Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

The Visiting Info shown below, if any, is always subject to change. Please check the facility's website for the latest information before making a trip.

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O V E R V I E W
Facility:Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
Description:Riverbanks Zoological Park & Botanical Garden, in Columbia, South Carolina, offers a relaxing, entertaining and unique educational experience for the entire family. More than 2,000 animals are housed in natural habitat exhibits that use psychological barriers such as moats, water, and light to create an environment free of bars and cages for animals. A seventy-acre Botanical Garden provides visitors with an opportunity to experience both native and exotic plant exhibits.
A D D R E S S
Address 1:500 Wildlife Parkway
Address 2:
City:Columbia
State/Province:SC
Zip Code:29210
V I S I T I N G   I N F O
Hours:
Admission:
Telephone:(803) 779-8717
Website:Visit Website
R E V I E W S
Jennifer J., Co-op Member
Large zoo in downtown Columbia, with all animal offerings imaginable. The farm is always a favorite. Beautiful aquarium and bird centers. Also a large botanical garden and amphitheater linked with walking paths or a trolley system. Save a dollar for the carousel as well!
Ashley H., Co-op Member
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a must stop for homeschool field trips!

Riverbanks has two entrances: one that takes you directly into their botanical garden section and the other into their wild animal park. Once inside, the two are connected by a short tram ride or walk along a nature trail.

The zoo is an excellent stop to include in a science study of plants or animals. However, it also offers a unique look at South Carolina history along the nature trail connecting the zoo to the botanical garden. Don't forget to ask the very knoweledgeable staff for information on the topics you're studying. They are always willing to help.

The zoo offers a look at exotic animals from around the world. Of great interest, the zoo has a special partnership with a sister state in Australia. Since Australia is very particular about the conservation of their wildlife, this partnership has opened the doors for Riverbanks to host some of Australia's unique animals.

As part of the zoo's education initiative, you can enroll in programs that take you behind the scenes to meet and greet some of the zoo's inhabitants. Our daughter did a unit study on penguins and as part of that study, we were able to take part in a zoo tour that took her behind the scenes to meet a rockhopper penguin up close and personal! The zoo also offers a program especially for homeschoolers called "Homeschool Mondays". This program covers a variety of topics throughout the year.

There is an extra cost associated with these programs and the cost information is available on the zoo's website. If you live in SC, a membership to the zoo is well worth the cost, it gives you discounts on admission to the special programs and member only events that are great for enriching a homeschool environment. The most overlooked perk to the membership is the reciprocal admission you are eligible for at zoos around the country. We used our membership for FREE entry at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland, OH.

We love Riverbanks Zoo and Garden!
Bobbie W., Co-op Member
This zoo has a wonderful layout. It is always tons of fun. The animals are kept in a more natural layout then other zoos that we have visited. We try to go at least once a year.
Lisa B., Co-op Member
We love Riverbanks! We use to live a bit closer (about 2 hrs) and went quite often. It's a little smaller than some zoos, but it is still worth going.
Laura Dawson, Co-op Member
The Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of the best zoos in the United States. The animals are well-kept, the landscaping is pristine, and the gardens are stunning. We lived in Columbia for just three months but got a membership to Riverbanks so we cold visit as much as we could. Our family highly recommends Riverbanks. Spend the day. Take a picnic. Enjoy both sides of Riverbanks - the zoo and the gardens. It's a wonderful way to spend the day.
Patricia, Co-op Member
Riverbanks Zoo is so much fun and we always learn something new while we are there. We are especially thankful for the Home-school Mondays.....just wish we could go more often. It is always kept clean (bathrooms occasionally need some slight attention, but is usually done quickly). It really is a beautiful place.
Kendra H, Co-op Member
Great zoo! Animals are well kept, we had the luck of a personal behind the scenes tour of some of the birds by the curator of birds. We did not make it to the botanical gardens unfortunately as we were heading off to North Carolina for our daughter to see snow for the first time....
Stephanie, Co-op Member
I loved the zoo portion of this attraction. It has tons of animals to see and it is one right after the other (no wasted walking). The zoo is clean and the habitats nice. The zoo does have many things within that require additional fees, so bring a thick wallet. The gardens are pretty too, just not as big as you may expect.
Danielle C, Co-op Member
We love this zoo! Our favorite part is being able to feed the giraffes! We try to go at least once a year.
Darlene M., Co-op Member
It is usually free for Richland County residents January - March. Rainy spring days are greats at the zoo. The animals love a gentle rain. Bring your water shoes and jumps in the puddles!
Carla C, Co-op Member
Kristie Hunter, Co-op Member
Riverbanks is one of our favorite field trip destinations, so much so that we buy a membership every year!

Favorite things for my family include feeding the giraffes and birds, watching the penguins at feeding time, and riding the tram up to the gardens.

We also love the monthly homeschool classes. At only $5 per child, it's chocked full of interesting information and well worth the price!
T. Bates, Co-op Member
Riverbanks Zoo makes a great fieldtrip from our hometown of Charlotte, and we usually visit annually. It's a large zoo. Kids (and their parents!) will love feeding the giraffes. My girls love the pony rides. The lorikeet walk-through is very neat. For older (and slightly older) children, the suspended obstacle course is great fun.
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