College football season means weekend trips to stadiums all over South Carolina.
The two biggest venues are Memorial Stadium (better known as Death Valley) in Clemson and USC's Williams-Brice in Columbia. More than 80,000 fans fill each of those stadiums on fall Saturday afternoons and evenings.
Heading into town for a game and looking for a some ideas to keep the kids entertained for the rest of the weekend? Here are a five favorites at each location:
A museum kids will love: EdVenture
Columbia is home to EdVenture, one of the best children's museums around. It features Eddie, a really big boy (he's 40-feet-tall sitting down), and kids can climb all over him, including a journey inside his brain, heart, stomach and other body structures. The museum features all sorts of hands-on exhibits. It‘s on Gervais Street in Columbia‘s Vista, next to the South Carolina State Museum, and close to plenty of dining and shopping options.
Congaree National Park houses a museum-quality exhibit area within the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, a 2.4 mile boardwalk loop trail, more than 20 miles of backwoods hiking trails, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and some of the most amazing trees you'll ever see. The park is home to the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest remaining on the continent. The park is about 16 miles from Williams-Brice Stadium -- a straight shot down Bluff Road.
The Cayce Riverwalk offers a chance for families to walk, jog or ride bikes along the banks of the Congaree River. Bridges, boardwalks, overlooks and a lighted central path make it a great spot for kids of all ages to explore. You can even fish for striped bass in the Congaree. The Riverwalk is 2.5 miles long, with scenic overlooks on the river, seating and picnic areas and restrooms.
In the center of Columbia, kids will find a lot to like about Finlay Park. The 18-acre park just off Assembly Street features playgrounds, man-made waterfalls and plenty of open spaces for a picnic or a game of catch. It's a family favorite for locals and visitors.
A walk around the university's famed historic Horseshoe is a must-do for every alum back in town (or future students who want to get a feel for the campus). A stroll through the rest of the campus is fun for kids, too, who want to get an up-close look at where their parents spent their college days. From campus, you can walk down Greene Street to Five Points, for lunch at one of your old haunts. Some, like No Name or Andy's and Groucho's delis probably haven't changed too much. And kids will find plenty of foods they like on the menu.
What kid doesn't love ice cream? And this is real Clemson ice cream. Ice cream made and sold by students has been a Clemson tradition dating back to the 1920s. The '55 Exchange, located in the Hendrix Center on campus, offers more than a dozen flavors of traditional ice cream.
Fun on the water.
Lake Hartwell, a large lake located primarily in nearby Anderson County in the Upstate, is home to all sorts of water activities. Check out Portman Marina, the largest inland marina in South Carolina, less than 15 minutes from Clemson.
About 7 miles northwest of Walhalla on S.C. 28, you'll find the 1,617-foot-long Stumphouse Tunnel. It was started in 1852 to connect Charleston to Knoxville, but the Civil War and lack of funds ended construction. It's now a monument to the efforts of pre-Civil War engineering -- and it‘s a great place for kids to explore. The tunnel is 17 feet wide and 25 feet high. About half-way in you'll hit a airshaft that extends 60 feet upward, causing a constant cool breeze. Plus the tunnel has a Clemson connection. The university bought it in 1951 as a place to cure its famous blue cheese. That's now done at Clemson, but the tunnel still belongs to Clemson University (and kids still call it the cheese tunnel).
If you have the time and the sense of adventure, the Chattooga River on the South Carolina-Georgia border offers some of the finest whitewater rafting you'll find.
Oconee State Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains offers cabins, campsites and non-demanding hiking trails through the Southern Appalachian forest. The park's lake offers the opportunity to fish for bass and bream. Just a few miles north of Oconee State Park you can drive your car to the Chattooga River on Burrells Ford Road, where kids can stand on the river bank and throw a rock from South Carolina to North Carolina.