What family isn’t looking for a way to stretch vacation dollars?
There are plenty of free -- or nearly free -- places and activities to take advantage of in South Carolina. Here is a look at four:
Catch some history
The Cowpens National Battlefield in Gaffney
is a Revolutionary War battle site that commemorates the victory of Brigadier Gen. Daniel Morgan over his dreaded foe, Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, in the cause for American Independence. It was an important link in a chain of events that ultimately led to the defeat and surrender of the British commander Lord Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown, Va. The battlefield is a unit of the National Park System, a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior.
The 845-acre park is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and features a visitor center, battlefield, trail, auto loop road around the perimeter of the battlefield, and a picnic area.
It‘s free to visit. The only charges are to reserve the picnic shelter. The battlefield is at 4001 Chesnee Hwy, Gaffney
There also are re-enactments and other events scheduled throughout the year. For more information and a listing of the events, see www.nps.gov/cowp
Cool off in Charleston
Kids can get cool off in downtown Charleston
at the city’s Waterfront Park
There are two splash areas, offering an area for toddlers and young kids to play in the water, and an area with stronger sprays that is a big hit with older kids (and more than a few parents, too).
The waterfront park covers 8 acres along Charleston Harbor, and offers places to relax, picnic, read and soak in the sites.
Stroll the boardwalk
The new Myrtle Beach boardwalk and promenade
opened this year, letting you stroll along the oceanfront from Pier 14
at 14th Avenue North to the Second Avenue North pier
Along with being a perfect place for a family walk, the 1.2 mile long boardwalk
is home to festivals and events all summer long.
The mid-section of the boardwalk
, from Plyler Park to the former Pavilion amusement park site at 8th Avenue North, has more of a carnival feel, with dining and shopping areas. The southernmost end of the boardwalk leading to the 2nd Avenue North pier is more of a meandering oceanfront park.
On Tuesdays and Saturday nights, you can catch the free concerts at Plyler Park. On Wednesday nights, take in the fireworks display off the 2nd Avenue North Pier. Sunday nights you’ll find juggling, acrobatics and carnival performers, Thursday there will be a strolling bagpiper on the boardwalk, while Friday brings a strolling Dixieland band.
If you do want to spend some money, there are shops along the way from Pier 14
to the Second Avenue Pier
Movies and music at the park
Columbia’s Finlay Park
, one of the city’s most popular parks, features a man-made waterfall, two playgrounds and plenty of open space. It’s also home to two free weekly events for families in the summer.
On Friday nights, check out Movies in the Park
. Family activities begin at 8 p.m. and the movies start at sunset. See www.columbiamovies.org
for a listing. And don’t forget to bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on.
On Saturday nights in the summer, grab your blanket, lawn chairs and picnic basket and head to Finlay Park for a free concert in the shadow of downtown.
The Summer Concert Series
has been a family favorite for years, with bands bringing a different style of music each week, from blues to beach to big band.
You are not allowed to bring grills, alcohol or pets, but food and beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are sold by vendors.
The music runs from 8-10 p.m., but families arrive earlier to grab a spot, feast on a picnic and let the kids enjoy the playground. Finlay Park is at 930 Laurel St.