Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

500 Wildlife Parkway
Columbia SC 29210
803-779-8717

Hours:
Mon: 10:00am , 5:00pm

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The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a 170-acre zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden located along the Saluda River in Columbia, South Carolina, United States. A small portion of the zoo extends into the nearby city of West Columbia. 

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Reviews
  • Jun 16, 2020 by Cassandra Huston

    Love it here...the aquarium is so beautiful! The gardens are lovely. They offer a lot of up close animal exhibits, like bird feeding, kangaroo walk, and so on...as an FYI though many of these exhibits are shut down due to covid.

  • May 31, 2020 by Jason Davis

    We took our daughter on her first trip to the zoo and we were very happy with our experience. There is so much for a little one to enjoy: train rides, petting zoos, giraffe feeding, and more! We are happy we bought a membership because we will be returning over and over!

  • May 30, 2020 by Brad Saunders

    Best tourist attraction in the Midlands. Family friendly, reasonably priced for a day trip. Fantastic, award winning landscape and flora. Worth the drive. Kids activities aside from the animals. Even can grab a drink for the adults.

  • May 30, 2020 by Jean Winston

    Well maintained and clean. Beautiful gardens and walking paths among the animal attractions. Drinks and snack prices were reasonable. Entrance prices were also reasonable compared to other zoos I've visited that are similar in size. The grandkids love this zoo! We spent approximately two hours and enjoyed many exhibits and activities.

  • May 24, 2020 by Gaspar Ruiz

    Great place to visit; animals could be seen without any waiting. Service was respectful, it's safe for children and kept clean. Lastly the food was quite delicious.

  • May 23, 2020 by Janiera Harris

    I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the zoo. This facility was clean and everything was easy to access. We ended up renting a stroller and again I was pleased. Excellent customer service and clean equipment.

  • May 23, 2020 by Josh Cantrell

    As is 5/22/20, the zoo has set up a reservation system for entry. Make sure you have the confirmed reservation on entry it you can not gain entry. The limited crowds make manuvering the park easier, but social distancing rules keep some parts and exhibits closed. Still enjoyable

  • May 15, 2020 by Rebecca Brown

    Love this zoo. They are always working to bring new attractions and improve their enclosure areas. They have done a lot to the botanical gardens side with a mini water park for the kids.

  • Mar 17, 2020 by Anthony Couillard

    I grew up with a Riverbanks Zoo pennant on my wall most of my young life. My parents brought me there and I totally enjoyed it. Few years back we were in the area visiting family and we saw they were doing Boo at the Zoo. We kind of plan for it on our way down bringing our costumes. We had a great time. The park was all decorated for Halloween. The exhibits were too. It is a great zoo! Lots to see and do, barely can do all in 1 day. Take your time, check out their schedule and try to attend some of the cooler things. You can't go wrong here!

  • Feb 29, 2020 by Amy Brass

    Loved every minute of our visit. Animals are happy and in clean environments. Staff are friendly and very informative. The Botanical Garden is beautiful. Even in February. Definitely a great place to visit.

  • Feb 28, 2020 by Orange Juice

    The animals are an amazing sight to see. There was an area were you can pet goats, the goats were peaceful creatures. A rhinoceros area is coming in summer, 2020. The most fun I had was called the ropes. The ropes got your adrenaline going. Trust me you will not want to get off of it. I totally recommend going to Riverbanks Zoo & Garden.

  • Feb 28, 2020 by Orange Juice

    The animals are an amazing sight to see. There was an area were you can pet goats, the goats were peaceful creatures. A rhinoceros area is coming in summer, 2020. The most fun I had was called the ropes. The ropes got your adrenaline going. Trust me you will not want to get off of it. I totally recommend going to Riverbanks Zoo & Garden.

  • Feb 17, 2020 by Ra Ra

    I really enjoyed it. During the holidays my husband and I went to a bonfire they were doing there at the time. We walked around to look at the animals. It's a huge zoo, and a great place to go for a family day out.

  • Feb 16, 2020 by Andrew Martindale

    Our family has held annual passes for the last few years. We love making the trip to visit every couple of months. The zoo is reasonably sized and can be walked and viewed in detail in about 3-4 hours. It is very well kept and makes for a good time with the family. The gardens, which are across the river and reachable by tram or a short (uphill) walk, are an added bonus. That said, doing both in a single trip makes for a long day. The gardens have a water play area for the summer and large treehouse play area. The botanical gardens are somewhat small, relatively speaking.

  • Feb 15, 2020 by Maria Tzolis

    Although it is most recommendable to come in the spring, especially when you're heavy on loving different array of flowers. The Riverbank Zoo & Garden sure had its perks through sightseeing and attractions. I especially loved how all of your coworkers and trainers there are so passionate in their workings with each animals that were featured there! It was sweet as it was exciting!

