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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

See Dinosaurs, Critters, Minerals, and More At The Schiele Museum of Natural History In Gastonia, North Carolina

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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.

Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium near Gastonia, North Carolina

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.

Read our Guide to Fun in Gastonia, NC for more fun you can have while visiting the museum.

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Get into the Fall Spirit with a Visit to Sky Top Orchard

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Fall is just about here! Time for corn mazes, fall festivals, and apple picking! One of the local favorites is Sky Top Orchard near Flat Rock, NC. Read on for local mom Jackie Vest’s tips and things to expect when you visit Sky Top Orchard, so you can make the most of your visit!

See our full list of Apple Orchards Near the Upstate. For more fall fun check out our Pumpkin Patch Guide and our Corn Maze Guide!

Guide to Fall in Greenville, SC

Looking for more fall fun? Here are over 30 things to do this fall near Greenville.

Experience Sky Top Orchard

The Sky Top apple season starts in August and runs through the Sunday after Thanksgiving, giving families plenty of opportunities to seek out their favorite varieties of apples. This orchard has over 22 different kinds of apples to choose from! They also churn out a regional sensation: apple cider donuts!

As soon as you pull up to the orchard and open your car door, you are drawn in with the delicious fried cidery-sugary smell wafting through the air. Plan on buying at LEAST a dozen. If you come on a busy weekend, you’ll need to wait in line for them, but don’t let that stop you!

Apple picking is an enjoyable activity for kids of all ages. While you may need to walk a bit to the row of choice, the picking is quick and easy work. Many apples are available low to the ground, easy picking for even the smallest kiddos. My boys (ages 5 & 7) hopped off the hayride, took off down a row, and filled up their bags before I even caught up with the little stinkers!

The orchard also offers plenty of play structures, Bee Train, a Gold Rush Gem Mine, a honeybee hive (in which kids can usually spot the queen bee behind the glass), a bamboo forest, some farm animals like sheep, chickens, goats, and peacocks, and plenty of delectable goodies in addition to the apples and cider donuts.

Pies, jellies, hot cider, fudges, and frozen apple cider slushies, to name a few! Outside food is acceptable and there are plenty of picnic tables or areas to spread a blanket – just be mindful of bees and limit sugary foods.

The orchard also does a great job accommodating large groups with hayride tours, apple picking, and educational programs which teach kiddos everything they could want to know about how apples grow through the seasons. This is a favorite field trip destination!

apple picking at Sky Top Orchard

Tips for visiting Sky Top

Be sure to check out Skytop’s FAQs for tips before you visit.

Bring cash or check – while they do accept credit cards, their wifi can be spotty so their credit card processing system isn’t always working.

Try to go on a Monday or early week. The weekends can get pretty busy.

Wear sneakers or other walking shoes that are okay to get dirty.

Bring quarters for feeding the farm animals.

Sky Top has real bathrooms now. No more having to use a port-a-potty.

Apple varieties are planted in accordance of when they are in season. They plant the earliest apples closest to the entrance and it progresses further away as the season goes on. In other words, the later in the season you visit the orchard, the further you will need to plan on walking to pick apples.

There are plenty of already-picked apples to choose from if you want all the fresh flavor without the work.

You must pre-pay for apples and you are required to pay for at least one peck per 6 people (around 10 pounds). A basket is provided.

Here is their picking schedule (which lists available varieties).

Sky Top Orchard is open 7 days a week from 9 am – 6 pm.

The orchard is located above Flat Rock, NC and here are directions to Sky Top Orchard.

We love this place and like so many others, we have made it an annual Mecca. I hope this has been helpful, see you at the orchard! Find our tips on picking apples with kids here.

When visiting Flat Rock, NC, consider our day trip guide to Flat Rock for more suggestions on activities in the area, including all that there is to do in very near Hendersonville, NC. Nearby attractions include the Team Ecco Aquarium, the Carl Sandburg House, and the Western NC Nature Center.

Has your family experienced Sky Top Orchard yet?

Grandad’s Apples ‘N Such: Apple Cannon, Corn Maze, Apples & More

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Have you visited Grandad’s Apples? Fall is just around the corner and your family might be hunting for the perfect apple orchard! We checked out Grandad’s Apples ‘N Such and had so much fun. You’ll find activities for kids at Grandad’s Apples ‘N Such, with beautiful views, and, of course, apples.

