Places to take Dad this Father’s Day
Still looking for something to do for Dad this Fathers Day? Better hurry up because Father’s day will be here sooner than you think. You could go with the old standby and get dad a new tie, or a new drill, or a new can of Simoniz, but this year maybe think outside the box. How about giving dad memories that he’ll cherish for years to come.
No matter what your dad enjoys there are some great places you can take him that the entire family will enjoy.
For Outdoorsy Dads
Here in the Carolina’s there’s no shortage of places for outdoorsy dads. Whether it’s hiking, fishing, bird watching, or just relaxing in the great outdoors, North and South Carolina have something for dad.
If you’re in the Western Carolinas near the North Carolina/ South Carolina line, there’s no better place to take dad than DuPont State Recreational Forest between Hendersonville and Brevard. The forest not only has lots of hiking trails throughout, but six waterfalls and three lakes. Not only hiking, but biking and horseback riding.
You can even hit three spectacular waterfalls along a roughly two mile hike. If you can find a parking spot, the visitor center is the best place to start your hike. If not park in the larger Hooker Falls parking area and hike down to Hooker Falls then backtrack to the parking area and head on to Triple Falls and High Falls, but be aware that there’s a big hill right before Triple Falls. Or head of the more popular trails and hit up one of the other waterfalls or the lakes.
Both Triple Falls and High Falls have picnic areas overlooking the falls. If they aren’t reserved, they would be a nice places for a Father’s Day Picnic – just be careful with how much you bring in as each shelter is almost a mile from the nearest parking lot. If your dad is the adventitious type head down to the base of one of the waterfalls and have a little picnic on a boulder.
Crowders Mountain State Park
If you live close to Charlotte and don’t want to drive all the way to the mountains, but still want that mountain hiking experience you’re in luck. Crowders Mountain State Park is located just off of I-85 in Gastonia is a great place to take dad hiking this Father’s Day. Boasting the highest peaks in the region, the hiking trail to the top of King’s Pinnacle takes you from rolling hill of the Piedmont to the rocky peaks you usually have to drive hours to reach.
Most of the hiking trails are fairly strenuous, but there are two easier trails near the park lake. Both are fairly level and offer great vies of nature and easy access to the picnic areas. Speaking of picnic areas – the shelters can be reserved for a fee but they’re otherwise available on a first come first served basis.
For the truly courageous types, Crowders Mountain has a number of primitive camp sites available. The camping area is about a miles hike from the parking area and has no facilities, but if you’re looking for a Father’s Day adventure, this might be your spot.
Warning – It’s best to arrive early for your day out with dad as Crowders Mountain tends to be crowded on the weekends and the parking lots may fill up. If you can’t find a parking spot once you arrive, check out one of the other access areas of head to nearby Kings Mountain State Park. The trails at Kings Mountain connect to to the trails at Crowders Mountain so you can still enjoy some time in the park, but it is a long hike to reach the more popular spots.
Congaree National Park
If you’re closer to Columbia South Carolina and want to take Dad on a little adventure this Father’s Day you’ll find it at Congaree National Park. Just 20 miles and a world away from the state capital, Congaree offers a glimpse into what the midlands of South Carolina was like for thousands of years before European Settlers arrived. Thanks to its harsh environment and frequent flooding, the forest has remained relatively unspoiled.
Ten hiking trails run through park but the most popular is the elevated Boardwalk Trail. It loops through the park and gives a good overview of the swampy areas of the park while letting dad keep his feet dry and out of the mud. For a little more fun, head off along some of the backcountry trails and the courageous there are a number of camp sites in the backcountry. Or if you want to camp, but not in the swamp, there are two primitive campgrounds in the park much closet to civilization
For Dads Who Love Gardening
Lots of places in the Carolinas will appeal to dads who take pride in their backyard gardening and landscaping. From formal gardens to botanical gardens most towns have a place withing driving distance where dad could get inspiration for his next project, but a couple of the really great places to check out are:
The North Carolina Arboretum
A day out at the North Carolina Arboretum is always a great time for dad’s who love gardening. Native plants abound throughout the formal gardens that are a great place for dad to get ideas for his next landscaping project. Permanent displays include the fan favorite Bonsai Exhibit and the garden scale model train. Other favorites include the quilt garden that is replanted several times a year to reflect what’s in season.
