Below you’ll find a list of over 20 things to do with kids in Columbia, South Carolina. This guide features kid-friendly attractions, tours, museums, outdoor adventures and more.
Whether you are looking to entertain toddlers or teenagers, this list will help you find some amazing things to do with kids in Columbia, SC.
What You’ll Find In This Guide
- Riverbanks Zoo
- Waterfall Junction
- EdVenture Children’s Museum
- SC State Museum
- State House
- Gamecock Sports
- Congaree National Park
- The State Fair
- Soda City Market
- Local Playgrounds
- Frankie’s Fun Park
- Strawberry Picking
- Columbia Fireflies
- Columbia Marionette Theater
- Mad Platter
- Cooking Classes
- Kid-Friendly Restaurants
- Kid-Friendly Breweries
- Trampoline Parks
- Ice Cream Shops
- Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Local Toy Store
- Pancake Breakfast
Things To Do WIth Kids In Columbia
This guide shares our top picks of things to do with children, from kid-favorite attractions to fun outdoor activities, sporting events and more. If you are looking for more ideas, check out our list of 35+ awesome things to do in Columbia!
Riverbanks Zoo And Gardens
Arguably the most popular attraction in Columbia, Riverbanks Zoo is a top destination for locals and tourists.
Not only will your kids love seeing all the animals at Riverbanks, but there are also plenty of opportunities for fun activities and interaction with the animals.
We recommend going on weekdays or early on weekends before the crowds build! Mornings are especially a good idea when it’s hot out– the animals are much more active before the heat sets in.
WaterFall Junction at Riverbanks
Waterfall Junction is a 3 acre splash park located at Riverbanks Zoo. While it’s technically part of the Zoo, we thought it merited being mentioned as its own activity. It’s amazing! And the perfect place to take your kids on a hot summer day.
Waterfall Junction is open during the summer and features a 25-foot cascading waterfall, splash pad, dinosaur bone dig site and a giant treehouse.
You’ll find Waterfall Junction on the Botanical Gardens side of the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden complex so it is best to enter at the Botanical Gardens entrance at 1300 Botanical Pkwy. Admission to Waterfall Junction is included in the standard zoo and garden admission.
EdVenture Children’s Museum
If you’re looking for a place for your kids to interact and learn while having a blast, look no further than EdVenture Children’s Museum.
This space is 100% designed for kids from the giant-sized kid climbing structure “Eddie” that greets you as you walk into the firetruck exhibit, play grocery store and real-life airplane cockpit. EdVenture is a great place to take your kids and spend hours exploring and playing.
Located in the Vista, EdVenture is easily accessible for locals all over the midlands and for families in Columbia visiting. It’s also a great spot to beat the heat in the middle of summer.
SC STate Museum
Sticking with the museum theme! Located across the parking lot from EdVenture in the Vista, the South Carolina State Museum offers an engaging environment for kids and adults to learn and explore.
With exhibits focused on natural history, science and technology and South Carolina art and history there is plenty to see.
Kids always love the giant-sized shark hanging overhead that greets you as you walk in, the life-sized mastodon, the old trains and automobiles, and the space exploration exhibits!
Tour The SC State House
The South Carolina State House is an awe-inspiring building and grounds that attract visitors from near and far. The SC State House is steeped in history, serving as home for the SC House and Senate Chambers as well as the Governor’s office.
Cheer On The Gamecocks
Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and there are so many fun opportunities to watch them compete. Whether it’s Carolina football, baseball, basketball or even gymnastics, your kids will love rooting for the home team!
Check this site to keep up with the most up-to-date information on all things Gamecocks.
Congaree National Park
If you have a little nature lover, then you should definitely take the 30 minute drive to Congaree National Park. Here you’ll find a 27,000 acre park with the Congaree River flowing through.
Most of the park is a floodplain for the Congaree River and it’s home to the largest remaining tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood.
With over 20 miles of designated hiking trails, there is plenty of wilderness to enjoy. You’ll find 10 named trails in addition to the popular boardwalk loop that begins and ends at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.
Spend a day at the State Fair (October)
If you want to make your kids absolutely squeal with the delight, then plan to visit the SC State Fair in Columbia. It’s always mid-October and is filled with fun rides and delicious fair food.
It’s held at the State Fairgrounds near Carolina’s campus. It’s actually right next to Williams Brice Stadium, and it’s a madhouse when the fair overlaps with a home football game.
The 2024 SC State Fair will be October 9-20, 2024.
Soda City Market
Soda City Market is a Saturday morning market on Main Street in front of the State House. We like to describe it as more of a weekly food festival.
The weekly market draws a large and lively crowd, boasting about 150 weekly vendors ranging from food & drink vendors to arts and crafts. Your kids will be more than entertained– from street performers to delicious food and epic people-watching opportunities.
