Columbia, South Carolina, is known as a "famously hot" city for a reason. So when the temperature rises, and the kids need to burn off some summer vacation energy and parents want to cool down, where do folks go?
Fort Jackson, of course!
No, not to sign the kids up for Basic Combat Training. Fort Jackson is not just the largest Army training center in the country. It's also home to Palmetto Falls Water Park, one of Columbia's best-kept secrets.
Palmetto Falls is open to both military and civilian families. It features a big swimming pool, a meandering lazy river with plenty of inner tubes and a spray park for the littlest visitors. Added bonuses are a big and shady playground, and grassy places to play out of the water. There's even a snack bar with a good-sized menu for lunch.
But, as many children would argue (and at least a few grown-ups would agree), the park's best features are its slides. There are pint-sized slides for younger kids and some big, thrilling slides for older ones. The long, tall, twisty slide is great.
If you were to judge by where all the kids line up, however, you'd see that the most popular attractions are the racing slides. Take your place at the top of the slide next to your opponent, wait until the lifeguard yells, "Go!" and push off. A few seconds later, you're in the splashdown pool at the bottom, a bit dazed as to how you got there so fast, and ready to climb back up the steps and race again.
Palmetto Falls is open to the public Tuesday through Friday. Weekends are reserved for military families and season pass holders only. Non-military families can buy their tickets online and in advance. There are no day-of purchases allowed. For more information on this policy, and where and how to buy tickets, see the water park’s website.
For more information on recreation in South Carolina, visit DiscoverSouthCarolina.com/recreation.