A taste of heaven at Pearl Friar’s Topiary Garden – beautiful free things to do between Columbia and Myrtle Beach

Find a little Eden inside Pearl Friar’s Topiary Garden…insanely beautiful plant sculptures, intricate landscaping and humorous ornaments. It’s peaceful, calm and humbling.

Beautiful unique yet so accessible topiary garden

Welcome to a little piece of paradise

Admission is FREE, yet donations are always welcome. Park on the side of the road and tour the garden at your own pace. Keep in mind the “Garden” it’s pretty much Mr. Friar’s front and backyard so be respectful of his privacy. If you’re lucky you can catch him working on his masterpieces.

The landscaping is mind blowing…from few inches to 30 feet high! My favorites were the triangle in front of the yard, the Indian arrow point like tree towering over the garden, the funny tree stomp decorated with a human face and the miniature water wheel sculpture.

Take a look at this slide show and choose your favorite. Of course nothing beats seeing it live!

Don’t forget to also visit the Button Museum just few miles away. You’ll be lucky to get a personal tour from the Button King himself, the incredibly humble Mr. Dalton Stevens. Here is a custom Google Map with fun, inspirational and very affordable attractions.

2009 UPDATE!

Pearl Friar’s masterpiece garden was just featured in an HGTV episode. Another reason to go visit.



Chagall for Children: Peter Pan meets Alice in Wonderland at Edventure’s awesome art exhibit

Let your imagination flourish and your wildest dreams come to life at Edventure’s Chagall for Children art exhibit. Each station presents one of Marc Chagall’s magical paintings alongside a working area where kids can draw, weave, decorate and re-arrange the art the way they feel it. The exhibit let’s you experience a full range of art concepts and media such as self-portrait, layered images, collages, relief, mosaic, lithography and tapestry.

Dressing up The Rooster….

Dressing up The Rooster's tail

Dressing up The Rooster's tail

Do your self-portrait in red, blue and purple colors!

Family doing their portrait with the touch screen

Family doing their portrait with the touch screen

Discover the world through art using all your senses. Chagall for Children let’s kids touch, smell, listen to, see and feel the artistic creations…

Smelling the Flowers

Smelling the Flowers

Things to know before you go:

• The touch screen “do your own (family) portrait” station it’s the exhibit’s winner. We spent most of our time there goofing around taking different shots and experimenting with the colors. While kids have fun playing there you can read the descriptions and enjoy the art on your own terms.

• Make sure to pick up the Gallery Guide. It has 17 do-it-at-home (or in the class rooom) arts and crafts ideas. Lana’s favorited things to do were Reflections from a Spoon, The Story of The Flying Sleigh, and Faces, Colors and Moods.

• You can’t see and do it all in one visit. Luckily the exhibit is open through January 4, 2009 so you can come back and enjoy it to the fullest. I know we will.

• Admission to the museum is $6.95 for children 2-12 and $8.95 for adults. EdVenture is open Tuesday to Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday noon to 5 PM. It is located downtown Columbia at 211 Gervais Street besides the SC State Museum. Parking is FREE.

At Edventure Children Museum “Art picks up where nature ends.”

Need more weekend ideas? Take your kids to Jumps-N-More where for only $6 they can jump, bounce, run the obstacle course, climb and knock down dinosaurs!

The stunning SC State House it’s an inspirational family attraction downtown Columbia

“One of the most notable buildings in the world”, the magnificent SC State House, took more than 50 years and $3.5 million dollars to complete. The South Carolina Capitol it’s a Columbia must see free and truly inspirational family attraction.

SC State House photo

Here are some fascinating history facts:
• In 1854 everything was torn down because inappropriate materials were used.
• During the Civil War Union troops destroyed much of Columbia including the State House building.
• In 1885 the architect died and a new one had to be appointed.
• Finally in 1907 the fireproof State House was complete thanks to architects John M. Niernsee and his son. During 1995-1998 renovation was done to make the building earthquake proof.

Here are most interesting State House attractions and fun things to know.

When to visit and parking
Free guided tours are available Monday through Saturday and each start with a short movie overview. Call (803)-734-2430 to schedule a tour or check at the Visitor’s office inside the State House. On your own, best time to visit is on Monday, Friday, Saturday and the 1st Sunday of the month. To watch SC elected officials at work go Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from February to June .

