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Delicious! Our Favorite Bakeries in Columbia, SC

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Are you looking for your new favorite bakery? Columbia, SC has a diverse and vibrant bakery scene. There is no shortage in Columbia when it comes to tackling that sweet tooth craving!

There’s something so special about walking into a local sweet shop and picking out the perfect baked good. In this article, we’ll highlight a few of our favorite bakeries around town and provide an extended list that are all worth the visit.

Whether you’re looking for the best petit four in the state (maybe I’m biased, but it is REALLY good), a delicious gluten-free or vegan cupcake that requires two hands to eat, or a heavenly slice of cake; we’ve got you covered.

Find your favorite bakery! Columbia, SC is full of great bakery options.

From the famous Tiffany’s Sweets, Eats and Meeting place in Northeast Columbia, to the adorable Love a Cup Bakery staking its claim in West Cola, to the O’Haras bakery nestled in downtown Lexington, we’ll introduce you to these bakeries and what makes them special to our city. We’ll also include an extended list of bakeries that you don’t want to sleep on! So get ready to indulge in your senses and explore the world of bakeries in Columbia!

Tiffany’s Eats, Sweets and Meeting Place – NE Columbia


If you haven’t visited this local gem, you should stop what you’re doing now and head on over. Make sure to check their hours though as they are selective. Tiffany’s really holds such a special place in our Northeast Columbia hearts. Since 1977 this establishment has been serving up some delicious bistro-style meals in addition to its outstanding confectioneries. This bakery is worth a lunch trip if you have time because you don’t want to miss out on their freshly made soups or sandwiches (made from their own freshly baked bread!) or salads.

The real prize of this place though, without a doubt, the Petit Four. These tiny, melt-in-your-mouth cakes steal the show at any baby, bridal, or wedding shower. Don’t wait for a special occasion to indulge though, pop in any time and grab one (or a dozen) and just sit back and go to your happy place.

Tiffany's Sweets

Love A Cup Bakery – West Columbia

They are currently temporarily closed, so be sure to check ahead of time before heading out.

True to its name, these desserts really feel like they’re made with love. The owner, Mrs. Curry, can usually be found baking away or behind the counter, but she’s as sweet as the treats she’s putting out. Not only is there an abundance of cupcakes, cookies, and desserts to try in store, but specialty items are available for order as well. The one thing you don’t want to miss out on, the cupcakes. So big, and so many amazing flavors to choose from, the only thing you won’t enjoy is having to pick just one! Good thing you can buy as many as you like.

Not only are these cupcakes perfect for any occasion, but also for almost any dietary need. Love A Cup offers vegan and gluten-free options for several of their desserts! These are not lacking in flavor a bit, so if you’ve got a craving and require a special diet option, look no further!

O’Hara’s Bakery Cafe – Lexington


This bakery, and brand, have created quite the stir in downtown Lexington. O’Hara’s has expanded their bakery to now include brunch and lunch options, and they look just as tempting as their desserts! Whether you’re in the mood for a coffee and breakfast pastry on the go, or a cappuccino and slice of amazing cake to dine in with, this place has you covered!

We enjoyed the red velvet cheesecake (a specialty item at the time) and a slice of their Butterfinger cake (definitely something to write home about). The bakery features some rotating specialty baked goods as well as a defined menu of muffins, pastries, cakes, and cookies! What more could you ask for? A little-known secret around town too, is the owners bought out the recipes from the beloved Nonnah’s that used to reside downtown. So if you’re missing any of your favorite treats, it’s worth the drive to stop by and see what they have!

Don’t hesitate to step next door to the original O’hara’s for lunch or dinner as well. Irish pub vibes with some amazing dishes you don’t want to miss out on.

Ohara's Bakery Cafe in Lexington, SC
O’hara’s Bakery Cafe

Extended List: Find a great bakery in Columbia, SC

Here are some more bakeries around the Columbia area that you absolutely don’t want to skip!

Ally & Eloise — Main Street / Forest Drive
Silver Spoon Bake Shop — Devine Street
Sweet GG’s Bake Shop — Harden Street
The Strudel Shop — Washington Street
Meesha’s Sinful Cakes — Two Notch Road
Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli — Devine Street
Blue Flour Bakery — St. Andrews Road

10 Things to Do With Babies in Columbia, SC

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Running low on day-date ideas with your baby? If you’re looking for things to do with babies in Columbia, SC, you’ve come to the right place.

Finding activities to keep a baby entertained and stimulated throughout the day can be exhausting. It can sometimes feel like you’ve done everything there is to do! TWICE! You’ve played peek a boo and patty cake, made all the silly faces, and walked your neighborhood as many times as you can handle. Now you may be wondering, what’s left?!

Things to do with babies in Columbia, SC

Luckily for moms of babies under 1, Columbia has some activities to add to your list! Whether you want to get outside for some fresh air or find some indoor space for your baby to learn and play, we have some great options here for you.

In this article, we’ll discover spots around the city that are perfect for sweet newborns and all the babies who aren’t quite independent enough for the big kid stuff. We’ll talk about places like Riverwalk that offer great walking paths for strolling in the peace and quiet, and PlayMatters’ indoor sanctuary for babies to learn and play.

Take a look at the list of ideas and plan your next day date with your baby! Bonus points if they just take a nap and you get to enjoy a latte and a restful afternoon instead!

In fact, here’s our list of awesome coffee shops in Columbia, SC, to get you started!

