Make getting outside your New Year’s resolution

January 9, 2020

Every new year, we hear people say a million different resolutions that will change their lives for the better. One great way to commit to getting off the couch is to get outdoors. The Capital City/Lake Murray Country region has so many parks, walkways, and other outdoor attractions to explore. Here are 10 regional destinations to help you get outside and make your New Year’s resolution complete.

#1 Congaree National Park

This national park is a jewel in the region. Visitors can get away from it all in this gorgeous spot. The part preserves the largest intract old growth bottom land hardwood forest left in the United States. Visitors can wander the boardwalk for miles and take in the exquisite views of the record size trees. They are excursions and events available year-round as well as camping opportunities.

#2 Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden

This is a first class zoo in the United States with everything from mammals to reptiles and amphibian species. You can spend the entire day simply strolling the zoo and enjoying all of the amazing sections and creatures that it has to offer. The color and variety of plants in the Botanical garden are stunning and will keep you walking to see more.  Those up for a real adventure should sign up for the zipline through the trees and across the river.

#3 Saluda Shoals Park

This park offers lots of fun seasonal activities but it’s walking trails makes it a great get outdoors destination. The walking trails are throughout the park and many are along the Saluda river.  Due to river access there are fishing and watersport opportunities available. The park also has new play area to include all children with disabilities.

#4 Columbia’s Riverfront Park

The Riverfront Park and Canal in Columbia is a great place to walk, run or ride a bike with the family. You can take a 2 1/2 mile hike or bike ride along the river, picnic on one of the many tables or just sit on a bench to take in the scenery.

#5 Dreher Island State Park

This island state park is out on Lake Murray but not far from the city. It’s a great place to get away from it all; only 30 minutes from downtown Columbia. Take an evening stroll to the bridge and watch the sunset, spend the afternoon hiking Little Gap Trail, try your luck at fishing or swim in Lake Murray. If you like it enough, book a camping spot for a return stay.

#6 Harbison State Forest

Harbison State Forest offers mountain biking, camping or hiking with family or dogs. In the summer this is a great spot because it stays a bit cooler due to the large canvas of trees. Harbison has nature trails and a visitor center. Plus, the Harbison shopping area is close by to grab a bite to eat after your outdoor adventure.

#7 Sesquicentennial State Park

This state park in the region has it all… trails, a lake to paddle boat in, camping sites, playgrounds and lots of wildlife. The mountain bikers love this park for the hilly trails and views of the lake while on the trail. Families love to gather at this park for reunions and to enjoy the outdoors.

#8 Virginia Hylton Park

This park is nestled in the town of Lexington offering a butterfly garden, and Iris garden, a Koi pond, playground, and of course many walking trails.

#9 Doko Meadows in Blythewood

Doko Meadows is a 22 acre park managed by the town of Blythewood offering a scenic walking trail that travels along a pond through a wooded area. A coffee shop is soon opening at the entrance of the park.  So, grab a cup of coffee while you’re there!

#10 Lynches Woods Park

This park is located in Newberry County with 276 acres and many miles of trails for hiking, jogging, off-road bicycling and horseback riding. The Palmetto Trail also passes through here.

What is the Palmettto Trail? The Palmetto Trail offers miles of fresh air along historic paths. Residents and visitors of all ages, abilities, and socioeconomic circumstances use the Palmetto Trail to enjoy nature, practice conservation, and learn history, all while being physically active.  It connects state and county parks, national forests, nature preserves, wildlife management areas, Revolutionary War battlefields, Native American paths, urban to rural, swamps to mountains, maritime to sandhills to piedmont, and much more.  Find out more at palmettoconservation.org.

By: Jayne Baker