Columbia gets some 🌳 shade 🌳 from other cities, who are closer to the mountains or the beach. But if you’re a true Soda Citizen, you’ll notice that the Midlands has so many parks for outdoor exploration.
It’s hard enough to get outside sometimes. We hope this list of Cola’s parks makes it a little easier. May your green leaves always grow.
Congaree National Park | 100 National Park Rd., Hopkins | Open 24/7 | Visitor Center 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Always free | Thanks, boo. 💸
- One of the closest national parks to a city’s limits in the country, just 20 mins from downtown | Shout out to the Trust for Public Land on helping CNP expand.
- 2.4 miles of boardwalk | So you never have to go at it alone, on the ground, and get lost.
- Butterfly counting workshops | We went last September, and it. was. so. nerdy-fun.
- Synchronized fireflies | A renowned natural phenomenon that only happens in a couple of places per year – including here, typically over the last two weeks of May. The fireflies’ blinking syncs up and it’s pretty magical. ✨
- Free canoe tours | We love you, Congaree River, but we’re pretty sure you can’t do that.
State Parks | We have a lot. Here are some of our favs.
- Harbison State Forest | Best for mountain biking on 20 miles of trails.
- Dreher Island State Park | Best for camping on one of three islands.
- Sesquicentennial Park | Best for fishing on the 30 acre lake. DYK? The name refers to the 150th anniversary of founding Columbia, when the park was built.
City Parks | #Blessed to have so many cities with public parks in the Midlands.
- Saluda Shoals Park | Irmo-Chapin | Best for kids who love water.
- Riverfront Park | West Columbia | Best for reading in your Eno.
- Paw Park | Lexington | Best for overachieving dogs who love obstacle courses
Neighborhood Parks | Again, a lot to choose from here. Some highlights.
Bonus shout out to all of the local environmental nonprofits who help sustain these parks. We thank you. 🌿
The power of parks is great. Like Leslie Knope said, “It is my dream to build a park… that I one day visit with my White House staff on my birthday. And they say, ‘President Knope, this park is awesome. Now we understand why you’re the first female president of the United States.’”
A city that invests in parks is investing in an inclusive future. Everyone can participate – they’re free and don’t discriminate.
Take some time (off) this Earth Day to explore some of the Midlands’ greatest, (mostly free) natural wonders. Even better? Pack a cooler.