Riverbanks Zoo

My family loves the zoo! I’ve been bringing my son since he was just a month old. The memberships they offer are so great for families and it allows you to visit any day you’re in need of fresh air!

If your baby isn’t old enough to appreciate the bigger animals, there are plenty of close-up exhibits that will catch their attention.

The sea lions are a great attraction for babies along with the penguins!

Riverbanks Zoo, sea lion exhibit

Riverbanks Zoo
500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia

EdVenture Children’s Museum (My Backyard Area)

EdVenture really is such a staple attraction in Columbia for kids of all ages. You might think you’re baby under 1 isn’t quite ready for all they have to offer, but don’t worry! There’s a 3-and-under area called My Backyard that has space for crawling babies and tons of objects with textures for them to explore.

Another plus, my backyard area has a designated nursing area, family bathroom, and gated entrance. 

My Backyard exhibit at EdVenture

EdVenture
211 Gervais Street, Columbia

Check out the Kidding Around review of EdVenture in Columbia, SC.

PlayMatters

This unique space in West Columbia offers “enchantment inside meticulously curated play realms”. Specifically made for babies and toddlers to be curious and use their imaginations.

Baby not walking yet? No problem!

The rooms include toys, books, and puppets to keep babies of all ages entertained.

Make sure to check out their web page for booking a visit!

PlayMatters SC 
3685 Leaphart Road, Suite A, West Columbia

Riverwalk

I realized very early on that one of the best ways to entertain my son when he became restless was to go for a walk! When the weather is nice and we have a free hour or so, we don’t hesitate to make a trip to the Riverwalk in Cayce.

More times than not, a nap ensues within minutes of walking. It’s so important that we all get some fresh air though, even if he sleeps through it I know the trip was well worth it.

Learn more about Riverwalk in our Kidding Around article on the Three Rivers Greenway Trail.

Water access at West Columbia Riverwalk

Stroller-friendly parks in Columbia, SC

Looking for more places to go for a stroll?

Here’s a list of great stroller-friendly parks near Columbia!


Soda City Market (only on Saturdays)

Another great way to get outdoors and have your baby mesmerized by their surroundings is planning a visit to the Soda City Market on a beautiful Saturday morning. There is so much to see and hear and TASTE!

Your baby will be so captivated by all the people and furry friends as well as the numerous musicians that set up along the main street.

Don’t leave without grabbing a treat from a local vendor or food truck!

1300-1600 Main Street, Columbia

Kidding Around has a list of all the Farmers’ Markets in Columbia, SC. Check them out!

Saluda Shoals

Saluda Shoals has so much to offer for parents of little ones. From its beautiful nature paths along the Broad River, to its splash pad for the mobile babies, and even indoor areas to explore with the younger ages. There are memberships available but if you just want to make a quick trip, pay the parking fee and enjoy your day!

Located inside the park is also Columbia’s largest all-inclusive playground at Leo’s Landing. So whether you’re taking a calm walk with your baby, or letting your toddler run around on the soft turf, this place is sure to accommodate!

Leo's Landing imagination play space

Saluda Shoals Park
5605 Bush River Road, Columbia

Columbia Marionette

This gem has held a space in Columbia’s heart since 1988! The marionette theatre is a magical place to take small children for some entertainment that doesn’t include a screen. The theatre offers a schedule of rotating shows throughout the year.

Admission is $7 for ages 2 and up. My son at only 7 months sat through a performance and was truly captivated! The shows last roughly an hour and they have freshly popped popcorn ready for purchase. Check out this unique experience with your baby and watch their little minds light up!

Columbia Marionette Theater 
401 Laurel Street, Columbia

Richland County Library

Columbia has some really amazing library programs happening around the city. Richland County Library is a great place to start when looking for some baby-friendly activities. They offer free events daily for parents and babies to attend!

Children's area at Richland County Libraries

Some great options for babies under 1 include family storytime for both English and bilingual audiences, as well as a Hello Baby! course for growing your baby’s vocabulary and motor skills!

Visit the library events page for more information and to book your first visit!

There are multiple Richland County library locations.

Music Class

Tempo Music and Arts in Columbia, SC

Bring baby to an outdoor music and movement class with Tempo Music & Arts

Tempo Music and Arts
302 Senate Street Columbia, SC 29201

See Some Art: Columbia Museum of Art Stroller Tours

Babies up to age 2 can join parents and caregivers in a stroller tour at the Columbia Museum of Art. It’s free with regular admission or membership entrance.

Stroller tours happen about one Saturday a month at 10:30 am. Just keep on the youth and family events on the museum’s website.

1515 Main Street, Columbia

Looking for more fun things to do in Columbia?
We have a whole guide for families, grownups, big kids, and everyone!

Check out the biggest list of things to do in Columbia, SC. Its the start of some super fun days.

All the Buzz about Bee City Zoo: Summerville, SC

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Have you visited the Bee City Zoo? There is something so wonderful about watching your child’s face light up when exploring new places and learning new things. One place that is always sure to excite and encourage curiosity is the zoo!

A zoo that is really setting itself apart from the conventional animal sanctuary is Bee City Zoo in Cottageville, SC. Recently, my family took a day trip to this little animal kingdom to see what all the buzz was about. We truly had such an adventure exploring this zoo and your family will too!

Tickets were provided by Bee City Zoo for this review. The opinions are those of the writer.

