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Free Events & Places to See with Kids During the Month of May in Columbia

Free Events & Places to See with Kids During the Month of May in Columbia | Columbia SC Moms BlogI write this post listening to my two boys, 5 and 1, screaming and laughing hysterically in their room when they should be sleeping. We were only able to get out of the house for about 20 minutes today. There is a reason the hashtag #boymom is everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure girls come with their own challenges, but I can’t deny the energy of the boys in my life. 

When it comes to planning as a stay-at-home mom, I look for places to go outside of the house. We have lived in the Midlands for two years, and found some great places. I like to kick it up a notch and find free, or discounted, events and places. This mom must get out of the house A LOT. My boys need to run around, but occasionally show some civility indoors.

There are some really fun things to do around Columbia with the kids in May, and the best part is they are easy on the wallet!

Weekend Activities

For those that like to wait and get out of the house on the weekend only, check these activities out:   

May 6 -7: Air & Ground Expo at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover

Military vehicles, jets, 100 ground displays and IT’S FREE! You will most certainly find my family at this event. 

May 6, 13, 20, and 27: Barnes and Noble Storytime in Forest Acres

Every Saturday the Barnes and Noble has a story time at 11 a.m. This is a great way to get your child out and enthralled by reading. The Forest Acres store also has a train table which is a favorite for my 5 year old. Stories and themes vary each week.

May 6: Let’s Move! Kids Day Warrior Challenge at Finlay Park, Downtown Columbia

Rock Climbing, boxing, obstacle course OH MY! If you have a child who is over 6 years old, this would be a fun event to attend from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

May 7: State Museum First Sunday in Downtown Columbia

Admission to the State Museum is only $1 on the first Sunday of the month. This is great for those kids who just love exploring indoors and learning more about South Carolina and beyond. If you have younger children there is a play room just beyond the entry staircase (I had a fellow mom let me in on that secret!). Be sure to bring extra money if you want to take advantage of the 4D theater and/or planetarium.  

May 13: Kids in Architecture Day in Columbia

Do you have a child with a knack for design?  The Richland Two Institute of Innovation is hosting a day looking into the creative process of an architect. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.at R2i2, and facilitated by architects from around the Columbia area. This event is completely free and includes a pizza lunch, however space is limited.  Be sure to sign up in advance. at

May 20: Blythewood Butterfly Festival at Doko Meadows

This free event is a lot of fun! It takes place from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Activities include a caterpillar petting zoo, storybook and character garden, music, arts and crafts. There is also a Butterfly experience that does carry an $8/person charge. Proceeds go to Camp Discovery.

May 20: Forest Acres Festival in Columbia

One of the best free festivals in Columbia. This festival takes place at A.C. Flora High School’s athletic fields. Free admission, carnival rides, face painting, pony rides, entertainment and more! This events takes place from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and is brought to you by the Rotary Club of Forest Acres.

June 3: Storyfest in Columbia

Yes, I know this event is not technically in May, but some of us need to plan ahead! Storyfest is the kick-off for the summer reading program. This event runs from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and takes place at the State Museum. It includes presentations and book signings, Readers’ Theatre, storytelling for all ages, crafts, face painting, and visits from Cocky & the Clemson Tiger. 

Weekday Events

If you just can’t wait until the weekend, like me, there are great places all over the Midlands to check out. 

Congaree National Park, Hopkins

Located in Hopkins, this is a gem in our own backyard. My boys and I love visiting this park to walk on the boardwalk and learn about nature. The visitors center has info on what can be found in the park. The boardwalk is really easy, with some more difficult hiking available as well. 

Goodale State Park, Camden

My husband and I discovered Goodale by accident. It was so nice to find a state park that had free admission. Goodale is also beautiful (think boat scene in “The Notebook”). The trails are easy to hike with young kids.

Sandhills REC, Northeast Columbia

There is an adorable children’s garden at the Sandhills REC on Clemson Road. There are all sorts of “imagination” areas nestled about, many based on books or folklore. Wind chimes provide a magical background music as your young ones play and explore. In addition, there are wooded trails, a pond area, and various seasonal attractions.

Richland County Library, various locations

When I moved here the first place I went was the library. There are so many wonderful programs – from puppet shows to arts, story times and sensory activities, there’s always some fun and exciting happening. 

Lexington County Library, various locations

While I do live in Richland, I can’t forget my friends in Lexington County! Their library system also has many free story times and events geared towards children and adults of all ages. It’s so much more than books!

Doko Meadows, Blythewood

My family and I live in Blythewood, so of course this one had to make our list. The playground has areas for both younger children and older children. If the playground doesn’t wear them out, try the 1 mile walking path that goes around the gorgeous pond. 

There are so many fun, free, things to do around the Midlands. Where do you go for free, or super cheap, in the area?

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