Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Greenville, SC - Great Family Getaway!

Summer is coming to an end QUICKLY.  This week starts the school preparation events, beginning with Freshman Orientation for my 14 yr old heading to High School.  How did I become the mom of not one BUT TWO high-schoolers!  AHHHHH!!!  One of my favorite family traditions is our last family getaway of the summer.  We usually can squeak in one last little local getaway before school starts.  This time it was to the fabulous and close city of Greenville, South Carolina!

We hit the road Friday early afternoon to get ahead of the weekend traffic and in only two hours from Atlanta we arrived at our hotel (or in kids language it only took one movie to get there).  We stayed right downtown (which I HIGHLY recommend!).  We love a getaway that we can park the car and leave it parked until we head home.  This was certainly one of those types of trips.  I chose the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Greenville for it's proximity to Falls Park on the Reedy, the price and their willingness to kind of promise us (wink wink) two adjoining rooms.  Traveling with six of us - two rooms is a necessity and with the youngest being only five adjoining rooms are also kind of a necessity.  Check in was super smooth! Chris and the kids parked and unpacked the car while I got us checked in. -valet is $20 a day and self park $10-  Headed up to our rooms on the 6th floor.  Put our stuff away, hit the potties, grabbed some bottles of water along with our baseball tickets and headed out to Fluor Field located in Greenville's newly re-invented West End.

We took the scenic route to walk over as many fun bridges as we could over the Reedy River.  Also a quick visit to the Liberty Bridge over the falls.  The stadium was under a mile from the hotel and an easy enjoyable walk.  Fluor Field is a mini replica of Fenway Park complete with the Green Monster!  Greenville Drive is a feeder team for the Boston Red Sox.  We got there just before six - gates open one hour before the game time. With a little time to spare we visited the Team Store.  Got ourselves a BIG FOAM finger for Avalynn and a Greenville Drive t-shirt for Grayson.  
 Just beyond the gates they had one of the players giving autographs so Grayson got him to sign his new shirt!  Lots of yummy food options including BBQ and Chic-fil-a, both standards of the south.  They even had a family meal deal - 4 hot dogs, 4 drinks and a large popcorn for like $16 pretty reasonable?  They had a great beer selection.  There is the mascot Reedy Rip'It the frog wandering around entertaining the crowds AND there is "The Baseball Guy".  They have a playground and grassy knoll seats.  Our second row, first base line tickets were a whopping $8 each!  Our night began with the Big League World Series teams parading around the field.  The Series was being played just a few towns over that same weekend.  So exciting to see so many excited young players from all over the world. It was also DISNEY NIGHT at the field which was so perfect because that is our next family trip - Disney in the fall!  With Disney trivia on the big screen and Disney tunes every time the opposing team was up at bat, Avalynn was extremely intrigued by baseball.  It was funny to hear A Whole New World playing as a burly baseball player is up at bat.
A few highlights for us-
  • Grayson getting his picture taken with Yoan Moncada - Moncada is a player to watch, at only 20 yrs old he was recently signed by the Red Sox for $31.5 MILLION 
    Grayson and Yoan Moncada -- two up & coming baseball stars in my book
  • Singing "Sweet Caroline" with the crowd apparently the song has been played at Fenway since at least 1997 and at the middle of the eighth inning at every game since 2002

      THUMBS UP! - The Girls and The Baseball Guy

    • The girls getting their photo taken with "The Baseball Guy"
    • $4 Blue Moon Specials - it was a Blue Moon in the sky this past weekend
    • Sitting so close to the field that we had to watch out for balls flying at us
    • Grayson catching a foul ball
    • Disney tunes and trivia
    • Finally FIREWORKS! 

    Stroll back to the hotel was sweet and simple for all especially Avalynn who traveled on Chris' back the whole way.  It was one of those summer nights where the temperature finally dropped and you are just so content you can't help but smile.  You almost feel like you are floating you are so happy.  You know the end of a day where you just look at your family and you can feel how much you love them and how much they love you!  After getting back to the Courtyard Marriott we took quick showers and hit the sack in anticipation of another great day in Greenville tomorrow....
    Our first FUN thing Saturday morning was our reservations for brunch at La Passerelle at 10am.  Planned this on purpose at that time so that we could leisurely wake up and take our time getting ready.  This lovely french bistro is right next to the entrance to the Liberty Bridge.  Which meant our table was right next to the falls!  Eating delectable french food paired with mimosas while listening to the rushing water of the falls was magical.  What did we talk about at breakfast?  We planned our next trip of course!  We had to make some family decisions on what FastPasses we were going to book for our trip to Disney in October.  Since nowadays you need to book your Fastpasses 60 days out from your trip, we needed to get it done.  It was fun to vote and make choices together.  Makes us really feel like a team.

    After brunch we headed up Main Street to stroll the Saturday Market farmer's market which runs every Saturday morning from 8:30am-12:30pm from May through October.  The market was impressive.  A great variety of vendors were represented.  Many food offerings and live music!  