U-PICK: U-pick is TBD. Grandad’s asked that you follow their Facebook page for the latest updates.

Apple picking at Grandad's

For more places to pick apples this fall read our Guide to U-Pick Apple Orchards.

Hendersonville, North Carolina is known for its delicious apples and it’s easy to see why on the drive up to Grandad’s Apples ‘N Such. There are a handful of orchards within a few-mile radius and several farm stands all selling the delicious fruit. On my quest to find the perfect apple orchard experience, I headed on over to Grandad’s, which I heard was pretty awesome.

They didn’t disappoint.

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Enjoy Fall Color Change at these Incredible Vacation Rentals in WNC

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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.

Vacations rentals to enjoy during the fall in Western North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
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Take Your Family on a High-Speed Adventure at ZMAX Dragway in Concord, NC

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Thinking about a visit to ZMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC? When is the last time you stood up to watch something go 300 mph? Been a long time or maybe never? Then you should plan a trip to the ZMAX Dragway for an NHRA National Event.

We got a chance to visit for the NHRA Carolina Nationals and couldn’t believe all the things we got to experience. And the best part? Kids are FREE. So your 300 mph family adventure just got a lot more budget-friendly. Here’s everything you need to know.

This post contains affiliate links.

The next NHRA event at ZMAX Dragway is coming soon! Get tickets now for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals: April 28th – 30th, 2023

Thank you to Explore Cabarrus County for providing tickets so we could bring our readers this review!

entrance to ZMAX Dragwa
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Find Tons of Fun for the Entire Family At This Renaissance Festival in Charlotte, North Carolina

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Ready for a good joust and a turkey leg? The Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace are back for another year this fall in Charlotte.  Local mom Jackie tells us what to expect at Ren-Fest plus shares tips for a great experience with your family!

The 2022 Carolina Renaissance Festival takes place Saturdays and Sundays, October 2 – November 20, 2022.

Make the most of a trip to the area with The Kidding Around Ultimate Guide To Fun With Kids in Charlotte, NC.

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20+ Things to Do in Charlotte, NC

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Looking for fun things to do in Charlotte, NC? Here’s a list of just a few of the fun things in the Charlotte area. Don’t forget to let us know your favorite things to do in the comments!

Here’s just some of the fun that awaits you in the Queen City! Be sure to check back as we add more first-hand accounts of adventures we have in the Charlotte area. 

Things to Do in Charlotte, NC

This article includes:
Things to Do for the Family Near Charlotte, NC
Things to Do in Gastonia, NC
Things to Do in Cabarrus County, NC
Charlotte, NC Seasonal Fun
Things to Do in York County, SC
Places to Eat Near Charlotte, NC

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Carolina Raptor Center: Here’s Your Chance to Hang Out with Raptors!

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Carolina Raptor Center is located just north of Charlotte in Huntersville, NC. The center is home to falcons, hawks, owls, eagles and vultures from all over the world. Visitors can view these magnificent raptors up close, and learn about their individual stories and unique characteristics that help them survive in the wild.  The center also offers educational programming for groups. KAG contributor, Maria Bassett, shares a visit she and her children took to the Carolina Raptor Center.

What is a Raptor?

Raptors.  We see them in the sky far above us, soaring and circling, their sharp eyes keenly searching out their next meal.  They don’t sing, or entertain us with their bright colors at our feeders. They don’t visit our backyard feeders at all (except maybe to snack on the songbirds themselves). In fact, we rarely get the chance to see anything but their silhouettes overhead. And yet they catch our attention. What makes these birds so unique? If you want to know, you will find the drive to Carolina Raptor Center well worth it!

Raptor Center

Raptors are meat eating birds that catch their prey with their talons (unlike other birds who may eat meat that catch their prey with their beaks- think birds and worms, or penguins and fish).  They are equipped with many special features that give them the ability to accomplish this task.  From sharp talons, to third eyelids and tiny bones that act as sun visors, you’ll be amazed at all you’ll learn in just a few hours at the center.

Raptor Center question and answer with an owl

How About a Field Trip?

Educational groups who plan a visit to the center can schedule a presentation from a very knowledgeable staff member.  Our group was able to view and learn about three different raptors. We learned about each bird’s special features, how they train the raptors, where the birds come from, what they eat and more, all while getting an extremely close view of these magnificent creatures.

This presentation was easily the best part of our visit. The children (and adults) in attendance were so excited to see each bird as our guide brought them out. The guide kept everyone interested and engaged.  Being a homeschool family that likes to school as much as we can through experiences, I have to say, this was one of the best educational presentations we’ve ever had the pleasure to view.

Raptor Center presentation

Fieldtrip groups also have the added benefit of a significant per person discount. The center has pre-planned programming, but will also customize for your group.  Homeschoolers, you do not have to be part of an organized group to schedule these field trip programs!  Gather some adventure-loving homeschool families with children of similar ages and make your own group! 

Raptor Center owl

The Trail

The trail at CRC is open to all paying guests. The trail area is where you will view the center’s various raptors in their habitats.  It’s a mostly shaded, gravel path and easily walkable. We had a few strollers in our group who had no problem with the path. Along the trail you’ll see raptors divided by their types; a grouping of owls, a loop of falcons, a section of vultures, the eagle aviary, and lineup of hawks. This allows you to easily compare them within their raptor families.

The trail also contains an exhibit showing the center’s raptors who regularly help out in the educational presentations, as well as an exhibit showing some of the work the raptor hospital onsite does regularly. The hospital is not regularly open to the public; however, they offer a behind-the-scenes tour and the exhibit “A Day in the Life of a Raptor Hospital.”

Raptor Center enclosure

Spending the Day at Carolina Raptor Center

If you plan to spend a large portion of your day at CRC, you should know that there is no onsite food vendor. The gift shop sells snacks, ice cream bars, and popsicles. If you plan to have lunch, you’ll need to bring it with you. (There isn’t much in the way of fast food nearby, either.) 

The center has several places to picnic, one is alongside a nature play area.  The play area contains teeter totters made out of sanded logs, a sand pit, sliced log blocks, a wooden play house, and a small area where children can view pictures of raptor nests and try to recreate them with nearby materials.

Getting to CRC

Carolina Raptor Center is located about 20 minutes north of Charlotte.  As you approach the center, follow signs for the nature preserve.  As you pass the preserve, you’ll soon approach the raptor center on your left. The first entrance is for the raptor hospital, the second entrance is the clearly marked main entrance to Carolina Raptor Center.  Google Maps brought us right to the visitor center parking lot with no problem.

Address:
Carolina Raptor Center, 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville, NC 28078

Admission and Hours

Hours are 10 am to 4 pm daily. They close from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm, meaning the gift shop, ticketing and restrooms are closed from 12:30 to 1:30 pm, but guests already on the Raptor Trail do not have to leave.

Admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors, teachers, military, $8 Students ages 4 and up, Free for children ages 3 and under.

Bring the Learning Home

Here are some great books you can find on Amazon or at the library about raptors:

  • Birds of Prey (Peterson Field Guide)- J 598.9L
  • Discovering Birds of Prey by M.J. Thomas- J 598.9 T
  • Animal Lives: The Barn Owl- J 598.97
  • Eyewitness Book: Eagle and Birds of Prey- J 598.9

Your family might also enjoy reading My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, as well as the sequels.  The main character in these stories trains a peregrine falcon to help him hunt as he tries to live on his own, off of the land.

Consider having students bring a sketchbook and sketch a few of the raptors they see.  Clearly label the sketches.  When you get home, have students look up information about the raptors they drew.  Consider a writing assignment, creative poster, flyer, brochure, or some other type of assignment that incorporates the sketches.  Similarly, families could take photographs of the birds and complete a family project, like a bulletin board or scrapbook, about what they learned.

Love Raptors?

Enjoy your visit to CRC?  Looking for a little more?  Consider visiting Caesar’s Head State Park this fall to observe the migration of thousands of raptors as they pass above the cliff on their way to their winter homes.  Check out the Kidding Around Greenville story on Hawk Watch.  You are likely to only see them from the sky, but they are still quite impressive.