Cheap (End of) Summer Guide
“The most beautiful things are not associated with money, they are memories and moments.”
I’m always seeking affordable adventures for my flock. Entertaining a teen, tween, and toddler, all boys, all day, five days a week is quite a challenge. How fortunate we are to live in the Upstate, full of free (or really, really cheap) fun!
Readers are always asking me to recommend activities they can enjoy with their children. I’m here to pass along suggestions for how to “do” Greenville on a dime. We’ve got a few weeks of summer left, let’s go out with a splash!
Downtown Greenville/Falls Park – We’re huge fans of downtown. Contrary to popular belief, parking is never a problem. Much like churches in the south, there’s a garage on every corner (not literally, but it seems like it). The first hour is free in city garages with more time at reasonable rates. The trolley is a great way to get from one end of Main to the other. Download the app to see routes and times. Children of all ages love the Mice on Main. Maps with clues are FREE at the Hyatt, where you’ll want to begin your scavenger hunt. If you don’t mind spending a little money, Mast General has books and even tiny mice to add to your fun. Falls Park is a great place to spend hours on a sunny day.
Downtown Greenville continued…
If you’re into hiking, you can walk on paths along the river, or just sit in a swing. Take a picnic and sip sweet tea as you watch the kids roll down the hill. This strange exercise may look harmless, but be sure to keep a close watch on very young ones. They tend to roll very fast with little to no control. It’s not over when they get to the bottom. Walking can be troublesome, especially if their RPMs were high. We learned this the hard way! COST: FREE
Linky Stone Park – Just off Main, take your favorite books to read in the Secret Garden or Hansel and Gretel’s Cottage. You’ll find many storybook friends along the walking path in the garden. Check out the geology wall made of rocks and minerals from around the upstate. P.S., there’s also tons of shade, which is a plus in this ridiculous heat. COST: FREE
McPhearson Park – A place with something for everyone. This public park features basketball and tennis courts, picnic table shelters, and playground equipment. The main attraction is a newly refurbished eighteen hole miniature golf course. Just remember to bring your own clubs and golf balls. COST: FREE
Unity Park . The area is immaculate, perfect for picnics, play, and everything in between. Surely you’ve been by now. It’s even better now that they’ve added shade. The big splash pad is everything in the South Carolina heat and humidity. COST: FREE
Furman University – One of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Stroll around the lake where littles will love feeding the ducks. Don’t leave without a picture of the Bell Tower. COST: FREE
TReehouse Cafe & Studio – Artist Kristen Coward created a springboard for children of all ages to dive into their artistic sides. COST: $20 and under (we’ve done it for under $10 – it depends on what you choose to buy!)
Lake Conestee Nature Preserve – I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Our boys ask to visit these trails all the time! Not only are they educational, but absolutely breathtaking. Walking through the woods transports you into the pages of a fairy tale. In addition to the many hiking trails, families can enjoy two playgrounds, a VERY large grassy area, covered picnic shelters, and clean bathrooms. COST: FREE
Runway Park – If we had to issue an award for uniqueness, it would have to go to this park. Not only do your kids get to play on cool equipment, but it’s practically sitting on an airplane runway (hence the name). We’ve always loved this spot for that reason. An open design makes it possible for adults to sit just about anywhere without losing sight of the kids. COST: FREE
Fernwood Nature Trail – I recently discovered this little pocket inside Cleveland Park. Once upon a time, it was a horse trail. The loop is less than half a mile and super easy for your youngest (or oldest) family member or friend. There is a very small creek that runs through the middle – you may wanna throw an extra pair of shoes (and clothes if your kids are anything like ours) in the back pack for this “hike.” Pro tip: the city periodically clears it, but the woods are a hot bed for poison ivy. If you stay on the trail, you’ll be fine! COST: FREE
Cleveland Park – This park needs no introduction. While you’re here, go ahead and stroll through the Greenville Zoo! We’re huge fans! COST: $12 and under
Long Shoals Wayside Park – Allow me to introduce you to our No. 1 favorite summer swimming hole. Do not blink as you drive down scenic Highway 11 in Pickens or you’ll miss it! Think natural waterslide! COST: FREE
Wildcat Falls – This two-teared waterfall is the perfect stop on Highway 11. Literally on the side of the highway. There is a swimming hole and a short, easy hike through the woods. My only complaint is parking. It may be hidden, but it’s no secret! COST: FREE
SC Botanical Gardens – A short drive to Clemson, these gardens are breathtaking. There’s even a geology museum. As a homeschool mom and teacher, you cannot beat this destination from an educational perspective. The grounds are full of South Carolina history. COST: FREE
SC State Parks – We are HUGE fans of the SC State Parks, and Greenville is home to three (more within an hour’s drive). COST: $10 and under. Grab your Park Passport here, it’s worth every penny!
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, Big Air, and the Upcountry History Museum are always on our list! Especially if you’re craving air conditioned activities.
This is in no way a complete list of affordable fun, but it’s a great place to start. We hope you’ve had a fun summer so far! Be sure to tag us on your adventures!
Want more to do around the Upstate? Check out 360’s Events Calendar here.