- by Anna Culver
28 field trips outside of Fort Mill - from farms and gardens to museums and zoos
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
With varying school schedules like virtual learning and A/B school days, parents are looking for creative ways to spend the days when kids are home.
The surrounding area has so much to offer from farms, trails, and gardens to zoos and museums. We've compiled a list of places for you and your family to venture out to!
Check out the map and places listed in alphabetical order below:
Located in Asheville, NC, the Biltmore is America’s largest home built by George Vanderbilt. Visit the 8,000-acre estate; the Biltmore House, Gardens, Grounds, and Antler Hill Village have reopened with reduced hours and limited capacities.
There are a lot of kid-friendly activities at the Biltmore! Enjoy the new Biltmore Gardens Railway, a botanical model train display featuring replicas of train depots from around the county – fun for all ages! Kids can also enjoy farmyard visits, craft demonstrations, the Pisgah Playground, or a hike along the French Broad River. Their Kids’ Audio Guide to the Biltmore is currently unavailable, but be on the lookout for its return.
COVID NOTE: It’s operating at a limited capacity with small group tours of the home by reservation only, social distancing measures are in places, and face coverages are required for those over the age of 2. Read more.
ADDRESS: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
Family owned since 1923, Black's Peaches will be hosting a fall festival every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in October. The festival is designed for kids in preschool through 2nd grade and includes farm animals, a corn maze (shaped like a cat!), presentations on various crops, stories about farm animals, story time in The Three Little Pigs House, hay rides, and a farm playground. Grab some ice cream and fresh veggies while you're there and bring a lunch to enjoy on one of their picnic tables. Kids will be able to take home a small pumpkin or apples!
COVID NOTE: Masks are optional, social distancing is encouraged, and one person from your party is allowed inside the store.
COST: Cost varies.
ADDRESS: 1800 Black Highway York, South Carolina 29745
Located between York and Clover, Bush-N-Vine offers hiking trails, picnic tables, pick-your-own pumpkins (Sept. 26-Oct. 31, Mon-Sat), and a beehive observatory! The farm has been in the Hall family for 150+ years. It used to be a peach farm but now prides itself on growing all sorts of fruits and vegetables for the community.
Enjoy the sunflower fields that will be at peak bloom this weekend (Sept. 19) and will last for about two weeks. You'll even be able to take one home with you!
COVID NOTE: No hayrides this year.
COST: Varies based on how much you pick/buy. Sunflower field admission is $2; free for children under 2.
ADDRESS: 1650 Filbert Hwy York, SC 29745
Carolina Raptor Center
Carolina Raptor Center is located on 57 acres inside Latta Nature Preserve, a 1,500 acre nature preserve, part of the watershed for Charlotte, NC. The Raptor Trail at Carolina Raptor Center is a 3/4 mile walking trail that features over 30 birds of prey on display like owls, vultures, hawks, eagles, falcons, corvids, and more! In addition to the exhibits, they also offer Homeschool Days (occur on the 4th Tuesday of each month)! Each month highlights a topic that focuses on STEM related themes. And check out some of these enrichment projects you can do to help birds at the CRC – they make for a great family or group project.
COVID NOTE: Reservations are required. Masks are required inside and are recommended on the trail.
COST: Adults: $12; students: $8; Children 3 and under are free
Homeschool Days: Adults: $10, Children: $6, Under 3: Free
ADDRESS: 6000 Sample Rd. Huntersville, NC 28078
Image by Carrigan Farms
Carrigan Farms is well known for their swimming quarry, but their roots run deeper than that. It’s also a family farm of 100+ years that grows local fruits and vegetables. Some crops they pick for you and some you can pick your yourself such as apples (began Sept. 9) and pumpkins (begins Oct. 1). Pick-your-own activities are fun to do with kids of any age where you can learn about farming, picking, and that specific crop. Make your reservation now for a hayride to the apple orchard!
COVID NOTE: Reservations are required. Reservations for apple picking are open; more dates may open as they evaluate the apple crop.
COST: Apple hayrides: $2 deposit plus $10 per person at the door; Quarry Open Swim: $5 deposit plus $15 per person at the door
ADDRESS: 1261 Oakridge Farm Hwy, Mooresville, NC 28115
Cotton Hills Farm
Family owned since 1882, Cotton Hills Farm offers pumpkin picking in their 45-acre pumpkin field. Pumpkin picking dates are Sept. 19, 25, 26 and Oct. 2, 3, 9, 10. Parents, be sure to stop by their market to browse fall decor, mums, flowers, fruits, veggies, ice cream and more.
