11 free and affordable summer activities to do in the Midlands | Colombia

Summer has officially started and many Midlands people may be wondering what to do next.

Here are 11 fun family activities that are free or affordable this summer.

1. Regal Summer Movie Express

Regal Cinemas offers $2 movies every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the summer. The Summer Movie Express series features two different movies each week. Participating venues nearby are Regal Columbiana Grande and Regal Sandhill IMAX & RPX.

See the weekly $2 movie schedule here.

2. Be Safe Block Party Series

Organized by the North Columbia Youth Empowerment Initiative, the Be Safe Block Party supports unity in community initiatives. Events are free and open to the public with music, games, and free hot dogs and fries.

See event dates in June, July and August.

3. Richland County and Lexington Libraries Summer Reading Challenges

Children in Richland County can participate in the Summer Learning Challenge to win Richland Library prizes by reading, participating in a program, or participating in a learning activity. Earning 30 points gets kids a medal, a free pass to the Columbia Museum of Art, a free pass to a select Columbia Fireflies game, and a $2 off coupon for a book sale with friends and foundation. Adults who participate in the Summer Learning Challenge will receive a Fireflies baseball ticket.

Children, teens and adults can also participate in Read it Forward, to donate a book to a local non-profit organization. You can find more information about the programs on the website.

The Lexington County Public Library offers a summertime opportunity called “Oceans of Possibilities.” The initiative allows children to choose from different reading activities to complete for prizes. Kids must complete 10 activities to win a prize and can continue playing for more prizes.

For more information and to register, visit the Lexington County Public Library website.

4. Public swimming pools and paddling pools

Columbia Pools and Wading Pools are open through Labor Day weekend, so families can enjoy outdoor water activities.

Prices and locations are listed on the Columbia Parks & Recreation website.

5. Palmetto Falls Water Park

Located in Fort Jackson, Palmetto Falls Water Park features a lazy river, 3 slides, children’s pool, family pool, lap pool, water park and snack bar. The water park is open to the public and costs $75 for a membership or $17 for a day pass.

Information about the water park can be found online.

6. U-pick farms

U-pick farms allow families to pick their own organic or sustainably grown produce from various locations in the region. Different farms have different products and prices.

A list of U-pick farms is available here.

7. Activities in the parks

A variety of activities are offered at Sesquicentennial State Park for families, including but not limited to phone games to explore the park, scavenger hunts, hiking activities, kayaking and more. The park also has a paddling pool which is free with regular entry. A list of available activities is available on the SC State Park website.

Saluda Shoals Park also offers a variety of outdoor activities for family fun.

Activities at Saluda Shoals Park include, but are not limited to:

Kayak rental – 1 hour rental costs $25

Tube rental – $15 per tube

Guided Nature Walks – $35

More events and information about Saluda Shoals Park can be found on the website.

8. Columbia Fireflies baseball games

Columbia Fireflies baseball games are held throughout the summer, with tickets typically ranging from $16.00 to $42.00. Take your family to the ball game with activities for everyone.

Tickets can be purchased online.

9. Sports & Skate Station USA

Escape the heat with an indoor skating rink in Lexington. Sports & Skate Station USA has a $6 entry fee and $3 skate rental. The rink also offers science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-based summer camps.

More information on the website.

10. Tennis centers

Tennis and pickleball camps are available at Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center (CTFC) for ages 5 to 15, and also offers high school camps. The camps are for children of all levels. Camp information is on the website.

The Columbia Tennis Center offers programs for the community including recreational games, tournaments, day camps and leagues. Here you will find information about the different activities.

11. Summer camps

The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission offers summer camps at Crooked Creek Park, Melvin Park, Saluda Shoals Park and Seven Oaks Park. Camps range from ages 3 to 18 depending on the camp, and there are a variety of camps to appeal to different interests. A list of camps and prices can be found on the summer camps brochure.

Columbia Parks & Recreation also offers weekly summer camps that include art, golf, sports, and kayaking camps. More information can be found here.


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Richard V. Johnson