Just because summer is coming to a close and kids are gearing back up for school doesn’t mean the fun has to stop just yet. And let’s face it, the dog days of summer are upon us and it’s hot out there. Really hot. Dare we say, famously hot?
There are a host of gems sprawled across Columbia where families and groups of all ages can get those last few vacation days in and stay cool while doing it.
Here are some of the top-rated water parks, splash pads and tubing activities available in the Columbia area to escape the state’s famously hot weather during the dog days of summer:
The city’s Greenview Park Aquatics Center makes for an affordable outing for the family and has a smaller water park playground with water cannons for children. There is also a pool for those wanting to swim.
The park is open Tuesday through Sunday. Admission for ages 13 and up is $4 and $3 for those younger.
6700 David Street
Columbia, S.C. 29203
Tucked away inside Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Waterfall Junction is open year-round and is a 3-acre treasure trove of activities. The park includes a dino dig, giant tree houses, splash zone with a 25-foot waterfall.
Entry is included with general park admission and has the same hours as the zoo.
1300 Botanical Parkway
West Columbia, S.C. 29169
Dubbed the largest tubing outfitter in the southeast, patrons can float for nearly 3 hours down the Congaree River with groups of friends and family. Kayak and canoe rentals are also available.
You can book your trip online or by phone with at least 24 hours notice. Walk-ups must pay cash for rentals. Prices vary.
131 Alexander Road
West Columbia, S.C. 29169
Sesquicentennial State Park
This state park is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and has a mix of wildlife, campgrounds, picnic areas and an open space splash pad for families to enjoy.
Admission is $6 per adult, $3.50 for children ages 6-15 and kids 5 and under are free.
9564 Two Notch Road
Columbia, S.C. 29223
Saluda Shoals Park
This park offers several family-friendly activities and events throughout the summer, and also features a playground, splash pad, a dog park and more.
Parking is $5 and wristbands for the splash pad are $3 per person. Saluda Splash is open throughout the week, but will be reduced to weekends only beginning Aug. 21. Be sure to check online for hours.
5605 Bush River Road
Columbia, S.C. 29212
Palmetto Falls Water Park
The Fort Jackson water park has reopened to military members ($8), guests ($11) and non-ID cardholders ($14). The park has a host of features for people to enjoy, including a “lazy river” where people can tube down, adult and kid-sized pool and water slides.
No outside drinks or food are allowed, as the park offers a “Sand Bar” concession stand, including hot dogs, burgers, pizza, drinks and more.
6511 Marion Avenue
Columbia, S.C. 29206