Fun Times Flow in South Carolina’s Capital City

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Congaree National park

Three rivers converge in Capital City/Lake Murray Country—providing outdoor excursions amidst the bright lights

Capital City/Lake Murray Country is conveniently located off Interstates I-77, I-26 and I-20 in the central part of South Carolina, and its three rivers are the veins that keep the fun flowing all year round, offering big city amenities among an oasis of natural beauty. Whether young, old, travelling in a big crowd or a cozy party of two, break out the paddles and make your next vacation a splash.

The Capital City is the largest city in South Carolina and is one of the only major metropolitan areas in the country to have three rivers flowing through its borders. No matter where you go, you are likely not far from the Saluda, Broad or Congaree rivers, providing a peaceful sound of free flowing water among the hustle and bustle. Get up close without diving in by renting bikes at Columbia’s Riverfront Park. Cruise through the 167 acres of spectacular riverfront scenery. Take in the views, eat at the nearby restaurants, learn the history, then park your ride and take a stroll down one of the many hiking trails. Rent bikes at ICRC.net, WestColumbiaSC.gov

Time to get the paddles out. Don’t have a boat of your own? Drop into River Runner Outdoor Center to rent kayaks, canoes or even stand up paddle boards. The outfitter offers guided trips down Cedar Creek, which runs through Congaree National Park, as well as excursions on the Congaree River. ShopRiverRunner.com

Palmetto Outdoors also has you covered with kayak rentals. Let the experts take you on an enlightening trip through the unique metropolitan waters with several tours to choose from. Learn about the hidden gems and secrets about the area that lie around every bend. Prefer to ride instead of drive? Rent one of their “Cadillac’s of the river.” These deluxe tubes are the perfect way to sit back, relax and float into an exciting adventure. PalmettoOutdoor.com

After a thrilling river ride, slow things down by dropping a line. On the Saluda River, expect to reel in rainbow trout and brown trout beauties. The Broad River boasts a plethora of small mouth bass, catfish and largemouth. The Congaree River is best known for its enormous striper fish. After getting your fill of the area rivers, make a side trip to Lake Murray—the Jewel of South Carolina. This show-stopping piece of the Midlands contains 50,000 acres of gemstone waters. The lake is not only ideal for boating, paddling and watersports, but also holds fierce fishing opportunities. Home to a variety of species, the lake hosts fishing tournaments throughout the year where fishermen have been known to regularly reel in 40-plus pound catfish. LakeMurrayCountry.com

Explore South Carolina’s only national park—Congaree National Park. This area is known for its unique plants and grand trees. Row through the stunning wooded waters on marked canoe paths. The waterway passes through a forest, which contains some of the tallest trees in eastern North America. Opportunities are plentiful for viewing wildlife such as the river otter, deer, turtles, wading birds and even an occasional alligator. Dry off by exploring the 18 miles of canopy covered hiking trails. Can’t get it all in one day? Pitch a tent under the stars at one of the park’s many campsites. Make a camping reservation by calling 1-877-444-6777, NPS.gov

Don’t forget to check out one of South Carolina’s finest state parks in the heart of the Midlands—Sesquicentennial State Park. Affectionately known as “Sesqui,” this spacious green getaway is in the Sandhills region. Immerse yourself in the 1,400 acres of pines, camping sites and nature trails and forget just how close you are to major metropolitan areas like Columbia. Enjoy camping sites, nature trails, a bike loop and, of course, kayak and canoe rentals. SCPRT.com

Get swept away in an adventure that perfectly combines natural aquatic fun among big city delights. In Capital City/Lake Murray Country, there’s always something new to explore.

If You Go…

Don’t miss the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Kids both young and old will love exploring waterfall junction. Imagination blooms in the three-acre water wonderland complete with tree houses, play areas and a 25-foot waterfall. While you’re there, check out the new sea lion exhibit. Feel daring? Zipline 1,000 feet above the Saluda River. Riverbanks.org

While in town, Check out South Carolina’s newest tourism app—the South Carolina Greenbook. The Greenbook is the first mobile travel guide to African American cultural sites across the state. Paying homage to the original Green Book, an African American travel guide to safe harbors and welcoming establishments in the 1930’s, this present-day guide features tourism destinations dedicated to discovering and celebrating black historical sites around the Palmetto State. With nearly a dozen sites to see in the Columbia area, make sure you download the app to get a behind the scenes tour. GreenBookOfSC.com