Recently I spent an extraordinary week with my 4 years old at the Oconee State Park in beautiful Carolina Upcountry. If you wonder about what to do, where to go and what places to visit while vacationing in the South Carolina mountains then read along.
• Hike the easygoing 1 mile loop trail to enjoy gorgeous views around the lake.
Serious trekkers are rewarded with the start of the famous 80 mile Foothills Trail.
• Stop by the playground where little ones can run around and you can picnic, volleyball and relax by the lake.
• Visit the interpretive room to learn about the very rare chestnut and the versatile hickory trees. Centuries ago chestnut trees graced our forests from northern Appalachian Mountains all the way to Mississippi. The wood was resistant to rot and easy to split thus it was used for building fences and railroads. Legend has it a 20 foot rail could be split with a single wedge! Chestnut was a valuable source to produce the acid used for tanning leather. Back then, entire communities depended on the “acid” factories. In 1904 people in New York started to see trees being killed by blight and by 1930s all the trees were almost extinct.
At Oconee you can still spot stumps of this once majestic tree. Hickory, a truly American tree (there is only one other specy in eastern China), is quite abundant, with four varieties thriving at the Oconee park. Its wood has an unequal combination of strength, elasticity and toughness making it the major raw material for producing sporting goods. Hickory it’s also used to flavor barbecue.
• Swim Fri to Sun(11 AM to 5 PM). Lifeguards on duty. Bring some flotation device to keep little kids entertained. Older kids keep themselves busy at the diving platform
• Chase geese and ducks around. May not seem like much to you but trust me little ones never get tired of it. Don’t worry; no animals get harmed…when they had enough they just take off.
The sign says $10 / half-day or $20 / whole day. I paid $3 for an hour of kayaking. Cabin renters can get a “John” boat for the whole week for $50. Beware private boats are not allowed on the park lake, only rental fishing boats.You need a SC fishing license. The lake has excellent bass, bream, catfish and trout fishing.
• Friday night Square Dancing at the Barn: $2 for adults and $1 for children.
Tips to know before you go
1. There are 2 things you MUST bring along to keep little ones entertained in the evenings: a portable or car DVD player and a flashlight.
2. There is no TV and the cell signal is almost null. Those of you who can’t survive without the world wide web, the Chick-fill-A in Seneca has free Wifi Internet and an awesone indoor playground.
3. Take advantage of the fire pit and grill and try to have a fire every night. It’s priceless. You don’t have to cook much; hot-dogs followed by marshmallows will do just fine. You can get a stack of wood cheaply from the stands along Hwy 28 that leads to the park.
4. Go to Ingles in Walhalla for grocery shopping and to Wal-Mart in Seneca for anything else…
Here are some suggestions on things to do while vacationing at Oconee. Check and print this custom Google Map with all the attractions listed below. Everything is less than an hour drive and most of them are FREE to attend.
• Walhalla Trout Fish Hatchery – see the life stages of, feed and even fish three species of trout
• Visit the centuries old Oconee Historic Station and Hagood Mill the oldest continuous operating grist mill in the Carolina.
• Learn how electricity is made and nuclear reactors works at Duke’s World of Energy museum.
• See the legendary Issaqueena and the breathtaking Whitewater waterfalls (highest in the East).
• Go to Lake Jocassee at Devils Fork State Park for year around swimming, boating and even scuba-diving. This is the finest fishing place in the Southeast.
• Mine for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC. Make sure to stop near Cullahasa Falls on Hwy 64 (between Highlands and Franklin) for some awesome rock-sliding in the river.
• Admire country largest collection of nature-based sculptures and hundreds of exotic ornamental plants at the SC Botanical Garden (located on the Clemson University campus).
• Journey back in time and shop for incredible antiques at historic Pendleton, the Charleston of the Upstate! Check out Farmer’s Hall, Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula, Woodburn and Old Stone Church.
Filed under: Biking, Boating and Fishing, Canoe and Kayak, Free Things to Do, Greenville, Oconee State Park, Swimming, Walking and Jogging | Tagged: affordable Greenville vacation, Cherokee art and history, Duke's World of Energy, fun Greenville activities under $10, Greenville activities under $5, Greenville family attractions, Greenville just for kids, Greenville weekend fun, Lake Jocassee, Oconee free things to do, Oconee hiking trails, Outdoor Greenville fun, rainbow trout fishing | 4 Comments »