In this article, I will tell you all about our journey around Bee City, the must-do activities, and unique exhibits. This little off-the-beaten-path gem has so much to offer. It’s more than worth the 1 hour and 45-minute drive from Columbia, SC.

This zoo is dedicated to the conservation of the honey bee and its extraordinary role in our ecosystem. Don’t let the name fool you though, there are many other activities to see and an abundance of animals to learn about.

As we venture into the heart of Bee City I’ll tell you all about our experience feeding the animals, learning about the honey bee, and taking a safari ride! Prepare to get excited about this heartwarming zoo and start planning a trip for your family to explore Bee City!

Scenes from the zoo

Here’s what you’ll see at Bee City Zoo.

Arriving at Bee City Zoo

Where is Bee City Zoo?

Cottageville is a very sweet country town right outside of Summerville, SC. Getting to the zoo in this town will definitely require a GPS or maps application. It is nestled off back roads with a few signs directing you along the way.

Bee City Zoo entrance

Once you get close though, you won’t miss the entrance. The main parking lot right outside the zoo doesn’t have a lot of space, but there is an overflow parking lot directly across from it that is a very short walk. The parking lots are gravel and dirt but we had no issue at all pushing a stroll to the entrance.

When you get to the ticket gates there are 4 lanes with workers prepared to help you. For this article, we were given tickets to visit Bee City and take a safari ride, along with the activity coins for feeding birds, kangaroos, and the monkeys.

The employees will explain which animals can eat which foods, but don’t worry about forgetting the rules because they are well-posted throughout the zoo! Safaris are by reservation only and it’s a good idea to check their schedule online because you can book before you go, or check at the gate to see if seats are still available when you arrive.

Purchasing animal snacks and food

If you would like to feed the animals, you’ll need to purchase some when you arrive. Large cups of oats, and carrots are $3 each. There is also a $12 combo that includes each of those cups as well as monkeyos to feed the monkeys, and coins to enter the bird and kangaroo exhibit for 2 people. If you’d like to purchase the Monkeyos separately they are $2, and the coins providing 2 entries each in the kangaroo exhibit or the bird exhibit are also $2.

Once you’ve got your tickets and animal treats it’s time to explore the zoo!

Lemurs waiting for treats at Bee City Zoo

Feeding The Animals

What animals are at Bee City Zoo?

  • Monkeys
  • Lemurs
  • Kangaroos
  • Birds
  • Giraffes
  • Reptiles
  • Sloth
  • Farm animals
  • More!

Monkeys

One of the first areas we decided to explore, and arguably the most fun, was the monkeys and lemurs. We had such a good time holding out their treats for them to grab directly out of your hands! Some of the monkeys do have a pulley system or tubes they retrieve their food from but there are plenty of stations to hand feed as well.

Speaking of hands, there are several hand-washing stations around so make sure to take advantage when you see one!

Feeding a monkey at Bee City Zoo

Llamas, goats, and more

Past the monkey area, you can find a plethora of hooved animals that are waiting not so patiently for their treats as well! We got to feed llamas, goats, emu, camels, and zebras! There are several other exotic deer and antelope through this route so make sure to save some snacks for them too.

Some of these animals can eat the treats right out of your hand while others have areas to pour their snacks.

We arrived at the zoo around 11 am on a Saturday and I wondered if the animals would have been full by then, but not a single animal we encountered turned away a snack! This is something to consider if arriving later in the day, however.

Llamas at Bee City Zoo

Birds and Kangaroos

We really enjoyed visiting the exhibits that required coins to enter like the bird feeding area, and the kangaroos. Inside the bird exhibit there are lots of birds flying above and also some ducks waddling around so be mindful of where you step!

The kangaroos had definitely been well-fed by the time we arrived as they were not nearly as interested in the food as the other animals. There is a trail you have to stay on inside the kangaroo exhibit, but the kangaroos are clearly not aware of the rules and roam as they please. It is truly an up-close encounter with them!

Are there Giraffes at Bee City Zoo?

One of the final exhibits we really enjoyed was feeding the giraffes! The zoo currently has two toddler giraffes in their care that are so curious and love their carrots! The feeding times do vary for the giraffes so make sure to check the times when you arrive. This feeding is included in your admission and it’s a very up close feeding with an attendant monitoring the experience.

Safari Ride

Our safari ride was scheduled at 1 pm on a Saturday which must have been a popular time because it was packed full! There are signs directing you to the safari area so if you book a ride make sure to look for this spot ahead of time so you don’t have to rush there when you’re ready.

The safari ride consists of two tractor-pulled trains that drive you through an outdoor exhibit full of some really fun animals! You stop twice along the ride in two separate areas so you can hand out treats.

Our ride was directed by zoo attendants who were really knowledgeable about all of the animals on the ride. They introduce you, by name, to some of their unique or really friendly animals such as E.T. the camel or Elvis the emu.

On our ride, we also saw some amazing bovines, zebras, and yak! When the trains stop, you are able to stand up and move around but you cannot leave the train itself. No worries though, the animals know what you’re there for! Within a couple of minutes, the trains are surrounded by animals looking for a treat and they truly get up close and personal.

On safari at Bee City Zoo

While strollers are not allowed on the train there is an area to stow them inside the safari area, as well as a place for your animal treats if you still have some. My family had so much fun doing this and I highly recommend booking the experience!

Animal Encounters

Bee City offers many options for animal encounters and petting zoo-style interactions. I was so excited to enter the reptile area and see they had a baby (well 2-year-old) alligator out of its enclosure for visitors to interact with! The zookeeper was so experienced with these animals and she knew so much about the alligators in her care as well as how they live in the wild.

