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Hidden Gem Getaways (Without Going too Far)


That time is almost upon us – summer and all its glory. While things are looking better than they did last year at this time, we’re still not quite back to normal. Families still want to get away and have fun experiences, so why not give these hidden gems a try? They are perfect for a local day trip or find a fun place to stay and make a weekend of it.

Hidden gems are all over our beautiful area. Gather up the family and enjoy this time together before “normal” gets back to normal. 

The Holmes Educational State Forest in Hendersonville, North Carolina is the perfect spot for a family with adventurous kids. All the trails are well marked so families with little ones needn’t worry about their kids going rogue, but there are more strenuous trails for those looking for a challenge. Best known for the many “talking trees” along the trails, children of all ages love the educational and fun magic of the forest. There are also self-guided activities for people of all ages to enjoy. When you’re done in the forest, explore downtown Hendersonville and all it has to offer.

The forest is open weekdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. It’s located at 1299 Crab Creek Road, Hendersonville, N.C. Visit ncesf.org/holmes.html for the latest information. 

Clemson may be a college town, but it’s not just a college town – in the summer months, it’s a perfect spot for families to enjoy. The university campus is a beautiful thing to explore with outdoor art exhibits, historic buildings and playing frisbee on Bowman Field. It’s also home to the South Carolina Botanical Garden complete with trails and gorgeous foliage. Take a walk along College Avenue for some fun window shopping for all things Tigers and stop at one of the many local restaurants for lunch. At the end of the downtown area is the Jaycee Park playground and the Abernathy waterfront park, a perfect way to end a relaxing day.

Clemson is located at the southern tip of Pickens County, right along US Hwy 123. Visit clemsonareachamber.org/tourism to get more information on COVID restrictions and town happenings.

The Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway – or as locals call it, Highway 11 – is a 118-mile-long highway that stretches from Gaffney down into the mountains of Oconee County. If you want to see all the beauty the Upstate has to offer, this drive is a must-do. Of course, the Gaffney Peach is a huge draw, but there are also tons of roadside farmers’ stands that are literally ripe for the picking. As your family travels towards the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, detour to see Campbell’s Covered Bridge and Poinsett Bridge.

Stop at Wildcat Wayside Falls in Cleveland, a 20-foot waterfall with a clear, shallow wading area at the bottom. It’s literally right next to the highway with a pull-off area that is a popular stop in the warmer months. Finish with a trek into Oconee County to visit the Oconee Station Historic Site or the Walhalla Fish Hatchery. No matter what stretch of Highway 11 you take, you can’t go wrong.

With so much to see and do along The Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway, check out scenic11.com to get the best information on the area you’ll be visiting.