Fun family weekend at Sparkleberry Fair in Columbia: cool rides, yummy food and exotic petting zoo

Sparkleberry Fair is the best spring festival in the Midlands. It is held every year the last weekend in April near Sandhills Village and Carolina Children’s Garden in northeast Columbia. Parking is $5, rides are $3-$5 (unlimited rides stamp is $25, excludes bungee jumping and water balls), food items are $4-6, while the petting zoo and most arts and crafts activities are free.

A bird’s eye view of the Sparkleberry Fair from the ferris wheel. My daughter really loved riding on the big wheel.

Fun rides games food at the carnival

Up in the air at Sparkleberry Fair

Kids can test their climbing skills inside the Monkey Maze. There were also many different theme fun houses to play in.

Fun going through the Monkey Maze

Monkey Maze playstation fun

The bumble bee was a very popular ride with the little kids.

Fun rides for little children in Columbia

Lets make honey little bee

The highlight of the day for young children: the caterpillar roller coaster!

Spring family fun outdoor Village Sandhills

All aboard the caterpillar roller coaster!

My favorite attraction was the farm, filled with classic pettig zoo animals like the bunnies, goats, cows, sheep, pigs, donkey, turkey and chickens and a surprising variety of more exotic animals: alpacas, lama, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, yak, and camel.

Farm animals petting zoo fun

They are so cute!

Pet the baby alpaca! Where else can you see, touch and even ride wild animals?

Exotic farm animals at thespring fair

Nice alpaca, nice...

The Native American exhibit featured live hunting demonstration, bow and arrow shooting lesson, traditional face painting, open fire cooking, a huge tepee, storytelling, singing and arts and crafts souvenirs.

Native American heritage and traditions

Checking out the big tepee

The Sparkleberry Fair has something fun for everyone!

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Wild kids fun at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, family friendly activities under $10

Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach has lots of exciting things to do for children.

Here you can see up close and even interact with some of the rarest tigers in the world: Royal Bengal, Amur, Siberian and Golden Tabby tigers. For free you can watch and photograph adorable tiger cubs play in a relaxing uncaged environment.

TIGERS Preservation Station live tiger exhibit

Feel the love for the most exotic cats in the world...while we still can

Jump, kick, flip and goof around on the mini “slingshot” trampoline ($9 per session), located in front of Dino’s restaurant.

Safe aerial jumps for little children North Myrtle Beach

This is going to be fun!

Feed turtles, ducks, and catfish ($.25)

Free kids entertainment activities Myrtle Beach

Adorable little turtles asking for a snack

Cool off at the Coca-Cola Cool Zone (free)

Relax under the mist machine

Ahhh...this feels good!

Dare to enter the mind-boggling Mirror Maze ($7.99 all day pass, $1 off coupon available). Very young kids can ride the historic carousel ($2 per ride).

Fun is divine in North Myrtle Beach!

What about little kids? Myrtle Beach offers fun rides for young children at Broadway at the Beach

Wonder where to take your preschool kids for a fun outing in Myrtle Beach? The Pavilion Amusement Park at Broadway at the Beach has a dedicated section for little ones located near WonderWorks Soar and Explore. Each ride is $3 + tax. You’re better off buying in bulk (i.e. 9 rides for $20 + tax). The rides open at 12PM and run till dusk. Note this section is closed January through March, however the one next to the Aquarium is open year around.

Pavilion rides highlights
The “thriller” drop! Actually is a sequence of small hops, the kids go gaga over…I quit after my first ride and instead focused on documenting my daughter’s adventure.

Myrtle Beach old Pavilion children rides

Cmon mom, hop on little froggy!

All NASCAR drivers started at Speedcar…This is a bump free car chase. The apex is the fast turn, that is swishing the kids around at high speed.

future Nascar racers

Whee! She did it 4 times in a row

My favorite was the Ferris Wheel ride. It’s relaxing and you get a spectacular view of the entire Broadway at the Beach area, including the lake, restaurants, promenade bridges and attractions.

Get a bird eye view from the ferris wheel

Up in the air at Broadway at the Beach

Mayday, mayday! Kids fly 1940s style airplanes, by lifting the plane and shooting at King Kong (not my choice for a target)

King Kong Pavilion airplane kids rides

Look at me, I am a real pilot!