Holding an alligator at Bee City Zoo

We were allowed to hold the alligator, which she gave us instructions on how to do, and it was such a great experience! If you have a reptile lover in your family you will love this exhibit! Lots of amazing snakes, lizards, and turtles in the reptile area.

For an additional cost, the zoo does offer personal encounters with a variety of animals. You can view the prices and animal list on their website, it includes experiences with armadillos, kangaroos, and even a sloth! We did not do one of these encounters but I would look into booking one for a special occasion like a birthday party!

Bee City Zoo

The Bees!

Now to the zoo’s namesake. There is a wonderful little exhibit inside the zoo where visitors can see the bee houses and even a hive you can open up and look for the queen! On the zoo’s website, you can find a ton of information about their involvement with the Lowcountry Beekeeper’s Association and even join as a member. You can buy honey from the bee’s you see here as well as many other homemade products from their beeswax.

While I did expect more of an experience with the bees, it was really amazing seeing the bees at work in their homes and reading about all the family does to educate the public about the importance of the honey bee and the art of beekeeping!

Bee hive at Bee City Zoo

Food and Drink at Bee City Zoo

There is a cafe located inside the zoo that can accommodate all of your family’s basic needs. We were able to bring water bottles in with us, I didn’t bring any other food but it doesn’t say on the zoo’s website that you are not allowed to. The cafe has what I would consider normal prices for an entertainment venue. While we did not eat here I did see prices between 10 – 15 dollars for meals like chicken tenders, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

Gift Shop and More

I’m not normally one to browse a gift shop because I will inevitably impulse buy something overpriced. We were very impressed however with the prices at the Bee City gift shop! We found stuffed animals between 10 and 20 dollars! My son fell in love with a little bee we found and at these prices, I couldn’t say no!

There are tons of fun gifts in there as well, from honeycombs and lotions made from the bees that live here, to local artists’ souvenirs and of course some personalized Bee City Zoo memorabilia. You have to exit the zoo through the gift shop so if you were hoping to avoid your kids seeing all the trinkets and things you’re out of luck, but it’s worth the tour if you’re looking for something fun to take home!

Gift shop at Bee City Zoo

Last tip for the Bee City Zoo

One additional thing that felt worth a mention is the cell phone service. Or rather, lack thereof. We had ZERO signal once we arrived at the zoo, which I wasn’t expecting in a place so close to Summerville. Luckily, the zoo has very good wifi you can connect to for free so don’t panic if you see no bars!

Bee City Zoo
1066 Holly Ridge Lane, Cottageville, SC

General admission costs $15-17 per person. Purchase your tickets online at Bee City Zoo.

Day Trips from Columbia, SC

Love a good day trip and looking for more?

Don’t miss our huge day trip guide to Columbia, SC!

Museums and More: EBT and SNAP Discounts in South Carolina

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Are you looking for discounted admission at museums or zoos? SNAP and EBT benefits recipients can take advantage of discounts at amazing museums and attractions across South Carolina, simply by presenting their EBT card. In fact, there are several EBT FREE Museums and SNAP discount admissions offered at great museums right in Columbia, SC.

In this article, we’ll look at the discounts provided to EBT and SNAP recipients in South Carolina. We’ve included deals in Columbia, SC and those within a day’s drive to Charleston, SC, and Greenville, SC. These venues provide educational experiences as well as recreational time for families with kids of all ages. If you participate in either the EBT or SNAP benefit programs in South Carolina check out the list and start exploring!

SNAP and EBT Discounts on Activities and EBT FREE Museums in South Carolina

EBT and SNAP Discounts in Columbia, SC

Summertime in Columbia can be full of fun, family time, and hot afternoons. Kids are home from school and trying to keep them entertained can be a struggle! Especially when you start to factor in the cost of a family outing. We are lucky to have so many free outdoor activities in this city, but sometimes an adventure can cost a pretty penny.

We are so glad to see Columbia offering a helping hand to families through discounts offered for those receiving EBT and SNAP benefits, like the new EBT Perks program. These discounts give all kids the opportunity to visit South Carolina’s best-known attractions, and give their parent’s wallet a break!

South Carolina State Museum

Discount: $2.00 admission for up to 4 members of the household!

Address: 301 Gervais Street, Columbia SC 
South Carolina State Museum

It only seems appropriate to start with one of our cities most nostalgic attractions. The SC museum operates out of a building that originally held the first fully electric textile mill in the state! This place was transformed into a place of exploration in 1988, hosting a floors full of history about our state, country and ancient ancestors.

You can also experience a digital dome planetarium, 4d theater, and observatory! Check out their calendar to see the rotating exhibits, and ever-changing events like digital laser shows and more!

EdVenture Children’s Museum

Discount: $3.00 admission for up to 6 people!

Address: 211 Gervais Street, Columbia SC 
EdVenture Children’s Museum

EdVenture has been inspiring kids to learn through play for many years in Columbia! I remember being brought here as a kid with my family and on field trips with school. There are so many interactive learning experiences for kids of different ages. They also have rotating experiences that are so fun like the butterfly exhibit, or science experiments. Check their calendar for these events as well as sensory-friendly nights!

edventure indoor playground
EdVenture

Columbia Museum of Art

Discount: Free admission for up to 4 people, including the SNAP EBT card holder!

