Content and photography originally posted by Vagabond3
Columbia, South Carolina is great for a weekend getaway with kids. There are educational opportunities, dirt-under-the-fingernails activities, and whole family outings that will make your trip fun as well as memorable. Here are the activities, events, and destinations that we enjoyed most with our daughter.
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
Family Friendly Design, Best Day trip Zoo Yet
I’ll never forget our trip to the Riverbanks Zoo. With it’s wide array of activities, comfortable/breezy layout, and one-of-a-kind splash park, this zoo made the day fly by while not leaving us all in need of another day for recovery.
Our highlights were definitely the lorikeet and giraffe feedings, with Augustine favoring the giraffes with the giant black tongues that licked across her hand while searching for lettuce. However, the savior of the day was the break we all got to take at the Botanical Gardens where Augustine could cool off at Waterfall Junction (a splash pad that’s included in park admission).
While she’s too young to take on the zip line and ropes course, we’ll definitely be returning to give them a try as soon as she’s big enough.
Sesquicentennial State Park
Quintessential Outdoor Experiences
Only twenty minutes from downtown Columbia, Sesquicentennial State Park, also known as "Sesqui," is a super accessible park that’s home to nearly every type of outdoor fun. Year round this state park offers camping, hiking, and kayaking – while seasonally there is a open splash pad for kids.
When heading out to visit, we bought along our hammock and planned on stringing it us as we went on a hike. Instead we wound up spending the majority of our trip within fifty yards of the lake, tying out hammock in the flock of nearby trees and running around in the grass. We missed renting a kayak for the day by just a few minutes, but what I really wish we had planned ahead for would be s’mores at a campsite. Especially in the shoulder seasons this is a fantastic place to overnight camp.
EdVenture Children’s Museum
With three floors of hands-on exhibits, including special rooms devoted to flight, the vet, and grocery stores, the Edventure Children's Museum is a perfect place for younger kids to explore – with parents able to step in and help them discover even more about the world around them.
Augustine’s first stop was the ‘grocery store’ and the ‘vet office’, but ended up enjoying the arts and crafts room the most. With open ended play and baskets filled with a wide variety of ‘maker supplies’, kids can let their imaginations and ingenuity lead them on their own artistic path. The theme for the day was pirate ships, and Augustine ended up creating an egg-crate boat that she still bragged about weeks later.
**This is a popular destination for school groups, if you’re visiting during the week consider stopping by in the afternoon, when most of the school have left.
Family Friendly Fun
With a casual atmosphere, a Kids Play Zone, and a grass section, a trip out to see the Fireflies at Spring Communications Park is one of the best ways for kids to spend a night in Columbia. Our visit was everything a “First Baseball Game” should be – including a chance to hit some baseballs and a giant inflatable slide.
Congaree National Park
A Journey into the Wilderness
South Carolina’s National Park is just a short drive from Columbia, but a completely different experience than what you’ll find at any of the other city and state parks around. With miles of forest trails, this park offers a chance to experience the deeper wooded areas of South Carolina. In addition to hiking, Congaree National Park also offers canoe trails, though visitors need to bring their own canoes into the park.
Traveling with our daughter, the boardwalk trails were ideal for letting us feel like we were disappearing into the woods while making sure she couldn’t run off the path or get lost.
Day Trip – Horseback Riding
Special Rides in Nearby Aiken
Only about an hour away from Downton Columbia, Aiken is home to a number of great equestrian activities. A day trip here can include trail rides, lessons, or taking in a competition.
On our visit, we drove out and watched a dressage event at Stable View.
Most people spend their time thinking of where the adults want to eat, here are a couple of choices that are great for kids – well, at least their sweet tooth.