Looking for a town to explore on a day trip? Just an hour from the Upstate is Gastonia, NC. We discovered this town is full of things to do. There is a fabulous museum, parks, and some of the best milkshakes in the country according to USA Today. Since Gastonia is so close to the Upstate it makes a great day trip!
Have you visited the Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium? Located in Gastonia, North Carolina the museum makes a great day trip. Expect to have a spectacular time exploring exhibits on dinosaurs, minerals, animals, critters, nature and so much more! If you haven’t been yet, you should definitely add it to your museum bucket list.
Thank you to the Schiele Museum for providing admission to the museum so we could bring this review to our readers! The words and opinions in this article are those of the writer.
Stepp’s Apple Orchard is a family-owned orchard in Hendersonville, NC. They have u-pick apples, lots of fun family activities on weekends, and pretty amazing cider and pumpkin donuts.
Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard is the very first u-pick apple orchard in Henderson County and has been in operation for more than 50 years. They know what they’re doing, and we had to go check it out for ourselves. Honestly, I went for the pumpkin donuts. I love apple cider donuts, but pumpkin? Yes, please!
One thing that stood out to me immediately was just how super nice and helpful everyone at the orchard was. They have u-pick apples, pre-picked apples, a big store that sells homemade soap, t-shirts, and honey, a bakery, corn maze, pumpkin patch, jumping pillow, apple canon, and wagon ride. Some of these activities are only available on weekends, which I’ll tell you about in this review.
Are you looking for a day trip that is a little more spooky? These Halloween trips are worth the drive! You will find special Halloween-themed events in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee that will make for a memorable time with your family. These events go all out with spectacular light shows, costumed characters, and out-of-this-world Halloween displays. Let us know how you’re celebrating Halloween in 2023 in the comments.
We found some great day trip activities to celebrate Halloween this year. They are not only entertaining, but they will get you exploring a new town. These festivities make a great day trip or a weekend getaway! We’ve compiled extra info if you decide to make a trip of it!
Halloween Trips to Georgia
If you’re thinking of making a weekend out of Halloween this year, check out our Guide to Travel in Georgia for ideas to fill out your itinerary.
Stone Mountain Pumpkin Festival
1000 Robert E Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain GA
The Glow By Night Experience is a journey through a storybook tale that comes to life with thousands of glowing lights, massive carved pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, bubbles, fog, and plenty of kid-friendly, glow-in-the-dark adventures after dark.
September 16th- October 29th, 2023
Adult (ages 12+) $39.95 / Child (ages 3-11) $34.95 / Children two years and younger are free.
In addition to all of the fun Six Flags Over Georgia normally offers, guests will experience Halloween-themed extras. Live character interactions and shows top off the list of themed things you can expect. Kids Boo Fest is spooky fun for all ages, including trick-or-treating, family-friendly rides, and other fall activities.
September 16th – October 29th, 2023 (select dates)
Augusta is hosting its annual historic cemetery tour. Notable “spirits” come to life! This ghost tours aims to increase awareness of Augusta’s past by connecting current residents and visitors with the people and places that still influence us today through their contributions to Augusta’s cultural legacy.
Select Dates September 15th through October 29th, 2023
SCarowinds tickets begin at $45, Great Pumpkin Fest tickets are general admission tickets
SCarowinds is one of the Carolina’s biggest Halloween events and a top Halloween themed destination, happening September 15, 2023 through October 29th, 2023. The theme park has evening events that contain haunted mazes, scare zones, live entertainment, and more. It is a scary event, not for small children!
The Great Pumpkin Fest
Carowinds’ fall and Halloween event for families, the Great Pumpkin Fest has all the regular Carowinds fun, plus great fall and festive Halloween activities with just a tiny bit of spooky. It’s happening Saturdays and Sundays September 16th, 2023 through October 29th, 2023. Enjoy a haybale maze, craft corner, soapy mummy pit, trick-or-treat trail, festive games, live entertainment, and lots more!
Hop aboard for a train ride to the pumpkin patch! When guests arrive at the patch, kids will choose a pumpkin and decorate it with provided supplies. There will also be a maze and games at the patch to enjoy for about 40 minutes before heading back aboard the train to return to the museum.
October 21st and October 28th, 2023
Purchase tickets in advance. They range from $17 to $120 depending on the seating class purchased.
