Congaree National Park is a 26,546 acre park which is a sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. There is an elevated boardwalk trail that winds through swampy forest from the visitor center to Weston Lake. The park offers a variety of outlets for you to explore nature. There are numerous hiking trails as well as places to paddle your canoe or kayak. The park also offers free walks and talks for guests to learn more about the park and the native plants and animals. This is a great place to visit and enjoy nature. There is no admission fee so come on out and explore.
***MOSQUITOES ARE VERY AGGRESSIVE, BRING BUG SPRAY***
My blog about this park
the kensington plantation is located in eastover south carolina about twenty miles east of downtown columbia. the kensington mansion was built in 1854 in the italianate revival style. kensington plantation was founded by matthew singleton in 1787. kensington was a working plantation that produced cotton and indigo until 1941. in 1981 the property was purchased by the international paper company. the kensington mansion is listed on the national register of historic places. for admission, directions, and tour information see the attached web site.
congaree swamp national park is located about 30 miles east of columbia. this 27,000 acre park is a flood plain of the congaree river. the park offers camping, canoeing, hiking and nature trails. the congaree swamp is the oldest old growth flood plain forest in the united states. at the visitor center you can take a 2.4 mile boardwalk which gives you an excellent overview of the park's ecosystems. for those interested in nature and ecology the congaree swamp national park is well worth a visit in the columbia area. for more information see my congaree swamp national park pages.
from downtown columbia take I-20 or I-26 to I-77 on I-77 take exit 5 to SC 45 east. on SC 45 go 14 miles to the park entrance.
a worth while stop when in columbia is the lexington county museum in nearby lexington. this interesting museum is about the history of lexington county from colonial times to the present. on the grounds of the museum is a collection of historic homes and buildings. for those interested in history and architecture the lexington county museum is worth visiting. from downtown columbia take US378 toward lexington. the museum is located on fox street a block off of US378 between I-20 and downtown lexington.
Camden is a small town about 30 miles northeast of Columbia, which my friend and I decided to visit as a side day trip while in South Carolina, mainly for its history.
When we first drove into town we arrived along a highway with fast food places and discount stores, so at first we thought maybe we'd made a mistake, but it turned out to be a very delightful and interesting day.
I'm not sure how many towns in the south have the distinction of being burned in two different wars -- the Revoluntionary War and the Civil War. A famous Revolutionary War battle was fought and lostat Camden -- Gen. Cornwall had occupied a historic house there -- so Revolutionary history was played up, a surprise to me in a Southern town.
We visited "Historic Camden," which included the recreation of a Revolutionary War era house, the Quaker Cemetery, several antique stores and enjoyed lunch in the modern-day downtown.
Since my knowledge of Camden was absolutely zero when I arrived, I learned a lot about this small town, and left knowing there was a lot more know.
In the present day, it is known for steeple-chase races, which would be fascinating to return for someday, I think.
About 30 million years ago, this area was a seacoast, as evidenced by the sand and coastal rock formations. Of these, the most unusual is Peachtree rock, which has eroded to the point where it now stands precariously balanced atop a narrow band of stone. Take US #302 out of Columbia, SC. Go past the airport, past South Congaree, and past the Edmund community. Turn left on SC #6 where it veers off from SC #302, then turn left onto the second paved road. At the stop sign, turn right onto a Peachtree Rock Road, and the small parking lot is on the left.
This is one of the grandest remants of the vast cypress swamps that once covered much of the southeastern US. Here are huge stands of cypress trees. A wooden walkway makes the swamp more accessible to hikers.
Lexington is about a twenty minute drive from downtown Columbia and is really considered a suburb. It's a relatively wealthy community with a lake and a small, but charming downtown. I've only been here once, but it was for a great evening at the Main Street Cafe, where I partied like a Greek rock star. Interested? Read more about it, here
Most of Columbia was burned to the ground during the Civil War (a topic to be avoided no matter what your stance is because it WILL turn into a LOOOOOONG conversation), but two beautiful houses remain. The Hampton Preston Mansion and Gardens and the Robert Mills House and Park are priceless works of architecture and history. Robert Mills was a famous architect of the Federal period, designer, for example, of the Washington Monument.
CONGAREE SWAMP NATIONAL MONUMENT
Just head down Bluff Road (by Williams Brice Stadium) for a ways and you'll find this little gem, protected by the National Park Service. The heat in Columbia can be overbearing, so I would not suggest a visit in July or August unless you go in the early morning. By kayak or Canoe, however, it might be quite nice. This black water swamp is magical, romantic, an escape from the blacktop.
For more info, visit the National Park Service's website, which includes recreational links:
This area offers miles of hiking trails, fishing, horseback riding, and other activities. Off SC 261, 18 miles southwest of Sumter near Wedgefield.