Columbia is home to a unique blend of southern culture, historic preservation, and modern entertainment. Political movers and shakers are constantly rattling the state capital. University students add a dynamic touch to partying and hosting creative events. Business professionals are always walking about the office, closing deals. But the bigger question is where families should go on the weekend.
Everyone has their niche and Columbia has long since catered to them. There are a hundred places to visit and see, but only two rank among the best for local residents.
1. The Riverbanks Zoo
Rated as one of the best in the country, the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia does more than educate. It dazzles. Possessing over 9 distinct animal areas, families and friends can witness the extravagance of feeding exotic animals, petting hairy creatures, and listening to the majestic roars of the world’s most dangerous predators. In a sense, the Riverbanks Zoo gives visitors a taste of the world, taking you on an imaginative diving expedition around the Pacific coral reef to trekking you through the plains of Africa. Every sense will be wowed and filled with joy.
Animal Areas at the Riverbanks Zoo:
- Africa Plains – Giraffes, zebras, ostriches, and other animals from the African Savanna
- Aquarium reptile Complex – Amphibians, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates
- Australian Animals – Koala bears, Kangaroos, and other marsupials
- Birdhouse – Features 3 distinctive geographically-themed habitats: Penguin Coast, Asian Trek, and Savanna Camp
- Large Mammals – African Lions, Siberian Tigers, Siamang Apes
- Lemur Island – Lemurs
- Ndoki Forest – Gorillas, elephants, various exotic birds
- Riverbanks Conservation Outpost – Small mammals, bats, and golden-lion tamarins
- Riverbanks Farm – Teaches about the connection with humans and farms
Cost: Adults – $11.75 / Children – $9.25
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
2. The South Carolina State Museum
Positioned along the old shipping canal of the Congaree River, the South Carolina State Museum has continued to awe and inspire visitors of the myriad artifacts they possess. Even if you’ve been there once, you haven’t seen it all. The museum constantly changes its exhibits to fit new themes and recently discovered objects. At one end of the museum, you’ll be learning the secrets of the Maya while on the other end, you’ll be staring down cold-hard weapons of the Civil War. Its dynamic culture is definitely an experience you have to try year after year.
Admission: Adults – $7 / Children – $5
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. / Sundays 1-5 p.m.