Spontaneous Summer Fun
Last-minute summer activities for the family
Summer may already be in full swing, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to plan some family fun. We’ve got a roundup of outdoor adventures and weekend getaways you can still add to your calendar.
*See approximate driving time from Charlotte listed after each destination.
FEED THE ADRENALINE
- Get Summer Shootout tickets for July and August and head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a short-track race. Kids 13 and under get in free with adult admission. (20 minutes)
- Circle K Monster Truck Bash returns to The Dirt Track at Charlotte on August 20, and kids get in for $10. (20 minutes)
- Fly across the park at Kersey Valley Zipline, an aviation-themed zipline, in Archdale, NC. (1 hour)
HIT THE WATER
- Book a guided fishing trip on Lake Marion with Captain Jim at Let’s Go Charter Services, LLC. (2.5 hours)
- Swim in Lake Thurmond at Hickory Knob State Resort Park in McCormick, SC. (3.5 hours)
- Tube down the Green River with Green River Cove Tubing in Saluda, NC. (2 hours)
- Rent a kayak through Roanoke Mountain Adventures and explore the Blue Ridge Mountains of Roanoke Valley. (3.5 hours)
- Rent a pontoon boat on W. Scott Kerr Lake or float down Yadkin River in a tube (fits up to eight people and a pet) through Foothills Outdoor Adventure. (90 minutes)
COOL OFF IN A MUSEUM
- See Discovery Place Science’s newest exhibit, Unseen Oceans, through September 18. Enjoy interactive activities, videos, and a chance to “drive” a submarine. (15 minutes)
- Immerse your family in planetarium shows and Wonderful Wednesdays at the Museum of York County. Its traveling exhibit, Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas runs through September 11. (40 minutes)
- View more than a dozen aircrafts, including Piper J-3 Flitfire flown by the Wright brothers, at North Carolina Aviation Museum’s Hall of Fame in Asheboro. (90 minutes)
VISIT A FARM
- Gentry Farms in Laurens County, SC has blueberry picking now through August. Farmer Mike says bring a smile. (2 hours)
- Ride the Emerald Farm Express train, see chickens and sheep, and pet goats on Emerald Farm, a working farm in Greenwood, SC. (2.5 hours)
- Sign up for a farm tour at Good Karma Ranch Alpacas and interact with alpacas and the resident llama. (40 minutes)
GO TO A FESTIVAL
- Get your fill of art, music, and Carolina barbecue at The South Carolina Festival of Discovery July 7-9 in Greenwood, SC. (2.5 hours)
- Run a 5K, watch a parade, listen to live music, and munch on watermelon at the Pageland Watermelon Festival July 15- 16 in Pageland, SC. (1 hour)
- Head to downtown Wilkesboro for local art and peaches at Brushy Mountain Peach Festival & Heritage Festival on July 30. (90 minutes)
- Come to York County’s Summerfest August 26-27 and enjoy a car show, crafts, games, and music. (1 hour)
- Take part in kite-flying demonstrations, kid-friendly contests, and races September 3-4 at Mile High Kite Festival in Beech Mountain, NC. (2.5 hours)
TAKE A HIKE
- Hike the 2.5-mile trail to a waterfall at Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site in Clinton, SC, the site of an American Revolutionary War Battle in 1780. (2 hours)
- Explore Edwin M. Griffin Nature Preserve’s newly restored Cottonwood Trail, a 550-foot boardwalk through the wetlands with an additional four miles of trails. Then head into downtown Spartanburg to refuel at Hub City Scoops. (1.5 hours)
- Visit Grandfather Mountain in Linville, NC and find hiking trails for various levels, a swinging bridge, a small zoo, and nature center. An elevator is available for wheelchair access to the swinging bridge. (2.5 hours)
- Hike up stone and wood stairs to see two waterfall cascades at High Falls at Lake Glenville in Jackson County, NC. (3.5 hours)
- Beat the heat at Mount Mitchell State Park, where the temperature is typically 10 degrees cooler than Charlotte, and enjoy easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes through streams and old logging trails. (2.5 hours)
- Find your own adventures on alltrails.com.
EVEN SPONTANEOUS PARENTS NEED TO COME PREPARED
- Pack a first-aid kit, sunscreen, water, and snacks.
- Check the destination website for costs, hours, and other essential details.
- Match the destination to the participants: Is it age appropriate? Accessible for everyone?
- Bring an extra set of clothes and shoes for hikes and water-based activities.
- Pick up a paper map at a local visitors center just in case cell service is unavailable.