Address: 1515 Main Street, Columbia SC
Columbia Museum of Art

CMA is in the heart of downtown, located at 1515 Main Street. This museum is so awesome for kids and adults. They have rotating exhibits all year long that display educational, diverse, and inspiring artwork.

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Discount: Purchase up to six $5 general admission tickets for any age!

Address: 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia SC
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

We LOVE our zoo in Columbia! Riverbanks has been in Soda City since 1974 and as far as we’re concerned it never gets old! So many great exhibits to see, educational instructions scheduled on different days, giraffe feedings and so much more!



Charleston, SC SNAP and EBT Discounts

Charleston Museum

Discount: Free admission for up to 5 people including the EBT card holder!

Address: 360 Meeting Street, Charleston SC
Charleston Museum

Fun fact, this is America’s FIRST museum! Founded in 1773, this museum has been offering some really amazing insights into our state’s history with permanent and rotating exhibits. There are some hands-on experiences for kids, as well as beautiful fully furnished homes to show what it was like living centuries ago.

Patriots Point

Discount: Free admission for up to 4 people per family!

Address: 40 Patriots Point Road, Mount Pleasant SC
Patriots Point

This Naval and Maritime museum is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s a perfect experience to add on to a summer trip to Charleston. This museum lets you see into the life of a navy crew member aboard the USS Yorktown. If that’s not impressive enough, there are several other National Landmark Ships, a Cold War memorial, and the only Vietnam Experience Exhibit in the US. It is truly an adventure for kids of all ages.

The South Carolina Aquarium

Discount: $40 Family membership! This includes 2 named adults plus all children in your household under 18.

Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston SC
The South Carolina Aquarium

This aquarium offers so much for a family day full of fun! So many exhibits that introduce animals from the land and see. There are interactive kid discovery zones, instructional exhibits that include animal showings, and even a touch tank! A perfect addition to a day trip on the coast.

Sea Turtle Hospital at the SC Aquarium

The Powder Magazine

Discount: Free museum admission for up to 5 people!

Address: 79 Cumberland Street, Charleston SC
The Powder Magazine

The Powder Magazine has been many things in the city of Charleston, including a gunpowder storage room, a print shop, and a wine cellar! This museum is now open to the public and holds centuries of knowledge about our colonial beginnings. Check out their web page for some of their special scheduled events!

SNAP and EBT Admission Discounts in Greenville, SC

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate

Discount: $3 entry for all household members!

Address: 300 College Street, Greenville SC
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate

This wonderful museum was created for kids by Moms in our state! There are two locations, Greenville and Spartanburg. Each museum is packed full of intentional and inclusive play. The exhibits are designed to engage kids in areas of arts, science, health, transportation, the environment and more. Less than a 2 hour drive from Columbia, this would make a great day trip!

Sigal Music Museum

Discount: Free admission for up to 5 people!

Address: 516 Buncombe Street, Greenville SC
Sigal Music Museum

Take a trip back in time in this musical immersion experience. Sigal Music Museum offers an experience to delight music lovers of all ages! With a rotating exhibit of permanent pieces as well as acclaimed musical instruments from around the world, the museum offers visitors the chance to celebrate the history of music. Don’t forget to check their schedule for live concerts as well as select performances using period pieces!

The Greenville Zoo

Discount: Up to 6 tickets (2 adults and 4 children) may be purchased for $5 each.

Address: 150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville
The Greenville Zoo

Spend some time with the giraffes, lions, monkeys, snakes, and more at Greenville’s zoo. The location in Cleveland Park couldn’t be any more perfect for an afternoon. So don’t forget your picnic and leave some time to play at the park!

Museums for All Program

The Museums for all initiative was launched in 2014-2015 and encourages people of all backgrounds to regularly enjoy the museum experience. The goal is to eliminate the cost barrier for any family in hopes that the museum experience is more inclusive and available!

Museums throughout the United States participate in the Museums for All program. Check out their website to see details on admission and to find participating museums outside our city and state! Then, use your EBT card to gain free or reduced admission.

Do you know of additional discounts offered to those with EBT or SNAP benefits? Please let us know in the comments.

Exploring Stroller-Friendly Parks in Columbia, SC

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It can be hard finding enjoyable outings for the whole family. Especially if you require stroller accessibility! Luckily, Columbia has a plethora of parks to explore that can accommodate kids of all ages, even the ones that still require some wheels. No matter what side of town you’re on, our little city provides some delightful ways to escape the bustling urban environment. Have a new adventure by taking a stroll(er) in one of our many beautiful stroller-friendly parks in Columbia, SC.

In this article, we will list some of our favorite Columbia parks to visit with strollers. All of these parks include stroller-friendly pathways that are fun and safe for families. From the open aired roaming Finley Park to the shaded meander through Maxcy Gregg, you’re sure to find one that provides you with an outdoor excursion that doesn’t require any off-roading in the baby mobile.

Stroller-friendly parks in Columbia, SC

Finlay Park is Stroller-Friendly

This park has had many lives in Columbia, SC. It has been nested between the streets of Assembly, Taylor, Gadsden, and Laurel since before the Civil War! The 18-acre area has so much to offer.

Two playgrounds, stroller-friendly paths, open field areas, and covered swings on an upper level. You may even capture an event or festival taking place in the amphitheater at the entrance. My family grew up visiting this park, playing on the now handicap-accessible playground, and running through the waterfall. Pack for a long afternoon of playing, exploring, and maybe even a picnic!

