It’s official: school is out for the year! It’s finally summertime and the living is easy. For the team at Palmetto Smiles, summer is our favorite time of year. After a long year of reading, writing and arithmetic, our kids get to enjoy a well-deserved break. We get to spend more time with our families, being outside in the sunshine and exploring everything our beautiful city has to offer. There are so many things to do with kids in Lexington and Columbia.
Your kids are only free from the classroom and textbooks for a few short months. What better way to celebrate than with some fun, free family activities? To help you decide how to spend your summer days, we have created the ultimate list of things to do with kids in the area. From museums and galleries to parks and splash pads, here are the top family activities to enjoy this summer. All of our doctors live here in the community and we hope to you all out and about this summer while we are enjoying time with our families.
OUTDOOR FAMILY ACTIVITIES IN COLUMBIA & LEXINGTON
- Stroll the Trails at Cayce’s Riverwalk
The Cayce Riverwalk is the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring the great outdoors. With over 20 miles of trails and 12,000 years of history, Cayce has everything you need for a summer day when you want to escape from the city. The riverwalk itself is over 12 miles long and runs along the stunning Congaree River, directly across from downtown Columbia. Whether you want to walk, cycle, picnic or birdwatch, the Cayce Riverwalk delivers. There’s no cost to enjoy the lighted, paved paths and parking is also free, making this the ultimate destination for a free family day.
- Splash the Afternoon Away at a Local Splash Pad
As any local knows, summers in Columbia and Lexington can be unbelievably hot. Help your kiddos stay cool by letting them splash and play at a local splash pad. There are many throughout the city and the best part is they’re all totally free! Hours vary by location, but most splash pads in Columbia are open Monday to Friday, and a few are open on Saturdays. Check the website above to see times for the splash pad and spray pool closest to you.
- Meet Local Families with Hike It Baby
Want to get outside with your kids this summer but don’t want to head out alone? Hike It Baby organizes local walks and hikes for families so you’ll never have trouble finding someone to join you. The cool thing about Hike It Baby is that parents can enjoy socializing with other adults while the kids run and play with each other. At the same time, the organization helps to get kids excited about nature from an early age. Ready to bust out the hiking boots and get going? Visit the link above to find a hike near you.
- Catch a Summer Flick at Earlewood Park
Everyone’s favorite movie series is back at the amphitheater at Earlewood Park. Always free, the pre-show activities kick off at 7:45pm and movies begin at sunset. The event happens every second Friday so bring your own blankets, snacks and chairs and settle in for a free family movie night. Some movies scheduled for this summer are PG-13 so use your own discretion. For an up-to-date listing, click the link above.
- Attend a Free Concert at Finlay Park
Every year, the City of Columbia puts on a free summer concert series at Finlay Park. The line-up this year includes Tony Terry, Pieces of a Dream and the Peace & Love Band. Shows run from 7-9pm and are free for everyone. Is your kid an aspiring singer? Anyone 18 and older can sign up for Karaoke Idol, which begins at 6pm on concert days. You never know who could be watching! Check the schedule above for dates.
- Climb the Playgrounds at Crooked Creek Park
There’s no shortage of beautiful parks in our city, but one of our favorites is Crooked Creek Park. Located just 15 miles northwest of our general dentistry office, this park has everything you could want for a summer family outing: walking trails, picnic areas and playgrounds galore! Pack a lunch and settle into the shade while your kids climb and play to their hearts’ content. The priceless memories you’ll make at Crooked Creek Park won’t cost you a dime.
- Be a Tourist in Your Own Town During Staycation Week
Who says you have to go out of town to have the summer of a lifetime? Take advantage of Staycation Week to discover all of the fun family activities in the Columbia region like never before. Tourism is a huge part of South Carolina’s economy, so this is your chance to live like a tourist in your own hometown. Design your own staycation: spend a few nights in a hotel, visit the zoo or local parks, and dine out like you’re away on vacation. Staycations are the best way to enjoy summer in Lexington and Columbia.
INDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS IN COLUMBIA & LEXINGTON
- Bowl a Strike with Royal Z Lanes
If the summer heat starts getting to you, step inside for a day of family fun at Royal Z Lanes in Columbia. With Kids Bowl Free, little ones all over the country can practice their bowling skills on the house. All you have to do is register your child online to receive two free games per day that they can use all summer long. Note that bowling shoes are required to play but are not included, so you’ll need to rent some for your kids. Sign up for free games at your local alley here.
- Settle In for Storytime at a Local Public Library
Looking for the perfect place to spend a lowkey family afternoon? There are so many activities for kids at the public libraries in Lexington and Columbia. You don’t even need a library card to attend the events. From storytime to LEGO play time, you can always find something for kids to enjoy at the library. Our favorite is the Lexington County Public Library. Check the schedule above for a current calendar of events at each branch!
- Hit Up Home Depot for Hands-On Learning
Give your kids a hands-on education this summer with Home Depot. Stores offer free workshops for kids to learn all things home improvement. Instructors will teach your kiddos a variety of practical skills for future DIY projects and encourage their creativity in a safe space. Be sure to check the schedule for upcoming workshops (there are even some for adults, too).
- Tour the South Carolina State House
Teach your kids about politics by taking a tour of the South Carolina State House where they’ll see firsthand how our state’s Senate and House of Representatives operates. The State House is open for tours year round and there’s no need to register ahead of time. Tours start every half hour from 9:30am to 3:30pm, with no tours offered at 12pm or 12:30pm, depending on if the legislature is in session. Check the website above for hours.
- Visit the South Carolina Military Museum for $1
The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum tells the story of South Carolina’s military history all the way from the Revolutionary War to today. As the third oldest museum in the state, the military museum showcases exhibits and artifacts from our state’s diverse military past. Children aged 9 and under are always free, and admission for adults is usually $6. If you visit on the first Sunday of the month from 1pm to 5pm, everyone aged 10 and up gets in for free!
- Tour the Columbia Fire Department Museum
The Columbia Fire Department Museum might be small (it’s just one room!) but it has a mighty history to share. The museum’s artifacts date back to the 19th century and show the evolution of firefighting tactics, gear and practices. Did you know that fire engines used to be horse-drawn? Or that there was a time before flame-retardant uniforms? Discover all of this and more with a free visit to the museum. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire your children to become firefighters one day!