Come one, come all: Guide to Accessible Experiences in Columbia SC
Thursday, October 21, 2021 12:00 AM by Charlene Slaughter
Visitors of all abilities will find many opportunities to enjoy all that Columbia SC has to offer. Outdoor attractions, museums and restaurants alike offer resources to make sure the region is accessible. Here are some of the many inclusive ways to experience Columbia.
The Great Outdoors
Columbia is known for its year-round seasonal weather, and our parks and outdoor spaces are always on the must visit list. Some of the parks in the region dedicated to an inclusive experience include Leo’s Landing Inclusive Playground at Saluda Shoals Park and the All Inclusive Park at Carraway Park in West Columbia. In addition to being ADA accessible, both offer great amenities for people of all abilities. At Leo's Landing you’ll find nature-based play elements like Treehouse Village with a roller table, balance elements, and spinning elements; Hillside Slope featuring a crawling tunnel, various slides, and a ramp connecting to the Treehouse Village; a swing area featuring high back, bucket, and belt swings, as well as a wheelchair platform swing; a sound garden with musical elements including chimes, drums and other musical instruments; and a nature play area featuring an accessible glider in the shape of a riverboat. The All Inclusive Park at Carraway Park features a zip-line type swing, a slide and other playground equipment that can be accessed by all children.
For hiking a nature trails, head to Sesquicentennial State Park! The two mile Sandhills Hiking Trail is resurfaced and wheel chair friendly and features the sights and sounds of the Sandhills. See a variety of plants and wildlife on the Loop Road Trail or take a short half mile journey on the Jackson Creek Nature Trail that ends with a scenic view of Centennial Lake. At Congaree National Park, the Boardwalk Trail starts from the Harry Hampton Visitor Center and winds 2.6 miles through a section of the old-growth bottomland forest. A self-guided brochure is available and the entire trail can be accessed by visitors in wheel chairs and includes ramps to get to the elevated section.
The largest and most comprehensive museum in the state, the South Carolina State Museum has four floors of permanent and changing exhibits and a 4-D interactive theater and observatory, all accessible by elevator. Wheelchairs are also available at no charge and benches are located throughout the museum. The Columbia Museum of Art offers a variety of services to ensure the accessibility of the museum and its collection. All CMA entrances and interior public spaces are barrier-free and wheelchair accessible, the museum offers multimedia guides (TAP tours) free of charge. Lightweight, portable stools are available for use during any visit to the gallery and wheelchairs are available free of charge. Power assist entrance doors are located in the Boyd Plaza entrance facing Hampton Street and in the Main Street entrance.
EdVenture Columbia is also committed to barrier-free experiences for visitors with elevators serving each of the museum’s floors, All bathrooms and water fountains are wheelchair accessible, parking for people with disabilities is available and service animals are welcome.
At Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, all exhibits, restrooms, trams, restaurants and gift shops are wheelchair accessible. The zoo allows people with disabilities to use wheelchairs (manual and electric powered), electric scooters (3 and 4 wheel models) and manually powered mobility aids such as walkers, canes, crutches, braces and other similar devices into all public areas of the park. For the convenience of Riverbanks’ guests, wheelchairs are available for rent at the Riverbanks Gift Shop in the Zoo’s main entry plaza and at the West Columbia ticket booth.
After you’ve worked up an appetite partaking in outdoor activities or touring a museum, there are great restaurant experiences to explore from al fresco dining to rooftop cocktails. Many restaurants have easy access including smallSugar and Gervais & Vine in the Vista who have ramps. Want to take in some of Columbia’s rooftop views? Both Hendrix on Main Street and Black Rooster in West Columbia have elevators to access two of the most popular rooftop experiences. In Lexington, Second Wave Coffee and Books not only offers accessible outdoor and indoor spaces, you will find staff of all abilities working there as the coffee shop offers the opportunity for full community life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.