Travel in My Town – Greenville, South Carolina

Please welcome Farrah from The Three Under. She is sharing her favorite family friendly activities in Greenville, South Carolina. I have driven through Greenville several times but have never spent any time there. I know my kids would love to visit some of these activities. Be sure to visit Farrah’s site where she talks about bringing up her kids and everything in between.

I am really enjoying my new Travel in My Town series because I am learning more about places that have long since been on my list to visit and adding some that weren’t previously on my radar.  Do you want to share your favorite things about your town?  Send me an email at jennifer at twokidsandamap dot com.

Welcome y’all! Today I am thrilled to invite you to check out Greenville, South Carolina. We’re about 2 hours northeast of Atlanta, two hours southwest of Charlotte, and two hours south of Asheville, NC. Pretty much in the middle of an awesome area with fabulous (and I am not exaggerating) weather year round. The city of Greenville itself has gone through a remarkable transformation over the past 10 years- and is now one of the fastest growing cities in the country. It’s gorgeous, friendly, and has so much to do I don’t have enough time to tell you about it all.

Downtown-Main Street area

For starters- Downtown Greenville has completely revitalized their downtown area. It’s a very pedestrian friendly, tree covered walk from start to finish down Main Street up to the West End. There’s great shopping,  hotels, restaurants, cafes and the stunning Falls Park. As a family, we love to park in one of the numerous garages right off of the main drag and just take our time strolling and window shopping. My preschooler always wants to stop at O.P. Taylor’s charming toy store right in the heart of downtown. One of our frequent stops along the street is to hunt for the Mice On Main– a series of life sized-bronze mice hidden along your path as a tribute to the story Goodnight Moon,  always a kid favorite. A few favorite restaurants are The Cazbah, Sobys, Sassafras and those along the sidewalks that are all kid (and dog) friendly.

Greenville Zoo

Another attraction in the heart of downtown Greenville is our wonderful zoo. It’s not going to be the largest zoo that you ever see in your life, but by far and away it’s a terrific (and affordable) zoo to walk through with your children whenever the whim may strike. Don’t let the size fool you- you’ll see beautiful habitats set up for the lions, giraffes, elephants and alligators. With plenty of shady trees and a generally mild-to moderate crowd to contend with, it’s a refreshing change to some of the larger zoos in big cities. Admission is $7.75 for adults, $4.50 for 3-15years and under 3 is free.

Children’s Museum

Opposite from the zoo downtown is the three year old Children’s Museum of the Upstate. I have been to a few different children’s museums over the years- but it’s clear that I’m spoiled rotten with ours. It’s touted as the 7th largest in the country and I love it. There are so many different hands on attractions for your little ones to encounter- you had better plan on spending the most part of an afternoon enjoying it. My oldest is now 3 and in my opinion he is getting more out of it than ever before. There is an area specifically for younger toddlers- but you’ll enjoy it the older you kids may be. A littler pricier for admission, but worth it: Adults $10, children 2-12 $9 and under 2 is free. They do have member prices as well.

Greenville Drive Baseball

We miss having a major league baseball team locally- but the Greenville Drive does not disappoint. As the minor league team for the Boston Red Sox, they have a mini version of Fenway Park to call home. It’s clean, friendly, and much less expensive than a major league game! There’s also a small play area just for kids to burn off some energy. A family of 4 can purchase tickets and snacks for under $40.  Let’s see you do that at Fenway! Ticket prices vary but range $5-$9 each, depending on your seats, and kids under  2 are free.

These are just a few of the gems hidden in the downtown area of Greenville. There are several parks, gardens, water areas, play places and more waiting to be discovered. It’s so nice to be in a place that values time together as a family and Greenville has surely earned a place in my heart for providing so much for children. The many outdoor festivals that are held throughout the year celebrate the city and keep us coming year after year. You cannot go wrong with a trip downtown Greenville- easy to navigate and find some parking (imagine that!) it’s unintimidating to be sure.

 

Farrah is the overcommitted mom of 3 boys under 3 trying to get a word in edgewise at her blog, The Three Under, when she can.