    After the Saturday Market we stumbled upon an incredible building right next to the Westin.  That appeared to be a bookstore now.  I said "hey let's check it out" and boy are we glad we did!  It was one of the most unique bookstores I have been to.  Not overwhelmingly huge or anything but very indigenous to the area.  M. Judson Booksellers and Storytellers just opened that Monday.  The staff was extremely friendly.  I was given a tour of the sections in the store which was super airy and bright.  The counters were all made of stacked books - nice touch!  They have a cute Children's section mostly hard cover picture books and board books.  I would have liked to have seen a few soft cover choices just a little easier on the wallet.  There is a LARGE food book section - cooking books and books about food and cooking.  I loved the southern section - an entire area with all books all southern y'all.  We purchased a chocolate chip cookie, an iced tea from the little cafe'and a couple books of course.  Hoping this little gem thrives and prospers right there in the heart of Greenville.

    Throughout our day we completed an extra FUN activity which deserves a post all of it's own.  We did the Mice on Main Scavenger Hunt as a family.  Working together to read clues and find mice that are hidden up and down Main Street.  If traveling with kids it's A MOUSY MUST!
    Mice on Main Scavenger Hunt Post
    Back to the hotel for regrouping - you know potty, drop off purchases, freshen up the deodorant (it is the south in August) and grab a few more bottle of water.  (be sure to throw a case of H2O in your car before heading to Greenville especially if it's summer)  We stocked both our mini-fridges with water, apple slices and a few cans of Corona in ours!  Avalynn was so excited when she opened the kid's room fridge and yelled "mom, they have FREE apples!".  I also threw a little snack bag for the two rooms together - pop tarts, mini muffins, small cereals for anyone that woke early and couldn't wait til brunch.  Along with chips, cookies, etc.  Another item we grabbed was our towel bag because we were on our way to get wet!

    Over to the falls to stumble around on the rocks - mind you signs are posted that you are not supposed to do this but everybody does.  The kids had bathing suits under their clothes so that if they got wet it wasn't a huge ordeal.  Chris and I mostly sat on the rocks watching and holding our breathe as they carefully climbed their way around the slippery rocks.  I snapped a ton of pictures.  We did see a slithery friend with our first step in the water.  So keep in mind it is nature and nature does live there.  Packed up after our tons of pics and me saying "Chris tell them to get down!" 100 times.  Our next stop was a cute train themed splash pad right on the river in front of the Hampton Inn.  The Downtown City Plaza Water Jets were a great way to cool off.  Here the kids could really get wet!

    The convenience of the location of our hotel was incredible.  Stopped quickly to shed the kid's wet suits and get into dry undies.  Off again - happy and cool!  A few more cold waters and there were more mice to find and more shops to shop and more snack to snack.  What a marvelously free feeling to leave the hotel for the afternoon and not have one thing on our schedule.  Found all our mice - after working together I mean really working together.  A few were tricky especially because we did the hunt backwards.  Ice Cream Cones were the perfect reward for our BIG WIN!  Marble Slab Creamery has amazing dipped waffle cones and ALL their mix-ins are unlimited and FREE!

    A few short shopping stops, some of which were -
    The Vault - great little shop with throwback sports apparel with old-school team logos
    Mast General - Since 1883 this is not just a store it is a destination.  Everything from outdoor apparel, t-shirts to cute kids toys and of course penny candy!
    O.P. Taylor's Toy Store - "The Coolest toy store on the planet!"

    Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley... We took advantage of the FREE Trolley Greenville offers in and around the Downtown area.  It was a nice break from walking.

    Got off right near The Trappe Door.  This basement pub offers a huge belgium beer selection and tasty treats. We wanted some cold air and a cold brew.  We ordered several orders of frites (french fries) with each order we got to choose THREE mayos from their mayo menu - YES, I said Mayo Menu!  Got a charcuterie board, duck spring rolls (mmmm) and cheese croquettes to share.  The kids chugged more water - important to stay hydrant in the summer heat.  We played Family Feud Strike Out Card Game.  We laughed a bunch at a few of the questions - the teenagers thought the question "What on the Incredible Hulk is LARGE?" was hysterical.  I think we ended the game in a tie.  Walked back to the hotel to decide if our late afternoon snack was enough or was it time to search out a real dinner.  We voted real dinner it was.


    Back down to the West End - found yet another bookstore although this one I imagine has been around for a while.  Joe's Place has it all - wine, gourmet coffee, art and books, loads of books both new and used (including a nice selection of vintage books).  Got myself a copy of Catherine the Great from 1926.  It has an unusual color splattered cover and it has an inscription in it (I love stuff like this) -
    J. Adams Brown Brick House Farm Pleasant Valley L.N.F. 1927 

    For dinner we wound up at Mac's Speed Shop.  Tasty food and a fun relaxed atmosphere.  Loved our waitress!  So beat by this point.  It was a LONG day of fun and food!  Thank God we did all that walking.  Chris had a new app on his phone that showed we did 10,000 steps just from noon on!

    After a good night's sleep we packed up, checked out and had brunch at the hotel.  Before heading to check out a few colleges in the area.  Remember I began this post with we now have two in high school.  We made two brief stops on the ride home one at Furman University and one at Clemson, both beautiful campuses.  Honestly can't believe we are at this point already.  Last year the girls high school principal said, "the days are long but the years are short" during a parent night.  I started to cry right there in the auditorium.  It is statements like these and the speed of time that makes weekends like these all the more important!

    A few more fun pics from our GREAT GREENVILLE GETAWAY!


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