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!

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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.

The Hunley Submarine mystery and replica operation video (things to do in Charleston and Columbia)

To this day we don’t know what happened to the H.L. Hunley, the Confederate submarine built to help break the Civil War blockade. We do know it disappeared on the night of February 17 1864 after it sunk the Union ship the USS Housatonic (the world’s first submarine to do so in combat!)

If you are visiting Columbia you can see a full size replica at the SC State Museum downtown. Of course, nothing beats the original, which can be admired in Charleston at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center (here is a Google Map with the location). Tours are offered Saturday from 10 AM – 5 PM and Sunday Noon – 5 PM. Tickets are $12, seniors, military and members pay $10, and kids under 5 get in for FREE.

Hunley submarine replica

While in the area and you’re hungry for more military adventure go visit the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. It has dozens of “little” war planes waiting for you to play with!

Interesting Hunley trivia
-Built in Mobile Alabama and hauled by train into Charleston
-Operated by 9 crewmen from one extraordinarily tight room…truly seating like sardines
-Prohibited to travel underwater by the Confederate commanders after 13 crewmen died in two accidents
-Reached the amazing speed of 2 knots in calm waters!
-Its observation ports had to be kept above the surface for the pilot to navigate.

Inside Hunley sketches at the State Museum

Let your children experience our country history in amazing South Carolina!

UPDATE!

Check out the latest clues uncovered at the Hunley recovery project. It’s about the sub bilge pumps!

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Out of “what to do this weekend” ideas? How about taking the kids to Jumps N More where they can safely burn energy bouncing and jumping and running around? It’s only $6.