 

Three Days in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with Your Family

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina consistently ends up on top family vacation hot spot lists every year and for good reason.  The hotels and attractions are reasonably priced and there seems to be limitless activities that children of all ages can appreciate.  The one downside to a visit to Myrtle Beach is that although everything seemed reasonably priced for the most part, you will pay for everything.  Besides a visit to the beach, we didn’t find too many other free activities.  Our ticket admissions and meals added up very quickly.

I have to admit that this trip was not my finest travel moment.  I think that is why I haven’t been able to bring myself to post about any of the fun we had and we did have fun.  This trip was a week-long road trip that I took with my children by myself.  This was the first time I had traveled this long by myself with the kids when we had no extra help in the form of grandparents, my husband, or friends.  We went from Pensacola, Florida to Cashiers, North Carolina to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and then back to Pensacola, totaling about 1400 miles.  I would consider the whole trip a success but by the time we made it to Myrtle Beach we just wanted to hang out in our beautiful condo unit or by the pool at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations South Beach Resort.  We did finally pull ourselves out of our beach chairs to do a little bit of exploring.  This was our three day itinerary.

Day One – A Round of Mini Golf and Lounging by the Beach and Pool

We arrived at the Holiday Inn Club Vacation South Beach Resort, got checked in, explored the property and spent the rest of the day at the pool and the beach.  There are many different types of properties to choose from in Myrtle Beach.  I highly recommend the South Beach Resort because you get both condo and hotel amenities in your room.  The only downside is that it is not directly on the beach but that wasn’t an issue since the South Beach Resort offers a shuttle service.

After living on the Gulf Coast for the past fifteen years, we are spoiled when it comes to beaches.  As my kids ran out on the sand excitedly, they were shocked at the dirty, rocky sand!  I have to admit we weren’t fans so we only played at the beach for about thirty minutes before returning to the pool.  That being said, if you are visiting from a landlocked area you might want to spend more of your vacation sitting on the beach.

Myrtle Beach has more miniature golf places than I have ever seen in one place.  Well, it sure seems like it!  We spent the late afternoon playing a round of miniature golf at Jurassic Golf, where we were surrounded by water, fog, and dinosaurs!

Day Two – Alligators, Fish and Shopping

We devoted day two to exploring some of the more touristy areas of Myrtle Beach.  Spend the morning wandering around Barefoot Landing where you will find a number of shops, attractions, and restaurants.  The kids love walking across the boardwalks and spying turtles and fish.  Alligator Adventure, one of the world’s largest reptile zoos, is located at Barefoot Landing.  Although adult tickets are $17.99 (children’s tickets are $11.99), the second day within seven days of your first visit is free.  If you love alligators, bats, komodo dragons, and more, it is probably worth a visit.

After Barefoot Landing, we headed to Broadway at the Beach to spend the rest of the day.  We started our visit at Ripley’s Aquarium.  We love aquariums and if there is one available we make sure to visit.  I have to admit that I was disappointed in the size of the aquarium (especially for the cost of the tickets).  The exhibits are wonderful and there are several hands-on interactive areas but the aquarium is very small.  We received tickets courtesy of our property stay but if we had paid for the visit ourselves, it would have cost me more than I would have been willing to spend.  It is only $3.99 for children ages 2-5 so if your children are young that could help offset the cost but adult tickets are $21.99 and children ages 5 and up are $10.99.  A pricey attraction considering we were only there for about an hour.

We spent much of our Broadway at the Beach time in Pavillion Nostalgia Park, an area made up of different rides perfect for kids!  There is also a Wonderworks, a NASCAR Speedway, a water park, a theater and so much more.  Check the schedule before you go because there are often different events like fireworks and festivals.  Though my kids loved the rides in Pavillion Nostalgia Park, they especially loved walking the boardwalks and feeding the fish (albeit scary looking ones that attacked each other for the fish food…this is probably why they loved it so much!).

Day Three – State Parks and Beautiful Gardens

On day three, we checked out a garden and two state parks.  You would think that my kids would have enjoyed the rides, fancy candy shops and aquarium the most, but this was their favorite day of the trip.  We spent the morning wandering up and down the beach at Myrtle Beach State Park.  We also walked down the pier to see if we could spy anything in the water (we didn’t).  When the kids were ready for a break, we had a picnic lunch in the car as we drove down the road to Huntington Beach State Park.