Finlay Park
930 Laurel Street, Columbia

Riverfront park, stroller-friendly in Columbia, SC
At Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park: Bring the strollers

One of the most popular parks in Columbia has to be the Riverfront Canal. It is completely paved and stroller friendly from the parking lot all the way to the river’s end. Which is a total of 4 miles, one way. There are so many great stops along the way to get a great view of the Broad River while resting on a bench or standing at the overlooks. You can see tons of wildlife on this walk which makes it so fun for the kids.

This park does stay busy so be mindful to always walk on the right side and stay aware of runners and bikes. A friendly reminder that there are public restrooms at the beginning and end of this trail only! One thing we really love about RiverFront is the open grass area nestled next to the river. If you’re lucky, find a couple of Adirondack chairs facing the water and let the kids run free while you relax!

Riverfront Park
South Riverfront Park Address: 312 Laurel Street, Columbia
North Riverfront Park Address: 4210 River Drive, Columbia

Walking and biking at West Columbia Riverwalk
Riverwalk

Riverwalk is Great for Strollers

Okay, let me acknowledge the confusion first. Yes, there is a difference between River “Front” and River “Walk”. Although these parks are not too far apart, they offer very different experiences, and you don’t want to miss out on either!

Riverwalk in Cayce is a beautiful 8-mile trail alongside the Congaree River. This trail actually connects to several smaller trails throughout Columbia. The area is well-mapped with posts along the way so don’t worry about getting lost.

One of the biggest differences I take into consideration when deciding between these trails is the shade. Riverwalk offers a much shadier walk which can be really necessary for our hot and humid summers! The park still borders the river so feel free to dip your toes in while you’re out!

Riverwalk, shaded trail in Columbia, SC
Riverwalk

Besides the shady trees, there are numerous shelters, benches, and lookouts along the way to take a break. At the head of the trail sits an amphitheater where you might catch a Friday night concert in the cooler months.

Riverwalk
Access the main entrance at the intersection of Axtell Drive and Naples Avenue

Three Rivers Greenway trails in Columbia, SC

Cayce Riverwalk is part of the Three Rivers Greenway Trail. Find out all about it in our mom review of Three Rivers Greenway Trail.

Maxcy Gregg offers a little garden stroll

This is one of our smaller parks and is not meant for a day-long hike or outing. Rather, its a good spot for a cute little picnic and stroll. It is located in the heart of our downtown, right outside of Five Points and inside the University of South Carolina campus. Maxcy Gregg offers a little garden side stroll, lovely shaded pathways, and art installations in its .3-mile walk.

If you’re already downtown don’t hesitate to grab a coffee from one of the local spots and take the kiddos for a little fresh air in this adorable park. It’s a wonderful area to visit in the fall when the leaves have fallen and you’ll find many a student studying away under one of the beautiful trees in the park.

Maxcy Gregg Park
Near the intersection of Blossom Street and Pickens Street in Columbia

Saluda Shoals

If you’re looking for a park with LOTS to offer Saluda Shoals is the park for you. This park does require a $5 parking fee but you can easily spend an entire day out with the family. From walking trails to river tubing, to splash pads and Leo’s Landing (an inclusive playground the kids will LOVE) what else could you need?

Saluda Shoals Park along the river

The trails are well paved for strollers for most of the pathways, even the not paved trails still offer a smooth ride. There are activities and events throughout the year and this park makes an excellent option for birthday parties or showers as well. The information for renting out shelters (or even a train ride through the park!) can be found on their website.

Saluda Shoals with babies in Columbia, SC
Things to do at Saluda Shoals in Columbia, SC

Also, don’t miss our Kidding Around Review of Saluda Shoals for all the details on the park, trails, and great playground.

Saluda Shoals
5605 Bush River Road, Columbia

Page Ellington

This is one of Columbia’s newer additions in the up-and-coming Bull Street district. With 20 acres of open public park, Page Ellington features a beautiful paved walking path around a small water habitat and a dog park.

While this area is still undergoing a lot of changes, we are really loving this new family-friendly area right next to Segra Stadium. The dog park is free as well as the parking surrounding the park. After a little stroll, you can easily walk down to a couple of restaurants for a meal, like Publico which offers indoor and outdoor seating.

Page Ellington Park
2220 Gregg Street, Columbia

More Parks

Find the perfect place to play in our Columbia, SC Playground and Park Guide!

Parks: Columbia, SC with playgrounds and fun places to explore

Discover more of the best parks in Columbia, SC

Try These Outdoor Restaurants: Columbia, SC Family Dining

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What better way to spend some time outdoors than by making a meal of it? One of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy dinner is al fresco at outdoor restaurants. Columbia, SC has some really great venues to accommodate. These restaurants not only offer an environment suitable for children, but they also have some fantastic menu options. Whether you want a place for your kids to run free, or make all the noises without disrupting a quiet dining room, if you’re wondering “where are the outdoor restaurants near me” we have just the list for you!

Restaurants with outdoor dining in Columbia, SC

Fresh Air and Quality Menus

It can be difficult to find a place that suits the whole family for a meal. Add in outdoor seating and the options become even more narrow. We wanted to give you some ideas to help navigate the already crazy lunch or dinner time scramble.

There are a few places to highlight that can give you and your family a great meal with a good view.

