20 Super Fun Things To Do With Kids In Columbia, SC

Our favorite things to do in Columbia with kids

Whether you’re local to Columbia, SC or just in town visiting, we know how difficult it can be to find things to do to keep kids excited and entertained. Luckily, we’ve had a few years to test out kid activities in Columbia and are excited to share a list of ideas!

It’s always fun to add something new to our list of the best things to do in Columbia with kids!

Sometimes we luck out with great spots where kids feel welcome and enjoy themselves, while other times we wish we had ended up someplace else. If you have kids I assume you have been there!!

To help you navigate Columbia with kids, we have compiled a list of the activities that our kids love in and near Columbia. You’ll find everything from outdoor activities to a marionette show! For more fun things to do in general, check out our list of the best things to do in Columbia!

Things to do with kids in Columbia: table of contents

This is a long post, so we have broken it into various sections and provided an easy way to jump around as needed. Happy exploring!

  1. Kid-Approved Attractions
  2. Family-Friendly Outdoor Adventures
  3. Catch a show or attend a kid-friendly class
  4. Other Fun Things To Do With Kids in Columbia

Kid-Approved Attractions in Columbia

1. Visit the animals at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

Arguably the most popular attraction in Columbia, Riverbanks Zoo is a top destination of families with kids.

Not only do kids love all the animals (and how could they not), but Riverbanks also has plenty of opportunities for fun activities and interaction with the animals.

The park and gardens are also beautifully maintained making it the perfect place to spend the day for kids and parents alike.

Be sure to check out our guide to Riverbanks Zoo while you plan your visit! We recommend going on weekdays or early on weekends before the crowds build! Mornings are especially a good idea when it’s hot out– the animals are much more active before the heat sets in.

2. Splash at Riverbank’s Waterfall Junction

While Waterfall Junction is technically part of the Riverbanks Zoo, we thought it merited being mentioned as its own activity. This is the perfect place to take your kids on a hot summer day.

The 3-acre splash park is open during the summer and features a 25-foot cascading waterfall, splash pad, dinosaur bone dig site and a giant treehouse.

Waterfall Junction is located on the Botanical Gardens side of the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden complex so it is best to enter at the Botanical Gardens entrance at 1300 Botanical Pkwy. Admission to Waterfall Junction is included in the standard zoo and garden admission.

3. Explore at EdVenture Children’s Museum

If you’re looking for a place for your kids to interact and learn while having a blast, look no further than EdVenture Children’s Museum.

This space is 100% designed for kids from the giant-sized kid climbing structure “Eddie” that greets you as you walk into the firetruck exhibit, play grocery store and real-life airplane cockpit. We love taking our kids to EdVenture and spending hours exploring and playing.

Located in the Vista, EdVenture is easily accessible for locals all over the midlands and for families in Columbia visiting. It’s also a great spot to beat the heat in the middle of summer.

4. Learn about the state at the SC State Museum

Sticking with the museum theme! Located across the parking lot from EdVenture in the Vista, the South Carolina State Museum offers another engaging environment for kids and adults to learn and explore.

With exhibits focused on natural history, science and technology and South Carolina art and history there is plenty to see. Our kids’ favorite parts of the museum include the giant-sized shark hanging overhead that greets you as you walk in, the life-sized mastodon, the old trains and automobiles, and the space exploration exhibits!

Exterior of the SC State Museum

5. Tour the South Carolina State House

As the capital of South Carolina, Columbia

The South Carolina State House is an awe-inspiring building and grounds that attract visitors from near and far. The SC State House is steeped in history, serving as home for the SC House and Senate Chambers as well as the Governor’s office.

Not only is it beautiful to stroll around (especially after visiting the Soda City Market on Saturdays…), but you can also tour the State House.

Exterior of the SC State House front from Gervais Street.

6. Cheer on the Gamecocks

Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and there are so many fun opportunities to watch them compete. Whether it’s UofSC football, baseball, basketball or even gymnastics, our kids love rooting for the home team!

Check this site to keep up with the most up-to-date information on all things Gamecocks!

Family-Friendly Outdoor Adventures

7. Explore Nature at the Congaree National Park

If you have little nature lovers like us, then you should definitely take the 30 minute drive to Congaree National Park. Here you’ll find a 27,000 acre park with the Congaree River flowing through. Most of the park is a floodplain for the Congaree River and it’s home to the largest remaining tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood.

With over 20 miles of designated hiking trails, there is plenty of wilderness to enjoy. You’ll find 10 named trails in addition to the popular boardwalk loop that begins and ends at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.

8. Shop, eat and take in the sights at Soda City Market

Don’t let your impression of a sleepy Saturday morning farmers market keep you from Soda City Market. This is not your run-of-the-mill farmers market! Soda City Market is so much more. We like to describe it as more of a weekly food festival with a carnival atmosphere.

Soda City Market draws a large and lively crowd every week, boasting about 150 weekly vendors ranging from food & drink vendors to arts and crafts. Kids love the atmosphere and get to see street performers, eat yummy snacks and watch the world go by.

If you are looking for a space to let your kids run around a bit while there, we recommend Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of Art. There you’ll find plenty of green space to run around safely (and a few tables for you!)

9. Burn off some energy at a neighborhood playground

Columbia is home to so many fun neighborhood playgrounds that create ample opportunity to get outside and play no matter where you are. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite playgrounds in Columbia to help you find the perfect place to play!

10. Play and eat at Frankie’s Fun Park

For good old-fashioned fun, Frankie’s Fun Park in Irmo has so much to offer. The long list of fun activities includes driving go-carts or bumper boats, playing mini-golf, hitting at the batting cages, playing laser tag and playing high-tech and old-fashioned arcade games. They also offer food and snacks, making it a place to hang out all day!

Located in the Harbison area, Frankie’s Fun Park is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Columbia.

11. Take them out to the ball game

With two great ballparks and hometown teams, there is ample opportunity to catch a baseball game.

The Columbia Fireflies, our Single-A minor league team plays at Segra Park in the Bull Street District.

This state-of-the-art ballpark is an excellent venue for families to take in a baseball game. The Fireflies are in season from April to September. Buy your Fireflies tickets online!

The University of South Carolina also has a state-of-the-art baseball stadium where the top-notch Gamecocks Baseball team plays.

Founders Park, located on the banks of the Congaree River is a great spot to spend an afternoon outdoors enjoying a baseball game. The Gamecocks are in season from February to May. Get your Carolina Baseball tickets online!

Catch a show or attend a kid-friendly class/activity

12. Watch puppets perform at the Columbia Marionette Theater

A longtime fixture in Columbia, the Columbia Marionette Theater is the perfect place to let your kids’ imaginations soar. The personal touches in the theater and the art of puppetry are mesmerizing for little ones. And the performances are just as enjoyable for the parents! It is conveniently located in downtown Columbia near the Vista.

Winnie the Pooh opened September 3, 2022 with shows at 11 and 3 on Saturdays.

13. Paint a masterpiece at The Mad Platter

The Mad Platter is a fired arts studio on Millwood (near Devine Street.) You can make reservations online or walk in if tables are available.

I remember attending birthday parties at the Mad Platter when I was younger and I absolutely love taking our kids there now. They get to pick a piece of pottery and let their inner-Picasso shine. It’s also a great place to host a birthday party!

Apart from ceramics, The Mad Platter also offerse clay impressions for your little one’s hands or feet.

14. Send your little chef to a cooking class

This is such a great idea for your budding chefs! You’ll find Flour Power Kids Cooking Studios in Forest Acres across from Trader Joe’s. You can either sign your kiddo up for a cooking class or host a birthday party there.

Other Fun Things to do with Kids in Columbia

15. Hang out at a kid-friendly Brewery

There are so many great breweries in Columbia and many of them are great for kids! Our personal favorites to bring the kids are the Hunter-Gatherer Hangar and Steel Hands.

Getting to hang out at an old hangar at a sleepy municipal airport sounds like every kid’s dream. That’s exactly what you get at the Hunter-Gatherer Hangar. There is plenty of grassy space for kids to roam around the hangar and there is even the hangar’s original observation deck where you can watch the small planes take off from Owen’s Field!

Steel Hands is another great family-friendly brewery with tons of outdoor seating and live music on certain nights. It’s a great place to relax and watch the kids play for the afternoon!

Exterior of Hunter Gatherer Brewery Hangar at Owens Field in Columbia, SC.

16. Jump around at an indoor trampoline park

One activity that Columbia does not have a shortage of is indoor trampoline parks. And we can understand why. They are so much fun for kids and the perfect way to burn off some energy (especially when it is hot or rainy outside!)

We have compiled a list of the trampoline parks in the area so that you can find the most convenient for you.

17. Grab a frozen treat on a Famously Hot day

Getting ice cream in Columbia may be one of the only ways to cool off when it’s 100 degrees. You’ll find everything from gelato to rolled ice cream, homemade waffle cones, New Orleans-style shaved ice and even Italian ice in Columbia. Trust us, you’ll need it in July! And August and…

18. Build an ice cream cookie sandwich

Oh, yes. Don’t miss this one. Head over to The Baked Bear in Five Points to pick your ice cream and cookie flavors. They’ll build a sandwich for you and it is always so delicious and fun! We love pairing dessert at Baked Bear with lunch from Groucho’s Deli in Five Points.

19. Go on a pizza and toy shop adventure

This will sound pretty basic but my kids can’t get enough of Village Idiot Pizza and BeBeep Toy Shop! Luckily they are in the same shopping center in Forest Acres and we can easily walk between the two.

We love checking out all of the cool new toys at BeBeep, especially when paired with pizza from Village Idiot! See our guide to the best pizza in Columbia for more ideas.

20. Treat them to a pancake breakfast

Another one that may seem simple but can be such a fun outing! Head on over to Original Pancake House in Trenholm Plaza and order one of their many varieties of pancakes. It’s such a fun place for kids because there is so much to see– and the food is always tasty! Bring a fun game like Spot It and make the most of a morning out.

Disclaimer: Hours, pricing, menus, etc. may have changed since we last updated this post, so make sure to confirm all of this directly prior to visiting any business or attraction listed on our site. When In Columbia does not accept sponsored posts. All opinions are our own. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.