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Visit Bryson City, NC for the Holidays

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Are you searching for Bryson City holiday things to do? Most known for the Polar Express, there is so much more than just the train ride to do and explore in this friendly mountain town. Bryson City, NC also has a drive-thru light show, outdoor ice skating, delicious food, and much more! 

Looking for more holiday day trip ideas? Be sure to check out our festive guide!

Bryson City: A Real-Life Christmas Wonderland 

Bryson City is a quaint, peaceful mountain town along the Great Smoky Mountains. Just a quick 3 to 4 hour drive from Columbia, SC, this makes for the perfect weekend getaway. During winter each year, Bryson City transforms into a real-life Christmas wonderland with beautiful decor, twinkling lights, and Christmas magic all around. My family took a quick 1-night trip to the mountains and we spent one of our evenings exploring Bryson City. I left wishing we would have had more time to spend and know we will definitely be returning! 

Tree farms in Bryson City, NC

Things to do in Bryson City, NC for the Holidays

Take a Ride on the Polar Express 

One of the most popular things to do in Bryson City over the holidays is the Polar Express Train Ride! My family recently got to experience this magical event and both of my kids (ages 4 and 1) absolutely loved it. Be sure to check out the Kidding Around Pplar Express review for more tips and info! 

Bryson City Polar Express

Explore the Smoky Mountain Train Museum 

The train museum sits right next to the railroad tracks and is a great place to pass the time while waiting to board a train ride! Inside the museum, there is a huge display of model trains that are so fascinating to watch! My son loved pointing out all of the detailed features he saw. With a train ticket, entrance into the museum is free! 

Along with the model train display, the museum also offers a large gift shop area with plenty of trinkets and souvenirs. 

Smoky Mountain Train Museum

Smoky Mountain Rail

Go Outdoor Ice Skating

Outdoor ice skating is such a fun, classic winter activity! Unfortunately, on the evening we were there, the ice rink was not open, but now that I know it’s there we will be sure to plan accordingly for future visits. Along with ice skating, there is also a food truck and full-time bar. For $20 per person you will get 1 hour of skating time, skate rentals (smallest size is youth size 9), and 1 hot chocolate! Hours are as follows:

  • Thursdays and Fridays from 4 pm to 8 pm beginning November 17th, 2023
  • Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm to 8 pm beginning November 19th, 2023

The Yard Ice Skating

Bryson City shops

Visit the Local Shops 

With so many locally-owned shops and businesses to choose from, picking a favorite would be hard! We popped into a few and really enjoyed all of the Christmas shops. We purchased an ornament from Uncle Bunky’s Christmas Cottage where they also had tons of holiday decor, small toys, sweet treats, etc. Loose Moose is another great gift store with lots of unique items to choose from. 

Madison’s on Main and Humanite Boutique are both great options for trendy women’s clothing! There are also several antique stores around that are always fun to browse through – you never know what you might find! 

Enjoy a Tasty Sweet Treat 

If you’re anything like me, the sweet tooth is at an all-time high throughout the holidays. The good news is, Bryson City has so many opportunities for delicious treats! After our ride on the Polar Express we stopped into the Heavenly Fudge Depot and let me just say, it lived up to its name! The peanut butter fudge from here was divine. They also had several festive sweet treats for kids – chocolate “believe” tickets and trains, cookies, bite-sized sweets, and more! 

The Chocolate Shoppe, Soda Pop’s Ice Cream, and Pop-N-Jacks Gourmet Popcorn are also great options to cure the sweet tooth! The popcorn from Pop-N-Jacks can even be brought onto the Polar Express with you and smells so good. I’m a little upset we didn’t stop in and give them a try, too! 

Take Festive Pictures 

Still need a family pic for this year’s Christmas card? There are tons of great holiday photo-ops everywhere you look in Bryson City! From the large, lit-up Christmas tree in the middle of the plaza to stationary train carts, a tractor, and more, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for family photos. 

Get Your Live Christmas Tree 

While there are no Christmas tree farms in Bryson City, there are several to choose from nearby. During our trip, we chose to get our tree at Smoky Mountain Tree Farm. They had a large variety of trees to choose from and even some that you could cut down yourself. The big red barn and beautiful Smoky Mountain scenery made for great pictures as well! 

There are two other tree farms within a few minutes of Smoky Mountain Tree Farm: Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm and Mehaffey Tree Farm. Boyd Mountain Farm has several log cabins available for families to stay in as well as stocked fishing ponds, 4 miles of hiking trails, biking, and more!  

Christmas Tree Farm

Have you ever been to Bryson City during the holidays? What is your favorite thing to do?

Learn and Play at EdVenture: Columbia, SC

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Have you visited EdVenture? Columbia, SC has a wonderful children’s museum that is the perfect combination of hands-on play and educational fun for your family! Keep reading as we will share all the tips and info you’ll need to make your trip to Edventure: Columbia, SC perfect! 

edventure columbia sc

This article includes:
Admission and Fees to EdVenture
Camps, Classes, and Regular Events at EdVenture
Baby & Toddlers at EdVenture
Eddie’s Cafe at EdVenture
Exhibits at EdVenture
Visit EdVenture

Planning Your Trip to EdVenture: Columbia, SC

From babies to pre-teens, EdVenture Children’s Museum is sure to have something for all! Several exhibits make up the two floors of wonder and include activities ranging from science and engineering to pretend play and everything in between. Before we discuss the exhibits, let’s start with some helpful tips to get you prepared for your “edventure.” This children’s museum is closed on Tuesday’s, but is open every other day of the week.

Admissions and Fees to Columbia’s EdVenture

EdVenture Columbia, SC

Tickets can be purchased at the museum or online before you go for $13.00/person (children under 2 are free). Yearly memberships can also be purchased with various price ranges and package deals. EdVenture has a strong belief that EVERY child should have the opportunity to engage in educational fun within the museum. Because of this, they have discounted admissions options for families who receive SNAP, WIC, or Medicaid for $3 entry per person.

Once tickets are purchased, you can leave and re-enter the museum throughout the same day for no extra fees. 

Camps, Classes, and Regular Events at EdVenture

EdVenture offers several extra programs throughout the week and during different seasons including:

  • Spring Break & Summer Camp
    • ages 4-10
    • $198 weekly per child, $30 membership discount for Spring Break
    • $249 weekly per child, 15% discount for members for Summer Break
    • Visit EdVenture Camps online to register.
  • “Toddler Time”
    • Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30 am – 10:30 am
    • Story and themed craft
    • Located on the second floor in “My Backyard” 
    • Free with admission/membership
  • “Tinker Tech”
    • Daily from 10 – 10:30 am and 3:15 – 3:45 pm (closed on Tuesday)
    • Ages 4+
    • Build, create, craft course overseen by EdVenture employee
    • Located on the second floor in the engineering/crafting area
  • “Homeschool Friday”
    • First Friday of each month during the school year (September-May) from 2:00 – 3:00 pm
    • Ages 4-10
    • Hands-on activities and socialization specialized for homeschooled students 
    • Sign up at edventure.org 
  • “Biolab”
    • Daily at 11 am, 1:45 pm, and 4 pm (closed on Tuesday)
    • Ages 4+
    • Explore various biology themes in a fun a creative way
    • Located on the 1st floor
  • “Cooking Lab”
    • Daily at 11:45 am and 2:30 pm (closed on Tuesday)
    • Ages 4+
    • Hands-on activities with cooking in relation to health and the body
    • Located on the 1st floor

A full monthly calendar can be found at edventure.org! 

Babies and Tots at EdVenture 

I was very impressed by all of the thoughtful features throughout the museum for even the littlest of littles! For starters, the museum is well-planned out making it easy to maneuver strollers to and from the exhibits. There is also an elevator located in the middle of the museum that is large enough for the whole family – strollers and all!

On the second floor, in “My Backyard” (the area for those under 3 years old), there is a cozy nursing room complete with a rocking chair, bookshelf, and dark, retractable curtains. 

Eddie’s Cafe

On the first floor, to the right of the main entrance, you can enjoy a fresh lunch or quick snacks. The cafe has a decent-sized menu and serves things such as pizza, sub sandwiches, salads, and a variety of grilled items as well as beverages. No outside food is allowed within the museum. 

EdVenture Children’s Museum Exhibits

More than nine different areas with endless amounts of learning and exploration can be found at EdVenture. We will walk you through each level of the museum and let you know what to expect as you wander around with your kids! 

On the main level of EdVenture you’ll find the majority of the museum’s exhibits.  

EdVenture grocery store for kids

World of Work 

What do you want to be when you grow up? A firefighter? How about a farmer? Or maybe even a chef? You can try it all throughout this exhibit! “World of Work” takes up the majority of the main level of EdVenture.

Your children can climb into a 24 foot life-size fire truck, flash the lights and even create their own fire escape plan. Across from the firetruck, you will find a dairy and produce farm. Here, your children can “milk” a cow, harvest vegetables, climb onto a tractor and collect fruits from the fruit trees to send to the grocery store.

EdVenture farm
Farm at EdVenture

Next, make a “grocery list” and send your littles out on an errand – the Neighborhood Market is always a popular place to be! With small shopping carts, 2 check-out lanes, and realistic foods and goods, your family is sure to have a fun time playing pretend.

Be sure to also check out the Little Spot Diner (situated right outside of the grocery store) and let your kids make you a delicious meal. My favorite thing about “World of Work” is watching my kid’s creativity and imagination come to life in these real-world settings sized just right for them!

Eddie exhibit at EdVenture in Columbia, SC
Eddie at EdVenture in Columbia, SC

Eddie!

You can’t miss him, he’s the world’s largest child measuring in at over 40 feet tall with a heart weighing over 500 pounds! Eddie is his name and he will help teach your children all about body organs and their functions!

You can climb up a set of stairs that will take you into his stomach, intestines, heart, and brain. Eddie is the perfect combination of fun and education as his insides are set up like a jungle gym, but with realistic organs – You can hear his beating heart, the electricity inside of his brain as well as his stomach growling when you listen carefully.

As you make your way up, take a tunnel slide back down to his large shoes (which are each about the size of a car, might I add), and start your exploration again! I love that Eddie opens up a door for parents and caregivers to talk to and teach their children about the wonderful things our bodies can do at such an age-appropriate level. 

The News Room 

Has your child ever wanted to be on TV? If so, head on over to the “News Room.” