Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Charleston Currents feature - January 2014

Upstate getaways promise lots of family fun
By LEIGH SABINE, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents
JAN. 20, 2014 -- If you're looking to get away for a weekend with small children and want to avoid the cost and added strain of flying, look no further than the Upstate for an fun family adventure.
We're lucky to live in a state that has a little bit of everything; the marsh, the beaches, the mountains, the swamps. Recently as my family hiked in the mountains, my son said, "Are we really still in South Carolina?" as he was unaccustomed to the new terrain.
Exploring your state gives your children a deeper personal investment in the place they call home and provides a great way for very young children to learn that the world is in fact more diverse than their immediate neighborhood. Here are a few favorite destinations we have discovered in the upstate that are worth investigating:
  • Table Rock State Park: Located just north of Greenville on the border of North Carolina, this state park is stunning and a treat to camp in. The state park cabins allow you to stay just at the foot of great hiking and beautiful waterfalls. This is a great way to inspire small children to think big and learn to be proficient hikers. This blog post highlights the value of staying on the park premises. 
  • Lake Wateree State Park: This park has everything to entertain small children for a weekend in a beautiful setting. There are a few gentle walks, lakes to fish and a few playgrounds shaded in the pine trees. Located in Winnsboro, this lake is a short two-hour drive from Charleston. View highlights here.
  • Jones Gap State Park: Marietta, S.C., is home to this state park which is one of my favorites in a long line of state parks that lie on the border of North and South Carolina. Choose from one of many day hikes here that are appropriate for children of all ages. Waterfalls abound in this part of the state and are always a pleasing sight for small hikers to stumble upon. This is also a prime spot for trout of the Southern Appalachia. Details here.
  • Landsford Canals: Located on the Catawba River outside Rock Hill, this park is a great pick to add to your spring calendar. Witness the bloom of the famed spider lilies that scatter the river here in May and June and take an easy, flat two-mile hike along the canals.Highlights here.
  • Greenville Scavenger Hunt: Called "Mice on Main," this scavenger hunt for kids is delightful for grandparents as well. Wander along Main Street and discover the hidden places for these little mice sculptures, then head into Mast General Store to purchase your own bronze mouse as a memento of the adventure. For tips on the whereabouts of the various mice characters, see this post.
  • Biking Greenville: Did you know you can ride on a bike path that runs all the way from Greenville to Travelers Rest? While I don't recommend the entire long journey for little legs, this amazing trek is part of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. There are plenty of places to rent bikes and helmets in Greenville right off the trail but you are welcome to take your own bikes along, as we do. Be sure to pack a bike lock that wraps around all of your bikes and a tire pump as there are long stretches of trail that can be solitary. With small children, hug the trail right around the downtown area for short rides and check this list of places to stop and refuel.
Get out and see more of the state with one of these family adventures. For more information about safely transporting bikes on your trip, visit this link. Enjoy your trip and email Pluff Mud Kids at pluffmudkids@gmail.com if you'd like to share a favorite discovery!

Writer Leigh Sabine of Mount Pleasant offers a monthly look at fun activities for Lowcountry kids. It's based on her great blog, PluffMudKids. Check it out. (Photos by Leigh Sabine.)

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