SC State Museum- Dark History Tours
Visit the SC State Museum for a special kind of history tour full of spooky legendary tales from South Carolina’s history. Tours are self-guided and are available every day, or you can attend an educator-led guided tour any Saturday in October at 10:30 am or 2:30 pm. These tours are included in regular museum admission.
Thanks to Jackson County, North Carolina for hosting us and providing the opportunity to take the boat tour.
There’s something really special about mountain lakes. Maybe it’s that crisp mountain air, the ancient hills that loom in the distance, that clear water – whatever it is, that’s where I want to be. So when I had the opportunity to take a boat tour with Captain Mark and his scenic boat cruise on Lake Glenville – the only boat tour company that operates on the lake – I was all in. We got to see waterfalls, a bald eagle nest, and enjoy the beauty of the lake. Plus, it’s only a short drive from Cashiers, so you can add it to your itinerary when visiting the area.
Have you heard of iFly in Concord, NC? If you’re looking for something totally amazing to do with your family, and you’ve ever thought that it would be cool to fly (not in a plane) but like a bird, this is a place you’ll want to check out.
Your flight dreams can be a reality now at iFLY Indoor Skydiving in Concord, NC. Not only will we give you all the details, but we tried it ourselves so we also have the inside scoop on what to expect and how to prepare your kids.
Thank you to Explore Cabarrus for hosting us and iFLY for providing us with this experience.
What is iFLY?
iFLY is an indoor skydiving simulator where you enter a wind tunnel that is strong enough to allow you to float in the air. In fact, experienced flyers can even perform tricks such as flips.
How does iFLY work?
To fly, you reserve a time online and sign a waiver. Kids 3 and up with a parent are allowed to fly, but it may be a little frightening for some children (more on that later).
Once it’s your turn, you will be suited up in a protective suit, protective eyewear, and helmet. Be prepared to remove all jewelry (including rings) and anything that could come off of your person. You also will not be able to take your phone or camera into the wind tunnel area (this is a safety precaution).
Your flight instructor will then go over basic safety instructions with you and you will watch a short orientation video followed by a review with your instructor. This time mostly focuses on teaching you how to position your body and what hand signals your instructor will use to communicate with you.
After you are ready, you will be escorted into the wind tunnel lobby. This area is sealed off for safety and has a bench where your group can watch the flight. Your instructor will then demonstrate how to enter and exit the tunnel.
Your instructor then allows you to go in the tunnel one at a time. He will hold you and keep you in position until you are steady enough to float. The first flight is often focused on helping you figure out how to position your body. Many people fly more than once in order to gain confidence and the ability to move around in the chamber.
We each had one minute in the tunnel. It did seem really short but it was a neat experience.
Will kids enjoy iFLY?
Our children were 11 and 8. Our 11-year-old really enjoyed it but our 8-year-old became frightened during the experience. The instructor noticed that she was distressed and removed her from the tunnel.
The air does blow extremely hard, and my 8-year-old felt like she couldn’t breathe. It was just the sensation of the air but it was frightening for her.
The instructor did convince her to go back in after our family had finished. They turned down the fans so that she could walk around the chamber and so that she wasn’t frightened. I was glad that they did this so that she could finish with a positive experience.
Pricing and Location
iFLY is not cheap, but it is an interesting and unique experience and we were impressed by the knowledge and care of the staff.
We only had one flight each, and I would recommend purchasing at least two so that you have a chance to get familiar with the process first and then can utilize those skills.
Looking for a mountain vacation rental to witness the colors of fall pour over the mountainside? It may seem early, but the time is NOW to book vacation rentals in the mountains for the fall season. The mountains of North Carolina are famous for their dramatic shows during fall when the leaves change. There’s no better way to enjoy it, than with a hot cup of coffee in your jammies at sunrise. Here’s a list of vacation rentals where you can enjoy the fall colors.
Local mom Bethany Winston reviews the Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, and Preserves in Charlotte, North Carolina. This free day-trip destination includes a treehouse-themed playground, hiking, and an indoor nature center.
Recently, my family discovered an amazing nature center and preserve about 6 miles northwest of downtown Charlotte: Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve located inside the large Reedy Creek Park. This county-owned park was completely free, including parking. While there might not be an admission fee, don’t make the mistake of thinking that means that this nature center is not worth the drive from Greenville.
Find a place to stay near Reedy Creek. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.
