Weekend fun outdoor activities at Sesqui – Columbia’s “granny” park and best kept secret

Save some gas money and come relax right here in the heart of Columbia at Sesquicentennial Park. Since 1937 the “granny” welcomed millions of visitors and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s affordable, fun and healthy way to spend a day with the family.
For those of you new to town read my previous post to get more details about Sesquicentennial Park and its awesome mountain bike trail.

Things to know before you go:

1. Admission fee is $2 per vehicle. The park is open till 9 PM.

2. The sports equipment rental office is open daily; 9 to 4 PM during the week and 9 to 5 PM on the weekend.

3. To rent kayak, canoe or 2-person paddle boat is $5 an hour or $ 15 a day. My advice is to do the hour rental unless you really enjoy the Carolina summer heat! The fishing boat rental is $5 per hour and $12 per day.

4. The park has a superb dog park equipped with all the things doggies love. It even has a dog-wash station. You need a dog permit to enter the dog park. Otherwise you can walk the dog throughout the park as long as it is on leash. The annual dog permit is $25 if you get it in July and lasts for the whole year. To get a permit and an access key to the doggie park you need to bring an up-to-date vaccinations record, proof of spaying / neutering and the dog so the staff can take a photo. Dogs rule at Sesqui Park!

I’ll let the photos do the talking now. Come enjoy the capital best kept secret the intimate Sesquicentennial Park!

Watch out for that sharp turn downhill through long leaf pine trees! Sesqui has a varied and quite challenging mountain bike trail that will keep you on your toes.

Sharp turn on Sesqui mountain bike trail

Kids can play at 2 properly equipped playgrounds. The nice thing about them is they are well shaded and right next to the picnic areas so you can snack in peace while keeping an eye on the little ones.

Sesqui Park big kids playground

Fishing is one of the most popular family activities at the park. You may need to share a fish or two with the gutsy yet always entertaining Canadian geese…

Fishing at Sesqui Park

Hike the ~ 3 miles roundtrip scenic trail around the lake, over the bridge near the beautiful waterfall and through the majestic forest.

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Fun and affordable weekend activities with kids in and around Charleston

Here is a 2010 updated list with some of the most interesting things to do with children while visiting Charleston. At least that’s what I found to work best with my 5 years old daughter for the past three years.

Free activities

1. The Waterfront Park is the most popular place for kids to splash around. Here you can enjoy fantastic views of the Charleston Harbor, have a nice picnic, read a book or just relax after touring the city.

Waterfront Park splashing fun

The best free family entertainment downtown Charleston

2. Folly Beach is Charleston’s most romantic getaway located close to James Island State Park.

The main attraction is the breathtaking, 158 feet tall Morris Island Lighthouse. Built in 1872-1876 the lighthouse now stands hundreds of feet into the water and is undergoing erosion control and stabilization efforts.

Isle of Palms Conch Prints
Isle of Palms is a family oriented beach near Mount Pleasant.

Nearby are the Isle of Palms County Park with its awesome zip-line equipped playground, the historic Fort Moultrie and the magnificent World War II USS Yorktown aircraft carrier.

3. Fort Moultrie – heroic Revolutionary War battles, ingenious Palmetto trees defense system, intriguing WWII radio communication and incredible vistas of the Ravenel bridge.

2009 update there is now a $3 admission fee for adults, still free for kids.

4. The South Carolina Artisans Center in Walterboro –
See traditional and indigenous folk art and contemporary crafts from over 240 of the finest South Carolina artists. The center features educational exhibits, craft demonstrations and live performances by artists. This is a great opportunity to introduce children to art and to shop for standout gifts.

5. Self guided tour of Charleston’s most outrageous murder scenes, famous ghost sightings and unsolved mysteries (you may want to this at daylight only!)

$10 and under activities

1. Charles Towne Landing – birthplace of Charleston and South Carolina. Clothing in the late 1600s - Charles Towne LandingHere you can play archeologist for a day, tour the Historic trail featuring The Adventure, a 17th century trading ship, the Legare House and the Horry Plantation ruins. Watch buffalo, puma and black bears at the Animal Forest natural habitat zoo and keep an eye on alligators roaming freely throughout the many ponds in the park.

2009 update – Here are all the fun activities the kids can enjoy inside the park, including a tour of The Adventure and a wild stop by Pillory and Stocks!

2. The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry (CML) – Let your imagination run wild at this everyday party land for kids and parents who like to act like kids! The museum is close to the Visitors Center and Charleston Museum.