Columbia Restaurants with Outdoor Dining Space

Pawleys Front Porch

Pawley’s is a longtime favorite of locals. Located in the heart of the Five Points neighborhood, you’ll feel the history of the place as soon as you enter. This restaurant makes the top of the list because not only does it have a cozy porch to enjoy but it’s got a great kids menu that will satisfy most picky eaters!

The price point is family-friendly as well, and we couldn’t rave enough about their burgers if we tried! The porch is shaded and comfortable and even has fans for those extra steamy days.

827 Harden Steet, Columbia

Publico (Five Points)

Another Five Points favorite, this restaurant is a little more unique, and maybe for the above toddler-age children. While they do have an awesome, contained back seating area, they don’t have a child-specific menu. The great thing they have to offer though is TACOS! All different kinds, priced individually, so you don’t have to worry about ordering meals to split or adult entrees that may go to waste if ordered for a kid.

During the winter months, Publico puts up igloos outside to keep you warm and sheltered. These are so fun for kids and adults, and even have lights at night! We felt like we were in a private little winter wonderland! The igloos do require reservation and fill up quickly so check them out ahead of time if you’re planning a visit. During the warmer months the seating is picnic-style. They also do specials during the week so check out their website for details!

There is now a second location in the Bullstreet district that also includes outdoor dining. Their patio has fake grass on the ground, so go ahead and let the kids play under the table! Sometimes they offer live music, as well. Plus, there is also a park nearby as well as Segra Stadium for a little after-dinner play time or entertainment.

Publico Kitchen Tap: 2013 Greene Street, Columbia
Publico at Bull Street: 2180 Boyce Street, Columbia

Home Team BBQ

This one-of-a-kind BBQ joint started in Charleston, SC and we are so lucky to get added to the location list here in Columbia! Home Team has some of the best wings, BBQ, and southern sides you’ll find in the downtown area.

Although it’s not the largest patio area, they do have picnic-style dining outside, shaded and surrounded by fans. With a kid’s menu that is sure to satisfy, your whole family can dine here with no problem.

When in doubt, get the macaroni and cheese. There are also daily specials and from our experience, they’re always worth trying!

700 Harden Street, Columbia

Breweries With Outdoor Seating: Family-friendly

Although a brewery might not be your GO-TO when looking for family dining, Columbia has some really awesome family-friendly breweries that happen to have outstanding menus! While they may not include a kid-specific menu, what they do have to offer might be a good compromise. Space to run free!

Each of the breweries listed below offers some truly delicious menu options and ample open space for the little ones to burn off some energy. Every time my family visits one of these there are so many other families there as well, so if you’ve got a little social butterfly this is a great place to relax and watch them make some friends.

Check out the list and peak their menus on their websites :
Steel Hands:  2350 Foreman Street, Cayce
Savage Craft: 430 Center Street, West Columbia
River Rat: 1231 Shop Road, Columbia
Hunter-Gatherer Brewery: 1402 Jim Hamilton Boulevard, Columbia & 900 Main Street, Columbia

Date Night Outdoor Retaurants: Columbia, C

I feel like I wouldn’t be doing our city justice if I didn’t mention some of these other amazing restaurants! While they are not necessarily kid friendly they are some of the true highlights of our downtown and should definitely be added to a date night list for parents. So if you’re looking for a Kid FREE night in the town check out this list of amazing outdoor options :

Take Your Family River Tubing in Columbia, SC

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Are you wondering where to go river tubing? Columbia, SC brings that famously hot (and humid!) South Carolina summer that’s perfect for a refreshing float down a river. Sounds great, but now you may be wondering, where are the places to go tubing near me? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some river tubing spots in Columbia, SC!

Where to go river tubing: Columbia, SC

River Tubing is a Fun and Relaxing Way to Beat the Heat!

We do our best to stay relaxed and cooled off this time of year, which is no easy feat.  One great way to beat the heat this summer is by taking a dip in one of the many rivers running through Columbia. And what better way to experience the river than floating down it in a tube?

River tubing has been a popular pastime in our city for a long time and for good reason! It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Canoe and kayak rentals

Best Way to Go River Tubing: Columbia, SC

Columbia has several options for river-tubing. Whether you’re an experienced tuber, or looking for your first adventure, here are a couple of the best ways to go river tubing in Columbia, SC:

Tubing at Saluda Shoals Park

Saluda Shoals Park offers one of the best options for a beginner! This is my family’s favorite spot for a quick river outing. It’s such a convenient location with parking right near the launch ramp.

You enter Saluda Shoals at the main entrance and follow the signs for the boat ramp/river. When you arrive, there’s a small shack in the parking lot where you can rent tubes and pay for a shuttle service from the staff. The tube rental is $15 and it includes shuttle service. The shuttle service will follow you to the exit of the river in your car, and then shuttle you back to the launch ramp. That way when you exit the river your car is ready and waiting for you!

There’s usually a decent amount of people enjoying the river on a nice day so if you’re unsure of where to go just follow the crowd! It can take about 1 – 1.5 hours to float from the entrance to the exit, and if you’re lucky you’ll spot some adorable river otters on the way!

Saluda Shoals River

Here’s our Kidding Around Review of Saluda Shoals with more information about all the fun things this Columbia park offers.

Tubing at Palmetto Outdoors

If you’re looking for a more adventurous tubing experience, Palmetto Outdoors might be the choice for you!

Palmetto Outdoors offers a really great river tubing trip for different size groups, down the Lower Saluda River. They have an online scheduling service as well as a cash-only walk-up reservation! They make it super simple and fun to make a day of being on the river.

