Free Indoor Activities for the Crazed, Upstate Parent

Looking for free indoor things to do in Greenville? KAG contributor Taryn has some ideas for you! In this list she’s bringing you some indoor spaces that are totally free to visit, provide your crew with entertainment and even some chances to learn a little something new.

Cabela’s

When the cabin fever hits at your house or you just need a witness before your parenting takes a homicidal turn, (can I get an amen?), some of the common solutions are:

  • Outdoor parks—where your children can exert all that tattle-taling energy and soak up some immune-boosting Vitamin D
  • Target—for those days you want to plunge yourself into debt on mustard throw pillows and another 3T tutu
  • The ever-faithful library—who doesn’t love taking home 23 books and incurring vast late fees 5 weeks later?

All of these are outstanding options. Really, they are. Even better, not one of them requires a fee at the door. Sometimes, though, the weather doesn’t cooperate with park days, your bank account is crying out for mercy, and your children seem unable to speak at anything less than jet plane volume.

(As an important side note, all parents treasure the indoor mall play area for the pinch hit, but it’s not every day that you are willing to expose your sweet spawn to a petri-dish of a playground. A parent must brandish a certain brazen confidence and absolute desperation in order to surrender to the mall play area.)

At these moments, you need different options—options with easy parking and free admission. Indoor, budget-friendly possibilities, please! Say no more.

Free Indoor Places to Visit in Greenville

Tractor Supply Company

Affectionately referred to as TSC, Tractor Supply Co. is an absolute diamond-in-the-rough. Before there was “Hearth and Home” and “Magnolia” brands, there was TSC. All the galvanized and farmhouse beauty but in authentic form. Besides the numerous unconventional home décor options, the aisles of pet supplies and farm animal care are wonderfully priced and, quite honestly, fascinating to walk through.

Perusing the rows of farm equipment is a bonus educational opportunity for both parent and child. Seeds and rain boots are a great price and nostalgic kids’ toys at the front of the store offer some great browsing opportunities. Before you know it, you’ll be headed home with a cow-dressed Cabbage Patch doll, a book on backyard duck ownership, several packets of heirloom cucumbers seeds, a hand-carved wooden sign for the kitchen, a galvanized planter for the front porch, tiny Paw Patrol work gloves, and a 3-year plan for chicken coops and chicks from Tractor Supply.

Did I mention the live chicks?

Beginning in March, Tractor Supply carries live chicks. You can’t hold them, but just observing the mangers of fluffy chicks proves plenty entertaining for children–at least 15 minutes of contained time for you to enjoy your latte without pushing a cart. Just settle in with your copy of Beginner’s Composting and let your children enjoy the wonder of fresh, playful chickies. Well, not truly. Please watch your kids in stores instead of reading and be an upstanding patron. But, you know what I mean! You will pull out of that parking lot saying “TSC is the place for me.”

Locations:
1326 W Wade Hampton Boulevard, Greer, SC
550 Roe Center Court, Travelers Rest, SC
206 New Neely Ferry Road, Mauldin, SC
339 Rolling Hills Circle, Easley, SC
3719 Clemson Boulevard, Anderson, SC
2091 E Main Street, Spartanburg, SC
2700 Gentry Memorial Highway, Pickens, SC
391 N Main Street, Woodruff, SC
4441 Highway 9, Boiling Springs, SC

The Home Depot/Lowe’s

Much like TSC, The Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores offer endless browsing opportunities, but on a roomier scale. Just let your kids run down those aisles on dry days for an easy, indoor recess.

Most parents are well-aware already of the magical moving tractors section. Kids admire each colorful one for endless entertainment. So many opinions based upon styles, yes? The red tractor can be far superior to the green one on this trip, and we will never know the true reason.

If you get bored of all the tractor riding, though, don’t discount the rest of the store. The amount of activity kids find in browsing the kitchen displays, gently opening appliance doors, choosing bathroom sinks (trust me), and rubbing their hands over carpet samples is remarkable.

While browsing, always use caution to ensure no damage is done to store items, of course. Touching and holding is absolutely natural and expected in a home improvement store, but use care and common sense!

Sometimes, when the guilt sets in that you’re not buying anything after two hours in the store, you wander over to cleaning supplies and pick up a new bottle of dishwashing detergent. Settle down. You aren’t a complete free-loader. A bronze lawn toad is another unforgettable haste purchase. Rainy days are no match to the eternal fun of these home improvement stores, and you might even spend less than at Target.

Ocean’s Floor

Located near Haywood Mall, Ocean’s Floor is a fascinating aquatic store specializing in natural aquarium assembly and salt-water fish. The small store is dark and beautiful, lit almost completely by aquarium lights. Live plants and ocean rocks are available for purchase in large tubs. The demo aquariums are brimming with greenery and corals native to the fish inside. The little shrimp often conceal themselves so well that just counting shrimp in a tank consumes a few minutes. The real highlight of visiting Ocean Floor, however, is the staff. The staff are happy to answer your questions and patiently talk with curious children. If you end up convinced that your household isn’t complete without aquatic life, the betta fish set-ups are reasonably priced and come with more instruction from employees than you find at a pet store. All-in-all, Ocean’s Floor is a wonderful way to spend a drab afternoon and, perhaps, support a small, local business.

Location: 135 Mall Connector Road, Greenville, SC 29607

Cabela’s

Cabela’s is honestly a combination of Tractor Supply and Ocean’s Floor. You will find dozens of areas where you can simply wander and learn about different lifestyles and hobbies. The large aquariums and ample animal displays hold the attention of even the littlest shopper. Besides, are you even a millennial parent if you don’t snap an Instagram photo of your angel spawn at the stone fireplace entrance?

Cabela’s has it all. As long as you’re not squeamish regarding taxidermy or uncomfortable around weapons, Cabela’s is fun for the whole, perusing family. It’s hard to leave there without the urge to plan a family camping trip—that is, until you walk back out into the blazing heat or torrential rain and remember that either of those two weather patterns could actually happen while you are out in your tent. Reality check 101 right there. Consider carefully.

Location: 1025 Woodruff Road #H101, Greenville, SC 29607

So, the next hideous day that you want to avoid the flu at the Chick-fil-A playground and don’t have the funds for a day at The Children’s Museum, be not afraid. Your free, indoor extravaganza awaits you. Just think outside the box.

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