3. Edisto Island State Park: take the night beach walks to spot Carolina’s most famous reptile the loggerhead turtles nesting and hatching along the shores. Discover the thousands years old Spanish Mound and visit the Interpretive Center for a live show on native marine wildlife.

While in the area stop by the Edisto Island Serpentarium ($12.95 adults, $9.95 children 6-12, free for those 3 and under) to see enormous alligators, giant turtles, venomous snakes and feisty lizards in their natural habitats

4. My 2009 favorite, the American LaFrance Fire Museum in North Charleston.

Fire simulator at LaFrance Fire Museum in North Charleston

Fire rescue simulator at North Charleston Fire Museum


Drive a real fire truck, slide down a fire pole, learn how to prevent fire in your house and check out the country’s largest collection of LaFrance fire trucks.

5. The Cypress Gardens and Swamp – The “No Mesquitoe swamp” home to many famous films like “The Patriot”, “North and South”, “The Notebook”, and “The Yearling”.

Just for kids: Butterfly House, Aquarium, Reptile Center, Crocodile Isle and Aviary, and even a small replica of an inland rice field.

6. The Charleston Museum – Play pirate, dress-up in colonial clothes and see the incredible skeletons of a right whale, an extinct Carolina crocodile, a giant leatherback sea turtle and the 2nd largest bird to ever fly.

Adults will love browsing through an extensive Civil War collection of pictures, artifacts, letters and original documents. It’s not the America’s First Museum for nothing!

7. The Audubon Swamp Garden at the Magnolia Plantation – Enjoy

Spring love at the Audubon Swamp

Spring love at the Audubon Swamp

one of the most diverse ecosystem in America, a mysterious black water cypress and tupelo swamp garden.

There are boardwalks, dikes and bridges that allow you to observe a variety of birds, mammals and reptiles in their natural habitat:

Bald eagles and red-shouldered hawk, blue herons and white egrets, rabbits, otters, turtles, snakes and alligators.

Touring the swamp takes about 1 hour, more for the nature enthusiast. Best time to observe wildlife is late afternoon.

$15 and under activities

1. Fort Sumter – Witness the start of the Civil War. For nearly four years, seven millions pounds of metal were furiously shot at it without success. Watch out for Daniel Hough’s ghost, an unfortunate Union soldier.

2. USS Yorktown – World’s most imposing military aircraft carrier during WWII. USS Yorktown
With the admission ticket you can also visit the Clamagore submarine, the award-winning Congressional Medal of Honor Museum and the Laffey destroyer.

Most popular Yorktown attraction is the Fighter Jet Simulator.

3. Hunley Submarine – the Confederate submarine built to help break the Civil War blockade and the world’s first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship.

4. Magnolia Plantation – Enjoy thousands of beautiful blooming flowers and plants

Walk and bike path under old oak trees

Walk and bike path under old oak trees

in the oldest and most famous public gardens in America!

Kids love digging for dinosaurs bones, petting donkeys and horses, winding through the maze and spotting alligators, turtles, egrets and snakes.

Here is a customized Google Map with great family attractions in and around the Holy City that are either free or cost less than $10.

Hollywood comes to South Carolina! (State Museum at least…)

Carolina movie lovers come visit the State Museum downtown Columbia for a super cool exhibit on all the Hollywood and independent films shot in the Palmetto State. Did you know that over 250 movies were filmed in South Carolina? You bet! Oscar Die Hard with a Vengeance set propswinning movies like Forrest Gump, Cold Mountain and The Abyss, as well as American classics, such as The Patriots, Days of Thunder, Prince of Tides, Renaissance Man, The Great Santini, and Die Hard With a Vengeance. Even the recently released and already award-buzzing comedy, Leatherheads, featuring George Clooney and Renee Zellweger calls Carolina “home”.

The exhibit is only $3 over the regular admission price of $5. So for a price of one movie ticket you get enjoy memorabilia, props and costumes and watch adrenaline pumping clips from dozens films made over the past 100 years, right in our backyard. That’s something we can all be proud about!

Interesting and Fun Facts to See
Sketch from Forrest Gump - Lt. Dan Jumps in the ocean1. You will jolly up seeing some of Forrest Gump original sketches: like the scene when he carries Bubba or the one when Lt. Dan finally makes peace with himself and jumps into the ocean.

