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.

DuPont Forest

three level waterfall - top and muddle sections flowing straight down lower section flowing off to the left
Triple Falls at DuPont Forest

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.

long but short waterfall seen from near the base - green trees are above and behind the fall rock faces are on either side
Hooker Falls at DuPont Forest

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.

large waterfall seen from a distance on a sunny day the river and rocks can be in the river bed
High Falls at DuPont State Recreational Forest

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

Large rock outcrop the top of a cliff looking down on area at base of the mountain
The View from Kings Pinnacle

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.

small lake with wooden fishing pier
The lake at Crowders Mountain State Park

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.

rock cliff with earthen stairs to the left leading up warning sign on right saying serious injuries and deaths have occurred beyond this point
Getting Close to the top of the Pinnacle. Near the end of the Pinnacle Trail, stone steps will take you closer to the top.

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

wooden boardwalk just inches above the ground with bench on the right hand side of path trees and vegetation on both sides if oath
The Boardwalk Trail at Congaree National Park is an easy 2.5 mile hike through the wetlands with plenty of places to rest.

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.

swampy arrea with trees growing surrounded by water cypress knees can be seen in the distance
Largely untouched, Congaree National Park looks today as it did to early explorers of the region. It’s easy to see how it was a perfect spot for hiding from the British during the American Revolution and even hiding from revenuers during Prohibition.

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

garden laid out in squares with walkways between each square. Flowers planted in the squares. a stone wall runs behind with a wing sculpture in the middle
Quilt garden with a backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains

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.

seven different species of tree and bush growing as bonsai trees displayed on a ledge including an azalea with pink blooms
All types of Bonsai Trees can be seen at the exhibit.

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.

Garden scale model railroad from above with viewing platform

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

bridge over a river with lots of plats and flowers on it
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge over the Broad River

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.

sign over stone path reading Lake Lure Flowering Bridge flowers and shrubs on each side
The Flowering Bridge is one of Lake Lure’s featured attractions.

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.

lion's head fountain flanked by red flowers and greenery
The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge includes both banks of the river and is made up of lots of different garden displays and areas.

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

cannon on an open field with wooden tower to side
Patriot forces used artillery and a rifle tower in their 1781 siege of the Star Fort at Ninety Six.

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.

Front view of two story log home with covered front porch and chimney on right side
The Andrew Logan home. Built in the 1700’s and typical of the homes of the time.

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

90 foot white obelisk at the top of a gentle hill surrounded by trees with a paved path and green grass
United States Monument (1909) at 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.

1815 Chronicle Marker (on the left) is the first marker placed at Kings Mountain. As the inscription eroded, a second marker (right) was erected to preserve the original text.

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.

gravestone reads To the memory of Col. Patrick Ferguson Seventy-First regiment. Highland light Infantry. Born in Aberdeenshire. Scotland in 1744. Killed October 7, 1780 in action at King's Mountain while in command of the British Troops. A soldier of military distinction and Honor. This memorial is from the citizens of The United States of America in token of their appreciation of the bonds of friendship and peace between them and the citizens of the British empire Erected October 7, 1930
Major Patrick Ferguson’s Grave

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

old reproduction buildings in green grass with blue skys above
Cotton Gin at the Kings Mountain Living History Farm with other farm buildings in the background.


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.

wooden bridge built atop stone pillars across a ravine with lake in background
Foot Bridge built by the CCC beside Lake Placid at Paris Mountain State Park

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.