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Archive for the ‘Indoor Things to Do’ Category

7 Best Movie Theaters in Columbia SC, PLUS How To Save Money

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Thinking about taking your family to the movies soon? There are several movie theaters in Columbia, SC that offer a range of experiences for moviegoers. Whether you’re looking for a large, modern theater, a drive-in movie experience, or even a smaller, independent cinema, there’s something for everyone! We’ve even got helpful tips for making your family movie outing a more budget-friendly one! So, let’s get started. Here are the 7 best movie theaters in Columbia, SC

Best movie theaters in Columbia, SC

Best Movie Theaters: Columbia, SC

Nickelodeon Theatre

This Nickelodeon Theatre is located in the heart of downtown Columbia and offers a unique movie experience for all. In business for more than 40 years, locals love to go here for the cozy, nostalgic vibes. The theater showcases a wide variety of movies including new releases, documentaries, shorts, and classics in an intimate space that seats just over 100 people. They offer both matinee and evening showtimes.

Be aware that “The Nick” offers membership deals starting at just $25. Depending on the membership package you decide on, this could include benefits such as complimentary and discounted tickets.

Address: 1607 Main Street, Columbia 

Regal Cinemas Columbiana Grande 14 

Located in the Columbiana Mall, Regal Cinemas theater offers comfortable seating and all the modern-day amenities. It also features an IMAX screen for a larger-than-life movie experience!

Address: 1250 Bower Parkway, Columbia 

AMC Classic Harbison 14

The AMC Classic Harbison 14 theater offers amenities such as a MacGuffins Bar, which serves beer, wine, and cocktails. There is also a concession stand with a wide variety of snacks and drinks.

The theater is located near the Harbison shopping district, making it a convenient destination for shopping and entertainment.

Address: 122 Afton Court, Columbia 

BTM Cinemas Dutch Square 14

Located in the Dutch Square Mall, the BTM Cinemas Dutch Square theater features all of the modern-day amenities: large concession stand, comfy seating, big screens, and more!

Address: 421 Bush River Road, Columbia 

Regal Sandhill Stadium 16

Located in the Sandhill shopping district, this theater features IMAX, IMAX 3D, and Regal Premium Experience (RPX) screens. RPX offers a larger screen, custom sound, and luxury seating. The Regal Sandhill Stadium 16 theater also offers a range of concessions, including popcorn, candy, and soft drinks.

Address: 450 Town Center Place, Columbia

Regal Northlake Village

Regal Northlake Village has both regular and 3D movie options! They also feature very comfortable reclining seats, a full concession stand, and a clean environment. A great place to go see a new movie!

Address: 929 North Lake Drive, Lexington

Cheap Movies, movie theater deals in Columbia, SC

Discounted Movies: Columbia, SC

Spotlight Cinemas 

Let’s face it, taking your whole family out to the movies isn’t super budget-friendly. However, Spotlight Cinemas makes going to the movies with littles a bit more cost-efficient. This is a “second run” theater offering movies with a HUGE discounted price! As in they have tickets for just $3!

Even better news, there are two locations in Columbia – one in West Columbia and the other in Northeast Columbia!

Address: 527 St. Andrews Road, Columbia
Address: 201 Columbia Mall Boulevard, Suite 211, Columbia

Summer Movie Discounts

Don’t forget that additional theaters in Columbia offer discounts on summer movies for families. Find all that info in our post on summer movie theater deals in Columbia. SC.

Outdoor Movie Theater Near Columbia, SC

The Big Mo

The Big Mo began in 1951 as a single-screen drive-in theater. It is now home to three movie screens and is a popular place to enjoy a fun evening with your family and friends!

They’ve got a full concession stand offering things such as hot dogs, pizza, sweet treats, drinks, and much more. Within about an hour’s drive from Columbia, this should definitely be added to your family’s bucket list!

The Big Mo will open on March 1st for its 2024 season!

Address: 5822 Columbia Highway North, Monetta, SC
The Big Mo Facebook Page

How To Save Money at the Movies

As a child, I can remember going to the movie theater was such an exciting treat! It was so much fun deciding which movie to go to, picking out our favorite candy, and loading up on buttery popcorn. While going out to the theaters is much less popular these days, there is still something so thrilling about it that keeps us going back time and time again.  Let’s be honest, however, sometimes taking your whole family out to the movies can feel like an overly expensive task. Here are some ways you can save money at the theaters:

  • Join the Regal Crown Club
    • Tuesdays – $5 – $7 tickets and %50 off popcorn
  • AMC Theaters – save money on discounted tickets every TUESDAY
  • Ask about student, military, and/or senior citizen discounts
  • Eat a meal before going, share popcorn, limit kiddos to just 1 snack
  • Skip on IMAX or 3D options
  • Purchase tickets at the box office – sometimes buying online will add a few dollars for “site charges”
  • Always double-check promos before heading out
    • Promos can often be found on the theater’s website and usually include special meal deals or ultra-discounted kids movies
  • With summer just around the corner, be sure to keep an eye out for summer movie programs

Where is your favorite place to go see a movie?

What? There’s More Fun?

Don’t forget, we have more indoor fun! It’s not quite a movie, but if you’ve never been we highly suggest giving the Columbia Marionette Theater a try!

In fact, we have lots more indoor fun.

Check out our full guide to Indoor Places to Play and Things to Do in Columbia, SC

And, if that’s not enough. Head over to our huge list of things to do in Columbia, SC. It has over 50 ideas about things to do and places to visit in the Columbia area. Fun in Columbia starts right there.

The Grand on Main: Columbia’s Boutique Bowling & Restaurant Experience

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Are you wondering about the bowling, dining, and desserts at The Grand on Main in Columbia, SC? If you have any bowling enthusiasts in your family and you’re looking for a new place to score some strikes or you’re looking for that unique boutique dining spot for a date night or to meet friends, you’ve come to the right place. The Grand on Main houses a large, full-service restaurant, quaint bowling alley, and a top-secret dessert lounge, The Robinson Room – don’t worry we’ll share ALL the details! 

Bring your kids or bring your date, either way, The Grand on Main in Columbia, SC is the boutique-style bowling alley, restaurant, and dessert bar that you’ve got to try!

The Grand in Columbia, SC

Richland’s Ballentine Library Location is Full of Amazing Things to Do!

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Have you visited the Ballentine Branch of the Richland Library System yet? If you haven’t been there recently, now is the time. They have lots of special features and public programs, most of which are free. The staff is beyond helpful and there is so much to explore beyond the books (which are awesome too!).

Ballentine Library

Start with a library card

Library cards are free for residents and property owners of Richland County and Education cards are available free for students (Pre-K through college), K-12 teachers and daycare employees in Richland County educational institutions.

Ballentine Library Features

  • Children’s Area
  • Nature Walk & Raised Garden
  • Patio
  • Pick-Up Window
  • Reading Nooks
  • Teen Area
  • Meeting Spaces
  • Library of Things
  • Living Room
  • Makerspace
Ballentine Library maker space, Richland County Libraries

Peek Inside Ballentine Library

Free Programs at Ballentine Library

Family Story Time

Family Story Time occurs twice weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10 am and is intended for families with young children from birth to preschool but of course, older children are welcome as well. Families will listen to stories, sing songs, and have fun together while building literacy skills with their early learner.

Monday Morning Makers

Monday Morning Makers is on Monday mornings from 9:30 – 11:30 am and you can drop on anytime within those hours. The projects, which are designed for those 6 years old and up, are different each week and all ages and abilities are welcome.

This program takes place in the Makerspace which is packed with art supplies to fuel your creativity! The Makerspace also features a corner of windows that stretch to the ceiling and allow for some amazing birdwatching! Seventy-two different species of birds have been sighted here.

Monday Morning Makers

Read to a Dog

The Read to a Dog program typically occurs once a month and allows children to spend 10 minutes, one-on-one, practicing reading aloud to Bailey The Therapy Dog. There are only 10 spots available to read to Bailey, so this program is first come, first served. The handler will be with the dog and child at all times.

Birding at Ballentine

Birding at Ballentine is a monthly program led by the Ballentine Library Staff where you will learn how to use binoculars to identify local birds, plus how to help the birds in your own backyard beyond bird feeders.

Come see how many of the 72 different species you can spot!

Ballentine Library space

Career Ready: Resume Help

Career Ready: Resume Help provides community members with individual help in building a resume from one of the library’s Career Coaches. This is recommended for both adults and teens, whether you are creating your first resume to transition into the workforce for the first time or refining an existing resume, the Career Coach is available to answer your questions.

Make and Create: Adults Get Crafty (Adults Only)

With all the time you can spend here as a family and with the kids, you may be craving some alone time. That’s okay too. They have several adult-only classes available also. Every Friday, adults gather to create some really fun projects.

Every other week the craft typically incorporates some form of crochet to give a variety of projects and plenty of opportunity to use different crafting materials and techniques. There is a wall in the Makerspace that features examples of past (and some future) projects and inquiries into the techniques used in each are welcome.

Benefits of Free Library Programs

Not only are these programs a great way to bond with your child and make learning fun but they provide an excellent opportunity to make new friends as well.

Working on a project at Ballentine Library

Let’s be honest, being a parent isn’t always easy and sometimes it can even feel isolating. Getting out, connecting with others, and taking advantage of the FREE library programs is beneficial in so many ways, plus you may even discover a skill or interest you never knew you had.

Additional Ballentine Library Info

Seed Library

Be sure to visit the Seed Library after your program! They have flower seeds and Non-GMO vegetable seeds. You can take up to 10 packets. Each packet is labeled with details and instructions so you’ll know exactly when to plant, how long until harvest, and how to grow your new seeds.

Nature Trail

Grab a scavenger hunt sheet at the seed library for the kids and head out back to the large patio and nature trail.

Eye Spy Nature Hunt

Nature Trail at Ballentine Library

Library of Things

The staff at Ballentine Library is super helpful, friendly, and excited to share about the resources the library has to offer.

Ballentine is one of 4 Libraries within the Richland Library System that has a Library of Things. Baking supplies such as stand mixers, cake pans, cake decorating tip set, bread and scone kits, and cookie cutters are available to check out.

You are also able to check out games like corn hole, a giant wooden Connect Four set, Bean Bag Bucketz, Croquet Set, and a Giant Tumbling Timber Toy. Tools, including an electric tiller, electric pressure washer, electric earth auger, push reel mower, and lawn maintenance kit are also available to rent at Ballentine.

Some other noteworthy items are a film-to-digital converter, binoculars (and birdwatching kit), monoculars, trail cam kit, sewing machine, and Cricut Maker Machine which are also available here.

There are rules and restrictions associated with checking these items out so be sure to read those in detail beforehand. You must have a library card to access the Library of Things and check items out. Main, Lower Richland, and Edgewood locations also have a Library of Things which includes an unbelievable variety of items from tents and telescopes to projection screens and a Stop-Motion Animation Kit.

Ballentine Library, Richland County Libraries location

More to Love at Richland County Libraries

There are programs for every age, ability, and interest across the Richland Library Branches. Programs they offer across the branches include family storytimes, Read To A Dog, Make & Create, Bilingual storytime, Crafternoon (babies, toddlers, teens, and adults all welcome), Teen Gaming Night and so much more.

Each branch also has a unique feature like the Print Studio at the Eastover Branch, Bike Repair Station at Edgewood, and Recording Studio at North Main. The Richland Library Main Branch has a Makerspace, Fiberworks Studio, Production Stage, Post-Production Lab, Theater, Artist-in-Residence Studio, and more. That’s just to name a few of the unique features they each offer.

You can read more about those at the Richland County Libraries Website.

We highly recommend you take advantage of the many free and fun resources the Richland Library has to offer. There is literally something for everyone. We highlight some of the upcoming events on our calendar.

Which is your favorite Richland Library location to visit and why

Richland County Libraries

Check out what’s happening at Richland’s Main Library.

Want more indoor things to do? Don’t miss our HUGE Indoor Guide to Columbia, SC.

Cheer On the Gamecocks: A USC Basketball Game Experience For the Whole Family

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Wondering what it’d be like to go to a University of South Carolina basketball game? Thinking about bringing the kids along? Whether you’re a die-hard Gamecock fan or planning your first trip to Colonial Life, we hope to answer all of your questions. We’ve got all the helpful hints you’ll need for bringing kids, information on parking, ticket purchases, tips for entering Colonial Life Arena, and more from a mom who recently went to a game with her family. 

Colonial Life Arena Gamecocks USC game

Fans Love Colonial Life Arena: Gamecocks Basketball Stadium

Colonial Life Arena is home to both the women’s and men’s Gamecock basketball teams. It holds a whopping 18,000 fans, making it the 10th largest on-campus basketball arena in the nation! Before entering the arena itself, you will be greeted with a beautiful fountain and statue of A’ja Wilson, a Gamecock women’s basketball legend. 

Upon entering through the main doors, you will see a beautiful mural of a Gamecock on the floor. As you continue your walk around the arena, you will see vintage jerseys and other memorabilia from some of the most well-known Gamecock basketball players and teams. 

And there’s more exciting news!!! For the remaining games of this season, there are FREE concessions! Find out more about the free concessions this season on the Gamecocks website.

Gamecock mural at Colonial Life Arena

Why a Basketball Game? 

College basketball games are a great event for couples, families, or even groups of friends to enjoy! Not only is it thrilling to cheer on your team to victory alongside thousands of other fans, but the Gamecocks also have some note-worthy players that you won’t want to miss seeing on the court.

You will also have the chance to hear the Carolina Band, also known as the “Mighty Sound of the Southeast” play. During the halftime show and timeout segments, the USC cheerleaders and dance team come out to perform and keep the crowd involved as well. 

Gamecock Basketball Teams 

The Lady Gamecocks: USC Women’s Basketball Team 

The Gamecock women’s basketball team has been in the spotlight for several years now and rightfully so! They are coached by Dawn Staley and have won the NCAA National Championship in 2017 and 2022. They have also won the SEC Championship 5 times! There are usually around 10,000 fans who show up to cheer on the Univesity of South Carolina women’s team, “The Lady G’s,” making it an atmosphere that you just can’t find in any other college basketball arena! 

Gamecock Men’s Basketball 

The men’s team is coached by Lamont Paris. Throughout the last 3 seasons, the men’s team has sold out Colonial Life Arena 5 times! My family and I recently went to a men’s game and had a fantastic time cheering on all of the players and watching their coach in action! 

Gamecocks Basketball game at USC in Columbia, SC

Purchasing USC Basketball Tickets 

If you’re looking to go to a specific game, your best option is to purchase those tickets well in advance. This way you will not have to worry about them selling out AND you might be able to find the tickets for a bit cheaper. Both teams are known to have large crowds in attendance, but this is especially true for the women’s team, particularly when they play against other SEC teams. 

There are several ways you can go about purchasing basketball tickets. You can do so by going to the Gamecock Ticket Office, found at 1304 Heyward Street, online at Ticketmaster, or you can purchase tickets directly from Colonial Life Arena.

The box office at the arena is open every Tuesday from 9 am to 5 pm for ticket purchases as well as on game days.

Pricing depends greatly on rankings, who the opposing team will be, and when you purchase. 

Colonial Life Arena: Columbia, SC

Helpful Hints Before You Head to the Game

What Can You Bring? Colonial Life Arena

Outside food and drinks are not permitted within the arena. However, there are several concession stands located throughout Colonial Life with delicious options such as: pretzels (my son’s personal favorite), candy, hamburgers, nachos, drinks, and much more! 

Some other things that aren’t allowed inside Colonial Life include:

  • Strollers
  • Noisemakers
  • Selfie sticks
  • Water bottles 
  • Binoculars 

Colonial Life Arena Clear Bag Only Policy

Be aware that there is a clear bag policy at Colonial Life Arena. This means no diaper bags, backpacks, fanny packs, etc. Medically necessary items are the only exception to the rule. However, they will most likely have to be inspected and tagged before entry.

Tips for Bringing Your Kids Along 

The doors to the arena will open 1 hour before the game. That being said, I recommend getting there about 30 to 45 minutes before game time. This will give you and your littles plenty of time to go through security, find your seats, use the restroom, and get situated before the excitement begins. 

Speaking of excitement, you won’t want to miss all of the pre-game events! This part of the game always gets my kids into it, draws their attention to the court, and gives them something stimulating to look at. During the pre-game you can expect the band to play some Carolina favorites, flashing lights, small fireworks as starting players are announced, cheerleaders, and the oh, so popular “Sandstorm” to really get the crowd going! 

My kids love to look around and find the mascot, “Cocky” as he dances around the court. Pro tip: If, or better yet, when, your kids start to get wiggly, play who can find Cocky the fastest – works every time! 

Some other ways to keep your kids involved during the game:

  • Go for a walk around the arena at halftime 
  • Let them choose a snack from the concession stands
  • Keep their attention by explaining what is happening on the court 
  • Encourage them to keep track of the score 
  • Teach them some of the chants 
Jerseys on display at Colonial Life Arena

Where to Park for Gamecock Basketball Games 

Where can I park at the Colonial Life Arena?

There are several different parking options for Colonial Life Arena. There are parking garages, meter spaces, and public parking lots that can be found within a block or two of the arena. My family often parks at the Discovery Plaza Garage. We like this option because we can just cross over 1 street and be at Colonial Life. There is a small fee for parking in most places around the arena, usually between $10 and $20. 

Colonial Life Arena 
801 Lincoln Street

Have you ever been to a Gamecock basketball game? What was your experience like? 

Root for the home team at these Columbia, SC sports teams.

Root for the home team!

Check out Columbia’s local sports teams.

