Outdoor Activities in Columbia, SC

Golf courses, parks, a zoo and college sporting events make up Columbia's outdoor recreation opportunities.

On Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 15:28

Columbia offers easy access to golf courses, parks and a well-established zoo, and thanks to the South Carolina Gamecocks, fun sporting events are on deck throughout the year.

Public Golf Courses

Located in nearby Blythewood, Cobblestone Park, formerly known as the University Club, has 27 holes on 240 acres. The course serves as home base for the University of South Carolina men's and women's golf teams, and it was named one of the top 30 golf courses in the state by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel.

West Columbia's Charwood Country Club has a 27-hole course and a driving range, while the city's military base is home to the 36-hole Fort Jackson Golf Club.

With an 18-hole course, The Club at Rawls Creek is known for its fast greens and challenging par-3 holes. The course, built in the 1970s, was renovated in 2006 to include MiniVerde® Bermuda grass greens. Additional 18-hole courses in the area are found at Oak Hills Golf Club, Northwoods Golf Club and Woodlands Golf & Country Club.

Parks and Green Spaces

Just a short drive away in Hopkins, the 22,000-acre Congaree National Park is a top spot for hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking and birding. The park has some of the region's tallest trees, including the largest loblolly pine in the United States.

Sesquicentennial State Park, located near downtown Columbia, offers 1,400 acres of camping and hiking opportunities. The park includes a retreat center, complete with a kitchen and dormitory-style rooms, and provides kayak and canoe rentals. Also near the city's downtown area, Harbison State Forest has more than 2,000 acres of forestland, including 31 miles of roads and trails.

Along the banks of the Saluda River, the 400-acre Saluda Shoals Park has hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, as well as an 11,000-square-foot environmental education center and exhibit hall and a 10,000-square-foot conference facility. The park is also connected to Lake Murray, which is a perfect place for boaters, swimmers and anglers.

The city's 167-acre Riverfront Park is another favorite outdoor destination with a walking/jogging path, a brick amphitheater and the historic Columbia Canal. The park is also the site for annual events such as Riverfest and the Greek Festival.

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

With more than 2,000 animals and a spacious botanical garden, the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a major outdoor attraction in Columbia.

The zoo, home to about 350 species from around the world, features an Aquarium Reptile Complex with a 55,000-gallon Pacific coral reef tank, as well as a forest with gorillas, elephants and meerkats.

The garden area has more than 4,200 species of native and exotic plants, and includes a 34,000-square-foot garden with seasonal and themed sections. Visitors can also enjoy the Woodlands Walk and River Trail that leads to the state's first water-powered textile mills, as well as hands-on garden programs.

Additionally, train rides, a vertical ropes course, rock wall, carousel and other activities are available.

South Carolina Gamecock Sports

Sports fans can catch South Carolina Gamecock athletic events close to home thanks to the University of South Carolina's presence in the city.

The school's football team plays at the Williams-Brice Stadium and draws about 80,000 fans to each home game, while the baseball team's games are held at the Carolina Stadium, which accommodates nearly 9,000 spectators.

The men's and women's basketball teams play at the 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena, and the Eugene E. Stone III Stadium is the home field for the men's and women's soccer teams. In addition, the Lady Gamecocks softball team plays at the new Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field, which opened in March 2013.

USC also has teams competing in volleyball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, cross country, and equestrian events.

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