The Daily Gamecock

Column: PickleGarden on the River is a unique, promising recreational spot for all

<p>A view of the Saluda River and the trail running alongside it at 680 Candi Lane on April 20, 2024. Alongside a portion of the trail will be PickleGraden on the River, a new pickleball and biergarten development.</p>
A view of the Saluda River and the trail running alongside it at 680 Candi Lane on April 20, 2024. Alongside a portion of the trail will be PickleGraden on the River, a new pickleball and biergarten development.

The new PickleGarden on the River hopes to offer locals and tourists a modern and entertaining space upon its opening centered around nature and harmony. 

This new spot will be a pickleball and biergarten development on the bank of the Saluda River. The spot is planned to bring people together for everything from pickleball to drinking by the river and enjoying great eats with an even better view. 

It is unclear when PickleGarden will open due to future developing costs or investments that could impact the speed of the construction.

The PickleGarden would feature food served from the venue for people to enjoy while spending time outdoors. The space would also host a large biergarten with picnic tables, turfed green space and 12 pickleball courts. 

The Co-Founder of PickleGarden Abbott Bray said PickleGarden would be the only location in Columbia to have cushioned courts. The courts are not just concrete or asphalt, they are topped with a layer of acrylic containing rubber particles for cushioning. This does not affect the bounce of the ball and offers a solution to problems of playing on a rough concrete surface, Bray said. 

These features offer a venue that is not only a spot for pickleball but instead its a place for outdoor activity and leisure. 

“We need a place where you can get connected to people,” PickleGarden Co-Founder Abbot Bray said. “Here, you can also get that nature connectedness side.”

The PickleGarden can serve to fill the need for a gathering spot following the social confinements of the COVID-19 pandemic. This third space adds a unique aspect to this social need by providing an experience beyond just drinking beer or playing pickleball. Visitors can also access the picnic tables and open space for games and recreational activity. 

The 4.75-acre piece of land that will be along 680 Candi Lane in Columbia is set to be an anchor of community life while also providing a sense of relaxation and belonging to locals and tourists. The location offers an oasis near the river away from the noisy city bustle. 

Many lush trees surrounding the property provide great shade and limit the noise from the highway behind Candi Lane. The riverwalk and PickleGarden locations are connected along Candi Lane to Rivermont Drive where the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is located. Locals and tourists can easily access this destination after a trip to the zoo or stroll along the river. 

Instead of just going to the riverwalk or Riverbanks Zoo and heading home, the PickleGarden is the soon to be place for visitors to hang out and enjoy the outdoors a little longer. This development is a step towards making the river more accessible inviting to those who enjoy the outdoors and the river access. 

“Our river walks are fantastic, but there's not a place to kind of like sit and stay,” Bray said. “Our goal is to be able to have a spot where you can come and stay a while.”


There must be developments on the river so people can have a social space to gather while enjoying the scenery of the Saluda River. Without these places, there is a lack of community in one of Columbia's most beautiful areas? The PickleGarden will be the sole food and drink venue on the same side of the river as the Riverbanks Zoo and Riverwalk. 

PickleGarden aims to cater to various community needs, offering a spacious venue where families can enjoy time together. Parents can have a drink and enjoy music along with abundant open space where children can play within sight.

The music would come from a small stage set for live music to provide a more unplugged atmosphere. 

"You can just go grab your food, sit right there, eat and move on," Bray said. “If you don’t want to have anything to do with pickleball, you don’t have to.” 

For this piece of land, the developers know the importance of preserving and including nature in the process. The development is surrounded by trees, which will most likely be staying to provide shade and nature to the venue, Bray said. Even the venue's parking lot is proposed to have sustainable water drainage and ecological practices in mind, with the inclusion of native plants. 

Bray said the land was purchased from a developer who's previous plan was to build a massive building on the riverside. Instead, this unique and innovative third place will be a space where people can relax and encounter familiar faces or new acquaintances. 

It will also offer a membership with standard, premium and network options. These vary in price and access to amenities and court reservations. There are also set drop-in rates and court rental costs if a membership is not of interest. This allows for the visitors to pick and choose when to play and how they can structure their experience.

This unique upcoming venue is the place to be for any outdoor enthusiast or anyone looking for a place to hangout or meet new people after a long day in Columbia. Even if you don't like pickleball or beer, this space makes for a great social gathering spot centered around the nature and scenic views of the Saluda River. 


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