It is unusual for us to stay in only a single campsite when visiting a state, but in South Carolina one stop was perfect, we saw all that we had hoped to see. We stayed at an RV park called Barnyard RV. It was not great, but we made due for a week. The only good thing about it was its location. It was a quick drive into Columbia and less than two hours for us to get to the beach. Other than that it was noisy, the Wi-Fi was virtually non-existent, and the roads were littered with pot holes, just to name a few of the down sides. Despite the site being sub-standard we still managed to have a great time while visiting Columbia, South Carolina.
Of course a tour of the capitol building was in order as that was our primary reason for being in the area. We were looking forward to getting a guided tour since the last couple of capitols had been self guided only. As always there were some pretty unique things about Columbia that we all enjoyed learning about. It was very interesting (especially to the children) to find out that they begin each session by placing a sword (in the senate) or a mace (in the house) on hooks in the front of each chamber to signify that the session has begun. When the item has been placed it triggers lights on either side to turn on and that is when the session has officially started. We really wanted to see this in action, but unfortunately did not make it back, but we are happy we at least got a glimpse of these unique pieces of South Carolina government since it is the only capitol where this is done. Another unique and surprising fact we learned was that it took 52 years to complete the building due to the Civil War beginning shortly after they stared its construction. It was actually fired on by ten cannonballs, six of which left some damage that is still visible today (they have the spots marked with stars). It is a beautiful building filled with many pieces of art depicting the state’s history. It is definitely worth stopping in if you are ever in the area, and don’t forget to admire some of the wonderful statues they have throughout the building and the grounds.
Visiting national parks is something that our entire family enjoys so we were pleasantly surprised to find out that Congaree National Park was just a short drive from us. We actually did not know it was there until we started looking into things we wanted to do while in the area, and I am so glad we found it. The area is prone to flooding as it is a hardwood floodplain forest. It is mainly boardwalk trails because of this regular flooding that occurs, and some of the trail was flooded out, but we still enjoyed walking through it while enjoying it’s beauty. There is truly no other place like Congaree left on Earth and it is wonderful that there were people who believed it should be protected, fought for that protection, and eventually won. Since it was mainly walking along the boardwalks it made it a fairly easy hike for our three children, they were able to spot quite a bit of wildlife as well from our vantage point over the water. Our youngest spotted a frog just floating in the water almost right away. We also saw several snakes, birds, and even a few turtles.
This is one of the many things we enjoy about visiting national parks, the chance to see so much wildlife in its natural environment. It’s amazing that all of the national parks are so different and we have gotten to experience so many of them on this adventure.
We never seem to get enough education which is why I like to refer to this as our educational tour across America. There is so much history just in this country that we never know what we are going to learn next. We wanted to make a trip out to the beach before we left the area so we took a drive over to Charleston. When looking for a beach to visit I discovered a place called Fort Moultrie, which I had never heard of. It was fun exploring the other forts we have been to so I thought we would check it out, and it was awesome. It is so cool to teach our kids about the history of our country by visiting historical sites like this one. It has been the fort site since the Revolutionary War so it had a ton of history behind it. There were cannons from each war, buildings, and tons of cool stuff in the visitor center. The kids enjoyed doing the Junior Ranger Program (they also completed it at Congaree) it’s great that they are still enthusiastic about it, they love that it is different every time. We got a glimpse at Fort Sumter, but did not want to pay to go out to it because it was pretty expensive and Fort Moultrie had much of the same information and was very inexpensive. I was glad we stumbled upon it because we learned so much, and it was just a few minutes’ drive to the beach afterward. We headed there after enjoying the fort, and built sand castles. There are strong rip currents at the location so we didn’t go too far into the water and there weren’t many shells to collect, but we still enjoyed some relaxing beach time!
It is amazing how many activities we can fit into a week! The Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden was another place we made sure to visit before we left South Carolina. We had been told what a great place it is and we were not disappointed. Seeing animals in the wild is a much more rewarding experience than seeing them in a zoo, but there are so many animals from all over the world at the zoo that it is still neat to get to observe them. We saw quite a few animals here that we had not seen anywhere else so far. They also had some different experiences that we got to do here. It was great that we were able to see some of the animal encounters, the gorilla feeding as well as the sea lion training were both very educational and fun. Walking right into the kangaroo enclosure was not something we had done anywhere else. We also got to go into the rainbow lorikeet enclosure where the kids even got a chance to feed them, this was thrilling and something our kids will always remember! They have another section of the zoo they call the botanical garden. The garden though is only a small part of it. It is more of a play area that includes a grassy section with large yard type games and chairs for parents to watch their kids play, a splash pad with an upper and lower section, a large tree fort structure for imaginative play, and they even provide a free trolley to take you there. It was the perfect size for a zoo to be and we spent a wonderful day there.
South Carolina was beautiful and we enjoyed our time in the state. We were able to see and do a lot from our single camp. It was nice being so close to so many of the things we wanted to do while we were there. I might not stay at the Barnyard RV Park again, but I would definitely visit the Columbia area again. Now it is onto North Carolina to see what they have to offer.
Here are links to some of the places we visited
South Carolina State House
Congaree National Park
Fort Moultrie National Historic Site
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden