A Unique Beginning for South Carolina

We traveled the state from a single camp.

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 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.

A unique capitol experience.

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! This was 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).  This 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.



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A hidden national park visit that surprised us.

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 to do while in the area.  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. We spotted 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.

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The learning never ends.

We never seem to get enough education. That 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 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. 

Exploring other forts was awesome, so I thought we would go check it out.  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 and they love that it is different every time.  We got a glimpse of Fort Sumter, but did not want to pay to go out to it because it was pretty expensive. 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!




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Last, but not least.

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 more rewarding experience than seeing them in a zoo, but here they have animals from all over the world.

We saw quite a few animals here that we had not seen anywhere else so far.  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.  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.


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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





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21 thoughts on “A Unique Beginning for South Carolina”

  1. It is nice to be able to stay in a strategically located place and make the most of your time.I was fascinated reading about how the session of the senate/house starts with the placing of a sword or mace that triggers on the lights. A pity that you could not catch this piece of action live. The National Park looks great too. I am sure the kids really had a whale of a time.

  2. Wow you managed to do a lot from that one spot! And a lot of educational but fun things, I’m sure your kids appreciated the combination too of nature at Congaree & the zoo and history at the fort & capitol. Sounds like a fab trip!

  3. Sometimes even if the place you stay isn’t great, location can more than make up for it, and it looks like the location was fabulous here! The Riverbanks Zoo looks great, I love flamingos so I was instantly in love with your photo – flamingos are so cool! Fort Moultrie looks like great fun, especially for the kids.

  4. I have never been to Soiuth Carolina but I have been really wanting to go there. It looks like a great place to be explored whether with kids or solo. And, I would love to stay in an RV park and discover the hidden national park.

  5. Wild South Carolina is always so beautiful. I spent a ton of time there when I grew up next door in North Carolina. It sucks that you weren’t thrilled with your campground but at least it was an excellent jumping off point for visiting the rest of the state. I used to love Columbia as well. Saw my first concert there! U2.

  6. We have never been to South Carolina but this sounds a wonderful experience. The photos show that the kids enjoyed the activities the most, especially feeding the lorikeet. That snake is scary to look at. 🙂 I love going to national parks and camping there, exploring the wilds. Here self discipline is very important.

  7. Great post. What a great way to bring the family together with this kind of holiday. I like your point that learning never ends – there is always something to learn about your country and you are doing it state by state! Amazing you can stay in one place and tour the entire state. Cool to find an unexpected national park during your visit along with historical sites.

    • We have gotten lots of comments, but yours rates highly with me because you are the first to use our tag line of state by state!

  8. All of this info about what to see in South Carolina is great because I actually live pretty close by. I love doing historical things while traveling so looks like maybe I should make a stop in Columbia. The national park you saw looks really cool too, we have some similar ones in Georgia!

  9. Sounds like a great place to spend time with family. I love National Parks too and I agree that they;re a fabulous way to see some really nice wildlife so I am glad that you found a hidden one on your trip. Also, the Riverbanks Zoo and botanical gardens look pretty cool.

  10. I’m not normally a National forest kind of girl, but that looks stunning. It’s unfortunate to hear your stay was noisy and had no WiFi, but thank goodness you found a place with a great location. In my opinion that trumps most everything else when traveling- especially since most time is spent exploring. I would love. To visit the water and the zoo!

    • Yeah, location is really important. That’s why we just made the best of it. Better to stay and see some amazing things. The camp after was quite and we got to catch up on our sleep.

  11. My sister lives in Columbia so I have visited often, but perhaps not as recently as I should have. Most of my memories revolve around campus, but I do think I made it to the Riverbanks Zoo. I love how the cannon ball holes are still preserved and regaled. Good old South Carolina. It sounds like they have stopped flying the Confederate Flag at the capital these days.

  12. That photo of the kids feeding the birds is so moving. It’s amazing how you involve kids in travel early. Travel will surely educate them about many things and raise their cultural awareness. What a fun and learning experience it must be.

  13. I would’ve never had any idea how much history is packed into Columbia, SC without reading your post. I love that these activities were all kid friendly, but kids aren’t the only ones who are able to have a good time with it. I’d love to visit and tour the capitol – I especially enjoyed reading about the history and customs there.

  14. So cool of you to teach your kids history by visiting historical sites (and seeing them enjoy it is a cool bonus point too!). One of the lovely things about exploring places is to stumble into a place you haven’t heard of before. The fort in particular looks pretty cool and the views are equally as relaxing! 🙂

  15. Wow, looks like you had a great family adventure here! I’ve never been to South Carolina, but I like the look of what it has to offer. The US is great for national parks too, and full of interesting creatures and flora/fauna too! Lovely photos to match.

  16. I love exploring forts and visiting botanical gardens, so this sounds like the perfect trip for me! The whole family look like they enjoyed too, judging by the photos.

  17. It’s great that you were able to stay in one place and explore the whole of South Carolina. While the RV Park might have been great, it sounds like the location was fantastic. So great you even could visit a hidden national park – ahhh spotted a snake in the wild. How exciting!


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