COVID NOTE: They cancelled their annual Farm Fair and Fall Farm Tours for the year.
COST: Cost varies. Pumpkins start at $.50 per pound.
ADDRESS: 2575 Lowrys Hwy, Chester, SC 29706
Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens
Reconnect with nature and stroll the beautiful gardens and trails that stretch across 380 acres of meadows, woodlands, and lakefront property. Check out their Chinese Lantern Festival from Oct. 15-Jan. 3.
They’re currently not offering their usual children programs due to COVID, but we recommend checking out their Home Family Activities like creating a Toad Abode or having fun with a Backyard Color Hunt.
COVID NOTE: Recently reopened to the general public on weekends only; members are allowed Thursday-Sunday.
COST: Adults are $15, Children are $8, children under 2 are free
ADDRESS: 6500 S New Hope Rd, Belmont, NC 28012
Discovery Place Science
Reopening on Sept. 26, Discovery Place is a family science museum in Charlotte providing STEM education for all ages. Also, check out their stay-at-home science resources that include your own field trip to Uptown for colorful lessons in sustainability.
COVID NOTE: Admission is by reservation only. Only open Saturday-Sunday; anyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask at all times. Read their full reopening plan.
COST: Adults are $19; Children are $15
ADDRESS: 301 N Tryon St Charlotte, NC 28202
Discovery Place Kids
Reopening Sept. 23 to the public, this kids museum activates the imagination through rich play experiences that allow kids to be creative and explore their world. Also check out their stay-at-home science resources.
COVID NOTE: Reservations are required. Open Wednesday-Sunday; anyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask at all times.
ADDRESS: 105 Gilead Rd., Huntersville, NC 28078
An additional location is in Rockingham.
Discovery Place Nature
Reopening on Sept. 26, this smaller museum is located in the heart of Charlotte adjacent to Freedom Park. See all kinds of reptiles, bugs, insects, stroll through their butterfly pavilion, and walk along their nature trail filled with native flora and fauna.
COVID NOTE: Reservations are required. Open Saturday-Sunday; anyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask at all times.
ADDRESS: 1658 Sterling Road Charlotte, NC 28209
Image by www.experiencecolumbiasc.com
EdVenture Children’s Museum
EdVenture is the largest children's museum in the Southeast United States, located in Columbia, SC. They offer fun, interactive exhibits and activities. As mentioned on their website, “From the books and puppets in our library, to sitting in the cockpit of a Boeing 757 and climbing a mountain of tires, there are nearly endless opportunities to play, create, and learn.”
Check out their educational videos you can enjoy from home!
COVID NOTE: Reservations are required. Masks are required for those over 3 years. Read more.
COST: $12; children under 2 are free. Families who receive SNAP, WIC or Medicaid benefits receive $2 admission per person
ADDRESS: 211 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201
Kings Mountain National Military Park
Learn about the Battle of Kings Mountain, a battle fought amongst Americans on October 7, 1780, during the Revolutionary War. Walk the 1.5 mile paved path around the mountain and see the monuments and educational signage throughout the walk – the sign information is also available in an audio version. Take it a step further and utilize the curriculum materials provided by the park to further engage your children in the exploration of the Battle of Kings Mountain and the Revolutionary War. After your walk, settle down in the grass for a picnic!
COVID NOTE: The visitors center remains closed but the restrooms outside are open. Check website for hours.
ADDRESS: 2300 Park Road Blacksburg, SC 29702
Historic Latta is a circa 1800 living history museum and farm located in Hunterville, NC. The house is open daily from 1- 4pm, where historic interpreters are stationed at the entrance of the house to share information and answer questions in lieu of regular house tours. Throughout the year, Historic Latta offers educational programs featuring animals, workshops, camps, and reenactments. You can also check out their online educational videos, but it’s best to follow their Facebook to stay up to date on events as things are changing often these days!
COVID NOTE: No regular tours at this time. Stay up to date on their Facebook for upcoming demonstrations.
COST: $9.00 Adults; $8.00 Seniors (62+); $8.00 Students; Children ages 5 and under are Free; $5.00 Early Bird Pricing 10am-12pm (Outside, self-guided site tour only)
ADDRESS: 5225 Sample Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Lazy 5 Ranch
Check out the Mooresville, privately-owened zoo that is home to 750+ domestic and exotic animals from six continents. While their wagon rides are discontinued due to COVID, their drive-thru zoo remains open! After seeing all of the unique animals, print these coloring pages to remind you of your visit and talk about your experience.
COVID NOTE: Wagons rides are closed; the zoo is open for drive-thru visitors only.