Metered parking is available on all four streets bordering the State House (you get 20 minutes for a quarter). Parking is free on Sundays and after 6 PM.

Make sure to stop by the Public Library (“Where the Wild Things Are“!) on Assembly Street and the Columbia Museum of Art for some amazing European and Asian art collections even kids will enjoy.

Relive history and be proud at the SC State House in Columbia!

State Museum, South Carolina art, history and science under one roof (Columbia fun things to do)

Housed in the former Columbia Mill building the State Museum features 4 floors of interactive exhibits covering art, history, natural history, science and technology. It is South Carolina’s and probably the Southeast’s largest state museums.

Playing with Leonardo da Vinci Machines

Playing with Leonardo da Vinci Machines

Curious to find out how Columbia came into place? In 1785 the South Carolina Senate approved to move the new state capital on the land near Garners Ferry on the Congaree River.

Among other nominations were Camden (the first proposal, later rejected), the Sumter District (supported by Gen. Sumter the “Fighting Gamecock”!) and the land near St. Matthews.

Columbia was America’s first planned capital city, designed and laid out in a two-mile square with streets named for agricultural products (how original!) and Revolutionary War heroes.

Not everyone seemed to agree the Columbia city planning was a very good idea. Col. Thomas Taylor who owned several hundreds acres along the Congaree River near the future site of Columbia is reputed to have said that the city founders “have turned a damned fine plantation into a pretty poor town”.

Interesting Things to See at the State Museum

The Cotton Mill exchange – The State Museum building once was a prominent textile mill, the Columbia Mill or “Duck Mill” as it was called. Opened in 1894 it was the world’s first totally electrically operated mill. It closed in the late 80s.

Columbia Mill

Learn the life and customs of Coastal Native Americans and the very moving story of Priscilla, a little girl abducted centuries ago from Sierra Leone.


Marvel seeing the 1904 Curved Dash Oldsmobile one of the first automobiles in South Carolina and full size replicas of “Best Friend of Charleston” the first American-built steam locomotive and the H.L. Hunley, the Confederate’s best hope to break the blockade during the Civil War and first submarine to sink an enemy ship. To this day we don’t know why and how the Hunley disappeared.

2010 Update!
Here are the most recent findings, clues and theories on what might have happened to the Hunley. Check out these amazing artifacts on display in North Charleston.

Inside Hunley submarine

See the incredible dugout canoe! Kept underwater for centuries it was found in pristine condition, still attached to its roots, a rare archeological treat. Apparently the wood cracked and it was never finished.

Dugout Canoe

At the natural history exhibits the pre-historic animals steal the show. You will be awed to see full size replicas of a mammoth, giant armadillo, and a “cute” T-Rex as one might expect.


On the Science and Technology floor you can admire the gold medal of Dr. Charles Townes, South Carolina first Nobel Prize winner, who invented the laser; also on display outer space artifacts from moonwalker Charles Duke.

If you get hungry Crescent Café is open till 4 PM and offers deli sandwiches, hot-dogs, salads and soups, and bakery items like croissants, muffins and cookies. Beverages options are soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, hot chocolate and tea.

2009 UPDATE!

The museum hosts remarkable traveling exhibits so make sure to come back and enjoy them all. For example in 2008 we had a blast trying to figure out how to operate dozens of Leondardo da Vinci inventions (yes they let you touch and play with them!).

This year we were amazed seeing the most powerful natural forces at work: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, blizzards, floods and the world’s largest hail stone! Added bonus you can play weather man on a live TV screen. The Powers of Nature exhibit will run till first week in September 2009.

Giant hailstone at Powers of Nature exhibit

Giant hailstone at Powers of Nature exhibit


Admission: Adults $7, children 3-12 $5. Military and senior discount is $1. For a full schedule of events, special tours, birthday parties visit the State Museum website or call (803) 898-4921 and (803) 898-4999 for group reservations.

Directions: The State Museum is located downtown at 301 Gervais Street across from Edventure Children’s Museum, few blocks west of the State Capitol.

Discovery Center

Learn and play at the SC State Museum!