The dogwood trees in my backyard are in full bloom! Aside from my allergies (achoo!), I love this time of year. And better yet, spring break is rapidly approaching! Break for Richland County and Lexington-Richland District 5 students is March 30-April 3, and break for Lexington County is April 6-10. I get just as excited as my kids about spring break, because I enjoy having them home and I don’t have to wake up early to take them to school. My husband and I just started a business a few months ago and together we have four children, so we are not taking any lavish beach or adventurous mountain trips this year. But there’s plenty for us to do right in our own back yard. Here is a list of 40 things to do in the Midlands during your spring break!
Play in the Park
1. Finlay Park, 930 Laurel Street, Columbia 29201
Finley Park has a playground, waterfall, small pond, and a pergola with swings. If you like to take pictures, this park is great; it offers a beautiful view of the city skyline. This park is located downtown, so if you go during the week you have to pay the parking meter. Take a blanket to spread out on the grass and have a picnic.
2. Carolina Children’s Garden, 900 Clemson Road, Columbia 29229
This green space at the Sandhills research center has twelve themed areas where kids can explore, play and learn. Find items on a scavenger hunt list, or watch for new species of birds.
3. Heathwood Park, 800 Abelia Road, Columbia 29205
If your kids love sandboxes, this is the place to be; there’s a large sand area and there are usually several digging toys around. See-saws, climbing structures and swings round out the play equipment.
4. Virginia Hylton Park, 111 Maiden Lane, Lexington 29072
Virginia Hylton Park is located behind the Lexington Police Department. The park just recently updated its special needs playground, so if you have not been in awhile go and check it out! There are also restrooms available, a horseshoe pit, a scenic creek, beautiful flowers, a playground, and a large covered shelter with a grill, ceiling fans, and electrical outlets.
5. Irmo Community Park, Church Street, Irmo 29063
This park offers a lot of space to run and play. I like how one of the play ground areas are covered to protect from the sun. There are also trees that offer plenty of shade. I recently went to this park for the first time and it is one of my new favorites! This park is very well maintained. The bathrooms were the cleanest of any local park that I have seen.
6. Seven Oaks Park, 200 Leisure Lane, Columbia 29210
Seven Oaks Park is located beside Leaphart Elementary School in the St. Andrews area. This park offers six tennis courts, a 30,000 square-foot gym, nine athletic fields, picnic tables, playgrounds, paved walking paths, and a community garden.
7. Gibson Pond Park, 241 Gibson Road, Lexington 29072
There’s a small playground with swings at this park, but the main attraction is the pond, which is available for fishing.
8. Corley Street Park, 210 Corley Street, Lexington 29072
This hidden gem is close to downtown Lexington but perfectly quiet. It has tons of shade, so it’s great on warm days. An old cemetery next to the park is perfect for budding historians.
9. Felton C. Benton Park, 2915 Platt Springs Road, West Columbia 29170
You’ll want to come back to this park once summer hits, to take advantage of its splash pad. In the meantime, enjoy the playground.
10. Guignard Park, 200 Knox Abbott Drive, Cayce 29033
Little explorers will love the creek running through this park.
Bike or Hike
11. Congaree National Park, 100 National Park Road, Hopkins 29061
If your family is adventurous this is the place for you! Congaree National Park offers picnicing, canoeing, primitive camping, bird watching, and hiking. There is also no cost to get into the park.
12. Harbison Lake Walking Path, 95 Woodcross Drive, Columbia 29212
I love taking my kids to the “duck pond” when we go to the Harbison Boulevard area! There is a playground and a walking path that goes around Harbison Lake. You can skate or ride bikes on the walking path. There are also friendly ducks who live there, but please do not feed them.
13. Harbison State Forest, 5500 Broad River Road, Columbia 29212
If you are looking to explore 18 miles of trails designed for hiking, walking, bicycling, and jogging this is the place for you! Harbison State Forest is only 9 miles from downtown Columbia. You can also pack a lunch and eat at one of the many picnic tables. Harbison State Forest also borders the Broad River, and there is a canoe landing for kayaks and canoes. Harbison State Forest is the first place that I primitively camped at as a child.
14. Sesquicentennial State Park, 9564 Two Notch Road, Columbia 29223
Not far from downtown is “Sesqui” State Park. This park offers 1400 acres of fun for your family. Your family can primitive camp and hike the nature trails. This park is great for group gatherings because it offers a retreat center complete with a kitchen and dormitory. The park is free for children ages 15 and under. There is a small fee of $2 admission for adults and $1.25 for seniors that reside in South Carolina.
15. Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park, 312 Laurel Street, Columbia 29201
This park offers picnic tables, walking paths, fishing, playground, amphitheater, and shelters. You can also learn the history of the Columbia Canal and Waterworks! There is an old pump house on the grounds. Don’t forget your camera for this outing because this park is absolutely gorgeous. I had by engagement and maternity photos taken here.
16. University of South Carolina Horseshoe, 902 Sumter Street, Columbia 29208
The USC Horseshoe is located in the heart of Columbia. There are eleven buildings that surround the Horseshoe. The National Register of Historic Places lists 10 of these buildings. You can take your family to relax on the grass, visit the South Caroliniana Library, eat lunch at the McCutchen House, or walk the cobblestone pathways.
17. Lake Murray Dam Walkway, 2101 North Lake Drive, Columbia 29212
Your family can walk, run, jog, or even bike the top of the Dreher Shoals Dam. The distance from the Irmo side of the dam to the Lexington side of the dam is 1.7 miles. That is a total of 3.4 miles if you travel the entire length of the dam and back! You can see the Columbia skyline from the dam, and breathtaking views of Lake Murray.
18. Fourteen Mile Creek Trail, North Lake Drive and Old Cherokee Road, Lexington 29072
This new trail just opened last year; it’s expected to be part of a network of trails across Lexington County.
19. West Columbia Riverwalk, 500 Alexander Road, West Columbia 29169
The east side of the river doesn’t have all the fun. Come on over to West Columbia’s riverfront park, which has walking trails, picnic tables and an amphitheater.
20. Cayce Riverwalk, Axtell Drive, Cayce 29033
From West Columbia, follow the riverwalk to Cayce. Watch for historical markers and you might even learn a thing or two.
21. Saluda Shoals Park, 5605 Bush River Road, Columbia 29212
The splash pad doesn’t open until April 25, but there are plenty of other things for families to do at Saluda Shoals. This park borders the Saluda River. Did you know you can get a Fisherman’s Pass and have 24 hour access to the park for just $65 a year? If your family has a dog, you can take it to the Barking Lot Dog Park at Saluda Shoals. The fee for the dog park is $40 a year and your pet must be up to date on shot and be spayed/neutered. There is also a covered playground near the splash pad where children can play protected from the sun. Daily admission for cars and mini-vans is $5, 12+ passenger vans $7, and busses are $11. You can also purchase an annual parking pass for $45.
Museums and More
22. Edventure Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St., Columbia 29201
My kids love Edventure and there is something fun to do there for children of any age. Whether you have a baby who likes to explore the ages 0-3 room on the second floor or a bigger kid who wants to learn more about the world around them. Consider getting a membership if you go. If you have a South Carolina Medicaid card, everyone in your party will get in for $1 per person.
23. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia 29210
Riverbanks Zoo has a lot to offer for people of any age. Riverbanks will be offering Spring Break Zoo Camp in two sessions. Session 1 is March 31-April 2 and session 2 is April 7-9. The camp times are 9:00am-3:00pm for ages 5-9. The cost is $110 for members and $150 for the public. Sign up early because space is limited. http://www.riverbanks.org/education/day-camps.shtml
24. Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St., Columbia 29201
You might think art museums are for grownups, but there’s plenty here to interest kiddos. Try the Art Explorer Backpack program, which gives kids a packet of hands-on activities that relate to the art on display. Or show the kids their hometown from a new perspective: Through April 5, check out Columbia Now: Four Photographers Show Us Our City.
25. South Carolina State House, 1100 Gervais St., Columbia 29201
Have you ever taken your children and shown them the state house? There is so much history there. I love the Blue Granite building. Did you know that Blue Granite is our state rock? One of the largest producers of granite in the United States is South Carolina. The state house offers tours free of charge! Call (803) 734-2430 to schedule a guided tour.
26. South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia 29214
Housed in an old mill, the South Carolina State Museum is filled with South Carolina history. I recently went on a field trip here with my son and their new planetarium and Boeing Observatory are out of this world amazing. The museum is offering a Spring Savings Pass. The pass is $18 for adults and $16 for children. The Spring Savings Pass includes: admission to one planetarium show, admission to one 4D movie in the museum theater, admission to BUGS! Giant Robotic Creatures, 10% discount in the museum gift shop and cafe, and admission to the four story museum. http://scmuseum.org/explore/
27. Columbia Fire Museum, 1800 Laurel St., Columbia 29201
Admission to the Columbia Fire Museum is free! Does your little one dream of one day becoming a firefighter or having a career in public safety? Their operating hours are weekdays from 8:30am – 5pm, excluding holidays. Call (803) 545-3700 to schedule a guided tour.