Family-Friendly Things to Do at Reedy Creek Park
Reedy Creek Park has three playgrounds that we discovered. The first playground was on our left almost immediately after entering the park. It’s a large playground with plenty of slides, ramps, and ladders. The play structures were not particularly high and I think even smaller children would enjoy it as long as they are comfortable climbing short ladders.
There was little shade on this playground and it was hot on the day we visited so my kids chose not to play long, but it was a large, interesting playground and I’m sure would have been a completely different experience if we had visited earlier in the day or during a cooler season of the year.
Adjacent to the playground, we also found basketball courts and picnic shelters. There was also a rather large dog park on our right before we reached the playground.
Just a little bit farther up the road, we found the parking lot for the Reedy Creek Nature Center. This area of the park was wooded (quite a relief due to the heat).
Outside the Reedy Creek Nature Center, we found a second playground that felt like a hidden magical world tucked away in the forest. The playground included natural-themed play structures such as artificial tree stumps and the main focal structure was a treehouse complete with a bridge. My kids played for a good hour on this playground and probably would have been content to spend the day on it.
Later in our day, we drove up to the third playground which was beside a lake. This “playground” only had a couple of swings and a volleyball court, but it was an easy walk down to a beautiful lake with a fishing pier. We saw several families picnicking and fishing in this area.
Reedy Creek Nature Center
The Nature Center was small but it was free and even better air-conditioned. Inside the Nature Center, our children were able to look at animals and small science displays. We also found a quiet area for pretend play where our children could dress up as rangers and play in a pretend campsite.
The room had a couple of rocking chairs for adults too. It was very quiet on the day we visited and we had the spot to ourselves. Our kids had a lot of fun and didn’t want to leave even after a long playtime.
Hiking at Reedy Creek Park
After a long day of fun (we had already spent hours at Discovery Place in downtown Charlotte) our kids were too tired and hot for us to dare attempt sustained hiking, but the map showed several easy hikes on the preserve that we hope to try on another day.
One hike lead to a historic site and was only an hour’s walk. The grounds also had butterfly gardens, bird feeders, streams, vast wooded areas, and lakes. We were able to obtain a free map from the Nature Center so that we could still take a short stroll. The trail system was clearly marked and it was possible to take both short walks along the trails and longer hikes.
Tips for Your Visit
If you visit on a hot day, be sure to pack sunscreen and bug spray. While the preserve does have a lot of shade, there are several open spaces with little shade.
Plan plenty of time if you want to get the full experience. The preserve alone is over 900 acres of woods. Fortunately, the park does have a decent road system and multiple parking lots, so you can drive to the parts of the park in this article if you are short on time or if your children are tired (like us).
Don’t forget your fishing supplies. The park has two fishing lakes. Visitors over 16 must have a fishing license.
The Nature Center has a gift shop for those who would like to purchase souvenirs.
Bikers will find plenty of bike-friendly areas but are limited to the gravel trails and paved roads.
Hummingbird Festival at Reedy Creek Nature Center
Each August, a hummingbird festival is held at the Reedy Creek Nature Center. It includes bird banding, science experiments, bird hikes, art vendors, and storytelling sessions. The events are held throughout the week, and some require pre-registration. The front desk at the Nature Center recommended coming early to see the most hummingbirds.
About the Reedy Creek Nature Center & Preserve
Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, and Preserve 2900 Rocky River Rd. Charlotte, NC 980.314.1119
Are you interested in learning about Congaree National Park events? Many people don’t know that our national and state parks have pretty cool events all throughout the year. One of them – the Owl Prowl – is quite the adventure at Congaree National Park in Columbia, SC and Kristina has all the details.
The more I’ve visited local, state, and national parks, the more I’ve learned about the Ranger programs offered, and wow, every single one I’ve been to or done with my kids has been awesome. When I saw an event for the Ranger-guided Owl Prowl in Congaree National Park in Columbia, SC, I immediately signed up.
Planning a trip for apple picking at Jeter Mountain Farm? This gorgeous farm hosts weddings, has seasonal u-pick flowers, fruits, and more plus an enormous indoor play area.
The views from the parking lot of Jeter Mountain Farm are sweeping shots of the nearby mountains, open space, and a beautiful building that seems to fit right into the landscape with its earthy hues of brown and green. The farm is a welcoming spot for families that has nearly two dozen varieties of apples, cider, live music, a wagon ride, and lots of other activities to enjoy.