It's college commencement time. Over the next few weeks, thousands of families will be pouring into college towns -- from Columbia to Clemson, Charleston to Greenville -- watching members of the class of 2012 walk across the stage.
Heading into town with kids in tow? Here's something to do in some of the towns that will let the little ones burn off some energy (before sitting through a commencement speech).
Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina, the state's flagship university. You can't visit Columbia with kids without making a trip to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, one of the country's best. It's only a few miles from downtown (and campus).
If you don't have enough time for a full visit to the zoo, consider a romp through Finlay Park. Close to downtown, the 14-acre park features a scenic waterfall with a cascading mountain-type stream, picnic tables, playgrounds and a large open grassy area.
The state's second largest university, Clemson, is located in the small town of Clemson in South Carolina's Upstate. Adjacent to campus, you'll find the South Carolina Botanical Garden, a 295-acre public garden, features several thousand varieties of ornamental plants and a unique collection of nature-based sculptures. Kids also might enjoy a stroll through the Clemson Experimental Forest. There are trails and waterfalls to see. A good way to spend a few hours.
Here are the sites for some other colleges around the state, each offering some nearby fun:
Coastal Carolina University, Conway-Myrtle Beach.
College of Charleston.
The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Charleston.
Furman University, Greenville.
Presbyterian College, Clinton.
Wofford College, Spartanburg.
Newberry College, Newberry.