11 ideas for family fun while school is out
Spring break is finally upon Upstate students, and many parents will be looking for activities to enjoy with their children. Students in Spartanburg will be on spring break April 3-7 and students in Greenville and Pickens counties will observe spring break April 10-14.
Spring break camps
There are numerous spring break camps happening throughout the Upstate. Some options include The Children’s Museum of the Upstate’s Spring Break Art Camp April 10-14 for kids ages K5-grade 4, and the Spring Break Culinary Camp April 10-13 through Plate 108 in Greer. In Pickens County, the Pickens County YMCA will host spring break camps for kids April 10-14. In Spartanburg, Camp Love-A-Pet is a one-week day camp for children in grades 5-7 April 3-7 at the Spartanburg Humane Society.
There are many arts opportunities for families in the Upstate. In Spartanburg, Hearts of Clay pottery painting studio is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays – Saturdays and 1 p.m.- 5 p.m. Sundays. In Greenville, Cakes by U lets families decorate cakes and cupcakes whenever they want to drop in. The Greenville Center for Creative Arts is also open to the public for daily tours, with kids art classes offered each month.
Water safety lessons
Water Safety Week is April 10-14, and the YMCA of Greenville has partnered with Upstate Pool Management to offer free water safety lessons to the community of Greenville. The Water Safety Week program is built upon two fundamental components: Safety Around Water and water confidence. All participants — from ages 6 months to adult — will learn basic comfort and survival swimming skills while working toward building confidence around water. Trained and certified instructors will also teach participants how to react and respond if there is a drowning emergency. The danger areas and topics we will teach are backyard pools, waterfronts, recreational or community pools, and boats and watercraft safety. Sessions run 30 minutes. The program is free, but registration is required because spots are limited. The program is offered at all three YMCA of Greenville branches with access to pools: Eastside Family YMCA (Taylors), Caine Halter YMCA (Downtown), and Y Program Center (Simpsonville). Register online, by calling 864-412-0288 or dropping by a YMCA location.
The Upstate is home to numerous trampoline parks and indoor bounce playgrounds with extended hours during spring break. In Mauldin, Gravitopia Trampoline Arena is open daily. Big Air Spartanburg and SkyZone Greenville are also open daily. Pump It Up in Greenville has open jump events throughout the week. Frankie’s Fun Parkin Greenville offers miniature golf, go-karting, laser tag, an arcade and more. There's also Greenville Gem Mine on North Main Street in Greenville, where kids can mine for gems indoors.
The Upstate is home to many state parks and natural sites perfect for family outings. Table Rock State Park near Pickens is open 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays. Admission is $5 for adults, $3.25 for seniors and $3 for children ages 6-15 with ages 5 and under admitted free. Croft State Park in Spartanburg is open 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. daily. Admission is $2 for adults, $1.25 for seniors; and free for ages 15 and younger are admitted free. Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville is open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Admission is $5 for adults, $3.25 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6-15; and free for children 5 and younger. This admission includes access to our designated swimming area when it is open.
Visit the zoo
Have you been to the Greenville Zoo lately? Greenville’s popular Masai giraffes are on display, along with a baby siamang born in January. 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 greenvillezoo.com.
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 www.hatchergarden.org.
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 lakeconesteenaturepark.com.
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 greenvillerec.com; Spartanburg County at spartanburgparks.org; and Pickens County at www.visitpickenscounty.com/nature-outdoors/ parks-gardens.
Here are a few 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 or skateboarding
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 greenvillerec.com/ swamprabbit.
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 its website.
In Spartanburg, the Hot Spot Skate Park, located at 339 Union Street, is a popular facility for skateboarders. The first public concrete skate park in the state, it includes street-style features such as steps, rails, boxes, ramps and ledges and more.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.shoelessjoejackson.org.
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 details, visit www.visitspartanburg.com/spartanburg-business-directory/hub-city-railroad-museum.
Take a day trip
Lanier Islands in Buford, Georgia, will play host to a weeklong Spring Break Celebration April 1 – 9 set on and around the half-mile stretch of white sandy beach that lines the southern shore of Lake Lanier in Northeast Georgia. Festivities will include games and inflatables on the beach, opportunities to rent kayaks and paddleboards to explore the lake, a DJ spinning tunes, nautical fare at Sunset Cove Beach Café & Club, appearances by the Islands’ mascot Bucky the Beaver and more. Beach access is free to all visitors of the Islands April 1-7, but there is an admission fee of $15 per person on April 8-9. Children 6 and younger will be admitted to the Beach at Sunset Cove for free throughout April 1-9. Learn more about the Lanier Islands at www.lanierislands.com.