The only purpose-built marionette theater in the US, this is also one of the largest, seating 300 people in front of a 30-foot stage. All shows are created in-house from the script up, including puppets designed specifically for each show. Entrancing for kids, to be sure, but grown-ups should be entertained as well, not to mention surprised at the skill, creativity and artistry on display. If a performance inspires you, there's a gift shop with a good selection of puppets you can take home.
Adventure Carolina offers a variety of guided kayaking and canoeing trips on Columbia's rivers. The popular "After Work" trip on the Congaree lasts about 3 hours and is ideal for first-timers and families (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays during the summer). Weekend trips range from shorter jaunts to full-day excursions. If floating is more your speed, schedule a tubing trip, which is great for families and friends just looking for a fun, relaxing day in the sun.
Built in 1855, this stately, gracious mansion has served as home to the state's governor since 1868. Prior to that time, it was used as officers' quarters for the Arsenal Military Academy. The beautifully landscaped grounds are often used for receptions and special events.
No visit to Columbia is complete without a stop by this 1855 structure, which withstood and survived General Sherman's attack in 1865. Bronze stars now mark the places where Union cannonballs hit. A total restoration was completed in 1998, leaving the columned façade, the ornate lobby, and the copper dome in impeccable condition. A tour of the grounds and the facility includes many fascinating memorials and an informative portrait gallery.
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Inside a century-old textile mill, this museum presents a comprehensive collection of art, history and science exhibits depicting South Carolina's past, present and future. From natural history to technology to fine arts, this museum has informative permanent displays and temporary shows that delve into a broad range of cultural topics. Highlights of their collection include a giant white shark model, a Blue Sky mural, dinosaur fossils, and a gorgeous iron gate by Lowcountry artist Philip Simmons.
This contemporary structure houses an astonishing number of books, reference materials, and some original artwork. You will especially enjoy the children's area, complete with a towering mural and Maurice Sendak sculptures. Computer terminals are available for web surfing and email, and the periodical section includes a huge range of specialty publications.
At Columbia's EdVenture you'll meet the 40-foot tall Eddie, who lives in the atrium across from the entrance. Through a series of tunnels and slides, kids can explore inside Eddie and discover just how amazing the human body is. The fun doesn't stop with Eddie – there are more hands-on exhibits here than most youngsters could appreciate in one visit. The communication exhibit includes a pneumatic tube (just like at the bank drive-thru), and there's a wonderful art room as well. Outside is a fascinating water fixture – dam it up, create a maze for your boat, and see how high you can make the water spout go! It's all good, clean, (educational) fun!
Located near the Greystone Boulevard exit off I-26 and ranked as one of the most popular attractions in the Southeast, the zoo is home to a plethora of species. Monkeys, lions, birds, seals, koalas and much more are displayed in their natural habitats. The stunning botanical garden adjacent to the zoo features 70 acres of varied plant life, nature trails, and great views of the Saluda River. One of the more popular exhibits is the walk-through Lorikeet Aviary where you can hand-feed the colorful birds from small cups of fruit nectar.
This amusement center can keep kids of all ages occupied for hours. Choose from great activities like miniature golf, go-carts, the ever-popular bumper boats, and even a batting cage. Older kids and teens will love the well-stocked arcade. This is active fun for the whole family, and it is also a great place for parties and events.