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!

A great weekend in Greenville: free things to do and places to visit with the kids

Greenville is the most picturesque, family friendly and travel attractions bountiful city in South Carolina, if not the Southeast. Falls and bridge downtown Greenville
It offers a variety of free and fun things to do and see; Downtown it’s easily accessible and offers wide sidewalks peppered with cafes, restaurants and free entertainment. There is always something going on downtown.

Where else can you admire 60 foot waterfall right in the middle of the city?

Here is a list of activities you can do while visiting Greenville.

Free activities
• Mice on Main scavenger hunt, the fun way to stroll up and down Main Street.
• Picnic, walk, bike, learn about the city’s history or just play at the incredible scenic Falls Park along the Reedy River. Pay your respects to Shoeless Joe, Carolina’s beloved famous baseball player in the 1900s.
• Live the fairy tales at the outdoor Children’s Garden
• The SC Botanical Gardens has the country’s only nature-based sculpture collection; it also features thousands of ornamental plants varieties and natural woodlands and streams
• McPherson Park opened in 1884 is the city’s oldest park and features a log cabin, putt-putt golf and tennis courts.

• Drive to Pickens (about 20 miles west of Greenville) to see Hagood Mill “Where Memories are Made” the only still commercially operating grist mill and home to many folk and arts festivals. Stop by the Pickens County Museum of History and Art to see some great collections like Andrew Pickens duel pistols and the old jail cell.

Activities under $5
• See elephants paint Famous Elephant Painter and Siamang monkey call out their love at the Greenville Zoo inside Cleveland Park
• Visit the state’s largest planetarium at the Roper Mountain Science Center

• History lovers and art collectors visit Pendleton, “the Charleston of the Upstate” just 30 miles southwest of Greenville (hwy 76 and 28). 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), Old Stone Church (where Andrew Pickens and Gen. Anderson are buried) and Woodburn (4 story mansion)

Parking and getting around downtown

Free parking in the weekends and evenings (on non-event days) at:
• River Street Lot
• Bowater Garage
• Irvine Street Lot
• W. Washington Street Deck (Bus Transfer Station)
• Richard Street Garage
• Augusta Street (near the Stadium)

Ride the trolley for free on Main Street. For a calendar of events in the Greenville area visit www.greatergreenville.com

2009 Update! Finally, The Children Museum is now open!

Cooler than NASCAR!

Cooler than NASCAR!

The museum is located downtown, near Greenville Museum of Art, the Public Library and The Little Theater.

This place rocks!
Kids can launch a satellite, race a Formula 1 car, perform live and record music, remote control a cool crane, shop at a supermarket, get digested in a giant stomach, play with laser and much, much more…

Admission is $12 (free for kids under 1) and the museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 9AM – 5PM (noon on Sundays).

Enjoy your family weekend in awesome Greenville, South Carolina!

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!