  • Feb 04, 2020 by Craig Null

    Had a great day and loved seeing all the animals!

  • Feb 02, 2020 by Ralph F.

    Riverbanks Zoo has evolved over the years.  They continue the being a top zoo in the nation.  Kids can feed giraffes, pet farm animals, climb rock walls, ride a zipline across the Saluda River.  Lots to see and do!

  • Jan 28, 2020 by Cody M.

    This zoo is amazing given its location!  Very well laid out, expo ally for the kiddos!

  • Jan 27, 2020 by Anna Kristine

    The place was awesome. They have the most incredible reptile exhibit. Husband and I loved it more than the tots. The place is super clean as well as the I called animal housing was really clean. I'd recommend it to everyone

  • Jan 24, 2020 by Jason Pogar

    Great zoo. We frequent here a couple times a year. Worth the drive up from Charleston. Lots to do and see here. Lots of large animals. Kids favorite thing is feeding the giraffes and goats. Can easily spend half a day here. We usually bring food and drink with us in the kids bags.

  • Jan 24, 2020 by Jason Pogar

    Great zoo. We frequent here a couple times a year. Worth the drive up from Charleston. Lots to do and see here. Lots of large animals. Kids favorite thing is feeding the giraffes and goats. Can easily spend half a day here. We usually bring food and drink with us in the kids bags.

  • Jan 19, 2020 by Cati R.

    Love love this zoo. They have really grown in recent years. Hope they continue to grow

  • Jan 18, 2020 by James M.

    This zoo is great! We got a year membership and it was very well worth it. My kids are obsessed with animals so we can go here whenever we want. There's a few things that make this zoo stand out. 1) they have this rare monkey there that I've never seen before in my life. He just runs jumps and swings around and makes this really loud noise. Like he'll swing around on branches and then he'll jump on top of a rock and then his throat swells up real big and then he starts going OOH OOH AH AHA AH and the noise is really deep and really loud and you can hear it from anywhere in the zoo. Last time we went we sat and watched him for like 30 minutes. It's actually cooler than I'm able to describe it as. 2) the park is laid out in a very efficient way. Some other zoos you go to one exhibit to see the monkeys, then walk back to a central location, then go see the big cats, then return to a central location, then go... and so on and so forth and seeing everything takes longer, in this zoo you just walk in a giant circle and you see everything. 3) the gift shop actually has cool things that even an adult would want like hot sauces and stuff. Last time I got this grow your own salsa kit where you get seeds for like ten different vegetables and then you plant them grow them and then eat them. Super cool idea. Anyways it's a good  zoo!

  • Jan 17, 2020 by Davis L.

    Yes it has been a year since I've been to the zoo, why? Because of the cost! However, after attending the zoo I would gladly pay double what I paid. I saw everything from gorilla gorilla gorilla, or as those of you who have not taken anthropology may not know that is also the western lowland gorilla. Pictures are attached for greater context. I also saw a viper... Very scary! But also intriguing. There were two bears sleeping bear claws are huge I don't think most people understand the true horror that being attacked by a bear would be! My favorite part of the visit by far was the reptilian exhibit, particularly the snakes. As many of you may know the king cobra was named for the 20th year in a row the snake of the year, and it lives up to its name! The king cobra is over 18 feet long but spends most of the day hiding in a pot pot... but when it comes out it is a sight to see! It is worth going just to see this incredible snake. My naggy girlfriend wants me to mention that the penguins are extremely cute!

  • Jan 16, 2020 by Crystal D.

    My granddaughter loves the Riverbank  Zoo, in fact my daughter & I love it  as much as  my granddaughter

  • Jan 14, 2020 by Matthew Davis

    Great family experience with lots of interactive exhibits.The trainers feeding for certain animals are exciting educational fun for the whole family. This zoo is well maintained and very clean. Nice restaurant and areas for private parties.The digital download of the map is very convenient and a breeze to navigate. Overall wonderful experience for the whole family.

  • Jan 07, 2020 by Arunprasad Chandrasekaran

    One of the best zoo with equal number of wild and non wild animals. They have good petting area, train ride and they also have many other entertaining aspects for kids. The light decoration throughout the zoo during the festive season is pleasing treat to the eyes. They have enough water station and rest rooms throughout the zoo. There is an aquarium and also a flamingo pond. The food snacks bar are also available with some enough seating. We can also feed parrots which kids will love to indulge. Overall this mayn’t be a big one but one time visit will not disappoint you.

  • Jan 03, 2020 by Jonathan R.

    I love this zoo! Wish the drinks and snacks where not so expensive. But the zoo itself is pretty incredible. I am a member now as I go three or four times a year.

  • Jan 01, 2020 by Ricardo Morales

    For its size this zoo really offers a lot. Very well themed, well kept grounds, healthy animals that are vibrant and lively (except the ones that love to sleep). It does offer quite a bit for the small footprint it fills. The only thing I wish different would be a little less for the price of admission.

  • Dec 29, 2019 by Kyle Pope

    Great smaller zoo that is easily walkable in one day with small kids.
    The animals are all very “viewable” when compared to other zoos. This means that their enclosures are smaller, but still seem sufficient and well maintained to meet the needs for the animals.
    The garden section was really cool and had some nice fun features for kids especially on a warm day. Bring a bathing suit or change of clothes.

  • Dec 29, 2019 by Asimur Rahman

    Quaint little zoo. But I feel there is always more to learn and explore. Watched the gorilla feeding here. It was amazing to learn how they train these animals. There are classes and additional things here to explore. Highly recommend visiting.

  • Dec 19, 2019 by Courtney B.

    Love Riverbanks Zoo! It's big enough to take your time and spend the entire day but also small enough to spend a couple hours and not wear yourself out. The exhibits and animal interactions/trainings are always a treat! Definitely stop in to see the gorillas!!!

  • Dec 18, 2019 by Regina S.

    I used to go to Chicago's Brookfield Zoo almost every week when I was a kid.  We never tired of it.  As I got older the thought of seeing caged animals vs in their natural environment kept me away from most animal related attractions.  But we had heard such great things about this place that we decided to visit during their Holiday lights celebration.   We started the day touring the zoo and the gardens.  It was an incredibly beautiful fall day and the number of trees with brilliantly yellow, red, and orange leaves created an even more special atmosphere.  The facility was very clean, well managed, easy to maneuver around, and had a bunch of cool added activities for kids of all ages like climbing walls and rope walks.  The botanical gardens, though not as showy this time of year, were still worth a visit.  We were very impressed, and later after dark we walked through the zoo again, against the backdrop of thousands of Christmas lights.  Magical.  We will be back!

  • Dec 05, 2019 by Jessica M.

    I may be bias when it comes to Riverbanks but I definitely think its one of the best zoos around. Every time I go to a zoo in another state or another area I always compare it to Riverbanks and they almost always fall short. Riverbanks is very large and it is split into two areas - a large animal area and a large botanical garden area. I'm not really a plant person so I would be lying if I said I went to the garden area every time we visited but if you are a plant person this garden is for you.  The animal section of the zoo is the best part. They have both outdoor and many indoor exhibits. Each area is pretty large for the animals; although I do wish the area for the elephants was larger since they are so big. The zoo does provide a map of the grounds so if you are interested in seeing a specific animal you know where to find them. Also, they have different feeding times so you are guaranteed to see animals during those times. Beware this zoo gets very busy and it is a bit pricey, so if you plan on going I would buy tickets before hand and then go during the week to avoid the crowds. I gave four stars instead of five stars because of the food and prices within the zoo. I would warn you against eating at the zoo, its entirely too expensive. Take a snack with you and then find a better place to eat once you leave. Other than that this zoo is a great place to take your family for an awesome time!

  • Dec 04, 2019 by Shawn G.

    Fantastic zoo with a lot to do. When I lived in Columbia the zoo was one of the biggest highlights. I had a membership and would suggest one for people who enjoy zoos or aquariums. Their aquarium is amazing. This zoo is a terrific family activity. They have a great water park area for kids so bring bathing suits. They have a climbing wall and zip line. Some of the activities cost extra so be prepared for that. You can get a membership with most of those activities added. Feeding the giraffes is one of my son's and my favorite activities. Their Boo at the Zoo and Lights Before Christmas are wonderful! I use to work in a zoo and I understand the importance of the exhibits for the health and safety of the animals as well as being set up for viewing and interaction with the customers and this zoo does an amazing job! I know some people dislike zoos but they are necessary so people understand animals and will try to preserve them in the wild and the breeding programs extremely necessary. Please support zoos and aquariums! Riverbanks Zoo is a very important part of that program!

  • Nov 23, 2019 by Beth B.

    It's been close to 10 years since I visited the Riverbanks Zoo, but we had a blast today! All of the exhibits look like they are well-maintained, and there are lots of hands on things to do. We got to see them feeding the seals and sea lions, we got to feed the birds, we were able to pet goats, and more! There were children in our group from age one to age 10, and they all had a great time! We visit Columbia frequently, so this will definitely be something we come to again!

