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Day trip: Lake Lure has hiking, mountains and more

Chimney Rock State Park is about a 90 minute drive from Greenville, a 60 minute drive from Spartanburg and a good healthy walk up many flights of stairs.

It’s worth the effort to see an amazing view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is an elevator that goes almost all the way to the top, if you don’t want to do the stairs, but it was out of order the day we were there.

Chimney Rock Park was operated as a private park until 2007, when the state of North Carolina purchased it. Since that time, Chimney Rock Park became part of Hickory Nut Gorge State Park, which was then renamed Chimney Rock State Park.

This is one of those adventures that I was going to recommend for mostly older kids, but as we were climbing up what seemed like 12 million steps to the top (OK, it’s really only 500), we passed a 2½ year old toddler who was holding on to his dad’s hand, carefully navigating each step. He and his family reached the top as we were enjoying the view, and his mom said he climbed every step mostly on his own, so don’t discount the determination of a half-sized hiker to make it to the top.

There are several other offshoots to explore on your way up, and plenty of other trails to hike nearby if you’re looking for a day-long hiking adventure.

Explore nearby Lake Lure

Head out of the park, and hang a right on Main Street.

Just around the bend, you’ll see the a clean, family-friendly beach area with access to Lake Lure, and a water park with water slides and water games. There are restrooms and a changing area, and lifeguards on duty.

Catch a bite

You’ll find good ol’ American fare, and a river view to boot, at RiverWatch Waterfront Bar & Grill.

My 13-year old was over the moon with the bacon cheese fries. The burgers are huge — two kids could easily split one. The salad options are less than exciting, but beer-battered sweet onion rings made up for it. If there’s room, try to get a table on the patio, so you can enjoy the view of the river.

If you go…

Chimney Rock State Park

  • 431 Main St., Chimney Rock, NC 28720 
  • 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily
  • $15; ages 5 –7 $7; 4 and younger free

Beach at Lake Lure & Water Works

  • 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Memorial Day – Labor Day
  • $8; ages 4 – 12 $6; 3 and younger free

RiverWatch Waterfront Bar & Grill

  • 379 Mail St., Chimney Rock, NC 28720

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Upstate moms and dads: Looking for things to do with kids in Greenville or Spartanburg? You’ll find lots of ideas at