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5 mostly free things to do with the kids in the Upstate

Here are five opportunities for a fun, affordable afternoon in the Upstate.

Visit the zoo

Have you been to the Greenville Zoo lately? Greenville’s popular giraffes are on display, and it’s a great time to go see them, especially since Tatu is only about 6 months old. The zoo is now open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $9 for adults, $5.75 for children 3 – 15, and free for kids 2 and younger. For more details, visit

Take a stroll through a public garden

The Upstate is blessed with a handful of public gardens that are free to the public. Hatcher Garden, 832 John B White Sr. Blvd. in Spartanburg, is a public botanical garden and woodland preserve. Admission is free, and the garden is open daily during daylight hours. Families can have a picnic, walk the trails, bird watch, or take a stroll through its butterfly garden. For more details, visit

The South Carolina Botanical Garden, 150 Discovery Lane in Clemson, features 295 acres of flowers, landscapes, and natural woodlands. Visitors are welcome free of charge, every day, dawn to dusk. History buffs will enjoy the Hanover House (ca. 1716) and the Hunt Family Cabin (ca. 1826). Also within the Garden, the Bob Campbell Geology Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday and is home to an extensive collection of gems, minerals and fossils of the region. Visit the Geology Museum's website for more information.

Lake Conestee Nature Park, 601 Fork Shoals Road in Greenville, features 400 acres of nature along the Reedy River. There’s a good chance you’ll get a glimpse of deer, raccoon, beavers, foxes, river otters and other small mammals in their natural environment. Admission is free, and the park is open sunrise to sunset. For more details, visit

Visit a park

Greenville, Spartanburg and Pickens counties all have parks with kid-friendly features worthy of an afternoon visit — or two! You can find a list for Greenville County at; Spartanburg County at; and Pickens County at

Here are a few of our favorites:

Conestee Park — Located at 840 Mauldin Road, Greenville, this park features a dog park, playground, walking trail and playing fields. Lake Conestee Nature Park also connects to the park.

Herdklotz Park — Located at 126 Beverly Road, Greenville, this park is near a farmer’s market and offers panoramic views of downtown Greenville. There is also a large playground, small playground and picnic shelter.

Runway Park at GMU — Located at 21 Airport Road in Greenville, families can watch aircraft land and take off while enjoying the playground, picnic hangar and Cessna 31 display. There’s a nearby café, too.

Cleveland Park — Located at 141 N. Cleveland Park Drive, Spartanburg, this lakeside park features walking trails, lakeside swings, benches and picnic shelters. It also has a fairly new playground — the largest in Spartanburg County.

Go biking

Greenville is home to the 21-mile-long Swamp Rabbit Trail, and there are many safe areas to go biking together as a family. If you don’t have enough bikes for every member of the family, don’t worry. More than one company offers bike rentals, including Reedy Rides and Bike the Rabbit. For more details on the trail, visit

Easley also features the Doodle Trail, a 7.5-mile trail between Easley and Pickens named after the area’s rich history as a railroad depot. Find more information about the Doodle Trail at this website.

Visit a museum

Sure, Greenville is home to The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, but there are other kid-friendly museums. Best of all, many of them feature free admission. Here are a couple to consider:

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library —  This museum is open 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturdays, but it’s also open weekdays by appointment. Simply email a request to Located across from Fluor Field in downtown Greenville, it features free parking and admission and highlights a legendary baseball player, Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was born and raised in Greenville. For more details, visit

Hub City Railroad Museum — This Spartanburg museum features more than a history of trains. It showcases the area’s textile history and more. The downside is that it’s only open 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturdays. For more details, visit

Daytrippin' ideas

Still need ideas? Below are some of our past Daytrippin' columns, still full of good suggestions!