  • Nov 19, 2019 by Lauren C.

    Love visiting Riverbank's Zoo with my kids. We recently tried the zipline and it's such a nice addition!

  • Nov 14, 2019 by Murphy S.

    Really good for little kids and dates. Definitely have to be an animal person. Bird sanctuaries smell terrible what what are you going to do it's birds. As far as zoos come it's a spectacular zoo that I've had many memories growing up.

  • Nov 07, 2019 by Ariel B.

    If you generally don't like zoos because of horror stories and other factors, then I encourage you to visit this one: a zoo who does animal conservation right. I've been to this zoo twice in under five months and it's not because I'm an avid zoo lover (aside from my love of animals). The zoo itself is well kept and during both of my visits, I witnessed people available willing to educate visitors on the specific animals and their purpose for being there. There are feeding times where you can either watch a feeding (as with the gorillas) or pay a small fee to feed other animals (like the giraffe). There are plenty of things to do including a few rides for kids, rotation interactive exhibits, and an area to interact with and feed a few farm animals. There never nothing new to try, so if you can try to visit every season!

  • Oct 31, 2019 by Beth K.

    I love Riverbanks! Volunteered here for four years and having that behind-the-scenes knowledge made me appreciate it even more. The staff genuinely cares about the well-being of the animals and strive to promote a message of conservation. Lots of cool events, both big and small. Don't miss Enrichment Day or Pumpkin Smash...they are a blast to experience! The backstage tours are also super educational and entertaining.

  • Oct 16, 2019 by Crystal O.

    I have a zoo membership at home which means I get discounts on most zoos and aquariums across the country! This was one of those zoos! My admission was only $10! I was only in Columbia for 18 hours and crammed in a bunch of things in the short time I was there- first stop was the zoo. When I entered I went off to the right and found otters! Yay! The Grizzly exhibit had keepers cleaning up, so I made a mental note to come back. Further down the walk I came upon their big cats- they have a large lion pride and I was instantly jealous- they even had a cub!!! My ohhs and ahhs were audible!  Tigers! An aviary with lorikeets and adjacent was koalas and komodo dragons. The kids play area was at that corner of the zoo as well. There was also a tram to the botanical gardens that I was unaware of- and didn't make it back to that area again (my camera was very upset with me at the missed opportunity!) Around the bend I encountered primates, flamingos and a petting/farm animal area- also crowded with families and lots of children- so I just skirted the outside of it. I was amazed by the seal and sea lion tank! So many views inside, outside, underwater and above! Obviously they do shows too. And they had a reptile house/ aquarium complete with a rainforest exhibit too! After lunch I circled around back to the zebras, ostriches & found my way over to the elephants, wallabies & meerkats! They also had some African cats- hiding- so I couldn't see them very well, a sloth!!!!! lemurs, squirrel monkeys and more in a tunnel you walked through. Some of the zoo was very familiar to my zoo in Jax and some was completely new and a wonderful surprise! I wish we had more aquarium style exhibits back home- but it was really cool to see new things! And- I totally took a ton of pictures! Highly recommend- but I am a sucker for animals!

  • Jan 18, 2016 by Joanna H.

    Riverbanks Zoo was one of our favorite stops on our vacation! The animals looked healthy and happy and there were many exhibits to visit. The zoo was clean, the price was amazing, and it wasn't overly crowded. I loved how you could get so close to the giraffes and feed them. That was one of my favorite parts. :) We stayed for about 4 hours and really took everything in. I recommend this zoo to anyone who is planning a trip to the Columbia area. It will definitely be worth it!! If I ever have the opportunity, I will certainly visit again. :)

  • Aug 20, 2013 by rlthomas

    The Riverbanks Zoo is a hidden gem in the Columbia area, and has a much more polished look and a wider variety of exhibits (including many hands-on opportunities that the kids loved) than you would expect to find in a small city. It is definitely worth the trip.

  • Jul 23, 2012 by goldceiling

    one of the best zoos i've been to. it's not so obnoxiously large that you can't walk through it in an afternoon, but it's definitely not small either. it was a blast when i took my two kids. we all had so much fun. but minus one star for the columbia summer HEAT. bring water!

  • Jul 27, 2010 by amrodney

    River Banks Zoo is an awesome place. Everything is clean. The animals look to be well cared for. The exhibits are truly life like and the area for the small children is awesome. The botanical garden is beautiful. Run - don't walk for sure. Great place to visit.

  • Apr 24, 2010 by DaniellesDad

    We went to Riverbank in early April and found the facility to be clean and well kept. The habitats were very natural and the animals were very active. The weather was perfect with a high of about 75 degrees. Perfect zoo weather.