Get Ready for a Fun Halloween Night: Boo at the Zoo in Columbia, SC

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Are you searching for a family-friendly place to trick-or-treat and enjoy the Halloween spirit this year? It’s time to get ready for the wildest trick-or-treating event, Boo at the Zoo in Columbia, SC! Riverbanks Zoo will host its annual “Boo at the Zoo” event from October 20 through October 30, 2023. We have everything you need to know about Boot at the Zoo from a local mom. Your kids will have a blast dressing up in their costumes, trick-or-treating throughout the zoo, and experiencing other spook-tastic Halloween fun! 

5 Riverbanks Boo at the Zoo Top Parent Tips

  • Get Riverbanks Boo at the Zoo Tickets in Advance
  • Don’t forget to bring your own treat bag!
  • Come in costume, but no full face masks or scary costumes for adults.
  • Attend on a weekday if at all possible.
  • Keep it simple and have fun!
Boo at the Zoo, Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia SC.

Don’t miss the Biggest Halloween Guide in Columbia! It’s packed full of Halloween events and activities in Columbia, plus spooky day trips, haunted houses, and much more!

Halloween Time at Riverbanks Zoo 

Boo at the Zoo at Riverbanks is one of the most popular Halloween events in Columbia. Families from all over the state come to enjoy this night of family-friendly, spooky fun. As mentioned before, this year, Boo at the Zoo will take place from October 20 to October 30 from 6 pm to 9 pm each night. If possible, we would suggest getting tickets for a weekday as Friday through Sunday nights are a bit more crowded. 

Even though this event is held at the zoo, it is unlikely that you will see many animals. But the atmosphere at this event is always the best and your kiddos will be asking to come back year after year. 

In costume at Boo at the Zoo, Riverbanks Zoo

Get Your Tickets in Advance for Boo at the Zoo! 

All tickets for Boo at the Zoo must be purchased in advance! The best way to do this is by going online to the Riverbanks Zoo website. Please be aware that as this event gets closer, tickets will begin to go quickly and some nights will even be sold out. Be sure to plan ahead! Ticket prices are as follows:

  • 2 and under – FREE
  • $12 for members 
  • $15 for non-members 

If tickets are purchased the day of there is a small price difference:

  • $17 for members
  • $20 for non-members 

Keep in mind that this is a rain-or-shine event and therefore tickets are non-refundable. 

Tips for Arriving

There are two “plans of action” we would suggest for arrival.

  • If you plan to be there when the gates open, it is important to know that the lines will be pretty long, but this will also give you plenty of time to enjoy your night.
  • If you’re not a fan of standing in lines, it might be best to arrive around 7 pm after the first large wave has entered and completed most of their fun. Either way, remember there will be a lot of people, especially small kiddos, so patience is key! 
Trick or Treat at Riverbaks Zoo, Boo at the Zoo Halloween

Trick-or-Treating at Riverbanks Zoo  

Your kiddos will have a wildly fun night trick-or-treating through the Riverbanks Zoo! There will be several stations set up all around where you kids will be able to get plenty of treats. While this is a family-friendly event, the trick-or-treating portion is only for children 12 years old and younger. Don’t forget to bring your own trick-or-treating bags! 

In my past experiences, the treat stations are well spread out which keeps lines from becoming too long. However, there are some stations, especially towards the entrance, that can get a bit congested. Helpful hint: It would be a great idea to put glow-stick bracelets and/or necklaces or even have a bright-colored trick-or-treating bag for your littles in order to spot them more easily in the crowds! 

Trick or Treating at Boo at the Zoo Riverbanks Zoo

Show Off Your Costumes 

If your kids are anything like my oldest, they love dressing up for Halloween. Boo at the Zoo is the perfect opportunity to let them show off their costumes! In fact, everyone, adults included, is able to dress up for this great event. Adults are asked to not wear full face coverings and be sure to keep all costumes family and kid-friendly. 

Several families will be seen dressed up in matching family-style costumes and some will even display awesome decorated strollers and wagons to continue their theme. But, if that’s not your style, have no fear, there are plenty of families that don’t go all out. In fact, last year, my son ended up wearing his skeleton pajamas – which made getting home and straight into bed much easier, might I add. Do what works for you! 

Dance Party During Boo at the Zoo

Towards the entrance and across from “Sea Lion Landing” a DJ will be set up with fun lights, fog machines, and great music! The area surrounding the DJ booth usually turns into a fun dance floor where kiddos of all ages will be seen breaking out their most spook-tacular moves.  

Boo at the Zoo Decorations

More Things to Look Forward To 

Although not all of the zoo’s regular attractions will be running during Boo at the Zoo, the Carousel and Railroad Train will be open for an additional charge. You can purchase tickets to these two rides upon arrival. The lines can become pretty long for these attractions but usually move quickly. 

Another great thing about this event is all of the fun decorations! You will see silly Halloween blowups and fun lights on trees and over walkways that will surely get your family in the Halloween spirit. All of these decorations make for great photo ops as well. 

Riverbanks Zoo – Boo at the Zoo
500 Wildlife Parkway
Columbia, SC 29210 

Please share with us! What is your best memory from Boo at the Zoo? 

Never been to Riverbanks Zoo? Here’s what you can expect when you visit Riverbanks Zoo during the day.

Kayla Simmons
About the Author
Kayla grew up right outside of Charleston, SC and is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina. She has lived in Columbia for a combination of 5 years. Kayla has a background working with special needs children, but now enjoys nothing more than being a stay-at-home mom of two. She enjoys keeping her kids busy by finding unique play spaces and events, involving them in hands-on activities and watching them learn about the world through play. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercise and spending quality time with her family and friends.

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