I am sure many of us are starting to panic with summer knocking on our door. What are you going to do all summer long with your kiddos? Temperatures are already reaching into the 90’s, and we have a WHOLE lot of summer left. Many will flock to indoor play areas, others to the park. Why not have the fun of a playground, with the benefit of a pool? Check out our list of outdoor splash pads, and other water activities, in and around Columbia!
Splash Pads/Spray Pools/Mist Pads
Some of Columbia’s city parks have splash pads or spray pools, all with free admission. Just be sure to call the Rec department to make sure they’re turned on.
Most of the parks listed have spray pools/splash pads (the terms are often used interchangeably) which consist of a basic one-spigot. However, Drew Park has a bigger spray pool/splash pad with multiple water sprays.
The city also operates an outdoor swimming pool and offers swim lessons and water Zumba classes; click here for information on locations and fees.
Richland County also has a state park which features a splash pad and the Riverbanks Zoo has updated Waterfall Junction this season. Both come with an admission fee.
Drew Park – 2101 Walker Solomon Way, Columbia, 29204 (downtown, behind Drew Wellness Center)
One of the largest splash pad/spray pool in the city with multiple water sprays for kids to enjoy!
Features a concrete splash pad, outdoor basketball court, playground, and fossil dig area.
Elmwood/Roy Lynch Park – 900 Abbeville St., Columbia, 29201 (beside Logan Elementary, downtown Columbia off Elmwood)
Enclosed park with water spray, playground, swings, picnic shelters and concrete area with water spray for kids to enjoy (newly renovated in 2016!)
Emily Douglas Park – 2500 Wheat St., Columbia, 29205 (Shandon)
Shady park with spray pool operated during summer months, playground areas and swings.
Hampton Memorial Park – 117 Brandon Ave., Columbia, 29209 (near Dorn V.A. Hospital)
Park includes a spray pool, pond, two tennis courts, youth baseball field and full size basketball court.
Heathwood Park – 800 Abelia Road, Columbia, 29205 (Heathwood neighborhood, off Garners Ferry Rd/Devine St. close to Beltline Blvd.)
Features a spray pool operating in the summer months, playground equipment for children of all ages, swings, digging toys, climbing structures, sand digging toys, small spin-around ride-ones and springy seesaws. There is also a picnic shelter along with basketball and tennis courts.
Lorick Park – 1600 Lorick Ave., Columbia, 29203 (near Columbia College)
Includes a water spray, neighborhood center, basketball courts, a baseball diamond and picnic shelters.
Melrose Park – 1500 Fairview Road, Columbia, 29205 (Melrose Heights, near Trenholm Rd. and Gervais St.)
Enclosed park with spray pool and playground equipment.
Pinehurst Park – 2315 Pinehurst Rd., Columbia, 29204 (near Providence Hospital)
Includes spray pool, playground area, baseball diamond and a community center.
Quinine Hill Park – North Beltline Boulevard and Forest Drive, Columbia, 29204 (behind Walgreen’s)
At this “mist pad,” push the button on the back of the water fountain pole for a nice misting for a few minutes. Mist available upon demand, aka whenever you want to push it!
Sesquicentennial State Park – 9564 Two Notch Rd., Columbia 29223
This new splash pad opened Memorial Day 2016 and offers 2,800 square feet of water fun for kids that includes squirting and pulsing water. Admission to the park: $5 adults; $3.25 SC seniors (age 65 & older); $3 children ages 6-15; ages 5 and under, free.
Sims Park – 3500 Duncan St., Columbia, 29205 (Shandon)
Contains a spray pool, neighborhood center, play area, picnic shelter and basketball court
Waterfall Junction at Riverbanks Zoo – 1300 Botanical Parkway, West Columbia, SC 29169 (just off SC Highway 378 at I-20 and I-26)
Imagination blooms in this 3-acre wonderland where you can pop in and out of a rabbit hole, unearth a life-size replica of a T-Rex, frolic between giant tree houses and kid-size playhouses, splash around and under a 25-foot cascading waterfall and run — or rest — on a grassy meadow. New this year is a Lil’ Sprouts zone! Welcome news for those of us with the little ones.
Lexington County has six splash pads, spray pools or mist fountains for your kids to enjoy! Some offer free admission (typically the spray pools and mist fountains) while the splash pads offer more activities and include a cost to participate.
Felton C. Benton Park Splash Pad – 2915 Platt Springs Rd., Springdale, 29170
Just a note if you have an especially little or shy one: This splash pad is a favorite with local daycares, so there may be older children there. FREE.
Corley Park – 210 Corley St., Lexington, 29072
Open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. FREE. Includes spray pool and playground.
Melvin Park – 370 A Eptings Camp Rd., Chapin, 29036
Irmo/Chapin Rec Commission has a brand new park! This splash pad just opened in April. Hours of operation are Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Cost is $3/person or you have the option to buy a 15 visit punch card for $40.
NorthWest YMCA – 1501 Kennerly Rd., Irmo, 29063
Open Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday: 1 – 5 p.m. Free to members and adults. Non-member children pay $5; check in at the front desk.
Willie B. Caractor Park – 804 Hendrix St., Lexington, 29072 (behind Lexington Medical Center).
This park is not usually crowded. Includes mist fountain, playground, hopscotch court, rope climber and picnic shelter. FREE.
Saluda Shoals – 5605 Bush River Rd., Columbia, 29212
Open 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily. This is a large park maintained by the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission, near the Lake Murray Dam. There is a $5 parking fee, which covers the entire park, and $3 fee per person for the splash pad itself. Large splash pad with lots of activities to keep kids entertained, and right beside a large playground.
Palmetto Falls – 6511 Marion Ave., Columbia, 29207 (at Fort Jackson)
Opens June 2. Take the Forest Drive Gate, then left on Marion St. Driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance are required to enter the gate. Open to the public every Tuesday-Sunday. $10.50 a person, children younger than 6th grade must have an adult present. Park includes a 10,000 sq. ft. family pool, two water slides, a 600 sq. foot splashdown pool, a 2,500 sq. foot kiddy pool, a lazy river stretching 800 linear feet and a snack bar – talk about enjoyment!
Orangeburg YMCA – 2250 St. Matthews Rd., Orangeburg 29118
Admission is free with any of the six Midland’s Y memberships, or $4 for guests 47″ and under and $8 for guests 48″ and over (as listed on the Y’s website, though I’ve seen discount admissions on couponing sites sometimes). Includes a lazy river, multiple slides, pools, splash pad and much more! Open Thursday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday 1 – 5 p.m. This park opens for the season June 3rd. However, they do have hours before that date if you would like to visit their website.