My daughter got the honor to “operate” the Broadway Line locomotive while I got to ride in the back with the commoners. Beware of the giant chicken and the green dinosaur!

Pavilion mini train ride Broadway at the Beach

Is so fun to run the train!

Of course no visit is complete without riding the carousel

Myrtle Beach Nostalgia Carousel ride

Always a kids favorite

Fun kids rides at Broadway at the Beach, affordable family entertainment outdoors

Up in the air!

Giant boat swing Myrtle beach fun

Wild ride on the giant Pirate Ship


The Pavilion Nostalgia Amusement Park at Broadway at the Beach offers fun rides for the entire family.

This post features the year around rides, located behind Ripley’s Aquarium.

There is another group of rides geared for younger kids, on the other side of the walkway, next to WonderWorks’ “Soar and Explore” zipline and ropes challenge course.

Every ride is $3 + tax. You’re better off buying in bulk (i.e. 9 rides for $20 + tax).

All rides open at 12PM and run till dusk.

Here are the photos and few videos with the most exciting rides:

Broadway at the Beach just for kids fun rides
It would make your head spin…dangling high up in the air at breaking-neck speed, what’s not to like?! Here’s the video…

Out of control giant carousel Broadway at the Beach

I am getting dizzy mom! Riding the old Wave Swinger in Myrtle Beach

My daughter’s favorite ride! She did 3 times in a row (keep in mind it travels super fast forward and backwards)…I’m surprised she didn’t get sick!

What kids love to do Broadway at the Beach

Now is going backwards!

What little kids would love to ride

The 1912 Herschell Spillman carousels one of the world’s few originals still operating. It’s elaborate design features hand-painted lions, zebras, ostriches, frogs and horses.

Old carousel ride Nostalgic Pavilion Amusement Park

1912 Herschell Spillman carousel, one of the oldest in the country and few remaining in the world.

Probably the most easy going ride at Broadway at the Beach

Broadway at the Beach just for kids entertainment

Free Willy!

If you can’t handle the giant one, hop on the kiddie version…hey, not everyone is Jack Sparrow!

Rides for little kids at Broadway at the Beach

Arrrgh! Ahoy mates, welcome aboard!

Perfect ride for toddlers and very young kids

Fun rides for little children Broadway at the Beach

Captain Nemo at your service...

Here are more fun and affordable kids activities in the area as well as printable coupons to the best Myrtle Beach attractions.

The fun is devine in Myrtle Beach!

Fun things to do with kids around Myrtle Beach for under $10

For the past 4 years I’ve traveled up and down the Carolina Coast looking for great adventures, mysteries and memorable wildlife encounters. Here is a list of wonderful things – blessed my now 7 years old daughter – that you can do with your kids while vacationing in Myrtle Beach. All for under $10! (prices subject to change; new attractions added in 2010 and 2011)
Cherry Grove North Myrtle Beach

To get you started I’ve put together a nice Google Map with all the attractions.

Free things to do at Cherry Grove, Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing
Walk inside the pristine Heritage Shores Nature Preserve located next to the Cherry Grove Park and Boat Ramp. Feeling more adventurous? Kayak the Cherry Grove inlet all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Beware you may be greeted by dolphins!

Nature Preserve at Cherry Grove Park

Where to kayak and fish in North Myrtle Beach

• Speaking of dolphins, you can see bottlenosed dolphins swim freely around the pier. I got a special treat, seeing them at sunset on 2010 New Year’s Eve!

• Splash around at the water fountain. Don’t be shy, join in the fun, just remember to bring extra clothes

Water splashing fun at Broadway at the Beach

Water splashing fun at Broadway at the Beach

• Jump, slide, crawl at the playground, most likely the most scenic in the Carolinas!
• Sprinkle more laughs at the fish and duck feeding stations
See up-close Bengal, Siberian, Royal White Bengal and the super stars Golden Tabby tigers playing in an outdoor environment at the remarkable T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station inside Barefoot Landing

TIGERS Preserve free live exhibit North Myrtle Beach

The tiger is playing with the kids! He was very interested in the like plush tiger toy...

Visit the Burroughs-Chapin museum, the only art museum in Myrtle Beach, located across the Springmaid Pier. They have an Art Studio just for kids.

Beach piers, museums and amusement parks
• Burn calories while you jump and flip on the trampoline at Barefoot Landing

Hop Hop Up in the Air

Wheee! I am so high up in the air

• Fishermen unite at the outstanding Cherry Grove Pier, home to many record catches such as a 1780 lbs Tiger Shark and a 98 lbs Tarpon. All day pass to the pier is $1.50. Bait, tackle, and rods rentals are available at the pier shop, or pay $6 pier fishing fee if you bring your own.

The fishing pier at Cherry Grove Beach

The fishing pier at Cherry Grove Beach

• Speaking of piers, in January 2011 we spent a wonderful weekend at Springmaid Beach Resort, which proudly boasts the historic Springmaid Pier (longest pier in Myrtle Beach). Admission is $1 (free for resort guests), a daily fishing pass is $8 and rods can be rented for $10.

• Let your kids imagination flourish at CMSC featuring a USS Coast Guard boat, an authentic X-ray machine, diamond mining, a magical school bus and a pizza delivery truck ($8 admission, $1 off coupon available)

Come on board!

Come on board!

• Climb on baby elephants and zebras at Jungle Safari mini-golf! Oh yeah when you really feel like it put that ball into the hole… “I like to move it, move it” ($8 admission)

• Test your wits and navigation skills at the mind-boggling Mirror Maze inside the Barefoot Landing shopping and entertainment center($7.99 for all day pass)

• Race into space, play astronaut, build your own constellation and learn all there is to know about planets at Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach. Grownups can rock on at the cool laser shows featuring songs from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, The Beatles and more ($8 adults, $4 kids 3-5)

I am flying mom!

I am flying mom!

• Have a tea cup party ride at the Pavilion Nostalgia Amusement Park at Broadway at the Beach ($3+tax per ride, less for bulk purchases). Here is a 2011 list with the most exciting rides.

• Play with the largest, museum quality model train layout at the NC Railroad Museum downtown Wilmington. Kids love pushing buttons, watching Thomas and company go over bridges and even ordering food at a drive-thru McDonalds! ($7 adults, $6 seniors and military, and $3 children 2-12 years)

Parks, historical sites and zoos
• Visit the romantic Atalaya Castle inside the Huntington Beach State Park where the Wild Things Are! Beware of free roaming jaws snapping alligators! ($5 park admission, free entrance to Atalaya)

Mysterious Atalaya Tower

Mysterious Atalaya Tower

• Reward your nature loving spirit at Waccatee Zoo – The Beast Things to Do – featuring hundreds of exotic and weird animals ($7)

• See a Giant Sloth skeleton replica, learn about nature’s deadly forces, admire a T.N. Simmons Sea-Skiff and check out Michael’s Jordan childhood memorabilia at Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington ($7 adults, $3 children 3-17)

Prehistoric largest ground mammal in North Carolina

What a giant! I am glad he is not a carnivore

• Be amazed, awed and bewildered at Cape Fear Serpentarium in historic Wilmington NC home to the most venomous snakes in the world: bushmasters, Gaboon vipers, King cobras, Tropical rattlers and Fer-de-lance ($8, live feedings in the weekends at 3PM)

Admire the Brown’s Ferry Vessel, the oldest American-built wooden boat, located inside the Rice Museum in Georgetown (~40 minutes drive). Did you know that Georgetown was once the rice capital of the world? ($7 adults, $5 seniors, $3 students and free for kids under 6)

What is the oldest wooden boat in America

Browns Ferry Vessel traveled in early 1700s along the Carolina Coast to bring goods from plantations to Charleston.

• See how native people lived along the Carolina coast before the arrival of Europeans. The Horry Conway Museum in downtown Conway features a great collection of Native American artifacts from Archaic, Woodland and prehistoric time periods. Admission is free. Added bonus, take a relaxing stroll along the Waccamaw River to enjoy beautiful scenery, historic warehouses and the Conway Arboretum.

Enjoy your family vacation along our beautiful Carolina Coast!