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“Always great”

Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden
Ranked #1 of 109 things to do in Columbia
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to nearly 2,000 animals that represent more than 350 species from around the world. A visit to the Zoo will play host to an array of wild adventures from a diving expedition on a Pacific coral reef to a safari through the plains of Africa to an interactive Outback encounter with a flock of sociable lorikeets. The Botanical Garden boasts 70-acres of unparalleled beauty and is considered one of the America's best public gardens. Dramatic and themed gardens showcase more than 4,300 species of native and exotic plants, providing a living classroom for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. The Garden also is the gateway to natural river views and spectacular valley overlooks. In addition, guests can view structural remains dating back to the early 1800s with South Carolina's textile industry and the Civil War.
Columbia, South Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
140 reviews
49 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 94 helpful votes
“Always great”
Reviewed June 12, 2013

I've been a member of this zoo for years and have always had a great visit. Weekends are very busy, so if you want a less hectic time, visit during the week or on a rainy day - there are lots of indoor exhibits. This zoo is always rated high and for good reason...size, liveliness of all the critters, excellent shows (like the birds of prey), extras you can add like the movie, pony ride, carousel, ice cream or souvenir shopping. There are plenty of bathrooms, snack bars and a restaurant. You can take the tram to the gardens and enjoy a woods trail walk back down to the zoo, or reverse it if you really want to exercise walking up the hill. Feeding the birds, giraffes or goats is always a treat for you, and them!

Visited May 2013
1 Thank MyrtleBeach60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,296 reviews from our community

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Gastonia, North Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
108 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Great Zoo for all”
Reviewed June 10, 2013

Good view of all animals, great layout and not alot of walking, kid and adult friendly, will be returning again.

Visited May 2013
Thank rsdeacon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lexington, South Carolina
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Top ten”
Reviewed June 10, 2013

Consistently ranked in the top ten zoos nationally. It also has a beautiful botanical garden and offers community outreach classes in all types of arts and sciences.

Visited June 2013
Thank localgirl1963
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lincolnton, North Carolina
1 review
“Top Notch Zoo”
Reviewed June 9, 2013

When you plan a trip for 4 kids, you are thinking about budget and safety. Add that to having 3 special needs children and your stress level for everything multiplies.

Our family purchased the $150 Family Explorer package. One years worth of membership (plus an additional 2 months free). This gave us free entrance to the zoo and gardens, discounted food and gifts, and then attractions (except for 2 attractions, the wall climb and Sky ??). Seriously though, when you have special needs kids, that like to have their feet on the ground, no biggie...

Seriously, if you have a family, go this way. To feed the animals, it cost. To ride the train, it cost. To ride the ponies, it cost. The tokens are a dollar and most cost 2-5 to do anything (over top of admission). My husband lovingly pointed out. After our kids were there for 2-1/2 hours, we already racked up over $100 between admission and their attractions.

As far as food, we didn't eat at the park. We packed a lunch and when the skies darkened with a rain storm at lunch time, it was a quick 5 minute walk to the vehicle. We ate and then checked the weather (inwhich we left afterwards).

When it comes to the animals, if you are wanting to see them, definitely pick this zoo (especially for little ones or special needs children). They will be able to interact with the animals more and can actually see them (the gorillas are a different story, we went a few years ago and multiple times and never seen one, other than their pictures). We love the interaction with feeding them and the kids have a blast getting to pet them upclose.

If you catch an employee working in their work stations, it is a great day. We have seen the animals being attended to a few times but not very often. I can say, the zoo is definitely working on doing improvements. We came 2 years ago and there has been alot done.

The only item that I wished they added or had more of, is the use of the schools or lectures about the animals. I wish someone was out talking about the animals or you had a live show about the animals (that incorporated them into the show).. It would give more of a learning tool for the kids while they are at the zoo...

Also, from one special needs Mom to another (if you are reading).. The park is very small and well manageable. The kids can get front access to see the animals from their lower standpoint. Also, the staff is more than helpful and considerate for special needs children. Even on the attractions, just let them know what to look for or let them know their needs to be extra help given. They will do everything they can to help.

We look forward to our next trip to the zoo! Thanks so much for making your zoo such a wonderful place for families to come see!

Visited June 2013
Thank rarasnake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great place for the family”
Reviewed June 9, 2013

Columbia zoo has a nice variety of animals and flowers. Great place for the whole family for all ages

Visited June 2013
Thank Jenny R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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