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Riverbanks Zoo

My kids love nothing more than animals. In fact, some days they want to BE animals they love them so much. Naturally, as we travel, we make a point to visit zoos. The Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina has an amazing reputation. I’d heard nothing but great things about the zoo, so I knew we needed to check it out.

Starting our day at The Riverbank Zoo

Starting our day at The Riverbanks Zoo

Right off the bat, I realized how the beautifully designed layout accommodates families with children of all ages. The entrance is centrally located, and then there are two wings to the zoo. Families can easily make the two loops; however, the entrance location allows for a quick trip out to the car midway through.

We started our day at the brand new exhibit, Sea Lion Landing.

Sea Lion Landing opened in May 2016

Sea Lion Landing opened in May 2016

¬†We found Sea Lion Landing to be one of the best sea lion exhibits that we’ve ever visited! My children could have easily spent all day standing at this large viewing window.

Sea Lion Landing offers phenomenal viewing spaces

Sea Lion Landing offers phenomenal viewing spaces

Other highlights of the Riverbanks Zoo included the opportunity to be up close and personal with many of the animals.

My crazy girl loved feeding the birds.

Don't miss the bird sitting on her head

Don’t miss the bird sitting on her head

Although she might have been the only one of us who appreciated the birds, we all had fun at the giraffe feeding.

The pictures don't adequately display their size. The giraffes were huge!

The pictures don’t adequately display their size. The giraffes were huge!

We also got to walk (or hop, as my kids chose to do) through the kangaroo exhibit. There is nothing more thrilling for a child from the U.S. to know that there’s a chance a kangaroo might cross our path (literally!)

Smart kangaroo- he hoped in the opposite direction of my children

Smart kangaroo- he hopped in the opposite direction of my children

The Riverbanks Zoo displays over 2,000 animals. The awesome layout I mentioned earlier makes viewing all of these animals during a visit manageable. Additionally, the habitats were built fairly close together and in groups. This allows guests to easily transition from one exhibit to the next without a lot of walking.

Love all these beautiful animals

Love all these beautiful animals

Perhaps one of the most surprising parts of our day was how interactive all of the animals acted towards the guests. You could genuinely tell they enjoyed all the attention!

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In addition to a wonderful collection of mammals, The Riverbanks Zoo also has a wonderful (and very large) aquarium.

After seeing Finding Dory 3 times this summer, my kids couldn't get enough of this particular tank. Miller kept repeating "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

After seeing Finding Dory 3 times this summer, my kids couldn’t get enough of this particular tank. Miller kept repeating “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Also, another fabulous feature of The Riverbanks Zoo is the the Botanical Garden. This 70 acre piece of property could be an attraction all by itself! Besides the amazingly beautiful plants, the garden offers a splash pad (Waterfall Junction) with a giant sandbox (Dino Dig.)

Don't miss the Botanical Gardens

Don’t miss the Botanical Gardens

To access the gardens, catch the tram that runs about every 10 minutes. I highly recommend doing the garden when you arrive at the tram stop. We saved it until the end and needed to do quite a bit of backtracking through the zoo.

To plan your visit to the Riverbanks Zoo, visit their website.

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