Tank Away Getaway

Spring Break Plans That Won’t Break the Piggy Bank

As a parent, I am always looking for ways to do something fun and educational that won’t break the piggy bank. Usually, I can find plenty to do nearby. Spring Break is scheduled at so many different times that the crowds aren’t very large. Plus, friends can figure out a way to get together at least one day if the fun is just around the corner. 

Head Outdoors

When I’m not catching up on doctor and dentist appointments, I head to the parks. In addition to city parks, county parks offer a variety of opportunities. Two of Oconee County, South Carolina’s parks, High Falls and South Cove, are on Lake Keowee, and Chau Ram park is located at the confluence of Ramsey Creek and the Chauga River. It is only $3 to enter the parks, unless you have a boat and trailer, which is $5 to park. Camping fees range from $20-$30, depending on whether you are a resident and whether your site is waterfront. There are additional fees for activities. South Cove has an outfitter that rents kayaks, and the park rents tennis and pickleball courts. They also have a wonderful playground that is free. High Falls has mini-golf, a softball field, and volleyball courts, in addition to tennis courts. Chau Ram is known for its places to play at the river and hiking trails. I highly recommend checking county websites for park information, in addition to the state parks website. Visit https://experienceoconee.com/ for more information about Oconee County, SC parks.

SC State Parks also offer a wide range of activities. Currently, several parks are hosting 5K races. A unique opportunity is the Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5K. This run commemorates artist Bob Ross’s love of trees. Ten states, including South Carolina, are participating the week of April 22. Race proceeds will support tree planting and forest protection in state parks. You can register at http://tinyurl.com/3cd767ez. Prior to that, the Come Out & Play 5K is hosting a run at Sesquicentennial State Park and Huntington Beach State Park. 

It is easy to get involved at parks. SC State Parks offer interpretative tours, nature walks, hikes, and educational sessions about flora and fauna. Each park features unique activities and most offer camping. The SC State Parks Guide is available online at https://scprt.dcatalog.com/v/south-carolina-state-parks-guide/. Park Passports are $99 per vehicle and allow unlimited access to one vehicle provided the park isn’t full. A https://agriculture.sc.gov/where-to-buy-local/certified-roadside-markets/7-day pass is also available for $65 if you would like to make a tour of parks over Spring Break. Of course, you can always pay at the gate if you only have an afternoon to spare. More information is available at https://southcarolinaparks.com/park-passports.

Visit Local Attractions

We truly believe in “loving where we live.” Local farms and markets provide essential ingredients for healthy living. They allow you to know more about your food and who produces it. SC Certified Roadside Markets (https://agriculture.sc.gov/where-to-buy-local/certified-roadside-markets/), as well as farmer’s markets, start opening for full service again in the spring. We will be out there supporting our local farmers whenever possible. 

Denver Downs Farm is a historic farm conveniently located along Hwy. 28. The farm has expanded its offerings to include agri-tourism and entertainment. This spring, the Easter Festival will be held March 23-24 and 29-31 from 10am-3pm and 1pm-5pm on Easter Sunday. Their Spring Break celebration will be April 5-7 from 10am-3pm on Friday and Saturday and 1pm-5pm on Sunday. There is something for everyone: flowers, a mega slide, giant rollers, a tractor tire playground, gem mining, a jumping pillow, a petting zoo, a zipline, a ropes course, and more. They are also hosting an Oyster Roast & Low Country Boil on April 13 to benefit Anderson Interfaith Ministries Food Bank. Their website is https://www.denverdownsfarm.com/springfest.

Enjoy Local Universities

Spring Break is a good time to enjoy our local colleges, as their breaks are at different times than most K-12 schools. The SC School for the Arts at Anderson University offers numerous performances that showcase world-class entertainment. Their calendar is available online at https://andersonuniversity.edu/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/SCSA_23-24_Calendar.pdf. In addition, the CU Symphonic Band is performing at the Brooks Center for Performing Arts on March 12. The event is only $5 for adults and is free for students. The Brooks Center schedule can be found at https://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/brooks/index.html.

Clemson University Athletics always has something happening. It’s baseball season, so you can catch a baseball game. They also have added lacrosse and gymnastics to their program. The all-sports schedule is available at https://clemsontigers.com/all-sports-schedule/

You may also be interested in the Bob Campbell Geology Museum. Admission is free, although they appreciate donations, and they are open every day from 10am-5pm. The museum is not overwhelming but includes a wide range of minerals and fossils that will peak your interest. After visiting the museum, a walk in the SC Botanical Garden should be on your list. The museum is located on its grounds. The Public Service & Agriculture calendar (https://www.clemson.edu/public/geomuseum/calendar.html) is up-to-date with numerous spring events that will take place at the gardens, but a walk through the property is a simple way to enjoy the peaceful space. Don’t forget to end the day with a Clemson University ice cream at the ‘55 Exchange in the Hendrix Student Center. 

Take a Drive

Sometimes a drive on Highway 11, also known as the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway, will be enough to take a break and feel like we are on a great adventure. The excursion begins along I-85 where Hartwell State Park is located and continues to the Spotted Pig BBQ. Just off Hwy. 11, we visit Walhalla, SC where we enjoy an ice cream or coffee at Mountain Mocha; eat at the famous Walhalla Steakhouse, or at Steph’s Steaks or Carolina Pizza; shop at the small boutiques and specialty shops; or enjoy the park at The Depot. 

Afterward, we head back to Hwy. 11 and Pickens County. We look for Long Shoals Wayside Park, beside Little Eastatoee Creek. Visitors can sit on the banks and slide down the gently sloping shoals in the creek. Several state parks are also located along the route. A major trailhead for the Foothills Trail (https://foothillstrail.org/) can be found at Table Rock State Park. 

On the way to Greenville, we spot Wildcat Wayside Falls beside the road. At Cleveland, we can venture down Hwy. 276 into Travelers Rest and enjoy the active Main Street of Travelers Rest. Bikes are available to rent at Sunrift Adventures to ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. 

If we decide to continue, further adventures down Hwy. 11 will take us into Spartanburg County and finally to Gaffney, home of the Peachoid water tower and the outlet mall.  There is something for everyone along Hwy. 11! Upcountry South Carolina can help you plan your trip (https://scenic11.com/). 

These ideas can make Spring Break a time of rest and renewal. The great outdoors, the arts, athletics, learning, and sightseeing promote healthy living and provide time together for families.