2. “Fire engine causes fire evacuation!” The 1921 fire engine from The Chiefs TV series was accidentally driven into the building last November setting off the smoke alarms Fire truck from The Chiefsand causing evacuation of the Museum and the entire Dept. of Revenue.

3. Heavy winter snow in Greenville? That’s right. Portions of downtown were covered in artificial snow to convey authentic Siberian winter for The Printing movie set in pre-perestroika Russia.
Renaissance Man scene shot at Fort Jackson
4. Get a good laugh watching several edited clips depicting classic scenes actually shot in South Carolina even though the movies imply otherwise. Like the drive over “a New York bridge” you guessed it was Cooper River bridge; or the one from Renaissance Man’s army post clearly shot at Fort Jackson.

5. How about seeing up close and personal some of the costumes and props from your favorite movies? Like Tom Cruise’s jumpsuit from Days of Thunder, the scaffold gallows from The Patriots, a full size replica of the Hunley submarine, Eddie Murphy’s fat suit, set pieces from Die Hard with a Vengeance and the football team’s mascot from Radio.

6. Wanna take part in a movie? You can at the State Museum. You can drive a car pretending you’re in Leatherheads. Check this out! Driving automobile in Leatherheads

7. End your Hollywood tour with a look of some famos South Carolinian actors.

Where: At the State Museum through October 19, 2008. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM; Sunday 1 – 5 PM; Open Monday between Memorial Day and Labor Day

Have fun and be proud in Columbia South Carolina!

Siamang Monkeys’ Loud Love Song at Greenville Zoo

You can hear them loud and clear from anywhere inside the Greenville Zoo. Siamang monkeys are by far the zoo’s biggest attraction and a kids magnet.

Who can resist their love and territorial fighting song? 🙂

Find out what Greenville Zoo has to offer and get inside tips here.

Happy Family Travel in Greenville South Carolina!

Fun Family Time at the Greenville Zoo

Greenville has so many fun things to do along the beautiful Reedy river. The Greenville Zoo, one of the top small-size zoos in the country, is a must see and do family attraction. Nested in the Cleveland Park the zoo is a short drive from downtown; it can also be reached by foot following the scenic and very popular river walking trail that starts at the Falls Park off of Main Street.
Lion napping at Greenville Zoo
Start and end your family day fun at the well-equipped playground located right in front of the zoo entrance. It has separate and age appropriate areas for both toddlers and older kids.

Inside it feels more like a park than a traditional zoo. The exhibits are “hidden” behind dense trees and bushes that provide much needed shade during the hot Carolina days. Elephant Painter Taking a Lunch Break at Greenville ZooThe main attractions are the elephants that like to amuze the crowds showcasing their painting skills, the majestic and always napping lions and the Siamang monkeys whose loud ear piercing territorial singing can be heard throughout the park.

Tips to know before you go:
1. If you are a Riverbanks Zoo member you can use your card to go in for free.

2. Spend the extra $2 on animal food (you can buy it at the entrance). It’s plenty (not like the sorry looking grains you get at other places…) and you can use it throughout the zoo. This should keep kids busy.

Take a break at the playground inside the zoo3. Parents can take a well deserved break at the cute playground inside the zoo. There are rocking chairs with your name on it. You can even admire the giraffes while napping along.

4. If you must buy something to eat get the hot-dog from the snack bar.

Flamingos Line Up at the Greenville Zoo
Where
150 Cleveland Park Drive,
Greenville, SC 29601
www.greenvillezoo.com
Phone (864) 467-4300
The zoo is open daily 10 AM – 4:30 PM. The gates close at 5 PM.
Admission tickets: $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 3 – 15. Under age 3 is free

Go Wild at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina!

Charleston Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, re-discover the child in you! (things to do with kids under $10)

At the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry in downtown Charleston kids are kings and queens at the fairy tales castle, learn to catch shrimp, shop at the supermarket, paint and create art crafts, get wet while studying hydro-energy…in other words they have all around unlimited fun!

Children playing at the Charleston Children Museum

Preparing a royal feast

Check this compilation post for ideas, insider information, tips, photos and even videos about fun things to do with kids while visiting Charleston.

Let your children’s imagination run wild at the awesome South Carolina museums!

EdVenture: Going through the fire tunnel video (scary)

Ever wonder how fire really feels like? Guess no more. At Edventure Children Museum in downtown Columbia you can go through the “fire tunnel” and experience few seconds of complete darkness. Very spooky indeed.

That will really teach kids not to play with matches 🙂

Happy family fun in South Carolina!