and Issaqueena
• Oconee Historic Station, Hagood Mill and Pickens County Museum
• Ruby and sapphire gem hunting in Franklin, NC (less than 1 hour away, need to pay admission and gem bucket mining…expect $10-$20 per person)

• History lovers and art collectors go visit Pendleton, “the Charleston of the Upstate” located near Clemson off of Hwy 28 and 76. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable attractions: Farmer’s Hall (oldest continuous operating hall in the country), Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula (1st licensed tavern, $6 admission fee), Old Stone Church (where Andrew Pickens and Gen. Anderson are buried) and Woodburn (4 story mansion, $6 admission fee)

Where
Devils Fork is easily reached from S.C. 11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway. Here is the exact address 161 Holcombe Circle, Salem, SC 29676 and the Google Map. For more info and to make reservations call (864) 944-2639, or 1-866-345-PARK or visit the official state parks website

Have your beach mountain paradise at Lake Jocassee in South Carolina Upcountry!

The “Giant” Blue Sky Zip Line Facts and Trivia (awesome fun at Carolina Adventure World)

2009 Update: This season it seems the zipline schedule and prices have changed. As of now only the Giant Blue Sky line is open and only on Saturdays in late afternoon (4-7PM). The price has been also reduced to just $5. To ride all 3 lines and on different days you need advanced group reservations. My advice is to call them ahead at (803)-482-3689 or check the website.

This entire post is dedicated to the awesome, guaranteed fun, adrenaline pumping canopy zip line rides at the Carolina Adventure World, Blue Sky lanch platform located half way between Charlotte and Columbia. Check my previous entry to learn more about all the cool stuff kids and parents who LOVE to act like kids can do every day.

Facts and trivia

1. There are 3 zip-lines: 1,300, 850 and respectively 1,100 feet long.

The first one, the Blue Sky “Giant” line, is by far the most popular. It takes about 45 seconds to ride through.

2. Want to be cool and play along the commands? Once you’re harnessed, the helmet is on and you’ve heard all the safety instructions the lingo goes like this:

Launch: “Ready to zip?”
Landing: “Zip is clear”
Launch: “Zipping”
Landing: “Zip away”

And off you go….from here you’re on your own (until you get close to the landing platform of course!). If you’re brave enough to keep your eyes open you’ll be rewarded with breath-taking views of the park covering a hundred of miles of forest and trails.

3. The riding equipment consists of harness and helmet, lanyard, carabiner, and the pulley. All is professional grade and provided for free the entire show.

Frequently asked questions

How high is the line?
The start for first 2 lines Side view of 2nd zip line is about 22 feet high; the launch platform at the Cedar Tower for the canopy zip line is about 4 stories high.

How fast will I go?
It varies from person to person based on weight, wind conditions, skill level and willingness to go faster or slower.

How long is the ride?
Blue Sky is about 45 seconds, the 2nd line is about 30 seconds and the 3rd line is abut 40 seconds give or take.

Will I be spinning around?
Everyone will spin a little bit until they get the hang of it. Even most experienced riders can’t do much about it when the wind blows their way. This is in my opinion what makes it so much fun to ride.

Cedar Tower - launch pad for the 3rd zip lineAre you sure the equipment will hold?
Don’t worry about this. This is state-of-the-art high class equipment. The steel cable holds up to 22,000 lbs, the lanyard up to 5,000, the double-lock D-class carabiner and the harness each holds up to 3,600 lbs.

So I think you are well covered!

Riding Tips

Steering
This takes a lot of practice and you’ll only get better at it after 4-5 rides. Put two or three fingers from your leading hand on the carabiner attached to the leading lanyard (the short yellow belt). Don’t sweat it too much the staff will show you which one is it.