The 3-hour-long excursion ranges from the Riverbanks Zoo to the Gervais Street Bridge. This portion of the Saluda does contain class II rapids so children under 10 are not permitted.

Shuttle times are offered 7 days a week during their open season at the top of every hour from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturdays and 12 pm – 4 pm all other days. They meet you at the West Columbia Riverwalk with equipment ready to go.

The standard tube rental is $20 per person and this includes the shuttle service. There are several rental options so check out their website for more details!

Grab and Go Tube Rentals

Have another place you want to float on a tube? Palmetto Outdoors offers a grab-and-go option for $15. There’s no shuttle with this option, but you can take the tube wherever you’d like as long as you have it back by 7 pm.

Lake Murray is a popular spot to bring the tubes.

Canoe and Kayak

Palmetto Outfitters also offers kayak and guided tours! Paddle Congaree National Park with them or try a guided kayak trip to see Spider Lilies.

Plan Your Next River Tubing Adventure

River tubing is such a fun and unique way to discover the beauty of Columbia’s waterways. With multiple options for renting tubes and exploring the rivers, you’re sure to find an experience that works for you and your family!

Tubing near Greenville, SC

If not, check out these tubing options in the Upstate and WNC area. These will make a totally awesome summer day trip.

No matter which option you choose, you can’t go wrong with spending some time outdoors getting some Vitamin D, and floating your worries away in a refreshingly cool river.

Do’s and Don’ts for River Tubing

  • Do wear a life jacket. Most places include life jacket rentals but ask just in case. Don’t skip a life jacket, even if you’re a good swimmer.
  • Do bring sunscreen and a hat.
  • Do bring water shoes, bottled water, and snacks. Don’t bring things can’t lose, like jewelry, car keys, and cell phones.
  • Do take along a long stick to use to maneuver the tube.
  • Don’t bring alcohol – most places don’t allow it anyways.
  • If a waiver is required, Do download and sign it in advance. This will save you time!
  • Do read all the rules and regulations of whatever place you choose. They are all different.
  • Do bring a towel and change of clothes that you can use after your trip.


Where to splash and swim: Columbia, SC

Looking for more places to beat the heat? Here’s our giant list of places to splash and swim in Columbia, SC.


Everyone Can Enjoy the Outdoors: Harbison State Forest in Columbia, SC

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Are you looking for a fun and exciting outdoor adventure for the whole family? Look no further than Harbison State Forest! With over 2,177 acres of forest, trails, and waterways, Harbison State Forest is the perfect destination for a family outing. Harbison State Forest even has an ADA-compliant trail so everyone can enjoy the outdoors together!

Harbison State Forest, Columbia, SC

Hiking Trails at Harbison State Forest

Harbison State Forest offers a variety of trails suitable for hikers of all levels. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, Harbison has something for everyone. The forest boasts over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, which wind through the woods, past lakes and streams, and over challenging terrain.

These trails are dog friendly so bring your furry family members along for the walk!

My family really enjoys the Spider Woman II Loop for a quick hike, view of the Broad River, and a picnic! It passes by the Broad River with restrooms and picnic areas at the parking entrance.

If you’re bringing little ones, the Discovery trail is kid friendly and doesn’t permit mountain bikers which makes it a little safer for letting your kids roam freely. All other trails are shared between walkers and bikes.

ADA Trail at Harbison State Forest

Harbison Forest now has an ADA-accessible trail and shelter! The 1.1 Eagle ADA Pathway trail is accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Its wide and flat, and made of hard-packed gravel. The shelter has ramp access and on-site accessible parking.

See more about this new addition to Harbison Forest, from the Friends of Harbison State Forest in the video below.

More to do at Harbison State Forest

In addition to hiking and biking, Harbison State Forest also offers a range of other outdoor activities. You can bring your own canoe or kayak and paddle down the Broad River, go fishing in one of the two lakes, or have a picnic at one of the many areas scattered throughout the forest.

There is even GEOcaching set up throughout the forest! Visit the Harbison State Forest website to see where you can obtain the coordinates.

Wildlife to see

This forest is also home to a variety of wildlife. During our adventures we’ve caught site of some squirrels, lizards, and hawks, but if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, or even the occasional coyote or bobcat. This also is a popular spot for birdwatching, with over 160 species of birds recorded in the area.

Visiting the forest

Rest assured your family will be safe and comfortable during your visit. The forest is staffed by rangers during all open hours! There are also restroom facilities, drinking fountains, and shelters located throughout the forest.

Visiting Harbison State Forest is a great way to connect with nature and spend quality time with your family. With so many activities to choose from, you can create memories that will last a lifetime. So why wait?

Here’s a Harbison State Forest Map to help!

Parking permits for the forest are only 5$ per day or 25$ for a year pass. Parking is located at the main entrance off of Broad River Road, and it fills up fast on the weekends so try and get there early! Plan your trip to Harbison State Forest today and experience all the beauty and excitement that South Carolina has to offer!

5600 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC 29212
Main Gate hours are 9 am to 4:30 pm
Monday through Friday the road to the interior portions of the park is closed, due to staffing shortages. The park can be accessed via trails from the main parking lot or the Environmental Education Center.

Family Hiking Trails in Columbia, SC

If you’re looking for even more great hiking ideas, check out our guide for Hikes in Columbia.


Things to Do Outside: Columbia, SC

Spend more time outside!

The Outdoor Guide to Columbia, SC