Fort Mill Times

There's lots to do here at home

Here it is July Fourth week and the peak of summer at Lake Wylie is here. There will be children having a great time at Camp Thunderbird and making memories that will last a lifetime. The lake will be abuzz with activity from early morning to late night.

This year, with the all-time-high price of gas, we expect a lot more families in the region to look locally to a spend a day or weekend at the lake. It is a season of friends, family, picnics, fun, relaxation, recreation and making memories. There are endless opportunities for boating, hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, relaxing, golfing and exploring. Here are just a few opportunities and ideas for summer fun throughout the season:

• For those wanting the camping and hiking experience close to home, McDowell Nature Preserve has campgrounds, fishing piers, hiking trails and picnic pavilions in a beautiful wooded park on the lake. Or take a hike up Nanny's Mountain, accessible from S.C. 49 or 274, just past Five Points in Lake Wylie. You don't need to drive hours to enjoy nature, camping or a picnic. Kings Mountain State and National parks are minutes away from the lake located just west of Clover and Gastonia. These parks are rich in history, beauty and recreational opportunities. They also have campgrounds and a small lake in a natural setting. These are fabulous hidden jewels and places to gather with family and friends to create memories to last a lifetime. An overnight camping experience and gathering around a campfire to share stories and make s'mores can bond folks forever with a rich experience of fun and friendship.

• For entertainment and thrillseekers, try a roller coaster ride or the water park at Carowinds, offering a full day and nights worth of rides, water activities and entertainment. Family passes make it so you can come and go with your family all summer long.

• Don't forget the new Whitewater Center in North Carolina on the Catawba River if you want to try out the rapids and spend a day in the sun and water. This new center is attracting a lot of interest and is a new experience to enjoy.

• If your idea of an all-American day includes a baseball game, Knights Castle will have Charlotte Knights games all season and fireworks for the a special Fourth of July celebration. Before the game, visit Baxter Village in Fort Mill, complete with an ice cream shop.

• Long Cove Marina on the main channel of the lake off Pine Harbor Road is a beautiful park-like location with marina, swimming pool, beach, campground, bath house and picnic area. Long Cove is a perfect location for a company picnic or family reunion, or just a great day on the lake. Better yet, enjoy a summer on the lake with Long Cove amenities for an annual membership for less than $300 a year. Long Cove has one of the most spectacular views of the lake.

• Ebenezer Park on the south end of the lake off Museum Road in Rock Hill has a beach for swimming, picnic and camping areas.

• Head to The Peach Tree in Filbert near Clover or to one of the roadside farm stands selling fresh peaches, berries and produce. Pack a picnic or have lunch on the deck at T-Bones on the Lake to soak in the beauty of the lake and its activity.

• For the flower and garden lovers, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont is not to be missed. Summer is the time to soak in the sights and smells of beautiful summer flowers and gardens there, including the new Orchid Conservatory. Take a picnic and enjoy these gifts close to home.

• Take a detour and go into to Belmont with its small town charm and beauty and enjoy the Stowe Park and Farmers Market held on Saturdays. Enjoy lunch at the Cherub Café on the Main Street or get an ice cream cone or coffee. A stop into the merchantile with its selection of vintage toys and atmosphere reminiscent of days gone by is a treat for kids of all ages. The train still come through town which is a thrill for the little boys who are fascinated with toy trains.

Don't let the high gas prices stop you from enjoying recreational opportunities. Gather your family and friends and explore the many locations and experiences for summer fun close to home.

Susan Bromfield is president of Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce. For more information, stop by the office chamber office and Visitor Center at 264 Latitude Lane in Lake Wylie.