North Myrtle Beach, SC
This is a "must visit" if you are in the Myrtle Beach area. Self-proclaimed “Reptile Capitol of the World,” this is a fantastic place to see a wide variety of reptiles. There are many different types of alligators, crocodiles and caiman’s. Don’t forget to see Utan – the 2,000 pound “King of the Crocs!” The Serpentarium holds many displays of lizards, incredibly large snakes and frogs. Exotic birds such as Kookaburra and mammals also call this place home. Come early to have the best selection of live shows and feedings to choose from. They are available throughout the day.
Along the beautiful coastline of Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina, lies a real castle. Built by philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington and his noted sculptress wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, their home was called Atalaya, modeled in a Spanish Mediterranean style. This served as the winter home for the couple and a place for Anna to spend time sculpting.
Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour or guided tours (based on season). Once entered, the castle has an abandoned feel to it as all rooms stand empty but if you pause a moment, you can imagine the Huntington's life as it may have been in this little slice of South Carolina heaven.
In addition to tours, Atalaya hosts an arts and craft fair in September and seasonally, nightly ghost walks can be taken.
Opens at 6am throughout the year, however, closing time varies so check website for current times.
There is a small admission fee to visit Atalaya, check website for details. Free guided tours offered March 1 - October 31. Audio Tour is available for an additional fee.
16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC
Located about 45-minutes from Huntsville, AL, this is a "must" if you are in the Northern Alabama area. Cathedral Caverns holds a few world records including one for its massive natural entrance. Take a tour of this immense cave and view "Goliath," a massive column that also holds a worlds record. Visit the beautiful stalagmite forest and the "Frozen Waterfall" formation. Paved trail is great for strollers or wheelchairs. Golf-cart rides are available for those in need.
This campground is limited to only 13 electric/water sites only. Contact park for any size restrictions or current conditions.
Gemstone Mining (fee)
Consolidated Gold Mine offers award-winning tours of a real gold mine. Your family-friendly, 40 minute underground adventure begins by descending stairs into the mine. Here, knowledgeable staff bring to life the story of the miners and their struggles to uncover gold deep within large quartz veins. Tour price includes gold panning and include a FREE Gold Panning Sample.
Consolidated also offers gem mining. Purchase a bucket (prices start at $15) of sand and search for precious stones such as garnet, emerald and amethyst.
NOTE: The mine does have three flights of stairs and two ramps and strollers are not permitted in the Mine. Tennis shoes are recommended and closed toed shoes are a must! Flip Flops are not permitted.
Open 7 Days a week Rain or Shine
Saturday-Sunday 10:00 AM-5:00 PM
Check website for current pricing information
World of Energy offers interactive displays that explain how energy is created from coal, water and nuclear power. Very interesting, educational and best of all; FREE!
There doesn't seem to be a website dedicated to World of Energy so search on social media sites such as TripAdvsor or Yelp for more information.
The World of Energy is located next to the Oconee Nuclear Station on Lake Keowee, just off Hwy. 130 about 5 miles north of Seneca.
Hours: Mon – Fri: 9 – 5
Sat : noon-5
Closed: New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Fort Macon State Park is a restored Civil War-era fort, a museum, a coastal education center and also offers a beautiful beach for swimming, surf fishing and beachcombing. Watch the movie in the Visitor's Center to hear of the storied past of this fort before setting off to explore yourself. There are many recreated room scenes to get a feel of what life was like at the Fort during it's different periods of occupation. Museum rooms offer insight into weapons, historical dress and communications to name a few. We were lucky to see a musket demonstration while we were there and sometimes they will have cannon demonstrations! Plan a couple of hours to see everything.
Admission is Free!!
9am - 5:30pm Daily for Fort Macon
Beach open Memorial Day - Labor Day 10am - 5:45pm
2303 East Fort Macon Road
Atlantic Beach, NC
Located in downtown Birmingham, this is truly a "must do" while in town. Golden Flake's factory tour offers participates to see how potato chips and other snack products are made. The tour explains the process from farm-fresh potatoes all the way through to the packaging of the products. Many product samples are given along the way which keeps kids interested. The best part is the tour is free!!
Reservations must be made in advance and there is a minimum age of 5-years-old. There are quite a few Tour Rules so make sure to check them out before you make a reservation.
Tours are usually given at 9:30AM, 11AM, and 12:30PM
Harmony Park is a federally licensed nature preserve of free-ranging exotic and endangered animals. Visitors drive remain in their cars and drive along a 2-mile route to view and feed animals such as deer, antelopes, a zebra, a giraffe, bison, llamas, and ostriches. Don't forget to purchase a bucket (or two) of food when you pay your admission! Once done with your drive, park to view tortoises, kangaroos and the Reptile House.
Open March 1st - November 30th - 10 AM to Sunset - Seven days a week
431 Cloud Cove Road, Huntsville, AL 35803
In operation since 1895, the Incline Railway is said to be the world's steepest, traveling at an incredible 72.7% grade. Passengers board a trolley-like car to experience “America’s Most Amazing Mile” offering scenic views of the Tennessee Valley.
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Top Station: 827 East Brow Road, Lookout Mountain, TN
Bottom Station: 3917 St. Elmo Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37409
Tip: If visiting more than one Lookout Mountain attraction, you may want to look into combination tickets. Visit website for more details.
Lehman Caves may just be the most decorated of all the caves our family has visited. Sparkling formations and unique features such as "shields" are here. Cave may only be entered with a guided tour which are offered daily, year-round, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Park rangers share the history, ecology, and geology of the cave. Two different guided tours of Lehman Caves are offered, the Lodge Room Tour and the Grand Palace Tour. Reservations are strongly recommended in the summer months, as well as over holiday weekends.
Lodge Room Tour:
Lodge Room Tours are approximately 60 minutes long. The Lodge Room Tour travels 0.4 miles, and is ideal for families with young children. The Lodge Room Tour highlights the Gothic Palace, Music Room, and Lodge Room sections of Lehman Caves. Tour is limited to 20 visitors. White Nose Syndrome screening is mandatory. ** Best for families!
Grand Palace Tour:
Grand Palace Tours are approximately 90 minutes long. The Grand Palace Tour travels 0.6 miles, and children must be at least 5 years old to join the Grand Palace Tour (except on tours December through February). This tour visits the Gothic Palace, the Music Room, the Lodge Room, Inscription Room, and the Grand Palace sections of Lehman Caves, including a chance to view the famous "Parachute Shield" formation. Tour is limited to 20 visitors. White Nose Syndrome screening is mandatory.
Visit Website for hours and pricing
Bring a light jacket - cave temperature is always about 50 degrees year round
You can only bring a small flashlight and handheld camera into the cave. No backpacks, tripods, etc.
Ranger will let you know when it is OK to take photos. Remind them to tell you when it is OK. Ours forgot to mention we could take photos until we asked.