As you ride through and start twisting, gently turn your wrist in opposite direction. For example if you feel you’re about to turn left move your wrist to the right and vice versa. A slight easy turn is sufficient to re-adjust your position. It also helps if you start out going straight…it’s much harder to correct your position once you’ve twisted all the way through. As I said before don’t worry too much about it you’ll get the hang of it the more rides you do.

Controlling your riding speed
Rule of thumb: ball up to go faster, spread out to slow down.

In other words to pick up speed make yourself as small and tight as possible (knees up, hands tucked around the body, chin down to your chest) to reduce friction. The opposite is true if you want to slow down…spread your arms and legs as wide as possible like on a cross.

Happy Zip Line Riding at the Carolina Adventure World!

Harbison Forest Biking Trails Details and Photos (mountain bike in Columbia)

Ready for some biking fun under the sun? At Harbison State Forest park there is a trail for everyone from the novice to the occasional bicyclist to the passionate mountain biker.

Things to know before you go
1. If this is your first visit start your biking adventure at the Education Center on the versatile 4 miles easy to moderately difficult Firebreak Trail. Pay your biking permit (I recommend getting an annual pass which pays for itself after 5 visits), get a folding biking and hiking trail map, fill up with water, use the restroom and ask the park rangers questions (they are there for a reason!). As you get more comfortable on the trail you can connect to the more difficult 3.7 miles Midlands Mtn Trail;Uphill on Midlands Trail from here you have several choices: a) do the rugged loop on Harbison Bluffs and come back to the center, or b) connect to Spider Woman II, the most difficult trail in the park, and run down to Broad River or c) connect and stroll down scenic Stewardship Trail (easier in difficulty). This trail allows you to get back to Firebreak Trail later on and return to the Education Center after you have experienced three different trails along varied terrains. I did just that and took me 2.5 hours – I stopped frequently to take these awesome pictures 🙂
Sharp turn through trees
2. The park provides extremely easy trail access:
You can drive and park your car to most of the biking and hiking trails; there are 6 parking lots in the park; each biking trail has multiple entrance points and connections to other trails; this way you can combine sections from different trails, with varied levels of difficulty, to make your trip to the park more interesting.


3. All biking trails are cleaned and well-maintained; there are rest benches throughout so you can stop, take a water or photo break and just enjoy the view. There are 3 restrooms in the park.

4. Each Connection to Spider Woman II Trail (G)trail is color-coded and has corresponding signs throughout its course. Further each trail is divided into alphabetical sections with their distance clearly marked on the map. To make things even easier, there are overall maps at most connection points to tell you where you are inside the park and how much distance is still left. This makes it very convenient to orient yourself and to plan your time and next move as you go along.

Clunky Roots on Stewardship Trail5. Unlike the mountain bike trail at the Sesquicentennial Park (another great family outdoor getaway near downtown Columbia) you don’t have to put up with the inches deep sand patches.Scary Turn Don’t worry there are plenty other obstacles for you to conquer! For one, there are chunky stubborn tree roots everywhere; river stones, especially on Midlands Mtn and Spider Woman II trails will keep you on your toes; the trails are steeper (both uphill and downhill) and with sharper turns peppered with big logs, hidden bridges, or rocks just to make it more interesting…

6. Safety first. Wear your helmet, carry water (there is only one drinking water fountain at the Bridge over perennial creekEducation Center), put on sunscreen and bug spray, bring your cell-phone (there is strong signal throughout the park) and travel with someone (or at least let your family and friends know your trip plans for the day).

7. Best time to ride is in the morning and if you can make it during the week. I went Friday afternoon and during my 2.5 hours adventure on 3 different trails I ran into 3 bikers, 2 joggers and one lady walking her dog. Slalom downhill on Midlands Trail (RG)
If you want more details about fun things to do with kids while at the Harbison Forest park check this post.

Ready to upgrade to 4 ATV wheels ride and adrenaline pumping canopy zip-line? Then go visit Carolina Adventure World, just half an hour drive from Columbia off of I-77.

Happy Riding in the South Carolina Outdoors!