As the weather grows warmer and the school year winds down, Columbia residents are beginning the search for summer activities. The good news is that there are a number of scenic, family-friendly parks in and around Columbia that are ideal for summer days in the sun.
Shireese Bell, the Public and Media Relations Manager at the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, spoke on the various benefits of public parks. In addition to increasing property value and encouraging out-of-state visitors, Bell said the parks provide many health and social benefits.
“It’s important for children to get outside and away from the TV screen … Children are more active when they’re able to get outside even if it’s just for a walk,” said Bell. “Being outside creates an opportunity for families … to connect with one another or other families. Parks also provide opportunities for children to learn about our natural resources and the history of Columbia through our Park Ranger program.”
Here are some of the best parks the Columbia area has to offer:
Congaree National Park
100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC 29061
Congaree National Park boasts the country’s tallest deciduous forest, which visitors can enjoy on any of the parks ten different trails. The park is is located on the Congaree and Wateree Rivers, which offer fishing, canoeing and kayaking opportunities.
Park rangers regularly lead activities such as canoe tours and nature walks, and if a daytime visit isn’t enough, the park has two campgrounds where visitors can camp for up to 14 days.
Elmwood/Roy Lynch Park
2120 Lincoln Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Elmwood/Roy Lynch is an ideal park for families. It has an open green with picnic spaces where parents can relax while children play in an engaging play area complete with a zip line and a life-sized game board and splash pad. The park is surrounded by walking paths and a butterfly garden.
6700 David Street, Columbia, SC 29203
Greenview Park has its own aquatic center, which will open after Memorial Day. It features a double waterslide, a six-lane pool, and a water play area for smaller children. Greenview Park also has several tennis courts and a traditional playground with climbing areas, slides and swing sets.
Admission for the aquatic center is $3 for children ages 12 and under and $4 for everyone ages 13 and above.
Sesquicentennial State Park
9564 Two Notch Road, Columbia, SC
This 1400-acre state park has no shortage of outdoor activities for summer fun. Several trails wind through the park, including hiking trails, nature trails, and even a mountain bike trail. For recreational activities, Sesqui has a sand volleyball court, a softball field, a dog park, and two playgrounds.
Visitors can also rent boats, canoes, paddleboards and kayaks to take out on the park’s 30-acre lake. Admission is $5 for adults, $3.25 for SC seniors (ages 65 & older), and $3 for children ages 6-15. Children 5 and under can get in for free.
Owens Field Park
1351 Jim Hamilton Blvd, Columbia, SC 29205
Owens Field Park is home to a boundless playground where children of all levels of ability can play safely and happily. The playground has climbing areas, a slide, and even a zip line.
Owens Field also has a skate park and several ball fields that host a variety of different sports, including The Miracle League of Columbia.
100 Catawba Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Granby Park is located on the Three Rivers Greenway, giving visitors access to the Congaree, Saluda and Broad rivers. The park offers a walking trail that also accommodates runners and bicyclists. It also has a kayaking area.
312 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC 29201 and 4122 River Drive, Columbia, SC 29201
This 140-acre park is situated on the grounds of the world’s first electrically operated textile mill. It is also located along the Broad River and the Columbia Canal, which provide beautiful views and opportunities for water activities.
Riverfront is one of Columbia’s most heavily used parks. It has an amphitheater that is often used as a venue for small concerts. It also has an outdoor fitness area with various types of workout equipment. The park’s and nature trails give visitors the opportunity to exercise and explore nature.
Park rangers host a variety of free programs throughout the year, including kayaking tours, workshops, and nature and history walks. Visitors can access the park via two different entrances (Laurel Street and River Drive).