Here are the best splash pads, water parks to cool off during SC’s famously hot weather

·3 min read

Just because summer is coming to a close and kids are gearing back up for school doesn’t mean the fun has to stop just yet. And let’s face it, the dog days of summer are upon us and it’s hot out there. Really hot. Dare we say, famously hot?

There are a host of gems sprawled across Columbia where families and groups of all ages can get those last few vacation days in and stay cool while doing it.

Here are some of the top-rated water parks, splash pads and tubing activities available in the Columbia area to escape the state’s famously hot weather during the dog days of summer:

Greenview Park

The city’s Greenview Park Aquatics Center makes for an affordable outing for the family and has a smaller water park playground with water cannons for children. There is also a pool for those wanting to swim.

The park is open Tuesday through Sunday. Admission for ages 13 and up is $4 and $3 for those younger.

Getting there:

6700 David Street

Columbia, S.C. 29203



Waterfall Junction

Kids explore the bullfrog pond at Waterfall Junction. Come before the film at Twilight in the Garden to enjoy one of the zoo’s newest features.
Kids explore the bullfrog pond at Waterfall Junction. Come before the film at Twilight in the Garden to enjoy one of the zoo’s newest features.

Tucked away inside Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Waterfall Junction is open year-round and is a 3-acre treasure trove of activities. The park includes a dino dig, giant tree houses, splash zone with a 25-foot waterfall.

Entry is included with general park admission and has the same hours as the zoo.

Getting there:

1300 Botanical Parkway

West Columbia, S.C. 29169

Palmetto Outdoor

Dubbed the largest tubing outfitter in the southeast, patrons can float for nearly 3 hours down the Congaree River with groups of friends and family. Kayak and canoe rentals are also available.

You can book your trip online or by phone with at least 24 hours notice. Walk-ups must pay cash for rentals. Prices vary.

Getting there:

131 Alexander Road

West Columbia, S.C. 29169

Sesquicentennial State Park

This state park is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and has a mix of wildlife, campgrounds, picnic areas and an open space splash pad for families to enjoy.

Admission is $6 per adult, $3.50 for children ages 6-15 and kids 5 and under are free.

Getting there:

9564 Two Notch Road

Columbia, S.C. 29223

Saluda Shoals Park

Rolln’ on the River was held at Saluda Shoals Park.
Rolln’ on the River was held at Saluda Shoals Park.

This park offers several family-friendly activities and events throughout the summer, and also features a playground, splash pad, a dog park and more.

Parking is $5 and wristbands for the splash pad are $3 per person. Saluda Splash is open throughout the week, but will be reduced to weekends only beginning Aug. 21. Be sure to check online for hours.

Getting there:

5605 Bush River Road

Columbia, S.C. 29212

Palmetto Falls Water Park

The Fort Jackson water park has reopened to military members ($8), guests ($11) and non-ID cardholders ($14). The park has a host of features for people to enjoy, including a “lazy river” where people can tube down, adult and kid-sized pool and water slides.

No outside drinks or food are allowed, as the park offers a “Sand Bar” concession stand, including hot dogs, burgers, pizza, drinks and more.

Getting there:

6511 Marion Avenue

Columbia, S.C. 29206

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