What kids, adults and even pets love to do at Oconee State Park (a fun and affordable family vacation in SC)

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.

Free activities
• Hike the easygoing 1 mile loop trail to enjoy gorgeous views around the lake. Lassie in the canoe!
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.

Teen jumping in the lake 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.

Activities under $5 and $10
• Putt-putt golf: $1.50 per game
• Pedal boats: $5 / hour (go with #7 the red sparkling one)
• Boating and fishing, canoeing or kayaking. Like paradise at Oconee lake

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…

Area Attractions
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.

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Mice on Main scavenger hunt free family adventure in Greenville

What better way to explore downtown Greenville than through a scavenger hunt? For the past 5 years “Mice on Main” has become one of the city’s greatest travel attraction the whole family can do for free. Hidden downtown are nine little bronze mice for kids of all ages to discover.
Sunset in downtown Greenville
Based on popular children’s book “Goodnight Moon” the activity is fun, educational and a great way to keep kids engaged throughout the evening.
You can pick up a hunt hints brochure at most hotels and the Visitor Center located on Main Street near the entrance to Falls Park.Marvin and Goodnight Moon book at Mice on Main Greenville

During your Sherlock Holmes adventures you will enjoy some of the city’s landmark hotels, banks, historic figures, business and entertainment establishments.

Marvin Jr. at Mice on Main GreenvilleThere is no need to rush, take your time, break for coffee, beer or even deer along the many delicious restaurants and bar the city has to offer.

For other exciting free family things to do in Greenville see my other posts: scenic Reedy River walk and a kids fairy tale visit at the Children’s Garden.

Happy hunting in friendly downtown Greenville South Carolina!

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Greenville free things to do – Walk along Reedy River at Falls Park

It’s beautiful. It’s outdoor. It’s free.
It’s a river, a waterfall, flowers and trees. Moms and dads, kids with pets, lovers, friends, seniors, tourists, business partners and everyone else in between come everyday to enjoy the fresh air and peacefulness of the Reedy river.

The Falls Park is right off of Main Street in downtown Greenville, yet if you are that lazy you can also drive and park your car in the heart of it. The main attractions are the waterfalls, one of the nation’s greatest for a city downtown, and the 355 feet Liberty Bridge featuring an unique construction and an ideal photo station for the Falls Park.

There are two amphitheaters that hold a variety of shows most of the year; like the free to attend Upstate Shakespeare Festival taking place from May through August at the Carolina First Amphitheater.

I let the photo do the talking now.

If you are traveling to Greenville do yourself a favor and come relax along the Reedy river at the Falls Park. That’s a free “spa” treatment your mind and body will be grateful for.

Happy Family Vacation in Greenville South Carolina!

Fairy tale fun at the Children’s Garden, Greenville free things to do

Bring your kids to The Children’s Garden at the Linky Stone Park to enjoy, for free, classic children stories, to learn about Greenville’s history, or to just smell the blooming flowers in the beautiful surroundings along the Reedy River.

Historic facts that stand out:
1. The Reedy River falls are the reason for the city’s location. Greenville was established as a Indian trading post; the water power helped grind the corn into grits and weave cotton into cloth.
2. In the 1900s, cotton was the king crop and Greenville became the “Textile Capital of the World”; even the school year ran in accordance with the crop calendar so kids can help their parents during harvest.
3. South Carolina is home to the only tea farm in America; on the Wadmalaw island (near Charleston) the “American Classic Tea” and the White House’s official tea has been grown since 1799.
4. The river cane is the only American native bamboo and the Reedy river’s name source. Native Americans used the river cane for centuries to make clothes, baskets, utensils and even to build lodges. You can see them now at the Children’s Garden.

Once you complete the garden tour you can continue your outdoor recreation along the scenic Reedy River walking trail that takes you through Falls and Cleveland Parks.

Have a relaxing family vacation in Greenville South Carolina!

Fun Family Time at the Greenville Zoo

Greenville has so many fun things to do along the beautiful Reedy river. The Greenville Zoo, one of the top small-size zoos in the country, is a must see and do family attraction. Nested in the Cleveland Park the zoo is a short drive from downtown; it can also be reached by foot following the scenic and very popular river walking trail that starts at the Falls Park off of Main Street.
Lion napping at Greenville Zoo
Start and end your family day fun at the well-equipped playground located right in front of the zoo entrance. It has separate and age appropriate areas for both toddlers and older kids.

Inside it feels more like a park than a traditional zoo. The exhibits are “hidden” behind dense trees and bushes that provide much needed shade during the hot Carolina days. Elephant Painter Taking a Lunch Break at Greenville ZooThe main attractions are the elephants that like to amuze the crowds showcasing their painting skills, the majestic and always napping lions and the Siamang monkeys whose loud ear piercing territorial singing can be heard throughout the park.

Tips to know before you go:
1. If you are a Riverbanks Zoo member you can use your card to go in for free.

2. Spend the extra $2 on animal food (you can buy it at the entrance). It’s plenty (not like the sorry looking grains you get at other places…) and you can use it throughout the zoo. This should keep kids busy.

Take a break at the playground inside the zoo3. Parents can take a well deserved break at the cute playground inside the zoo. There are rocking chairs with your name on it. You can even admire the giraffes while napping along.

4. If you must buy something to eat get the hot-dog from the snack bar.

Flamingos Line Up at the Greenville Zoo
Where
150 Cleveland Park Drive,
Greenville, SC 29601
www.greenvillezoo.com
Phone (864) 467-4300
The zoo is open daily 10 AM – 4:30 PM. The gates close at 5 PM.
Admission tickets: $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 3 – 15. Under age 3 is free

Go Wild at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina!