• Heritage Christian Jan 2024

Posts Tagged ‘Day Trips’

14 Wonderful Beaches Near Columbia, SC

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Looking for beaches near Columbia, SC? You’re in the right spot. Because we have rounded up a list of the best beaches for your next family trip. You’ll find some wonderful beaches on the SC and NC coast with kid-friendly attractions and things to do, perfect for planning your itinerary. Most of the beaches listed here are within 3-4 hours from Columbia, SC. 

Best beaches near Columbia, SC

Best Beaches Near Columbia, SC

SC Beaches Within 4 Hours of Columbia

There are so many family-friendly beaches along the South Carolina coast. Here are details on some of the best ones with details on ocean excursions, hotels to stay at, and even some of the best things to do at these SC beaches.

Folly Beach, SC
Distance from Columbia: 2 hours from Columbia, SC

Let me introduce you to one of my absolute favorite beach spots, just an easy 20-minute drive from downtown Charleston, SC. The waves draw in the pro surfers every morning. But that’s not all – picture a charming downtown area oozing with total beach vibes and easy access to other nearby beaches. You’re also close to both Charleston and Mt. Pleasant.

Now, let’s talk perks: there are public restrooms and even outdoor showers to rinse off the sand, so you can stay fresh all day long. Wander along the boardwalk, grab a bite at the full-service restaurant, or snag some souvenirs at the gift shop. And here’s a little insider tip for you: if you’re all about saving a little money, park a bit further from the Folly Pier Structure – trust me, your wallet will thank you later!

Myrtle Beach, SC
Distance from Columbia:
~2.5 Hours from Columbia, SC

Myrtle Beach is pretty well-known throughout the country. It’s evolved over the years, and you’ll find very family-friendly beaches and things to do there. Plus, it’s a short 2.5 hour drive from Columbia!

Some of the must-see attractions at Myrtle Beach include Ripley’s Aquarium and the SkyWheel. But you definitely don’t want to miss the Myrtle Beach State Park and Brookgreen Gardens. There are also plenty of luxury golf courses. 

Be sure to read our Myrtle Beach Travel Guide for more ideas and a list of places to stay.

Edisto Beach
Distance from Columbia:
~2.5 hours from Columbia, SC

If you’re craving a vacation surrounded by nature, check out Edisto Beach! This hidden gem is teeming with wildlife. Picture yourself strolling along quiet beaches, scouring the sand for seashells and maybe even a shark tooth or two – it’s every kid’s dream! And let’s not forget the dreamy backdrop of trees draped in Spanish moss, making you feel like you stepped onto a movie set.

And while Edisto Island is a nature lover’s paradise, there aren’t any public bathrooms or showers on the beach. So, be prepared to make a dash back to your hotel for those potty breaks and quick changes. But trust me, the enchanting scenery and wildlife sightings make it all worth it!

Hilton Head Island
Distance from Columbia: ~2.5 hours from Columbia, SC

Hilton Head Island is like a little slice of paradise right on the South Carolina coast! And get this: everything on the island is totally walkable or bikeable, so you can leave the car behind and explore at your own pace.

From pirate excursions to dolphin tours, parks to arcades, our Guide to Hilton Head Island is packed with over 20 kid-friendly vacation ideas that’ll keep the whole family entertained. So, pack your sunscreen and get ready for some serious fun in the sun!

Kiawah Island
Distance from Columbia: ~2.5 hours from Columbia, SC

Kiawah Island is just 2.5 hours away from Columbia and is a quieter, residential beach. It’s one of the barrier islands, and to get through the guard gate you’ll need proof of accommodations or a guest pass. But you totally can visit the island without staying there… just turn before the first guard gate and head towards Beachwalker Park.

Huntington Beach State Park
Distance from Columbia: ~2 hours 45 minutes from Columbia, SC

Whether you’re into spotting amazing wildlife or just soaking up the laid-back vibes, Huntington Beach has got you covered. Picture this: the earthy scent of a protected beach, small crowds, and endless opportunities for relaxation.

While the kids are busy hunting for seashells or building sandcastles, you can kick back and enjoy your peaceful surroundings. And hey, if you’re up for a little camping under the stars, you can even set up camp right on the beach. It’s the perfect getaway for nature lovers and beach enthusiasts alike!

Pawley’s Island & Litchfield Beach
Distance from Columbia:
~3 hours from Columbia, SC

About 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach, several of the KAG readers recommend these locations for a quieter beach experience.

Fripp Island
Distance from Columbia: ~3 hours from Columbia, SC

Fripp Island, nestled near Hilton Head, has been dubbed as “a wonderful place for families,” and it’s not hard to see why. From sandy shores to wildlife wonders, Fripp Island has it all.

NC Beaches Within 4 Hours of Columbia

Sunset Beach
Distance from Columbia:
Just over 3 hours from Columbia, SC

Ready for a family-friendly adventure that’s just a road trip away? Head north of the state line, and you’ll find yourself at the sunny shores of Sunset Beach! It’s like stepping into a postcard-perfect paradise tailor-made for families looking to unwind and make memories together. 

Ocean Isle
Distance from Columbia: Just over 3 hours from Columbia, SC

Ocean Isle is said to be a fun family beach trip destination!

Holden Beach
Distance from Columbia: ~3 hours 15 minutes from Columbia, SC

Just south of Wilmington, you’ll find Holden Beach near Ocean Isle. Think small-town charm meets unspoiled coastal beauty. Perfect for a family vacation, Holden Beach offers a laid-back vibe and plenty of opportunities to make lasting memories with the kiddos

Carolina Beach
Distance from Columbia: ~3.5 hours from Columbia, SC

Carolina Beach gives you all those classic beach vibes with its charming boardwalk and Ferris wheel. It’s the perfect spot for some family fun. And here’s the best part: thanks to smaller crowds, you won’t have to stress about finding a spot on the sand for your beach gear.

Wrightsville Beach
Distance from Columbia: ~3.5 hours from Columbia, SC

Get ready for some serious family adventure at Wrightsville Beach! This place is a haven for watersports enthusiasts, with surfing and SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) topping the list of must-try activities. But that’s not all – you can hop on scenic tours of the island and dive into the fascinating world of coastal wildlife at the nature center

Topsail Beach
Distance from Columbia: ~4 hours from Columbia, SC

If you’re up for a little adventure, Topsail Beach is calling your name! Sure, it’s a bit of a trek from Columbia, but it’s totally worth it. Picture this: endless stretches of sandy shores just waiting for you to kick back and soak up the sun. And when you’re ready for a change of scenery, head over to the marshlands for some prime seabird watching – who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of a playful dolphin or two!

For the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle, make your way to the southern tip of the island and discover the hidden oasis known as Serenity Point Sandbar. Here, you’ll find a tranquil slice of paradise, far away from the crowds and chaos of the main beach area. 

GA Beaches Within 4 Hours of Columbia

Jekyll Island
Distance from Columbia: 3 hours 45 minutes from Columbia, SC

Jekyll Island is less than 4 hours from Columbia, and with multiple public beaches right within the state park, you’ll have plenty of sandy shores to choose from. When it’s time to freshen up, rest assured there are restrooms, changing rooms, and showers at your service.

From hunting for shark teeth to frolicking in the waves, there’s no shortage of fun to be had on this beautiful island. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles! And speaking of turtles, make sure to swing by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for an unforgettable experience that’s sure to make your trip even more memorable. 

Prefer to stay closer to home?

Aiken State Park: An Outdoor Paradise for Camping, Hiking, and Water Activities

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Are you seeking an idyllic destination to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of South Carolina? Look no further than Aiken State Park! Nestled along the South Fork of the Edisto River, this picturesque park offers a serene getaway for anyone seeking an outdoor retreat.

This park, with historical roots tied to the Civilian Conservation Corps, is a haven for camping, hiking, fishing, and water activities. With both rustic and modern campsites, Aiken State Park is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable adventure.

Things to Do at Aiken State Park

Camping at Aiken State Park

Aiken State Park boasts 25 campsites, providing visitors with a comfortable and scenic place to spend the night. Whether you prefer tent camping or RV camping, the park has sites that will accommodate your stay & preference. Aiken State Park offers electrical hookups at campsites for added convenience. 

Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of the park, surrounded by towering hardwood forests and spring-fed lakes. Set up your campsite, sit around a crackling fire, and relish the sounds of nature as you unwind under the starry night sky.

Picnic space at Aiken State Park

Hiking Trails

For those who crave adventure and exploration, Aiken State Park offers a network of hiking trails that consist of the nature jungle trail and spurs, which wind through the natural landscape. These trails take you on a journey through dense forests, providing glimpses of the abundant wildlife that calls the park home.

There are places to rest on the trails and the park is full of picnic tables. Whether you are an avid hiker or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll, the trails at Aiken State Park cater to all skill levels and interests.

Kids at Aiken State Park

Bring the Kids: Aiken State Park

When we visited, one of the trails was slightly flooded, which can happen in this ecosystem. However, our 10-month-old absolutely loved exploring the water as we walked the trail. So, while encountering unforeseen circumstances is unavoidable while engaging with the natural world, being prepared and receptive to new experiences can pave the way for exciting opportunities.

Aiken State Park picnic green space with playground

In addition to hiking, kids will also enjoy a playground, a children’s pond, fishing, and more. In fact, Aiken State Park participates in the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program, which means you can borrow everything you need for a day of fishing right at the park.

Water Activities

The park is also a paradise for water enthusiasts, with its four lakes available for fishing and an access point to the Edisto River. Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities, allowing visitors to paddle along the 1.7-mile South Fork Edisto River Trail for canoes and kayaks. Canoes are available to rent and are conveniently located at the access point. The serene waters offer a tranquil setting for exploring and connecting with nature.

A Journey into History

Aiken State Park has a rich history that dates back to the Great Depression era. The park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program aimed at providing employment during the economic downturn.

The CCC played a vital role in creating recreational areas across the country, including Aiken State Park. Today, visitors can witness the enduring legacy of the CCC through the park’s well-preserved infrastructure and natural beauty.

Of particular historical significance is the African American Detachment, a group of African American CCC workers who built and developed this park. Their contributions are commemorated, and their stories are an integral part of the park’s heritage.

Hiking trail at Aiken State Park

Visit Aiken State Park

Aiken State Park stands as a remarkable destination that seamlessly blends nature, history, and recreational activities. With its captivating landscapes, lakes, and trails, the park offers a retreat for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure and tranquility.

As you explore the hardwood forests, fish in the lakes, or paddle along the scenic river, you’ll find yourself immersed in the beauty of South Carolina’s natural wonders.

Admission: $3 adults; $1.50 SC seniors; $1 children age 6-15; age 5 & younger free

Aiken State Park
1145 State Park Road, Windsor
Open daily 9 am to sunset.

Have you and your family visited Aiken State Park? What are some of your favorite things to do there?

South Carolina State Parks

Love it? There’s more where that came from.

Here’s our guide to all 47 South Carolina State Parks!

Day Trip Guide: 10+ Things to Do in Aiken, SC, Plus Dining!

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Are you looking for a day trip destination in South Carolina that offers a mix of outdoor adventure, delicious food, and charming attractions? You’ll find all of this with the abundant things to do in Aiken, SC!

This historic city is a great place to spend a day exploring. Aiken is known for its stunning horse farms, but it also boasts a thriving downtown area filled with local shops, museums, and restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood for a scenic hike, visiting a gopher tortoise, enjoying a delicious meal at a great restaurant, or a bit of all of the above, Aiken has something for everyone.

Looking for more awesome day trips? Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Day Trips for tons of info and great ideas!

Read on for our guide to food, parks, and cultural attractions in Aiken, SC.

Where to Eat: Great Restaurants in Aiken, SC

Malia’s

This cozy bistro offers a menu of classic Southern American dishes. Make sure to save room for dessert, as they have a delicious dessert menu.

Malia’s Restaurant:
120 Laurens Street South West
Aiken, SC, 29801
803.643.3086

The Willcox

For a fine dining experience, make a reservation at The Willcox. This elegant restaurant is located in a historic hotel and offers a menu of refined Southern cuisine.

The Willcox:
100 Colleton Avenue South West
Aiken, SC, 29801
803.648.1898

New Moon Cafe

New Moon Cafe is a cozy eatery located in downtown Aiken. The menu features classic cafe-style food made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Guests can enjoy their meals inside the dining room or outside on the patio.

New Moon Cafe:
116 Laurens Street North West
Aiken, SC, 29801
803.643.7088

MacK’s

MacK’s in Aiken, SC is a beloved local institution known for its delicious and satisfying sandwiches. The casual and friendly atmosphere of the restaurant makes it the perfect spot for a quick lunch or a leisurely meal with friends and family.

MacK’s
159 Laurens Street North West
Aiken, SC, 29801
803.226.0841

Natural Attractions: Things to Do in Aiken, SC

Hitchcock Woods

One of the most popular hiking spots in Aiken is Hitchcock Woods. This 2,100-acre forest is home to more than 70 miles of trails. These trails are well-maintained, and visitors can enjoy a variety of hiking options, including easy strolls and more challenging hikes.

Along the way, you will see beautiful trees, flowers, and wildlife, and you can take in the tranquility of the forest. Although leashed dogs are generally welcome, visitors should be aware that during the Aiken Hounds Hunt Season (October 15th through March 15th), visitors are not permitted to bring dogs on Tuesdays from 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm and Saturdays from 8:30 am – 12:00 pm.

Hitchcock Woods
Admission: Free

Entrances:

  • 1700 Dibble Road, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 1770 Dibble Road, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 263 Rubin’s Cottage Lane, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 444 South Boundary Avenue South West, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 670 Coker Spring Road South West, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 540 Berrie Road South West, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 1120 Clark Road South West, Aiken, SC, 29801

803.642.0528

Aiken State Park

Aiken State Park

This beautiful park is located about 20-minutes from downtown Aiken and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, canoeing, and fishing. The park offers canoe rentals, access to the Edisto River, and has several campsites perfect for RV or rustic camping. Leashed pets are welcome in the park.

Aiken State Park

Admission: 

  • $3 adults 
  • $1.50 SC seniors
  • $1 for children aged 6-15
  • Free for ages 5 & younger

1145 State Park Road
Windsor, SC, 29856
803.649.2857

Hopelands Gardens

Another great spot for a leisurely hike is Hopelands Gardens. This beautiful park features more than 14- acres of gardens, fountains, and walking paths. The paths are well-maintained and easy to navigate, making it a perfect spot for families with young children or for those who just want to take a relaxing stroll.

Along the way, you will see beautiful flowers, trees, and even a pond. The park is also the venue for special events, such as concerts, story times, and yoga classes!

Hopelands Gardens

Admission: Free

135 Dupree Plaza
Aiken, SC, 29801
803.642.7650

Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve

The Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve is a unique natural area where visitors can observe and learn about the threatened gopher tortoise and its habitat. The preserve features hiking trails that wind through longleaf pine forests, sandhills, and other unique habitats that are home to a variety of plant and animal species. Along the trails, visitors can also see several gopher tortoise burrows and learn about the important role they play in the ecosystem. 

Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve

Admission: Free

State Highway 212
Williston, SC, 29853
803.734.4080

Cultural Attractions

Aiken County Historical Museum

The Aiken County Historical Museum is located in a restored 1930’s winter colony mansion, and it provides a glimpse into the area’s history. The museum features exhibits on Aiken’s history, including the area’s Native American roots, the winter colony era, and the city’s equestrian heritage. Visitors can also view a collection of historic clothing, antique furniture, and historic artifacts. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 2 pm to 5 pm.

Aiken County Historical Museum

Admission: Free

433 Newberry Street SouthWest
Aiken, SC, 29801
803.642.1500

Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum

This museum, located inside Hopelands Gardens, celebrates Aiken’s thoroughbred racing history and has exhibits on Aiken’s thoroughbred racing history, including the famous Aiken Trials, which kicks off the Aiken Triple Crown.

Visitors can learn about famous horses and trainers and view racing artifacts. The museum also hosts special events and temporary exhibits, making every visit unique. The museum is open Sunday and Tuesday through Friday from 2 pm until 5 pm. On Saturdays, it is open from 10 am until 5 pm and it is closed on Mondays.

Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum:

Admission: Free

135 Dupree Place
Aiken, SC 29801
803.642.7631

Aiken Center for the Arts

The Aiken Center for the Arts is a non-profit arts organization that provides arts education and exhibits throughout the city. The center hosts art exhibits throughout the year, featuring works by local and regional artists. Visitors can also participate in art classes and workshops, including painting, drawing, pottery, and music. The center is open from Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Aiken Center for the Arts

Admission: Free – Workshop Pricing Varies

122 Laurens Street, South West
Aiken, SC 29801
803.641.9094

Travel to Aiken

Aiken, SC, offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or art lover, there’s something here for everyone. I hope this article has given you a taste of what Aiken has to offer, and we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Have you visited Aiken, SC before? What was your favorite thing to do? Do you have any tips or recommendations for first-time visitors? 

The South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, SC is A Must-See

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The SC State Museum is not only huge but so entertaining, educational, and fun! Here’s why you should consider a trip to Columbia, SC to explore it. 

The South Carolina State Museum has been on my list as a homeschooling parent (actually, before that since my daughter was supposed to go as a third-grader and then the pandemic hit). I had heard it was cool but did not know the extent of exactly how amazing it would be. So I hauled my kids out there for a truly fun day trip.

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Learn and Play at EdVenture: Columbia, SC

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Have you visited EdVenture? Columbia, SC has a wonderful children’s museum that is the perfect combination of hands-on play and educational fun for your family! Keep reading as we will share all the tips and info you’ll need to make your trip to Edventure: Columbia, SC perfect! 

edventure columbia sc

This article includes:
Admission and Fees to EdVenture
Camps, Classes, and Regular Events at EdVenture
Baby & Toddlers at EdVenture
Exhibits at EdVenture
Visit EdVenture

Planning Your Trip to EdVenture: Columbia, SC

From babies to pre-teens, EdVenture Children’s Museum is sure to have something for all! Several exhibits make up the two floors of wonder and include activities ranging from science and engineering to pretend play and everything in between. Before we discuss the exhibits, let’s start with some helpful tips to get you prepared for your “edventure.” This children’s museum is closed on Tuesday’s, but is open every other day of the week.

Admissions and Fees to Columbia’s EdVenture

EdVenture Columbia, SC

Tickets can be purchased at the museum or online before you go for $13.00/person (children under 2 are free). Yearly memberships can also be purchased with various price ranges and package deals. EdVenture has a strong belief that EVERY child should have the opportunity to engage in educational fun within the museum. Because of this, they have discounted admissions options for families who receive SNAP, WIC, or Medicaid for $3 entry per person.

Once tickets are purchased, you can leave and re-enter the museum throughout the same day for no extra fees. 

Camps, Classes, and Regular Events at EdVenture

EdVenture offers several extra programs throughout the week and during different seasons including:

  • Spring Break & Summer Camp
    • ages 4-10
    • $198 weekly per child, $30 discount for members for Spring Break Camp
    • $249 weekly per child, $40 discount for members for Summer Break Camp
    • Visit EdVenture Camps online to register.
  • “Toddler Time”
    • Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30 am – 10:30 am
    • Story and themed craft
    • Located on the second floor in “My Backyard” 
    • Free with admission/membership
  • “Tinker Tech”
    • Daily from 10:15 – 10:45 am and 1:00 – 1:30 pm
    • Ages 4+
    • Build, create, craft course overseen by EdVenture employee
    • Located on the second floor in the engineering/crafting area
  • “Biolab”
    • Daily at 11 am and1:45 pm
    • Ages 4+
    • Explore various biology themes in a fun a creative way
    • Located on the 1st floor
  • “Cooking Lab”
    • Daily at 11:45 am and 2:30 pm
    • Ages 4+
    • Hands-on activities with cooking in relation to health and the body
    • Located on the 1st floor

A full monthly calendar can be found at edventure.org! 

Baby and Toddler at EdVenture 

I was very impressed by all of the thoughtful features throughout the museum for even the littlest of littles! For starters, the museum is well-planned out making it easy to maneuver strollers to and from the exhibits. There is also an elevator located in the middle of the museum that is large enough for the whole family – strollers and all!

On the second floor, in “My Backyard” (the area for those under 3 years old), there is a cozy nursing room complete with a rocking chair, bookshelf, and dark, retractable curtains. 

EdVenture Children’s Museum Exhibits

More than nine different areas with endless amounts of learning and exploration can be found at EdVenture. We will walk you through each level of the museum and let you know what to expect as you wander around with your kids! 

On the main level of EdVenture you’ll find the majority of the museum’s exhibits.  

EdVenture grocery store for kids

World of Work 

What do you want to be when you grow up? A firefighter? How about a farmer? Or maybe even a chef? You can try it all throughout this exhibit! “World of Work” takes up the majority of the main level of EdVenture.

Your children can climb into a 24 foot life-size fire truck, flash the lights and even create their own fire escape plan. Across from the firetruck, you will find a dairy and produce farm. Here, your children can “milk” a cow, harvest vegetables, climb onto a tractor, and collect fruits from the fruit trees to send to the grocery store.

EdVenture farm
Farm at EdVenture

Next, make a “grocery list” and send your littles out on an errand – the Neighborhood Market is always a popular place to be! With small shopping carts, 2 check-out lanes, and realistic foods and goods, your family is sure to have a fun time playing pretend.

Be sure to also check out the Little Spot Diner (situated right outside of the grocery store) and let your kids make you a delicious meal. My favorite thing about “World of Work” is watching my kid’s creativity and imagination come to life in these real-world settings sized just right for them!

Eddie exhibit at EdVenture in Columbia, SC
Eddie at EdVenture in Columbia, SC

Eddie!

You can’t miss him, he’s the world’s largest child measuring in at over 40 feet tall with a heart weighing over 500 pounds! Eddie is his name, and he will help teach your children all about body organs and their functions!

You can climb up a set of stairs that will take you into his stomach, intestines, heart, and brain. Eddie is the perfect combination of fun and education as his insides are set up like a jungle gym, but with realistic organs – You can hear his beating heart, the electricity inside of his brain as well as his stomach growling when you listen carefully.

As you make your way up, take a tunnel slide back down to his large shoes (which are each about the size of a car, might I add), and start your exploration again! I love that Eddie opens up a door for parents and caregivers to talk to and teach their children about the wonderful things our bodies can do at such an age-appropriate level. 

The News Room 

Has your child ever wanted to be on TV? If so, head on over to the “News Room.” Here, your child can pretend to be a news anchor or even a producer. With realistic equipment and large TV screens to look up at, this exhibit is sure to be a treat. Be mindful that to get here, you will have to go up a small flight of stairs! 

EdVenture vet

Wags & Whiskers

Get ready to put your children’s pet care abilities to the test! In this area, they will be able to care for a variety of different animals with x-rays, grooming and veterinary tools, and basic pet care needs. Wags & Whiskers teaches your child how to care for the health of their pets through interactive play.

Biolab at EdVenture

Let your child explore their inner scientist in the Biolab, designed to teach kids about biomedical science in a fun way! With teaching laboratories, this exhibit and programming is geared toward kids ages 5 – 14 to spark a lifelong interest in the biomedical field.

Cooking Lab at EdVenture

Enjoy cooking and preparing real food in the Cooking Lab, all while learning about the body, how nutrition is important, and tie all the information together with what is taught in the Biolab.

Outdoor Fun at EdVenture

The outdoor area at EdVenture is made up primarily of water play which is great in the warmer months, but be mindful that your kids may get pretty wet so an extra shirt or full change of clothes isn’t a bad idea! There are also several tricycles and a small, model airplane in this area that kids can climb into and “fly.” 

Seasonal Exhibit

The seasonal exhibit changes frequently to match whatever is going on during . . . well, each season! EdVenture often has holiday characters such as Santa and the Easter Bunny set up here. You will also find holiday-specific activities, education on different cultural and traditional beliefs, and goodies throughout the year! 

Fly an Airplane on the Second Floor of EdVenture 

The second level of the museum is home to all things science, engineering, and technology, but with a closed-off room dedicated to the tiniest explorers. 

edventure indoor playground
EdVenture

Flight

This part of the museum is full of flight simulators and educational, hands-on displays that teach children about gravity, the solar system, and how/why some things can take flight while others can’t.

My son’s favorite part of this exhibit is the Boeing 757 cockpit where you can sit in the pilot’s seat, explore the gears, and look out of the windshield at a view of the city.

In this area, you can also create and launch your own paper airplane, climb and play in a rocket ship, read interesting facts about aeronautics, and learn to fly in the Boeing 777 flight simulators. 

Maker Works 

In this area, your children will be able to create and build. In the “Open Make” center, there are several recycled materials where your kids can cut, glue, fold and color their own creations. There are also several different styles of blocks that can be found – magnetic, large Legos, KAPLA blocks, waffle blocks, etc. that will put your child’s problem-solving and engineering skills to the test!

This part of the museum is best suited for children 5-10 years old, however, with extra assistance, younger children might also be able to engage in some of the play (especially with the building blocks). 

My Backyard exhibit at EdVenture

My Backyard

Strictly reserved for children 3 years old and younger, here you will find tons of toddler and baby-safe play! There is a treehouse-styled jungle gym, a boat where kiddos can dress up in rain boots and large yellow jackets, puzzles, soft play mats, a ball pit, and several ways to meet the sensory needs of your tots!

As mentioned before, there is also a nursing area and large, family-style restroom within. 

Party Room at EdVenture

Looking for the perfect place to host a birthday party? You might want to check out the EdVenture party room! Parties are $300 for non-members and $260 for members. The birthday packages come with several incentives including all-day admission for 35 guests, discounts in the gift shop, downloadable party invitations, 90-minute private party, and more! You can visit the EdVenture Birthday page to check for dates and find out more. 

Visit EdVenture: Columbia ,SC

EdVenture
211 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Hours:
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm to 5 pm
Closed Tuesday

We want to know . . . where did your family spend the most time in EdVenture: Columbia, SC? 

Indoor Guide to Columbia, SC

Never Be Bored Indoors

Indoor Things to Do in Columbia, SC

Be Amazed at Stingrays, Sea Turtles, & Bald Eagle at the South Carolina Aquarium: Charleston, SC

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Thinking about making a trip to Charleston, SC to visit the South Carolina Aquarium? We were able to experience all the SC Aquarium has to offer and we’re ready to share it with you! If you’re looking for South Carolina Aquarium reviews or information on how to plan your visit, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got all the info you need to plan your trip and have a blast with your family at the aquarium.

A visit to the aquarium is a fabulous day trip or an awesome part of an educational trip to Charleston.

Thank you to the South Carolina Aquarium for providing media tickets for our review. All opinions are genuine and those of our team member. 

SC Aquarium
Scenes from the South Carolina Aquarium

About the South Carolina Aquarium

In 2019, the SC Aquarium was one of ten recipients of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest honor for an aquarium to receive. They received it “not for having a massive living collection of exotic species from around the world, but for keeping its collection’s focus local.” This focus is entirely evident as soon as you step foot into the Aquarium.

If someone asked me what the focus of the Aquarium is, I’d tell them conservation and education. It is easy to see how dedicated this nonprofit is to educating the public on the local species right there in Charleston and throughout the state as well as ways to conserve the beautiful animals you’ll see.

Bald eagle at the SC Aquarium
Bald eagle at the SC Aquarium

My favorite parts of the Aquarium were the two interactive talks given by the volunteers and staff at the Aquarium, which I’ll tell you about shortly. When you visit the beautiful Aquarium, you will no doubt walk away with a greater appreciation for the different climates and environments of South Carolina as well as the incredible work being done by the Aquarium in areas of conservation and the treatment and rehabilitation of sea turtles.

The Exhibits at the SC Aquarium

The South Carolina Aquarium is the perfect sized-aquarium for really getting to understand the different exhibits and spending time learning about sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, river otters, and even the resident bald eagle, Liberty. My daughters and I took our time going through the exhibits and attending the two educational talks and in total, spent about two hours there. We probably could have stayed longer if we had a snack at the Sea Turtle Snack Bar or fed the stingrays!

Spoonbill at the SC Aquarium
Spoonbill at the SC Aquarium

There are two public floors to the aquarium: the first floor houses the sea turtle hospital, the stingray touch tank, the gorgeous balcony overlooking the USS Yorktown and the Ravenel Bridge, and the bottom level of the Great Ocean Tank. The upper level has the kids play area, the salt marsh exhibit, the jelly fish, the mountains to Piedmont exhibits, and the upper viewing area of the giant tank.

There are many hands-on exhibits all throughout the Aquarium, which really any kid will find entertaining and fun. When you enter the Aquarium, you can scan the QR code located at the visitor stand or if you would prefer to print out a copy for your visit, here is a map of the South Carolina Aquarium Exhibits.

The Educational Programs at the SC Aquarium

At the advice of the Aquarium’s public relations staff member, we timed our visit so we could see the Dive Into the G.O.T and Turtle Talk programs.

The Dive Into the G.O.T. was phenomenal! The G.O.T. stands for the Great Ocean Tank, which holds more than 350,000 gallons of water and is 42 feet deep. There is a diver inside the tank who does a question-and-answer session with an Aquarium staff member and then takes questions from the audience.

Diver at the SC Aquarium
Diver at the SC Aquarium

We learned all kinds of cool things about how the volunteers and staff feed the animals in the tank, how they clean the tank, and ways to practice conservation on our own. The Turtle Talk was also amazing. The sea turtle care center is really neat and an active place where the sea turtles are taken when they are stranded or injured. Many are cared for and rehabilitated and then released back into the wild.

Sea turtle hospital at the SC Aquarium
Sea turtle hospital at the SC Aquarium

There are also animal encounters throughout the day. We saw a couple of volunteers and staff offering guests the opportunity to pet a snake. My kids passed on that one unfortunately.

The staff we met were all so, so kind and helpful. They all seemed to really love their jobs and were happy to be working at the Aquarium. The passion they had for the animals and education about them was easy to see.

Also, to add on some more educational fun to your visit, consider doing one of these onsite activities at the Aquarium, which include scavenger hunts, discovery bins, and deeper dives into the exhibits that are grade-level appropriate – looking at you, homeschoolers.

Interacting with the Stingrays

I personally think stingrays are pretty cool and just beautiful to watch, although I’m terrified of accidentally stepping on one while wading on the shore. Yet, seeing them up close and learning about them is fascinating. All of the times I’ve ever seen them in touch tanks and aquariums, they have been very playful and fun.

Stingrays at the SC Aquarium
Stingrays at the SC Aquarium

The ones at the SC Aquarium are no different. They have a huge tank to swim and play that overlooks the Charleston Harbor and it’s just gorgeous. The stingrays will come right up to the edge of the tank like puppies and basically beg for pets. It’s really adorable. They are a little slimy but once I got over that, I was all about it.

You can feed the ocean puppies for $5. I didn’t do that but I saw others who did and they looked like they were really enjoying the experience.

Trading Post at the SC Aquarium

I was really excited to see that the Aquarium has something called “The Trading Post”. If you’re familiar with the Nature Exchange at all at the Roper Mountain Science Center, this is a similar concept. You can bring in up to two natural items found in nature and earn points, which are redeemable for other cool things that the Aquarium has like shark teeth and pretty shells.

There are a few items that the Trading Post will not accept. This includes bird items (nest, egg, feathers), live animals, sea turtle bones, or anything else from an endangered species. 

A great opportunity to find shells and fossils can be found with the Sandlapper Water Tours that launch right around the corner at the maritime center. You can go on a morning eco-tour and then head to the aquarium. 

The trading post at the SC Aquarium

Visiting the South Carolina Aquarium

The Aquarium is located just minutes from downtown Charleston and right next to one of the places you can take a boat tour to Fort Sumter. The view from the deck is worth the experience alone!

You can purchase tickets in advance using the Aquarium’s dynamic ticketing system. Admission is determined by day of the week, school calendars, local events, weather, and holidays. You can see what the prices are for different days and purchase up to 60 days in advance.

There is an on-site gift shop as well as a snack bar, which is open 11 am – 3 pm daily. Parking is easy at the nearby Aquarium parking garage, which is $2/hour.

The Aquarium is open daily 9 am – last ticket sold at 3:30 pm and the building closes at 5 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day, closes at 1 pm on Christmas Eve.

South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston
843.577.FISH (3474)

Take Your Family on a High-Speed Adventure at ZMAX Dragway in Concord, NC

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Thinking about a visit to ZMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC? When is the last time you stood up to watch something go 300 mph? Been a long time or maybe never? Then you should plan a trip to the ZMAX Dragway for an NHRA National Event.

We got a chance to visit for an NHRA Nationals Event and couldn’t believe all the things we got to experience. And the best part? Kids are just $10. So your 300 mph family adventure just got a lot more budget-friendly. Here’s everything you need to know.

Watch!: Here’s our visit in one quick video

This post contains affiliate links.

The next NHRA event at ZMAX Dragway is coming soon!

Thank you to Explore Cabarrus County for providing tickets so we could bring our readers this review!

entrance to ZMAX Dragwa
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Lots of Winter Family Fun at Black Bear Snow Tubing in Hendersonville, NC

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Are you thinking about snow tubing at Black Bear Snow Tubing in Hendersonville, NC? Western North Carolina has great snow tubing and Black Bear Snow Tubing is a stellar option for families! They have a huge mountain to get your winter in high gear with a fun snow tubing trip for the whole family! We took a trip up to try out that snow-tubing mountain and it was so much fun! Now we have all the details to share so you can plan your trip!

Media tickets were provided for this review and the opinions are solely those of the author.

Snow tubing at Black Bear in Hendersonville, NC

While there aren’t any places to snow tube in the Upstate, SC, there are definitely options nearby and one of them is Black Bear Snow Tubing in nearby Hendersonville, NC, just over an hour from Greenville, SC. The snow tubing family-owned operation has been in business for over seven years and they really have a good thing going there, which I’m going to tell you all about in this story.

Scenes From the Slope

Take a sneak peek at this video at Black Bear Snow Tubing.

Snow Tubing at Black Bear

The slope at Black Bear Snow Tubing is 600 feet long with an 80-foot drop and it’s pretty fast. They make their own snow (unless they get a big snowstorm, which doesn’t happen too often) and the hill is well-maintained by their attentive staff.

How it works is that when you get to Black Bear, you go to a little shed to watch a short safety video, where you learn how to get out of your tube on the run and not to start snowball fights, sign a waiver, and head inside the cozy lodge to pay. Then you get your tubes and head to the hill.

They have a pulley system to get you to the top of the hill, which works by slipping the handle of your tube on a cable that takes you, while sitting inside your tube, right up the hill to the top. Once at the top, you’ll wait for a few minutes before being situated into your group by the staff and then sliding down the hill.

On the snow tube pully at Black Bear in Hendersonville, NC
Black Bear Snow Tubing Pulley System

Why Black Bear is Different

I’ve snow tubed at many places in our area and I think Black Bear Snow Tubing is pretty fantastic. Here’s why:

  • You can (and should) make a reservation ahead of time, which is crucial for us in Greenville who need to travel out of state to go snow tubing. It’s quite a bummer to get to our snow tubing place and either find out that they are sold out or having to wait hours for an open slot.
  • The staff is attentive and efficient. They were always around watching the hill to make sure things were running smoothly and safely. When there was a slight backup at the top of the hill, they figured out how to manage to get us all down the hill and back up to keep snow tubing without interruption.
  • The lodge is super cozy and warm and has reasonable concessions. I got a $2 hot chocolate and it was amazing. Plus, they have food, including apple cider donuts, that is affordable and you can get warm by the wood-burning stove inside or watch on the deck if you don’t want to go tubing.
  • The setup takes into account smaller kids. There is playground next to the place where you wait in line to go up the hill so smaller kids can get out their energy and there is a big fire pit also near the waiting area where you can warm up.
  • If you forgot a hat or gloves, they have them for sale inside the lodge. I feel like us parents can relate when our kid gets out of the car to go snow tubing and forgot his or her winter hat.
  • The check-in is fast. This is important because you want to get on the hill and start having fun as soon as possible!
  • Black Bear has excellent communication. They post daily on their Facebook page about current snow conditions, which is super helpful when you’re unsure about the weather.
  • The snow is real. They don’t have any synthetic chemicals in the snow – it’s the real deal.

My kids, ages 11 and 8, and I had such a blast snow tubing at Black Bear Snow Tubing. We went down the hill about 10 times (maybe more, I lost count honestly) and had so much fun together. I really love places where adults can carelessly be kids again. My kids are already asking to go back. The hill was super fast and seeing my kids faces light up with joy was special. I love those moments.

Tips on How to Enjoy Snow Tubing at Black Bear

Winter being winter, it’s usually cold when you go snow tubing. I’ve found that bringing hand and foot warmers is a really good trick to keeping everyone warm and comfortable. You can get them at Wal-Mart, Amazon, or most drug stores and they stay warm for hours.

Sliding down in a tube at Black Bear Tubing

It’s also really important to make a reservation when you know you want to go snow tubing. This is especially true during school breaks and holidays. Snow tubing is an awesome family activity on a day off but a lot of people also have the same thought. Don’t forget to make a reservation.

You don’t need to wear snow bibs or snow pants. I had on fleece leggings, hiking boots, and a couple layers of tops with a heavy coat (it was really cold when we went!) and I was fine. I saw people wearing all kinds of clothes that worked for them like pants, leggings, jeans, and sweatpants. The snow wasn’t wet at all when we went but if you go on a warmer day, you may want to bring a change of pants in case they get wet.

There are port-a-potties outside the lodge to use and no bathrooms indoors.

Double-check Black Bear’s Facebook page before heading out. Snow tubing is very dependent on weather, which changes often in the mountains. They will post current conditions and if they are open or closed most days.

Ticket Prices and Policies at Black Bear Snow Tubing

Tickets are $30/hour or $40/two hours for snow tubing. Kids must be 4 years old in order to go snow tubing. You can either sign a waiver when you get to Black Bear Snow Tubing or print one out online ahead of time. Either is fine.

While Black Bear Snow Tubing does take walk-ups, it is much better to make a reservation ahead of time instead of getting there and finding out they are full. Online reservations are fantastic for this very reason so definitely make use of them.

And be sure to check Black Bear Snow Tubing’s Facebook page before heading out to double check they are open and running. Winter tubing runs mid-December through February usually depending on the weather, of course.

And if you want to tube during other times of the year, you totally can! They have warm-weather tubing in the fall.

Black Bear Snow Tubing
373 Kerr Road, Hendersonville, NC
828.685.1155

Want to spend the day in Hendersonville? We’ve got lots of ideas on what to do in this fun town!

Things to Do in Hendersonville, North Carolina

Hendersonville is full of family fun.
Check it out!

Kidding Around Guide to Hendersonville

Southern Christmas Day Trips for a Festive Holiday Season

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Would a Christmas day trip help your family enjoy some holiday spirit? There’s a bunch of places you can head for the weekend or just the day to enjoy some holiday fun away, just a short drive from Columbia, SC.

Check out our list of popular destinations for day trips during the holiday season. From train rides to giant light displays, and towns all decked out for Christmas there are some fantastic ideas on this list!

For more holiday fun, make sure you check out our guide to the holidays in Columbia, SC.

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Visit Eudora Farms Wildlife Safari with These Parent Tips

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Have you visited the drive-thru safari park at Eudora Farms? Get the family ready for a thrilling animal adventure, right from the car! Just south of Columbia, SC, this drive-thru safari is waiting for you with over 200 exotic animals. You’ll see exotic birds, camels, zebra, water buffalo, ostriches, and so much more!

We hopped in the car to check it out and this attraction was a hit for everyone! Here’s everything you need to know about Eudora Farms Wildlife Safari near Columbia, South Carolina, in Salley, SC.

Cows ready to eat at Eudora Farms

Visiting South Carolina’s Eudora Farms Wildlife Safari 

My family loved our recent adventure to Eudora Farms! I’m not totally sure what we were expecting, but our experience went above and beyond anything we had in mind! We shared plenty of giggles, unsure shrieks, and big smiles all around. 

Before you head out to Eudora Farms, be sure to check the Eudora Farms social media account for any weather/closure updates. It’s far enough away that driving there and not being able to get in would make for a lot of tears (and the kids would be upset, too).

Cows at Eudora Farm

Planning Your Trip

After leaving Columbia, there aren’t many places to stop for gas, food, or potty breaks. The majority of the trip is very rural and there is often a line to get into the farm, so a quick pit stop before getting out of town wouldn’t be the worst idea. 