We explored, Atalaya, the home of noted sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington.  It cost us a dollar per person to see the home.  We only spent about fifteen minutes exploring the home which is just a shadow of what it used to be because the kids were ready to head to the beach for lunch and some play time.  After lunch we drove just a few minutes to Brookgreen Gardens.

When we checked into our hotel, the concierge recommended Brookgreen Gardens if we wanted to get off of the tourist path.  If you ask my kids what their favorite part of the trip to Myrtle Beach was, they would say Brookgreen Gardens.  The gardens are absolutely beautiful, full of blooming flowers and sculptures.  There is also a zoo located at the gardens where visitors can learn more about animals that are native to the Carolina area.  Begin your visit at the Visitor’s Center to pick up Activity Booklets for the children.  The booklets are full of questions that the kids can answer as you all wander the gardens.  Once the booklets are finished, take them back to the Visitor’s Center for a small prize.

Overall, our visit to Myrtle Beach was a good one.  A pricey one, but a good one.  Over the next month or so, I will post more in depth write-ups about each of the places we visited.

Impromptu Photo Shoot at Brookgreen Gardens

You would never guess their mother has a camera permamently wrapped around her neck, would you?

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I snapped this picture at the Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on our last vacation.  Some of my favorite living room wall worthy pictures of my kids were taken on our vacations!

Thank you to Delicious Baby for hosting Photo Friday.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations South Beach Resort – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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The Holiday Inn Club Vacations South Beach Resort is a nice resort away from the skyscraper hotels that line the coastline of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  We are big fans of the Holiday Inn brand.  The hotels are reasonably priced, our rooms are always clean, and we have never had any issues so when I was offered the chance to visit the Holiday Inn Club Vacations South Beach Resort I jumped at the chance.  I had never been to Myrtle Beach and I was excited to check out these Club Vacation properties, the newest additions to the Holiday Inn brand family. 

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We quickly checked in and headed to our villa and started exploring.  The South Beach Resort has a variety of one-, two-, and three-bedroom luxury villas.  We stayed in a two bedroom villa that had a washer and dryer, two bathrooms, a living room area, and a full kitchen. 

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Our room overlooked the lagoon pool and it is my children’s opinion that this was the best pool out of the three that we visited.  I liked that the pool had a zero entry and even when it got crowded, it didn’t seem like it was.  Captain Cliff’s Lagoon Bar, where you can purchase a number of drinks, is located here.  There is a very small lazy river and several hot tubs, too.  I liked that there was a stack of pool towels in our room ready for use. 

southbeachresort

There are activities for all ages going on each day at the resort.  Activities range from flip-flop decorating, water aerobics, princess parties, scavenger hunts, and ice cream sundaes.  A lot of activities are complimentary and the ones that have an additional fee are reasonably priced.  When you check in, you will receive a schedule with the listed events.  Every Thursday, they celebrate “Southern Nights” with a Southern BBQ, music and games.  It had to be postponed due to weather, but we attended the next day and had a delicious meal and lots of fun splashing in the water.  There are also off site activities available for an additional fee.  They take groups to the La Bell Amie Vineyard for a tour and tasting.  There are casino cruises and nights out at local restaurants.

When you are ready to leave the resort and explore Myrtle Beach, stop by the Concierge Desk to get information, maps, and discounted tickets.  The concierge was helpful in pointing out some attractions that were off the tourist path and recommended a few kid friendly activities that were a hit with my family.

Because we had the full kitchen, we decided to eat many of our meals in the room.  We ordered pizza and wings the first night from a pizza place that was recommended by the front lobby staff.  The pizza was inexpensive, was delivered quickly and was piping hot and delicious!  The other nights we were there, we ate food that we had purchased at a grocery store around the corner. It was so nice to be able to come home from a day of exploring, relax on the couch or take one last evening swim in the pool and put the kids in their own room so I could have some peace and quiet for a few minutes!

