Whether you’re heading to Columbia SC for a much-needed family escape or find yourself in town for a business trip or function with kids in tow, we’ve compiled 7 ways to spend a quality day with the fam.
Kayak + Cool Down
If you are intimidated by full-on camping with the family, start with a no-brainer like a guided tour with Palmetto Outdoors. A 3-hour guided tour kayaking the Congaree Creek in Congaree National Park includes all the equipment you need to enjoy all the nature without all the hassle. Offered in spring and fall. Pro tip: If you are looking for a guided tour experience but “free” is more in line with your budget, try Palmetto Outdoors 12,000 Year History Tour at Congaree Creek option. Afterwards, treat your crew to a shaved-ice sweet treat at Pelican’s SnoBalls (multiple locations).
Best for: Ages 10 and up
Planes and Puppets
Watch as puppetry arts come alive at the Columbia Marionette Theatre. Catch a performance of The Frog Princess on Saturdays this spring and purchase a puppet to take home and practice. Tack on a trip to EdVenture Children’s Museum and explore their newest exhibit, Flight, where your mini aviator will learn about aeronautics and experience the sensation of flight from a Boeing 757 cockpit.
Best for: Toddlers to Early Elementary Ages
Escape Room and Ice Cream
Spend the afternoon at Escapology and complete a mission against the clock. While your adrenaline may be pumping, the experience is not designed to be scary and is suitable for kids and teens. Children under 8 play free with adults. Afterwards, make your way to Sweet Cream on Main Street and try the “secret handshake” flavor.
Best for: Early Elementary and up
Jump and Shake
If your kids have energy to burn, head to Adrenaline Entertainment Center for Open Jump. Afterwards, treat them to a burger and a milkshake at the legendary Rosewood Dairy Bar. Pro tip: We do not recommend reversing the order of these activities.
Best For: Early Elementary and Up
Trail Walk and Craft Brew (for you)
If you are rolling into town with jogging stroller in tow, check out Congaree National Park’s 2.4 mile Wilderness Loop or the Dreher Island State Park 2.1 mile Little Gap Trail. Refuel with some yummy bites and craft beer on the patio at River Rat Brewery (no kid-shaming here).
Best for: The Stroller Set
Soda City + Cinema Saturday
Make a day of it on Main Street with a trip to Soda City Market in the morning (starring coffee and food vendors, cool art + lots of people watching) followed by a kid-friendly film at the Nickelodeon Theatre. The Nick kicks off their Saturday Stories this spring with $5 kids tickets and a family-friendly matinee.
Best for: All Ages at the market; As for the movie, only you know your kid’s “sit-still ability”.
Brunch and Art Walk (or Drive)
Fuel up at one of Columbia’s many kid-friendly brunch spots like Za’s, The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli or BLD Diner. While there visit One Columbia’s recently-launched public art directory and plan take in some amazing murals, sculptures and experiential art pieces (and grab a few great shots for Instagram in the process).
Best For: All Ages
Have more time? Riverbanks Zoo has baby lions, gorillas and a giraffe born in 2018, so stop by for a cuteness fix or to enjoy Waterfall Junction as the weather warms up. Check out their new behind the scenes experiences (book ahead for select times on weekends) for a chance to be on stage with the sea lions, feed an elephant or get up close with the zoo’s penguin colony.