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Riverbanks Zoo, Botanical Garden fun for the whole family
Ready, Set, Whoa!

Day trips are a great, cost effective way to get away. Pack some food in a cooler, grab snacks and spend the day someplace new. Many times we forget to look for new places to visit that don’t require a week in a hotel or a day’s drive to relax. If you have small children it is even more difficult to plan a vacation.

Only about 2 hours and 20 min away from Statesboro, The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina is a perfect family day trip.  Pack the night before and leave around 6 a.m. the next morning. You’ll be arriving before the zoo opens at 9 a.m. Riverbanks is beautiful with all the animal exhibits you would expect in a large zoo. The bonus is there are other attractions that can give the kids extra fun and you a chance to sit and watch them play. Bring swimsuits for Waterfall Junction. This is a fun, splash area with a 25-foot cascading waterfall. My suggestion would be do this before heading back to the car. The kids will be ready to sleep all the way home!

Another beautiful addition to the zoo is the Botanical Garden. When you’re ready for something different from the animals, take a break to wander through the gardens. It includes an Asian Garden, a large collection of Crinum lilies, a shade garden, desert landscape, and other tranquil walkways.

There are a few other fun choices such as zip lines and after-hour events. These would take some preplanning so definitely visit their website to see what they have to offer.

During the summer the zoo presents “Twilight in the Garden.” On certain dates through the summer popular movies are shown in the garden’s amphitheater.

A full day could be spent at Riverbanks and still be back home to Bulloch County by 8 p.m. No hotel expense and “best parents ever” points!

Always check for AAA and military discounts.

If you want to fit in a couple stops into your trip check out the EdVenture Children’s Museum. This is a fun, interactive museum for little ones. My children talked about this probably more than the zoo! If your day ends up rainy, this would be a perfect escape. It is an educational way for them to experience fun and learn simultaneously. 

Forget “don’t touch.” This is a hands-on experience including biology, a news room, and Eddie, the 40-feet-tall boy the kids can climb on and explore. For early learners, use Eddie to teach colors, shapes and textures and the concepts of under, over and through. Crawl/walk through major areas inside the body talk about the major parts of each – the heart, the brain, the stomach.

In the Maker Works lab, children can tinker and create. There are many other exhibits making this children’s museum an excellent resource for you and the kiddos.

Adults: $19.95

Children ages 2 – 12: $16.95

The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There are possible discounts for buying tickets ahead of time.


To get there from Statesboro: Head toward Augusta on US-25N/I-520 E. Follow I-520 E and I-20 E to Greystone Blvd. in Columbia. Take the Greystone Blvd. exit from I-126 E. Greystone Blvd. gets you there!