Explore the Upstate with Educational Mini Trips


Nice weather is here and you might feel like taking to the road with the kids.  If you don’t have the entire day but want to get out and do something memorable, these upstate mini trips might be just the thing you are looking for.  If you are virtual schooling, home schooling or just like to keep your kids learning when they least expect it, I’ve included some educational ideas along for the ride.  

Stumphouse Tunnel/Blueridge Railroad Trail/Isaqueena Falls

If you are looking for an active option this trip bundles several attractions accessible from a single parking lot.  Located in Oconee County, Stumphouse Tunnel is an incomplete railroad tunnel started prior to the Civil War.  In addition to investigating the tunnel, an old railroad car sits at the entrance for kids to explore. Adjacent to Stumphouse is the Blueridge Railroad Trail, a 2.5-mile trail boasting two small tunnel entrances of its own.  At the trail’s entrance, you will find stairs to Isaqueena Falls which are close enough for even small children to access.  As you wend your way back home be sure to visit the picturesque Walhalla main street community.  The restaurant Steak House Cafeteria is famous for its fried chicken and is exceptionally kid friendly.  Below are some educational ideas to round out your trip. 

  • Read about the railroad expansion (online or books). 
  • After viewing the tunnel and mountains, talk about the time, tools and labor necessary for the expansion.
  • Talk about ways the railroad changed our country and how life in Walhalla might have been different had the tunnel been completed.  
Stumphouse Tunnel
Photo credit: oconeehistorymuseum.org

Hagood Mill  

If your kids are into history, they will love Hagood Mill.  Hagood Mill is located in Pickens, SC and is an historic mill site featuring a working water wheel.  While there you will see a barn, cabin, blacksmith shop and more.  If you want to do a little hiking there is a .75-mile trail on the property that houses a covered bridge.  The mill includes great photo spots so you can capture memories made on this trip.  Joe’s Easley Ice Cream Parlor is about 9 miles from Hagood Mill and is worth the stop for fantastic ice cream in a well-known local venue.  Below are some educational ideas to round out your trip. 

  • Find pictures online of old gristmills-talk about how they work and what the job of a mill was/is.
  • Research South Carolina mill towns and discuss their impact on the lives of individuals and communities.
  • Check out YouTube for instructions on creating a mini water wheel at home using items like cardboard and popsicle sticks. 
Haygood Mill SC
Photo credit: scpictureproject.org

Spartanburg Regional History Museum

This free admission museum is perfectly sized for children, providing a nice overview of life in the upstate over time.  Exhibits at the museum  provide for the interests of kids of all ages.  Located in the same building as the history museum is the Spartanburg Art Museum.  This venue serves as a great introduction to art viewing for children, housing a small collection of interesting pieces. Love Willy Taco in Greenville?  There’s one in Spartanburg too…stop by for outdoor dining and great food your kids might already recognize! Below are some educational ideas to round out your trip.

  • Ask your kids which display interested them and do some follow up reading/online searching in the days that follow your visit. 
  • Check out the history museum’s “history at home” program and how you can use this to further access historical learning: 
  • Order an art kit to be delivered to your home from the Spartanburg Art Museum and create interesting pieces together at home. 
Spartanburg Regional Museum
Photo Credit: https://www.visitspartanburg.com/directory/spartanburg-regional-history-museum-112/


Hopefully, these upstate mini trips will help with keeping the kids busy while they learn! Let us know if you try any of these trips! 



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