The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto arrived at what is now the Congaree River in West Columbia on April 21, 1540. He described the site as alive with the activity of the Native American tribes that inhabited the area.
As spring 2017 progresses, West Columbia river-users are filled with the same excitement of the ages, rising from all of the opportunities available, as the weather beckons them outside.
While there is considerable walking traffic along West Columbia’s Riverwalk in the fall and winter months, when it warms, the people take to the waters of Congaree River. There is no better place in the metro area to cool off.
West ColumbiaFloating on an inflated tube, or paddling a kayak, the natural beauty of the river, in the middle of a city, is an attraction that never gets boring.
And all regular river enthusiasts know that the flow of the Congaree comes from the bottom of Lake Murray, via the dam. Lake water at 170-feet deep is cool, even on the hottest of days. It offers a welcome refreshment as it flows down to the Gervais Street Bridge. And there is no better place to access that chilled dip than West Columbia’s Riverwalk.
And this year, the anticipation may be even higher than normal. After floods damaged the boardwalk bridge, and deck, near the Riverwalk Amphitheater, the lovers of the tree-lined trail were not able to pass under the Gervais Street Bridge last summer and winter. But this year, the West Columbia Public Works Department has repaired the path and there is open passage from the Moffatt Street entrance to past the Stone River meeting facility.
Although there is the ability to enjoy the river with your own tube, organized and inexpensive, trips are offered throughout the summer. Palmetto Outdoor Center, and owner Michael Mayo, have provided a tubing service, with pick up and drop off, for more than a decade.
Of course it’s not reasonable to think one can stay on the river all day, no matter how tempting. West Columbia is in a great location to take advantage of some high-profile attractions that draw visitors from around the state, and even regionally.
Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens
The entrance to the Riverbanks Botanical Gardens is off of Mohawk Drive in West Columbia. The Riverbanks Botanical Garden is 70 acres of vivid color, unique plants and breathtaking beauty.
The Botanical Garden also includes Waterfall Junction. The water feature is for families and children West Columbia Riverof all ages to get outdoors and explore nature. It’s described as a three-acre wonderland in bloom with a rabbit hole, a life-size replica of a T-Rex, and giant tree houses. All under a 25-foot cascading waterfall.
EdVenture Children’s Museum is a great family fun venue and it’s so close to West Columbia, the building is visible from a Congaree River-based canoe.
EdVenture is a not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to creating new generations of lifelong learners through museum experiences and camps. Its mission is to inspire children, youth and the adults who care about them to experience the joy of learning as individuals, as families and as a community.
The South Carolina State Museum
The South Carolina State Museum is also a staple of the West Columbia Community. It’s housed in the gargantuan former Mount Vernon Mills building familiar to generations of West Columbia families that once worked there.
It offers stimulating exhibits and programs with the goal of providing an educational environment that entertains, inspires imagination and creativity, and enrich the lives of its visitors.The museum is an ever-changing, innovative institution reflecting the essence and diversity of South Carolina. a catalyst for the cultural and educational development of our state and a model among museums nationally.
Also included on the museum grounds are a planetarium, an observatory and a 4D theater.West Columbia Summer 6
While the invigorating waters of the Congaree are an inviting remedy for the hot summer days, West Columbia has also become a most-attractive destination for the evening dining crowd. From Al’s Upstairs and Cafe Strudel to Terra and 116 State, the city boasts some the most popular restaurants in the metropolitan area.
And if you’d rather dress down a little, with a more diner-like atmosphere, Zesto Triangle City has a reputation of great food, and loyal customers, built over more than 50 years in business. Pelican Snowballs, on Meeting Street is a strictly seasonal shop, and perfect for the cool down in summer.