Although the South Beach Resort is not directly on the beach (something I realized was not necessarily a bad thing!), they own a piece of property on the beach across from the resort.  It is called the Oceanfront Breezes Beach Club.  The club offers access to the beach, a pool, and a lounge area equipped with nice, clean restrooms.  There is a shuttle that will pick you up in front of your villa and run you back and forth from the resort to the Breezes Beach Club. The shuttle pick up is pretty quick but expect to wait a few minutes if the shuttle is running a group to an offsite attraction.  I was told that in the summer there are two shuttles that run to help ease the wait time.  We were picked up quickly to be dropped off at the beach, but when we were ready to go back to the resort we waited about 20 minutes for pick up.  There is parking available but you still have to cross a major highway so the 20 minute wait didn’t bother us.

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The best part about the Holiday Inn Club Vacations program is that you don’t have to be an owner to stay there.  You certainly can look into ownership at one of their six properties, but you can just reserve a room like you would any other hotel.  The properties are located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Gatlinburg, Tennessee (see a review by Amy at the Q Family Adventures), Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Brownsville, Vermont (see a review by Find and Go Seek), Panama City Beach, Florida and Orlando, Florida.  I stayed at the Orlando property on a girl’s weekend getaway (review to come soon!) a while back and we had a lovely time.  I am hoping to explore the Panama City Beach property on one of our many PCB trips!  When we stayed in Orlando, we joined the Priority Club Rewards Program which allows you to collect points with each stay to put towards a subsequent stay.

The Holiday Inn Vacation Club South Beach Resort was the perfect place for my family to rest our heads, have some fun in the sun, and use as a home base to explore Myrtle Beach, South Carolina! 

My trip was sponsored by Holiday Inn Club Vacations, who provided a three-night stay, expense credit and attraction tickets.  We paid for all other expenses.  This post is solely my opinion and based on my experience without outside influence.

From Mountains to Beaches

After three months of solid school days, day after day after day, we finally had our spring break last week.  I had the opportunity to visit both the High Hampton Inn and Country Club in the mountains of Cashiers, North Carolina and then we headed to the beach and stayed at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations South Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach.

From mountains… 

High Hampton

…to beaches in the same week.  We are one lucky family.

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Stay tuned next week because I will be telling you all about our trips!

Stop by DeliciousBaby for Photo Friday!

Dreaming of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The sun is trying to peak out from behind the clouds but that pesky wind and rain has been persistent.  Mr. Sun is not having much luck.  The temperatures have warmed up a little bit but are showing no signs of creeping any higher.  I know I have no room to complain about temperatures that range from the 20s to the 40s but we live on the Gulf Coast.  We just are not accustomed to temperatures like that for more than a few weeks at a time.  Our houses aren’t insulated for that freezing weather, our coats are not heavy enough, and we can’t find the darn mittens and scarves in the closet.  Don’t even get me started on my shoes.  My poor flip flops are aquiring a very tall layer of dust as I constantly rotate the only two pairs of closed toed shoes I own.

This is why I am dreaming of my spring break trip already even though it is still two months away (and may still very well be cold where we are going!).  We will be packing up the car and making the eleven hour drive to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Not only will I be able to check off #3 (putting our toes back in the Atlantic Ocean) on my 33 Things to Do the Year I Turn 33 list, but I am excited to explore a part of the South that I have not been able to explore yet.

Courtesy of alan2onion at Flickr.com

Courtesy of alan2onion at Flickr.com

South Carolina makes me think of sprawling porches, rocking chairs and all the sweet tea you can drink.  It makes me think of BBQ sandwiches, boardwalks with carnival rides and ice cream shops, and collecting seashells on the beach as the sun rises.

We will be visiting Holiday Inn Vacation Club’s South Beach Resort courtesy of the Holiday Inn Vacation Club.  I am looking forward to taking advantage of what the resort as to offer including their pools and that beautiful boardwalk out to the beach.  I can’t wait to see my children’s reaction when they walk out on the that sand and see how different it is from our powdery white beach.  I am excited for the car ride because much of the ride will be a route we have never taken before. 

But most importantly?  I am looking forward to the three days of family time…you know…that Forced Family Fun?!

Have you been to Myrtle Beach?  Do you have any suggestions for us?  We want to hear about your favorite restaurants and activities!

Stop by Mother of all Trips to see what everyone else is dreaming about today!