Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens – Splash pad, new seal exhibit, zip line over the river. Tip: If you plan on going more than once, get the one year, unlimited pass. Check out their website, its worth it.
South Carolina State Museum– In the summer months when the zoo is filled with people, the state museum is an air-conditioned dream with much less commotion, fewer people and plenty of stuff to see and do; a much better combination than the zoo for a lot of kids and adults alike. Tips: Check out the observatory on the top floor; during the day you can look at sun spots and one day a week, it is open at night. Tip 2: Check out the Planetarium Tip 3: See a show in the 4D theater. Tip 4– visit again, you missed something really cool the first time.
Edventure Children’s Museum– After checking out the state museum, go next door to Edventure Children’s Museum. A lot of kids really love Edventure. A lot of kids really don’t. On a nice Saturday, Edventure is loud and crowded, with a guaranteed moment where you are certain you lost one (or more) of your kids.
West Columbia Riverwalk and Cayce Riverwalk– Right across the river from the museums, you’ll find the river walks. Bring a bike, have a picnic in the amphitheater. If you don’t want to cross the bridge, there’s the Columbia Canal and Riverwalk, also featuring an amphitheater as well as spectacular views of the Congaree and Broad River meeting. Tip: If you or your kid like trains, watch them go over the river here; they don’t blow their horns going over the river.
Speaking of trains, the Associated Model Railroads of Columbia dis a hidden gem for model train enthusiasts and those that just want to see something really cool. They are open to the public every Thursday at 7:30 pm. Bring your model train or enjoy theirs. Its also free. I looked for you and there isn’t a gem like this in Charleston or Greenville; only in Columbia at 1800 Lincoln St., Columbia, SC 29201.
Congaree National Park – South Carolina’s only national park is just outside of Columbia in Hopkins (15 minutes at most from Fort Jackson). Tip: Take mosquito spray. A lot of it. If your on the Irmo-Chapin side of Columbia, you probably already know about Saluda Shoals Park and the beach at Lake Murray dam.
Need to beat the heat; For my money, Maxcy Gregg Park’s Pool is the best in the city. Far less advertised than other places; you won’t see any pictures on the county run website, but nonetheless, give it a try, even you guys living on post. Speaking of which, if you have access to Fort Jackson, you can enjoy Palmetto Falls Waterpark or if you want to save the high price of admission there and stay on post, Knight Pool, is a lot less noisy and chaotic, but not as kid friendly.
- Columbia Fireflies- minor leauge baseball
- The First Tee of Columbia– Great program for kids all ages. Well run by terrific staff.
- Woodrow Wilson’s boyhood home.