The Daily Gamecock

Activities in Columbia to try during Parents Weekend

<p>The Nickelodeon Theatre on Main Street shows a variety of independent films and holds various events, such as the Indie Grits Film Festival.&nbsp;</p>
The Nickelodeon Theatre on Main Street shows a variety of independent films and holds various events, such as the Indie Grits Film Festival. 

It's that time of year again; parents are rolling into town, ready for a tour of the city that you now call home. It might be left up to you to decide what your family will do for entertainment. Do you have the top spots lined up to show your parents all Columbia has to offer? If not, no need to stress. Check out these handpicked places and activities to help you and your parents enjoy their visit.

Outdoor Options

1. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Columbia’s renowned animal attraction, the Riverbanks Zoo is just about 15 minutes from campus. With 170 acres in total, this animal lover's hot spot features an aquarium and garden in addition to zoo animals. Rated as one of America's top 10 zoos by Trip Advisor and housing over 2,000 different types of animals, this family-friendly option won't steer you wrong. If you simply want to enjoy the greenery after visiting your favorite zoo animals, take a stroll through Riverbanks Botanical Garden, lauded as one of 20 great public gardens in the U.S. by HGTV.

2. Sesquicentennial State Park

Affectionately referred to as “Sesqui,” this state park is home to plentiful outdoor activities. With biking trails, fishing spots, a dog park and a sand volleyball court, this beautiful 1400-acre nature spot is a great option for more active families. Enjoy a peaceful walk on the park's nature trail or escape the hustle of life while paddling a rented kayak or canoe. Take in the beauty of nature and unwind in a scenic environment.

Indoor Options

3. The South Carolina State Museum

Peruse the past of South Carolina with a visit to the State Museum. The museum has four floors to explore and is filled with exhibits about history, technology, science, natural history and art. Aside from the rich insight that these exhibits feature, there’s also a digital dome planetarium and a 4-D theater. Featured exhibits to see include "South Carolina and the Great War," which shows life in South Carolina the night before WWI and the war’s impact; "Art: A Collection of Collections," with unique pieces and rare works from as far back the 1590s; and App4That, a modern exploration about the impact apps have had on our lives.

4. The Nickelodeon Theatre

The Nickelodeon Theatre, often referred to as “The Nick,” is overseen by the board of directors for the Columbia Film Society and was founded by former USC students Carl Davis and Linda O’Connor in 1979. The Nick is constantly playing a diverse selection of independent films and film festivals as well as popular blockbuster films. A symbol of the culture and vitality of our arts community, the Nick's purpose is to encourage critical thinking and reflective dialogue among attendees. Whether you visit for enjoyment, reflection or learning, the classic decor and friendly feel of this local theater is a unique choice for you and your parents.

5. The Columbia Museum of Art

Situated on Main Street, our local art museum is overflowing with unique pieces that showcase our city's diverse culture. There are six collections always featured in the museum — the Kress collection, American, Asian, European, Modern and Contemporary and the Vogel Collection. Special exhibits are also set up throughout the year, such as the current exhibit, "Eyes on the Edge: J Henry Fair Photographs the Carolina Coast." The Columbia Museum of Art is close enough to campus for a quiet, relaxing activity to wrap up a Sunday brunch or deepen your knowledge of art with your family this Parents Weekend.

Take the stress out of making sure your parents have a memorable visit this weekend by planning a trip to one or more of these places. Get out and experience our great city while letting your parents see why you call Columbia home.