28. South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame, 5400 Broad River Road, Columbia 29212
Best for older kids, this hidden museum showcases the hard work that law enforcement officers do, and honors some of the state’s fallen officers.
Take in a Show
29. Go to the movies
Want something indoors to do during spring break? Take the kids to the movies! I love getting nachos and Coca-Cola at the movies. My favorite theater is the Columbiana Grande (1250 Bower Parkway, Columbia 29212). Currently the kid friendly movies playing at Columbiana Grande are Cinderella and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water, both rated PG. I am sure I will be going to see Cinderella very soon.
30. Columbia Marionette Theatre, 401 Laurel Street, Columbia 29201
Puppets of all kinds take over this theater’s stage. The current production is The Frog Princess, a musical based on a Russian fairy tale.
31. Sweet Frog, 1788 S. Lake Drive #180, Lexington 29073
Sweet Frog is a national chain that offers soft serve frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt is a healthier alternative to ice cream. Sweet Frog got its name from the acronym F.R.O.G., Fully Rely On God. When you go to Sweet Frog you pick what size frozen yogurt bowl you want, then you select which delicious flavor of fro-yo you want, and last but not least you choose toppings!
32. Chocolate Monkey, 5341 Sunset Boulevard, Lexington 29072
Everything covered in chocolate. You really can’t go wrong.
33. Coldstone Creamery, 914 N. Lake Drive, Lexington 29072 and 285 Columbiana Drive, Suite M, Columbia 29212
Don’t think of this as taking the kids to get ice cream. Think of it as a scouting mission that helps you decide what kind of ice cream cake you want for Mother’s Day (they sell those, too).
34. Mast General Store, 1601 Main Street, Columbia 29201
You may think it is strange that I included a store in my spring break list, but my kids love this store. Have you seen their candy selection? I also like to go to the children’s book section and reminisce while looking at their selection of Little Golden Books. When we go here I let each of my children have $5 to spend however they wish. Last time we went we all left with an RC Cola and a Moon Pie.
Tons of Fun
35. Frankie’s Fun Park, 140 Parkridge Drive, Columbia 29212
When I was a kid I loved going to Frankie’s Fun Park to ride go carts, play laser tag, and putt putt. Now that I have children they love to go to Frankie’s too! They also have an arcade and snack bar.
36. Chuck E. Cheese, 1775 Burning Tree Road, Columbia 29210
I also went to Chuck E. Cheese when I was younger. I absolutely love their pizza and root beer! Chuck E. Cheese is fun for kids ages 3-10. Your little ones can dance with Chuck E. Cheese and his friends!
37. HiWire Trampoline Park, Village At Sandhill, 741 Fashion Drive, Columbia 29229 and a new location near the DMV at 1019 Broad Stone Road, Irmo 29063
Jump high and then higher at HiWire, a trampoline park that’s like P.E. class but better. Age restrictions apply at certain times, so call to check the schedule before you come.
38. CiCi’s Pizza, 141-A Pelham Drive, Columbia 29209, 715 Fashion Drive #4, Columbia 29229 and 6120 St. Andrews Road, Columbia 29212
There are 3 CiCi’s Pizza locations in Columbia to choose from! Who loves pizza? My children and I love going to CiCi’s Pizza. They have a pizza buffet that includes salad, soup, pasta, and dessert. When you are finished eating you can enjoy the games in their arcade!
39. The Little Gym, 5347 Sunset Boulevard, Lexington 29072 and 4420 Rosewood Drive, Columbia 29209
The Little Gym offers classes for 4 months up to age 12. They offer gymnastics, karate, dance, sports skills, and Kindermusik! Does your little one enjoy making music or doing cartwheels? Stop by The Little Gym in Lexington during spring break and sign them up for classes!
Get Lost in a Book
Your local library is a great spot to take your family during spring break. Do your children have a library card? Not only do they have books to check out, but they also have DVDs too!
What Are you Waiting For? Go Have Fun!
Whether you go to great heights at HiWire or stay close to the ground at your local park, your children are sure to have fun just spending time with you. The problem will be deciding what to do. So what are you doing for spring break?
Do you have anything to add to our list of spring break activities? Share yours in the comments.