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A day of free family fun activities with kids downtown Columbia - where children discover arts, history, stories and nature!

Posted By ShoutCarolina,Date: 07.17.2008

Here are some great suggestions of fun things to do downtown Columbia to get kids love arts, appreciate history and discover nature’s little treasures. My 4 years old and I had a great time interpreting sculptures at the Columbia Museum of Art, then “chasing” the waterfalls at Finlay Park and “taming the wild things” at the Public Library. All of that for FREE on one weekend afternoon!

Beautiful view of Columbia from the top of Finlay Park

Columbia Museum of Art
The Columbia Museum of Art rewards you with one of Southeast’s most significant collections of European art from the 14th through the 18th centuries. Most notable things to see: Sandro Botticelli (this was his nickname given by his big brother!)– Nativity, Claude Monet – The Seine at Giverny and the amazing Tiffany glass collection.

The Columbia Museum of Art is located downtown in a lighted and very sleek building that used to be department store. Through August 17 you can get a peek incredible treasures from private South Carolina collectors such as:
• Herman Herzog – Fishing Village – oil on canvas painting
• Alberto Giacometti – Bust of Isaku Yanaihara – bronze
• Frank O. Gehry – Power Play Armchair and Off Side Ottoman – maple laminate

Columbia Museum of Art photo

Tips to know before you go
1. Free admission on Saturday; Kids 5 and under enter for free anytime. A membership provides you free admission for a full year to 70 other museums in the Southeast. Call (803)-799-2810 for more info.

2. Downtown parking is free on Sunday. Beware during the week traffic is very slow due to construction on Main Street near the museum.

3. There is a family friendly tour on 1st Saturday of every month at 10:30 AM and public docent led tours every Saturday at 1 PM and Sunday at 1:30 PM.

4. You can access anytime anywhere for FREE (except the cost of your minutes) a cell-phone audio tour and hear the experts discuss selected art objects. Dial (803)-234-8969, then the art section number followed by the pound sign. There is a brochure with all the info at the museum desk.

5. Young kids are most attracted by statues, Chinese antiquities, contemporary art objects and the nice water fountain and sculpture in front of the museum.

The Art Museum is closed Mondays, Tuesdays and on major holidays. Hours of operation: Wed, Thu and Sat 10 AM – 5 PM; Fri 10 AM – 9 PM and Sun 1 – 5 PM. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors (60 and over) and military and $2 for students.

Columbia Public Library downtown
Go to the Children’s Room downstairs. It has a naturally lit air-conditioned open space decorated with natural trees and plenty of couches to relax on. Don’t worry about making noise there are only parents, kids and babies around…

Columbia Library Children's Room photo

Things to know before you go
1. Kids love choosing their own books. Lana made 4 trips picking up “her favorites”. If you want to choose the books, each age is color-coded.

Kid picking up books at Columbia Public Library

2. The library it’s not just about reading. Kids have fun “talking and playing” with the stuff animals (say hello to the Cat in a Hat everyone!), solving puzzles, drawing or decorating. In the end just spending quality time with their loved ones it’s all that matters.

Mom reading with her daughter at the Library

3. Richland County residents get a free library card and can check out 30 items per card (books, videos, CDs, DVDs or magazines). You can return them at any of the 9 RCPL locations.

Kids have fun reading at RCPL downtown

4. If you’re pressed for time the staff can suggest age-appropriate titles. You can even call ahead at (803)-929-3434 and books will be ready for you.
5. Free wireless Internet is available throughout.

Finlay Park
This is a great park in the middle of the city. The main attraction is the man-made waterfalls that stream down into the peaceful lake.

Kids by the Finlay waterfall

Finlay has many shaded picnic areas, 2 playgrounds, a big open grass field and miles of walking and jogging trails around the lake. Beware the park is a very popular spot with the homeless yet they will not bother you.

Family relaxing and taking photos by the waterfall:

Family photo at Finlay waterfalls

Hiking and jogging trail around the lake:

Finlay park walking and jogging trail photo

Main playground area:

If time permits go visit the magnificent SC State House not too far from the Public Library (bordered by Senate, Assembly, Pendleton and Sumter streets). It’s another Columbia free and inspirational family attraction worth shouting about.

Enjoy the art, read books and have fun outdoors with your kids in beautiful downtown Columbia!

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    3 Responses to “A day of free family fun activities with kids downtown Columbia - where children discover arts, history, stories and nature!”

    1. » Edventure AirPlay Whooshexhibit video and photos, family activities and special events information. »South Carolina Family Attractions, Free, Affordable and Fun Things To Do Says:

      [...] - Free admission on Sundays, honoring Big Ed’s 5th anniversary! Also don’t forget the Columbia Museum of Art turns 10 and SC State Museum turns 20! How the “kids” grow these days…Among the [...]

    2. » Edventure AirPlay Whoosh exhibit video and photos, family activities and special events information. What to do with kids on Labor Day in Columbia. »South Carolina Family Attractions, Free, Affordable and Fun Things To Do Says:

      [...] - Free admission on Sundays, honoring Big Ed’s 5th anniversary! Also don’t forget the Columbia Museum of Art turns 10 and SC State Museum turns 20! How the “kids” grow these days…Among the [...]

    3. Erin Says:

      I like how they didnt mention the homeless problem in and around finlay park. They sleep in the fields and drink in the parks. Found a used needle in a kids drinking fountain last time i was there. Not a place to take your kids.

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