If you are looking for a space to let your kids run around a bit while there, we recommend Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of Art. There you’ll find plenty of green space to run around safely (and a few tables for you!)
Playgrounds In Columbia
Columbia is home to so many fun neighborhood playgrounds that create ample opportunity to get outside and play no matter where you are.
A few of our favorites include Heathwood Park near Devine Street, Citadel Park in Forest Acres and Sims Park in Shandon. There’s also a playground inside Riverbanks Zoo!
Frankie’s Fun Park
For good old-fashioned fun, Frankie’s Fun Park in Irmo has so much to offer. The long list of fun activities includes driving go-carts or bumper boats, playing mini-golf, hitting at the batting cages, playing laser tag and playing high-tech and old-fashioned arcade games. They also offer food and snacks, making it a place to hang out all day!
Located in the Harbison area, Frankie’s Fun Park is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Columbia.
Go strawberry picking (Spring)
Don’t miss your chance to go strawberry picking in Columbia! Cottle Strawberry Picking is a popular family-owned farm located in Columbia, SC, that offers fresh and juicy strawberries for visitors to pick.
They are open daily during the season and offer U-pick and we-pick strawberries. Prices start at $5 for a quart.
It’s a fun and enjoyable experience for families to spend time together outdoors while enjoying the taste of locally-grown fruit.
Columbia FireFlies Baseball
The Columbia Fireflies, our Single-A minor league team plays at Segra Park in the Bull Street District. This state-of-the-art ballpark is an excellent venue for families to take in a baseball game.
The Fireflies are in season from April to September. Buy your Fireflies tickets online!
Columbia Marionette Theater
A longtime fixture in Columbia, the Columbia Marionette Theater is the perfect place to let your kids’ imaginations soar.
The personal touches in the theater and the art of puppetry are mesmerizing for little ones. And the performances are just as enjoyable for the parents!
The Marionette Theater is conveniently located in downtown Columbia near the Vista.
Mad Platter Fired Arts Studio
The Mad Platter is a fired arts studio on Millwood (near Devine Street.) You can make reservations online or walk in if tables are available.
Kids get to pick a piece of pottery and let their inner-Picasso shine. It’s also a great place to host a birthday party!
Apart from ceramics, The Mad Platter also offers clay impressions for your little one’s hands or feet.
Cooking Classes For Kids
This is such a great idea for your budding chefs! You’ll find Flour Power Kids Cooking Studios in Forest Acres across from Trader Joe’s.
You can either sign your kiddo up for a cooking class or host a birthday party there.
Sometimes the best thing to do is just head out for a family dinner. But you’ll want to make sure you go to the right place! Below are a few ideas for where to eat, and make sure to check our guide to kid-friendly restaurants in Columbia for more.
- If you are looking for a fun (and noisy!) atmosphere with excellent BBQ, head to Home Team in Five Points.
- Is a casual lunch deli more your thing? Go to Groucho’s in Forest Acres or Five Points!
- If your style is more ‘bribing your kids with a chocolate dipped ice cream cone (but first you have to eat your chicken tenders!)‘, then our pick is either Zesto (Forest Acres) or Rosewood Dairy Bar. Both have drive-in style fare and ice cream.
There are so many great breweries in Columbia and many of them are great for kids! One of the best to bring kids along are the Hunter-Gatherer Hangar and Steel Hands breweries.
Getting to hang out at an old hangar at a sleepy municipal airport sounds like every kid’s dream. That’s exactly what you get at the Hunter-Gatherer Hangar. There is plenty of grassy space for kids to roam around the hangar and there is even the hangar’s original observation deck where you can watch the small planes take off from Owen’s Field!
Steel Hands is another great family-friendly brewery with tons of outdoor seating and live music on certain nights. It’s a great place to relax and watch the kids play for the afternoon!
Indoor Trampoline Park
One activity that Columbia does not have a shortage of is indoor trampoline parks. And we can understand why.
They are so much fun for kids and the perfect way to burn off some energy (especially when it is hot or rainy outside!)
Frozen Treats For Famously Hot days
Getting ice cream in Columbia may be one of the only ways to cool off when it’s 100 degrees.
You’ll find everything from gelato to rolled ice cream, homemade waffle cones, New Orleans-style shaved ice and even Italian ice in Columbia.
Trust us, you’ll need it in July! And August and…
Pizza + Toy Shop Adventure
Village Idiot Pizza and BeBeep Toy Shop are in the same Forest Acres shopping center, and boy are they popular for kids!
We love checking out all of the cool new toys at BeBeep, especially when paired with pizza from Village Idiot! See our guide to the best pizza in Columbia for other great slices in town.
Another one that may seem simple but can be such a fun outing! Head on over to Original Pancake House in Trenholm Plaza and order one of their many varieties of pancakes.
It’s such a fun place for kids because there is so much to see– and the food is always tasty! Bring a fun game like Spot It and make the most of a morning out.