5 Skating Rinks In Columbia, SC Offer Memory-Making Family Fun

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Are you looking for a skating rink in or near Columbia, SC? Not only is skating a great way to stay indoors this winter but also a thrilling activity that the whole family can enjoy! We’ve found both ice skating and roller skating options all throughout Columbia.

Most of these places include more than just skating with options for mini golf, trampoline add-ons, inflatables, lessons, and more! 

Skating in Columbia, SC

Ice Skating Rink: Columbia, SC 

Flight Adventure Park – Irmo 

Address: 1019 Broad Stone Road, Irmo – 803.732.1900
Cost: Ice Skating prices – $10/person Monday – Friday at 5 pm, $13/person Friday at 5 pm – Sunday and $4 skate rental 
Details: Flight Adventure Park – Irmo, is home to the only public ice skating around Columbia! They offer open, freestyle skating as well as ice hockey and skating lessons. Along with ice skating, your family can also enjoy a trampoline park, inflatables, an arcade, and more! 

*Please be aware that the ice rink’s hours and times change weekly. Be sure to check their website or give them a call ahead of time.

Flight Adventure Park – Irmo

Roller Skating in Columbia, SC 

Skateland Fun Center 

Address: 800 Bookman Road, Elgin – 803.736.0606
Cost: Price based on age – from $6 to $12 (additional fee for skates) 
Details: In business for more than 30 years, Skateland Fun Center is the perfect indoor roller rink for you and your family! They have a huge monthly calendar with fun, daily activities, and events such as adult skate nights, teen night skating and pizza nights, after-school care, summer camps, birthday party packages, and more! 

Skateland Fun Center

Three Fountains Recreation 

Address: 2724 Emanuel Church Road, West Columbia – 803.359.1123
Cost: From $6 to $12
Details: At Three Fountains Recreation you can play mini golf AND roller skate! Be sure to ask about the “Frequent Skater Miles” card. After 10 stamps, you will get a free admission pass during your next visit. They also have birthday party options, homeschool skating, and more! 

Three Fountains Recreation

Sports & Skate Station USA 

Address: 129 Oak Drive, Lexington – 803.356.3500
Cost: $6 admission, $3 skate rental; under 5 is free 
Details: Keep it rollin’ at Sports & Skate Station USA! Here you will find tons of family fun, an after-school program for $75/week, roller derby, group packages, and great concessions. They also run weekly deals such as:

  • Monday – Family Night
    • From 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm 
  • Friday – Teen Night
    • From 7 pm to 11 pm
    • Ages 12 and older 

Sport & Skate Station USA

Day Trip Ice Skating Options 

While Columbia doesn’t have many options for ice skating, there are a few ice skating rinks within a few hours of here. If you find yourself near any of these cities listed or maybe if you’re just really wanting to give ice skating a try, these could all make for a super fun day trip with your family! 

Carolina Ice Palace 

Address: 7665 Northwoods Boulevard, North Charleston – 843.572.2717
Cost: Weekends & Holidays – $12/person, $5 skate rental; Weekdays – $10/person, $4 skate rental
Details: The Carolina Ice Palace is a HUGE facility featuring 2 full-sized ice rinks, concession stands, a lounge, pro shop, and more! Along with public skating, they also offer figure skating classes, hockey, curling, and birthday party packages. 

Only about 2 hours from Columbia, Charleston is a great option for a day trip! Head to the Carolina Ice Palace for some great family fun; then continue your adventure by strolling through downtown, sightseeing, or even planning a trip to the aquarium!

Carolina Ice Palace

The Pavilion Recreation Complex 

Address: 400 Scottswood Road, Taylors – 864.322.7529
Cost: Ice skating rates – $7.50 ages 12 and under and Seniors; $9.50 ages 13 and older; $4.25 skate/walker rentals
Details: Head to The Pavilion for ice skating, tennis, sports fields, bounce houses, and more! There are several opportunities for public skating, but be sure to double-check their monthly schedule for open skating dates and times. 

If you find yourself in Greenville, The Pavillion might be the perfect place for you and your family to go! While there, be sure to check-out our Kidding Around Greenville page for more ideas on kid-friendly fun! 

The Pavilion Recreation Complex

Whitewater Center- Charlotte, NC

Address: 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte, NC
Cost: $25 per skater, includes skates
Details: Not your typical ice rink! Enjoy lots of unique outdoor skating spaces, ice trails, and loops. Our family had a great time when we visited in January 2024. Find out all about it in our Kidding Around Review of Ice Skating at the Whitewater Center. Skating is open mid-November through mid-February annually.

Whitewater Center Website: Ice Skating

Does your family enjoy skating? Where is your favorite place to go for ice or roller skating fun?

Drive and Learn About Model Trains at AMROC in Columbia, SC

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Did you know that the Associated Model Railroad of Columbia, or AMROC, is regularly open to the public free of charge? Whether you’re an experienced model train hobbyist or just have a young child who likes trains, AMROC could be just right for you! You’ll be able to learn how to drive a model train, how the trains work, all about the different models, and more! See model trains in Columbia, SC at AMROC!

See model trains! Columbia, SC has a free model train museum at AMROC.

What is AMROC? 

Located directly across the street from the Governor’s Mansion, you will find the Associated Model Railroads of Columbia, also known as AMROC. AMROC is an organization made up of several members who build and operate a variety of model trains. They’ve got large “G Scale” models, tiny “N Scale” models, and everything in between. 

AMROC is Open to the Public at No Cost 

Every Thursday, excluding the first Thursday of the month, the members of AMROC open up the building to the public. They begin their demonstrations at 7 pm and are there to educate the community about model trains, give advice on modeling and servicing, and even allow the public to run their own model trains along the tracks. These Thursday events are completely FREE and they welcome all ages to join in on the fun! 

You will need to enter the building on the main level using the door along Laurel Street and across from Finlay Park. There is plenty of on-street parking and a parking garage right next door if needed! 

Kids drive the train displays at AMROC Columbia.

Become a Conductor at the Associated Model Railroad of Columbia 

My husband and I recently had the opportunity to take our kiddos to ARMOC and were greeted with knowledgeable model train engineers who were eager to get us involved. The members answered several of our questions and curiosities, taught us about the differences in each model, and gave us several neat facts about the trains. 

My 4-year-old son was given the opportunity to “drive” one of the model trains and to say his day was made would be an understatement! He was given the throttle and shown how to make the train stop, control the speed, blow the whistle, and make steam come out. He spent the majority of our time there being a little conductor and had so much fun doing so! 

We also had our 2-year-old daughter with us and while she was a bit too young to get as much out of it as my son, she still had fun watching the “choo-choos” and pointing out all the details within the displays.  

Associated Model Railroad of Columbia 

Quick Takeaways: Parent Review and Things to Know

Even though my daughter enjoyed the experience, I think it is best suited for children no younger than 4 years old.

Because of the large models, there isn’t tons of “wiggle room” so keep that in mind as you’re loading up. Strollers would be best kept in the car.

Also, be sure to talk with your kiddos about the importance of not touching the models or trains themselves unless they are given permission.

Happy chugging! 

Upcoming Seasonal Events at AMROC

Along with the Thursday events, AMROC also hosts several other events and demonstrations throughout the year! Some of their upcoming kid-friendly events include:

  • Track or Treat – October 26, 2023 from 7 pm to 9 pm
  • Christmas Show – December 2, 2023 from 10 am to 3 pm 

Associated Model Railroad of Columbia 
1800 Lincoln Street, Columbia 

Have you had the chance to check out AMROC yet?

Free Things to Do in Columbia, SC

Discover more totally fun and totally free things to do in Columbia, SC!

Free Things to Do in Columbia, SC

Learn All About the Newly Opened Indoor Play Space, PlayMatters SC in West Columbia, SC

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Have you ever heard of Play Matters in West Columbia, SC? If you’re looking for a safe, clean, indoor playspace with a HUGE variety of toys and endless open play options, you’ve got to give this newly opened business a try!

PlayMatters SC has only been open for a few weeks, but local mom and Kidding Around Columbia writer, Kayla, recently had the chance to visit them and is here to give you all the details! 

The New Hot Spot in the Midlands: PlayMatters SC

Play Matters is filling the gap for families with young tots to have a safe, clean, developmentally encouraging indoor space to play. Here you will find several Montessori-inspired playrooms, educational toys, open-ended play stations, materials to develop imagination, climbing structures and so much more. 

As a parent or caregiver, I know we often worry about helping our children achieve all the developmental milestones. Let me be the first to tell you that at Play Matters your children will be able to work on so many developmental areas all in one space – gross motor, fine motor, and social skills, just to name a few. 

Play Matters offers lots of pretend play options in Columbia, SC

How Much Does Play Matters Cost?  

Play Matters charges $15/child and this also includes 2 adults. Your admission is good for a full day of play so you can stay as long or as little as you’d like. I would recommend setting aside no less than 2 hours to be able to fully explore the playspaces, but honestly, you could spend SEVERAL hours here playing the whole day away. 

The camping room play space at Play Matters.

