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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

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

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 speciality 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 cappacino 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