Fun in a Flash

By Nan Bauroth

Check out these easy destinations for a mini, local escape.

Sunset Kayak Tour

Savor glorious paddling at dusk through the serene waters of Lake Haigler at Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill. Guides outfit you with a kayak and flotation device and ensure everyone is confident with equipment before exploring the natural beauty at your own pace. Cost is $15 per single kayak and $20 for a tandem kayak, required for children under 12. Info:

High Seas Miniature Golf

Step back in time at this entertaining venue, set on a deserted island and featuring pirates in search of lost treasure. The course contains 18 holes, most a par 2 or 3, that give you a chance to hone your putting skills as you navigate a shipwreck with skeletons, treehouse, waterfall, alligator and lagoon. Located in Indian Land, the course is great fun for a date night, family outing or child’s birthday party. Info:

Cool Vibe at Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne

Spend a fun night out by catching the Live@Aloft Hotels acoustic performances by emerging artists, featured every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the WXYZ Bar, known for its cool city vibe. Enjoy signature drinks, hang around late in the Re:mix lounge with friends or play a game of pick-up pool. Then, stay overnight and work it all off in the morning on one of the new Peloton bikes in the fitness center. Info:
For the latest live acts, see Aloft’s Facebook page:

Carolina Harbor Water Park

When the weather turns hot, there’s no cooler spot than a water park. Carolina Harbor at Carowinds has more than 25 acres of aqua adventures guaranteed to keep everyone splish‑splashing for hours. Blackbeard’s Revenge, the new six-story tall water slide complex, features Pirate’s Plank, a nearly vertical free fall; the Captain’s Curse chute with four, 360-degree turns; and the Cannonball Drop. You can also rent a private cabana to stay made in the shade with a mini-fridge and satellite TV. Details:

Beer Garden at Daniel Stowe

Tiptoe through the tulips with a local craft beer at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Gaston County. The new Beer Garden, located near the Orchid Conservatory, features grassy lawns for picnicking and cornhole games, along with patio tables for dining. There is also live music during events, including the weekly Sip and Stroll on Thursday evenings. (You can also order wine.) The Beer Garden is open from noon to 4:30 p.m. on weekends through July 8 and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays through Aug. 30. It will re-open on weekends from Sept. 1 through Oct. 28. Info:

‘Timed Out’ Escape

Play mind games for an hour at Timed Out, the Ballantyne area’s first escape-room experience, expected to open this summer. In “Wild West,” you have one hour to solve 15 to 20 puzzles and prove you are the rightful heir to a gold mine owned by your Uncle Jed and Aunt Bessie. In “Precinct,” your mission is to discover why three detectives have disappeared. Escaping is a collaborative effort, with a minimum of two participants for Wild West and four for Precinct. Reserve online at

Staycation at The Ballantyne

Indulge yourself at The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte. The $50 Resort Credit package features a $50 credit per room per night toward dining, spa treatments and golf. Valet parking is complimentary. You can also kick back with lawn games and a cookout at the outdoor pool. Rates are from $219 plus tax per night. Reservations: 888-627-8048 or


Fountain Jets at Blakeney

Nothing says summer like the spray of a fountain. At the Shops at Blakeney, three enchanting fountains in The Park create a delightful gathering place day and night. Children get the giggles running through the jets as parents relax on benches beneath arbors or at patio tables with umbrellas — enjoying a Starbucks cup, ice cream creation from Coldstone Creamery or alfresco meal from eateries that include Brixx Pizza, Greco Fresh Grille and Five Guys Burgers. There’s also live music every Friday and Saturday night. Info: