By Terry Ward

With summertime temperatures, opportunities to play in the water in West Columbia are abundant.

Palmetto Outdoor has become the epicenter for recreation on the Congaree River. The eco-tourism business provides cool, stress-relieving tubing trips down the refreshing river, ending at the West Columbia Riverwalk.

“I’m very proud to offer an experience on the river to so many visitors to our area,” said Michael Mayo, Palmetto Outdoor owner.

Mayo spoke to the West Columbia City Council last week. He said river tubing trips attract thousands to West Columbia in the summer months. He also said West Columbia used to be a daily detour for travelers to Myrtle Beach, but that has changed.

“West Columbia is now a destination,” Mayo said. “Visitors find that there are so many more resources to enjoy when they get here.”

There are also 2 more weeks of the Rhythm on the River Concert Series. The concerts are at 6 p.m. Saturday at the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater.

One destination is Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden. There is an entrance to the zoo off of Mohawk Drive in West Columbia.

The zoo’s Splash Pad at Waterfall Junction is open daily. It features a new soft play, rubber surface.

“The zoo’s Splash Pad is a great place for kids to cool off,” said Netra Thompson of West Columbia. “I have four grandchildren and they love to get in the water at the zoo. They love the zoo, too. We will make the zoo part of our activities all summer long.”

Mayo also said the South Carolina State Museum is an attraction that visitors stay over to see. Congaree National Park is another draw, along with the natural beauty of Riverwalk.

“People who visit West Columbia tell me they have never seen anything like Riverwalk,” Mayo said. “They love walking by the river and enjoying the nature of it all.”

West Columbia is also in close proximity to Lake Murray, one of the most attractive water recreation sites in the Southeast.

“We are lake people,” said Lesley Kellet. “We start going to Lake Murray in the spring and we go more in the summer when school is out. Our family loves it”

If you want to go to the lake, there is a public option.

Dominion Energy has opened its public parks on the Lexington and Irmo sides of the Lake Murray dam for the 2022 recreation season.

The beach and recreation area on the Lexington side (near the dam) will remain open through Sept. 5. Parking fees for all vehicles on both sides will be $5, with season passes available for $50 per vehicle.

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