7 Must-Visit Outdoor Adventures Around Columbia


I never really appreciated the outdoors until I became mother. After my son was born (and I was on maternity leave and then a stay-at-home mom), I was looking for fun things for the two of us to do outside of the house.

Over the past seventeen months, I have become familiar with more and more outdoor adventures in Columbia and a little further out of the city, in an effort to introduce my son to the beauty of nature and to maintain a sense of balance and peace within both of us. Now that the weather is nice and warm, it’s definitely time to get outside and explore! Here are a few of our favorite local outdoor adventures.

Cayce Riverwalk

With an up-close view of the locally iconic Gervais Bridge, the Cayce Riverwalk is also home to tree-filled trails, scenic views of the Congaree River, and public art by local artists. It’s a favorite among Columbia locals, and it’s one of my family’s favorite outdoor places, as well. Opportunities to get close and touch the water, take photos, and run along the trails are surely to be hits with the family! 

Governor’s Mansion Gardens

This quiet little place is filled with beautiful florals and greenery that are accentuated by classic archways and garden statues. When first describing it to a friend, I told them that it reminded me of “The Secret Garden,” and I felt that I had stepped into a new, magical place. The gardens are open to the public during weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and access is free. 

Congaree National Park

Being one of our favorite nearby places to explore outside, the Congaree National Park includes walking trails, spaces to canoe, and great fishing spots. My son and I really enjoy seeing all of the wild animals and many insects that live out in the Congaree, including a variety of birds, caterpillars and butterflies, feral pigs, and snakes! The park’s boardwalk is stroller-friendly and includes an enclosure that protects visitors from some of these wild animals.

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve

After sharing with one of my friends that I was looking to explore the outdoors, she mentioned how she and her family had recently visited the Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve in Lexington, South Carolina. This space is great for a short hike and is home to large boulders, rocks, and a small waterfall. 

Saluda Riverwalk

The Saluda Riverwalk is a lovely walking trail that is close to Riverbanks Zoo. Visitors have the option to kayak or float along the Saluda River, walk along the light trails, or lounge on the grass or at a picnic table by the river. It’s a quiet and beautiful place in Columbia that has something for everyone. 

Swan Lake Iris Gardens 

If you’re looking to venture out a little bit further, Swan Lake Iris Gardens is a gorgeous park that is home to many animals (including swans, turtles, egrets, and more!) and has a serene body of water close to the entrance of the park. The greenery and florals along the trail only add to its natural beauty.

Poinsett State Park

My son and I recently came across this beautiful park (which is down the road from Swan Lake) not too long ago, and we were thrilled to find a waterfall and creek within a short walk from the parking lot. There’s also a large pond nearby where visitors can lounge and enjoy the view. Walking trails are present throughout the park, and animals and flowers can be found at every turn. 

Where are your favorite outdoor spots in Columbia?


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