COST: $8-$11; animal feed is available for $3 a bucket.
ADDRESS: 15100 Mooresville Rd, Mooresville, NC 28115
Experience mountains from the inside! Linville Caverns are privately owned active limestone caverns located in northern McDowell County, NC, just south of the village of Linville Falls, on U.S. Highway 221.
COVID NOTE: Masks are required and tours are limited to 9 people. Reservations are not accepted so it's advised to arrive early to purchase tickets from the gift shop.
COST: Adults are $10, Children are $8, Children under 5 are free
ADDRESS: 19929 US 221 N, Marion, NC 28752
Image by www.bringfido.com
McDowell Nature Preserve
Consisting of 1,132 acres, this is the oldest preserve in Mecklenburg County protecting forested terrain along Lake Wylie. Visit the Nature Preserve Center (temporarily closed), observe nature in action at the Ozone Garden or the demonstration compost area, enjoy a natural play area, walk amongst the seven miles of trails with self-interpretive trail guides, or head to Copperhead Island, a 20-acre island with hiking trails, group camping, fishing access and more. Access the trail map.
COVID NOTE: All Recreation, Nature, Aquatic Centers as well as playgrounds and other mass gathering spots are closed until further notice.
ADDRESS: 15222 South York Rd, Charlotte, NC 28278
The museum reopens on Sept. 25. Founded in 1936, it’s North Carolina’s oldest art museum located in the building that once housed the Charlotte Mint. It’s Charlotte’s largest visual arts institution and is home to the permanent collections of American Art, Ancient American Art, American and European ceramics, American and European Decorative Art, North Carolina Pottery, historic costume and fashionable dress and accessories, African Art, Asian Art, historic maps, Contemporary art, and photography.
Their camps and afterschool programs are currently on hold, but you can enjoy a creativity kit at home, which is available for pick-up or delivery.
COVID NOTE: See all notes here. They’re providing low-contact check-in with online ticketing and ask that all visitors wear a mask. Make a reservation ahead of time.
COST: $0 weekend of Sept. 25-27; After Sept. 27, Adults are $15, College students and seniors are $10, Children 5-17 are $6, Children 4 and under are free
ADDRESS: 500 S. Tryon St. Charlotte, NC 28202
President James K. Polk State Historic Site
Recently reopened on Sept. 12, the President James K. Polk State Historic Site is home to the birthplace of the 11th President and the only Chief-of-State born in Mecklenburg County, NC. They offer guided tours of historic structures that existed during Polk’s time, a visit to the tended garden as it was in the early 1800’s, a historic cemetery, walking trails (currently under construction), and a shaded picnic area.
COVID NOTE: They’re allowing 50% capacity and requiring mask to enter the Visitor Center and historic structures. Reservations are required for tours which is limited to 10 people.
COST: Free; donations are encouraged for guided tours
ADDRESS: 12031 Lancaster Highway Pineville, NC 28134
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
The zoo in Columbia, SC is home to 2,000+ animals and a beautiful botanical garden. The zoo consists of 170 acres with multiple natural habitat exhibits, river views, valley overlooks, and historic landmarks. Check out Waterfall Junction, where all ages are invited to discover the waterfall and explore the new 3-acre children’s garden that features a dino dig, giant tree houses, a splash zone, and more. Check out their Family Programs that occurs on weekends. There’s a lot to do at the zoo!
COVID NOTE: Timed tickets are required for entry. Visitors are encouraged to wear face covers and practice social distancing. COST: Adults are $20, Children 2-12 are $17, Children under 2 are free. Parking is $5 ADDRESS: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia, SC 29210
The urban Oasis recently reopened on Sept. 12. Discover 200 years of history in the heart of Charlotte. Tour the house of the Frews, and enjoy 8.9 acres of green space, gardens and wooden areas for you to explore. Tours are allowed by reservation only.
COVID NOTE: Reservations must be made in advance. Tickets are limited and masks are required. Read more.
COST: Starts at $5. Children under 5 are free.
ADDRESS: 3427 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28206
On 265 rolling acres, the historic site of the Colonial-era farm boasts old schoolhouses, ruins, a family graveyard, and an extensive network of trails. They’ll be adding a pumpkin patch at the end of September! They have over 250 years of history to share with you and are also home to the Amazing Maize Maze, one of the largest corn mazes in the Southeast. It's open until Nov. 1 and is perfect for socially-distanced outdoor family fun.
COVID NOTE: For the corn maze, advanced reservations and masks are required.
COST: Adults are $6, Children are $4, and 4 and under are free; corn maize tickets start at $12 ADDRESS: 4431 Neck Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078