Important Things to Know 

  1. EVERYONE is required to wear socks at all times. This includes adults. If you forget to bring socks, Play Matters has them on sale for $2/pair. 
  2. Outside food and drinks are allowed, however, can only be consumed within the 2 designated snack rooms. 
  3. They have a variety of snacks and drinks for sale for very reasonable prices:
  • $2 bag of chips
  • $1 snack bars 
  • $1 small water
  • $1 juice box 
  • $3 coffee 

What to Expect at Play Matters 

Upon entering Play Matters you will be greeted with a lobby area full of wall hooks, seating, and cubes to leave your belongings in. If it is your first time you will be asked to fill out a waiver and then be given a tour of the facility.

A few things that stood out to me were how clean the entire play space was and the huge variety of play equipment and unique toys. All of the toys are high-quality, sturdy, and things you wouldn’t normally have to play with at home. 

Play Matters indoor play space in Columbia, SC

Private Nursing Room 

Within Play Matters, you will find a quiet, cozy nursing room complete with a comfortable chair, Boppy pillows, a small table, and a locking door. I thought this was such a sweet and thoughtful feature and the perfect place for any nursing momma looking for a bit more privacy. 

Tiny Tot Play Rooms 

There are two designated playrooms for the tiniest tots, ages 0 – 18 months. In these rooms, you will find soft mats, age-appropriate and simple toys, small climbing blocks, a tunnel, a Pikler Triangle, and more. 

Tot play space at Play Matters

Eating Areas 

As mentioned above, there are two snacking areas at Play Matters. All food and drinks are asked to stay within these rooms. These two rooms are complete with picnic tables, plenty of seating, a high chair, and a Bumbo style seat. 

Variety of Themed Play Rooms 

The whole facility is somewhat shaped like a “U” with small rooms all along the outer wall. Each room has a different theme and toy options:

  • Gross Motor Room – 2 indoor play structures with slides, monkey bars, a balance beam, etc. 
  • Imagination Play Room – dress-up costumes, wooden kitchen, and food market, baby dolls, pretend strollers, doll houses, Nugget play couch, and more 
  • Transportation Room – train table, workbench, tools, large cars, and trucks 
  • Bumble Bee Room – couch, picnic table, wooden blocks, storage cube full of Montessori-styled wooden toys 
  • Wildlife Camping Room – play tent, stuffed animals, bookshelf, pretend campfire, variety of animal figures 
  • Outer Space Room – rocketship tent, small sensory room, insect specimen blocks, telescope, blocks, etc. 
Transportation themed play space at Play Matters

Play Matters: Local Mom Review 

When I moved to Columbia almost 3 years ago I searched high and low for a place exactly like Play Matters, but had no luck. I was ecstatic when I found out that this space was opening and to say it is much needed for our area is an understatement.

More than just a clean, fun place to take my kids for some play time, Play Matters also gives moms and caregivers a place to meet other adults, chit-chat with friends while sipping on coffee, and have peace of mind that kids are safe while doing so. 

I recently took my two kids to Play Matters and we stayed for about 3 hours. My son, 4.5 years old, loved the Outer Space-themed playroom the best. He also enjoyed riding around on the cool push cars and met several other children that he enjoyed playing pretend with. My almost 2-year-old daughter had a blast climbing and sliding on the playscapes. She also had fun putting together puzzles and playing with the baby dolls.

Play Matters wood toys

We met up with a friend and her daughter while there and they had an equally good experience. Along with being able to talk with her and other adults, I also loved being able to sit down on a clean floor with my children and play alongside them with new toys.

As we played, the owners were sure to make sure we had everything we needed, were constantly making sure the playrooms and toys were cleaned and tidy, and took the time to strike up conversations with each family.

Play Matters pretend play

More to Come 

Play Matters has only been open for a few weeks, but they have tons of great ideas in the works. They will soon be allowing Birthday Party packages, small group workshops, and more. Be sure to follow Play Matters online for updates and announcements. 

PlayMatters SC 
3685 Leaphart Road, Suite A, West Columbia
Open daily from 10 am to 6 pm 

Have you been to Play Matters yet? What was your child’s favorite room?

Indoor Guide to Columbia, SC

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We have a huge Indoor Guide to Columbia, SC.

Check it out!

Have the Best Visit to Surge Trampoline Park: Columbia, SC

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Are you considering a visit to Surge Trampoline Park in Columbia, SC? At Surge Trampoline Park, you will find numerous trampolines, ninja courses with 3 different course setups, a high ropes course, two toddler play spaces, foam pits, an arcade and so much more! There truly is something for everyone at Surge.

