Fall is one of our favorite times of year at Palmetto Smiles. The leaves are changing, the best holidays are right around the corner, and the kids are (finally!) back in school. Returning to school mode can sometimes be a challenge. As your Columbia and Lexington family dentist’s, we think fun fall field trips are the perfect way to bridge the gap between endless summer fun and the routine of back to school.
But what if your kids are not quite school age yet, homeschooled, or you are ready for a weekend of family friendly fun? From corn mazes to museums to simple strolls in the park, there’s so many fun DIY field trips in Columbia. So take advantage of these last few months of sunshine and take your kiddos on an adventure of their own. Here’s a handy list of ideas to get you started.
South Carolina State Museum
If you’re looking for a fun fall field trip that still fits the educational bill, head over to the South Carolina State Museum in Downtown Columbia. With four floors of gallery and exhibit space, plus countless feature programs and shows, there’s something for kids of all ages to enjoy. Visit after 5pm on Tuesdays for Second Shift Twosdays when general admission tickets are just two for $10. This includes access to the museum, special programs and exhibits, and the observatory. The planetarium and 4D theater shows cost an extra $5 each but are totally worth it. And bonus: the observatory is open late on Tuesdays until 10pm so your kids can discover their inner stargazer all evening long. The first Sunday of the month is also free and there are lots of kid-friendly events coming up this fall. Check out the events calendar for a complete listing.
Clinton Sease Farm Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch
Not all field trips have to be strictly educational. Sometimes you just need to let your kids have fun! And let’s face it, it wouldn’t really be autumn without a visit to the pumpkin patch — not to mention all the other fun activities at Clinton Sease Farm. If you want to sneak in a little learning, though, let your kiddos flex their navigational skills and see if they can find their own way out of the corn maze. The pumpkin patch is open from September 20th to October 31st, and admission is just $1. The maze will be open from September 20th to November 10th, and costs $14 per person (includes unlimited hayrides).
Columbia Museum of Art
Think art museums are just for adults? Think again — the Columbia Museum of Art has exhibits, events and classes for everyone from preschoolers to college kids and up. The CMA Interactive programs give kids and families a hands-on opportunity to explore their artistic side and learn about arts and culture. Check out the calendar of events for more upcoming dates and be sure to visit the Van Gogh exhibit, open from October 4th until January 12th. Children under 6 get into the CMA for free, and admission for kids ages 7 to 18 is only $5. Parents, your tickets will cost $10 a head (unless you visit from 10am-1pm on Saturdays when admission is $5 for everyone). Want to visit the CMA for free? Admission is free for all on the first Thursday of the month.
EdVenture Children’s Museum
A visit to EdVenture is the field trip that students of all ages dream about — homeschooled or not. With over 92,000 square feet of activities and exhibits to explore, your kids could spend the whole day here and never get bored. Are your kids homeschooled? On the first Friday of the month, EdVenture offers interactive education for homeschool students for just $8 (which also includes entry to the full museum!). The theme for October 4th is “Spooky Science”: think mask making, pumpkin-themed baking and haunted LEGO. On November 1st, the “Blast Off” theme features a line-up of intergalactic-inspired workshops for homeschool kids of all ages. Space is limited so sign up online ahead of time to make sure your child gets a spot.
South Carolina State Fair
Everyone’s favorite Columbia event is back this October: the South Carolina State Fair. Starting on October 9th, the SC State Fair offers 12 days of exhibits, entertainment, food, rides and fun. This year will be extra special because it’s the fair’s 150th anniversary! Buy your tickets before October 7th to get in for just $7 (after that, tickets cost $10 each). To add an educational flair to your child’s fair experience, visit on October 4th for Homeschool Friday. Here, your kids will learn all about the fair’s rich history and the evolution of agriculture in the area. The program runs from 10am to 11:30am and includes interactive, hands-on activities.
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
This fall, take in everything Riverbanks Zoo & Garden has to offer for a fall field trip your kids will never forget. The zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals — from lions and tigers to wallabees and komodo dragons. The botanical gardens are just as noteworthy, if not more. With over 170-acres of natural habitats, lush gardens and water features, the botanical gardens at Riverbanks truly are a sight to see. There are events all year round for kids (and adults!) of all ages, including homeschool-specific classes. Check the calendar for a listing of events and start planning your next fall field trip.