While the Most of the main complex is handicap accessible with an elevator in the visitor center, there are also plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten path on hiking trails that run through the surrounding area.
While there aren’t any picnic tables, lots of people put down blankets in the grassy medians in the parking lots. Others take coolers to the seating area behind the bonsai exhibit. Others pick up a bite to eat at the Arboretum bistro. Also since the Arboretum is right along the Blue Ridge Parkway and borders on Pisgah Forest, there are lots of other nearby areas where you can have a picnic.
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
Another great Father’s Day destinations for dads who love gardening is the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. Located on the old Memorial Highway Bridge and maintained by local volunteers, the Flowering Bridge features gardens loaded with flowers and plants both along the bridge and on each bank.
After visiting the bridge, you’ll still have lots of time to spend along Lake Lure. Morse Park is a popular walking path nearby, or take a pontoon tour of the lake from the office near the visitor center, or just relax at the Lake Lure beach and water park.
There are lots of restaurants in the area both in Lake Lure and less than a mile away in Chimney Rock village. But if you’re looking for picnic tables you’ll find lots of teem in small park just across the bridge from the Lake Lure Beach, some in Morse, and more in a little park in the Chimney Rock village that sit right next to the Broad River.
For Dads Who Are History Buffs
During the United States Revolution more battles were fought in South Carolina than any other state. Which is amazing considering that SC was firmly in Patriot hands until the fall of Charleston in 1780. If your dad enjoys history, check out these Revolutionary War sites this Father’s Day.
Ninety Six National Historic Site
For history buffs a stop at Ninety Six National Historic Site near Greenwood South Carolina is a must. Not only is it site of one of the first frontier settlements in South Carolina, but also the site of one of the first Revolutionary War battles as well as one of the last.
Like many National Park Service properties, the main trail at Ninety Six National Historic Site is paved so it’s easy to walk on and suitable for wheelchairs. Along the path you’ll see the remnants of the Star Fort, one of the best preserved examples of Revolutionary War earthen fortifications still in existence.
There are a few picnic tables behind the log home near the parking lot. They’re at the end of the main Battlefield Trail, but best to just carry lunch from the car to the tables instead of carrying a cooler for the entire trail.
Kings Mountain National Military Park
Dads who are history buffs will really appreciate a trip to Kings Mountain National Military Park along the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. Occurring at low point for the Patriots during the Southern Campaign in October 1780, the unlikely victory at Kings Mountain gave the Continentals much needed breathing room after a series of humiliating defeats.
Unlike other Revolutionary War sites in the Carolinas, Kings Mountain also represents over a hundred year campaign for national recognition of the battle site. Due to this long campaign there are numerous monuments along the Battleground Trail including some of the first monuments erected to commemorate revolutionary soldiers.
The trail is paved with lots of markers that tell the story of the battle but it is hilly. If dad has a hard time walking, that’s something to be aware of, but there are a bunch of benches along the trail. There aren’t any picnic tables on site, but you can always head down the road to the Kings Mountain State Park for a picnic and to visit the living history farm
Just Get Out and Spend the Day With Dad
Maybe you just want to take dad out someplace special without having a theme. That’s OK too, there are so many places in the Carolinas where you can just get out and enjoy a little time together.
Paris Mountain State Park
If you just want to take dad out someplace nice to relax and enjoy each others company this Father’s Day consider Paris Mountain State Park just outside Greenville, South Carolina. There are lots of picnic tables and shelters throughout the park. Most are along the lake where you can relax, fish, or follow the trail around the lake. Or you can drive a little further into the park to the Sulphur Springs trailhead where there are a couple more picnic shelters along a babbling creek.
Blue Ridge Parkway
If you’re still not sure what to do with dad this Father’s Day might we suggest the old Carolina Standby of a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The best thing about the Parkway is that you really don’t need to have a destination in mind – just drive awhile enjoying the scenery, pull over anywhere that looks interesting, have a picnic if you like or not.
Sites along the Parkway or not too far off include the North Carolina Arboretum, Pisgah Forest, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Linville Falls, and lots more. You won’t be able to visit them all on Father’s Day, but any on the Parkway is a good day and any day, and where ever you take dad he’s going to love.