We have all the details to help you plan your family’s visit, including promotions and discounted sessions.

Surge trampoline Park

Having one of “those” days? You know, the ones where the kids seem to have unlimited energy and you just need to get everyone out of the house? Load up your tribe and head over to Surge Trampoline Park where they can jump, climb, and play the crazies away!

Looking for more fun things to do indoors? Check out our full list of indoor fun!

This article includes:
Surge Trampoline Park: Tips
Things to Do at Surge Trampoline Park
Trampolines at Surge
Ninja Course at Surge
High Ropes Course at Surge Trampoline Park
Things to Do for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Jump in Foam Pits
Arcade at Surge Trampoline Park
Special Days and Deals at Surge Trampoline Park


Storytime, Crafts, Game Nights, & More for the Whole Family at Richland County Libraries

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Have you been to your local Richland County Library recently? Are you looking for events and learning opportunities that your whole family can enjoy? Of course, the libraries have books, but what a lot of people don’t know is that the Richland County Libraries host tons of family-friendly, wholesome events all throughout the week. There are groups for teenagers, crafting events for adults, storytimes for toddlers, learning workshops, and much, much more! 

Need more ideas on free things to do around Columbia? We’ve got you covered with more than 50 awesome free ideas!


Jump, Tumble, and Twist: Carolina Gymnastics Parent and Me Class

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Have you ever heard of Carolina Gymnastics? Whether you’re looking for a Parent and Me class for your tots, an awesome place to host your next birthday party, or a sport to introduce your older kids to, you should give Carolina Gymnastics a try! A local mom and Kidding Around Columbia writer has been taking her young daughter to gymnastics classes here for the past several months and has some great insight we think you will love! 

Carolina Gymnastics in Columbia, SC

Carolina Gymnastics: Parent and Me Classes 

When my daughter began walking, and became more of a “toddler” than a baby, I knew I needed to find something for her to do on a regular basis. Not only to get us out of the house, but to challenge her, teach her new skills, and socialize with other tots her age.

After some searching, I came across the Parent and Me classes at Carolina Gymnastics and I knew I had to give them a try. It was comforting to know that Carolina Gymnastics has been in business since 1976 and was the very first privately owned gymnastics center in all of South Carolina.  

Carolina Gymnastics in Columbia, SC

Group Class Room 

The class we are a part of usually starts out in the Group Class Area. Complete with a climbable castle replica, wall murals, slide, and small foam pit, this room is so cute and fun for small kiddos. Tiny gymnasts are also given the opportunity to free play in the “big gym” where they can jump on the trampoline, swing on the bars, walk across the beams, dance to the music, and so much more! 

Parent and tot class at Carolina Gymnastics

Independence to Explore at Their Own Pace 

Each family can do one free trial class to be sure the classes are a good fit. About halfway through our trial run, it was safe to say that my daughter was HOOKED. The Parent and Me class is set up to give toddlers space and independence to explore and try things on their own time, but with tons of guidance from the coaches. 

I really love that throughout the class I am able to participate with my daughter and learn how to safely teach her new skills such as forward rolls, cartwheel basics, bridges, and so much more. It is so cool to see her learn and achieve new skills even at such a young age! Now, at almost two years old, her favorite thing to do is swing on the bars and jump into the large foam pit. 

Bars with toddler at Carolina Gymnastics

More Classes at Carolina Gymnastics 

There are so many flip-tastic classes at Carolina Gymnastics: 

  • Parent and Me
    • Ages walking to 2 years old
  • Preschool Gymnastics
    • Ages 3 – 5 years old
  • Advanced Preschool Gymnastics
    • Ages 4 -5 years old
  • Girls & Boys Recreational Gymnastics
    • Ages 6 and up 
  • Tumbling Classes
    • Ages 6 and up 
Carolina Gymnastics in Columbia, SC

Twist and Tumble at Your Next Birthday Party

Looking for a unique place to host your child’s next birthday party? Carolina Gymnastics could be a great fit! Parties include: 

  • 1.5 hour celebration
  • Age appropriate games
  • Invitations 
  • Goody bags
  • Special t-shirt and medal for birthday child 
  • Gym play 

There are two different packages to choose from. You can either provide your own cake or have the gymnastics center provide one for you. Depending on the number of guests you have at your party and the package you choose, parties can cost anywhere from $220 to $310. 

You’ll find more birthday party options in our Kidding Around Guide to Birthday Parties in Columbia, SC

Carolina Gymnastics 
437 Rabon Road

Have you ever visited Carolina Gymnastics? 

Classes and Activities in Greenville, SC

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