City of Columbia Mayor Benjamin and family at Mast General Store
With the school year drawing to a close, it's time to make some family plans to keep the kids busy this summer! In honor of National Travel & Tourism Week, we're highlighting the many reasons why Columbia, SC is The New Kid-Friendly Hot Spot (read about more Columbia hot spots).

Whether you're a visitor looking for a family adventure or a local looking to have a family day of fun, here are some things to do with the kids in tow:

EDDIE® at EdVenture Children's Museum
EdVenture® Children's Museum is the South's largest children's museum and also boasts the World's Largest Child - or, as we like to call him, EDDIE®. Weighing in at 35,000 pounds and sitting at 40-feet-tall, EDDIE® is one huge addition to the Southeast's largest children's museum and also serves as an interactive exhibit for visitors. The museum also features rotating exhibits that are sure to delight, such as this spring and summer's "Blooming Butterflies."

The second Tuesday of each month is Family Night. From 5 -8 pm, take advantage of $1 admission for each  person in your family.

The giraffe overlook at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
Go wild!
At the zoo, that is. With more than 2,000 animals, a botanical garden and interactive things to 'zoo,' Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens is a day in itself. Feed the giraffes or the lorikeets, go above and beyond at the Sky High Safari, get up close to some 'roos at the Kangaroo Walkabout, climb the rockwall or ride some ponies during your trip. 

Get outdoors
How about getting back to nature? Head to Saluda Shoals Park to rent kayaks or canoes for the family and cruise down the Saluda River. If you don't want to get in the river, kids love Saluda Shoals' water playground. The park also offers picnic areas and bike rentals with paved trails.

Congaree National Park
Just outside of downtown Columbia, SC is Congaree National Park, South Carolina's only national park. It's free, and, in addition to wooded trails throughout the park, the elevated boardwalk gives you a better look at the old growth bottomland hardwood forest around you. Find more parks and outdoors.

Sally Salamander Walking Tour
Find Sally and Logan
Sally: Walking tours are a perfect way to enjoy beautiful weather and experience the capital city. Follow the official state amphibian, Sally the Salamander, on a walking tour through Columbia's downtown streets. She starts at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and finds her way to many of Columbia's major landmarks.

Logan the Leprechaun
Logan: Even though it's not St. Patrick's Day, look for Logan the Leprachaun in Five Points. He hides in Five Points year round, but especially loves when his favorite pool (the Five Points fountain) turns green for St. Pat's. See if you can find all the Logan figures and discover one of Columbia's beloved districts while you're at it. Find more walking tours.

South Carolina State Museum
Explore the past
Get a peek into the past at the South Carolina State House, where you can learn about South Carolina's most iconic building. Then, check out the South Carolina State Museum to get a hands-on learning experience of the state's past, from its natural history through its contributions to space exploration. Kids love looking at the Museum's giant shark suspended from the ceiling! Find more museums.

Columbia Marionette Theatre
Take a trip to the theatre 
The Columbia Children's Theatre or Columbia Marionette Theatre offer shows year-round that delight kids and adults alike. For a list of performances, search for theatre events on our calendar.

Read a story
A library you don't want to miss, Richland Library features a children's room with a mural of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, the first and only place where Sendak has allowed his work to be used as public art. Storytimes for younger children, like a "pajamarama" and family storytime, will take your kids on a journey into their imaginations.

The library also partners with the Columbia Museum of Art to offer hands-on art activities for children. (And on a side note, admission to Columbia Museum of Art is free for children under 5.)

Jump and play around
Take the family to Frankie's Fun Park for an afternoon of go-cart racing, arcade gaming and putt-putting at three 18-hole mini golf championships. Monkey Joe's Northeast or Monkey Joe's Lexington are also kid-favorites for a day of "monkeyin' around."

Of course, all things families love about Columbia, SC couldn't fit into one post, so find more things to do, attractionsfamily events and more at

Families: What's your favorite kid-friendly thing to do in Columbia, SC? Leave a comment below and let us know.

National Travel & Tourism Week is May 4-12, 2013, and we've got something planned each day. Find out how to be a tourist in your own backyard this week at Drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter with any questions, or to share photos with us about how you're experiencing Columbia, SC each day.