Arriving at Eudora Farms 

You will have to drive down a long dirt road before making it to the entrance of the farm. Upon arrival there will be a shelter where you can purchase (or show pre-purchased) tickets, buy buckets of food, and be given important rules and information.

Eudora Farms Tickets

Admission prices are as follows:

  • 1 – 2 people in the vehicle: $18/person
  • 3 – 6 people in the vehicle: $45/vehicle 

Animal Food Buckets for Purchase

We recommend purchasing several bowls of food. Each bowl costs $5 or you can do a bundle of 5 bowls and save a few bucks. That is what my family chose to do and while it felt like too much at first, I promise, it goes fast! Be sure to keep the food not being used WELL HIDDEN! We will talk more about this later. 

Zebra at Eudora Farms

What Animals Can You See at Eudora Farms? 

Overall, there are a couple of hundred animals that live on Eudora Farms!

The safari driving trail will wind through several fields where you will see animals such as ostriches, zebras, camels, African Watusi, water buffalo, goats, llamas, and so much more! Some of these animals will gleefully approach your vehicle while others might need a little coaxing. 

My son’s favorite animal was “the guy with the big horns”, better known as the African Watusi. Several of them greeted us right at the entrance and I think my son was in awe of how massive their horns were! My personal favorite was the highland cattle for no other reason than I think they’re cute and surprisingly rather gentle! 

Beware of Ostriches & Camels

If you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember this: The ostriches will nip you! It doesn’t hurt (I got bitten); just scares the living snot out of you. You will usually be able to see the ostriches coming, so when/if it’s safe to do so, just roll your window up and they will move right along. 

Ostrich at Eudora Farms

A second animal I MUST warn you about are the camels! They like food, A LOT, and are not afraid of sticking their enormous necks in and stealing whatever is in their eyesight.

During our adventure, we had two separate camels steal a total of 3 food bowls from us. One of which I swore was going to end up sitting in my lap – he stretched through the front window, into the floorboard of the back seat, and snatched up 2 bowls like it was nothing. He was definitely well-trained on the act! (lol!) 

Eudora Farms camels

Tips and Tricks for Eudora Farms

1. Bring Towels

Seriously, you’re going to need them! After getting 3 full bowls of food snatched out of the backseat of my van we used a towel to cover the rest of them on the floorboard. Out of sight, out of…danger of being robbed by camels! 

Another great use for towels is draping them over the side of your car so that some is covering both the outside and inside of your door. We saw a few cars doing this and thought it was BRILLIANT. The animals will undoubtedly bring in a lot of mud, dirt, and, well…slobber, so having an extra barrier there will be helpful! 

2. Pack Hand Sanitizer or Wipes

While there are handwashing stations in the walkthrough safari areas, there is no way to wash your hands while in the drive-thru portion. Remember how I said you’re going to encounter lots of animal dirt and slobber?! Hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes are necessary, for sure! 

3. Demonstrate How to Properly Feed Animals  

I know they probably don’t do it on purpose, however, some of the animals are more aggressive than others at getting their food. It would be wise to have a quick teaching moment and/or demonstration with younger kiddos about holding their hands flat to feed, staying calm when animals approach, etc. 

4. Bring More Containers 

While you CANNOT bring your own food to feed the animals, you can bring smaller containers to divide the food into. This helps a ton with not only rationing food out to your kids but it also gives them a place to hold it besides just their hands or laps. Think along the lines of a few small, plastic bowls or Tupperware containers. 

5. Have No Fear, More Food is Available 

We thought we were running out of food and started getting nervous, but about ¾ of the way through your trip there will be another shelter to purchase food buckets at! 

6. No Petting or Feeding the Zebras  

They will also tell you this when you’re checking-in, but you are not allowed to pet or feed the zebras! Make sure your children are also aware of this rule because the zebras will still stick their heads into the car and say hello. Just ignore them and they’ll leave quickly! 

7. Only Honk if you Need Help 

Honking your horn means you need assistance so you should only do this if you’re in need of a staff member. 

Eudora Farms safari

More Things To Do at Eudora Wildlife Safari Park

Now that the farm is 100% complete, in addition to the drive-thru safari, there is a petting zoo, giraffe visit, walk-thru safari, and food trucks.

Animals at Eudora Farms

Walk-through safari at Eudora Farms

Along the walk-thru safari, you can get up close to lemurs, tropical birds, bearcats, kangaroos, and have a chance to feed parakeets.

Petting Zoo at Eudora Farms

At the petting zoo, you can feed baby animals such as goats, camels, and cows.

Eudora Farms Map

The Eudora Farms map shows all that the park has to offer! 

Has your family visited Eudora Farms? We’d love to hear about it in the comments! 

Eudora Farms Wildlife Safari Drive-thru is reader-recommended

We had a fun adventure last week down in Salley at Eudora Farm. Kidding around Greenville has been such a fabulous resource and totally saved me multiple times. I wanted to share with the group. Eudora Farm is a drive through safari that’s only $36 a car. Takes about an hour to drive through depending on how long you choose to interact with the animals. There’s camels, exotic cattle, zebras, large birds, llamas, alpacas, a GIRAFFE, etc. etc. A wide variety came up to the car to be fed or pet. Buckets of grain are $5. After the drive there’s a small area where you can pet young animals and Elliot the giraffe. There’s a bird enclosure with about 60 parakeets that you can feed for $2 a stick. We spent ages in there. There’s some concessions, but we packed in food and ate at the picnic tables. Portapotties are available and handwashing stations. It’s a bit of a drive, but well worth it!!

Caitlin Cobb

Eudora Farms
219 Salem Lane, Salley, SC 
803.606.6325

Hours:
Monday – Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm 
Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm 
Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day 

  • Admission is $18-$45 per car depending on the number of people.
  • Food for the animals is $5 a bucket
    (Prices subject to change)
  • Check Eudora Farms Facebook page for daily operating updates

Has your family visited Eudora Farms?

Things to do Columbia, SC

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