COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – Kids and adults can all agree — a trip to the zoo makes any vacation even better. So when you’re in South Carolina, Riverbanks Zoo has to be included on your itinerary. 

Don’t let the small city feel of Columbia fool you. Riverbanks was recently named a Top 10 Zoo in the entire country by USA Today, beating out big-city zoos in Memphis, New Orleans and Dallas.  Riverbanks Zoo is 170 acres of animal interactions and activities that give you close-up views while not forcing you to walk for miles.

Do you want big-name animals? You can hang out with a family of lowland gorillas, including two recent additions to the troop. Dorothy would feel right at home checking out the lions, tigers, and bears. Get close without getting wet while you watch the seals and sea lions train.

Do you want animal interaction? Feed a heard of giraffes as you stand eye-level with the friendly giants. Sign up for behind-the-scenes tours where you can chat with trainers as you meet penguins, otters, and a variety of other zoo residents. Don’t forget to stop in to feed the lorikeets. They have no problems with making your acquaintance.

Do you want adventure? Climb to the top of a ropes course to get a rare look down on the giraffes or climb through the trees and soar like an eagle as you zip line over the Saluda River. A beautiful view can make you forget about that fear of heights.

Once you’ve seen the over 2,000 animals the zoo has to offer, take a scenic walk or ride the tram over to Riverbanks Garden.  The 70-acre botanical garden boasts over 4,200 species of native and exotic plants. You may be inspired to spruce up your yard back home.

So pack up the family and set out on your own wild encounter at Riverbanks Zoo.

Riverbanks Zoo is open but timed tickets and masks are required for entry.  Find more information about River Banks Zoo & Garden at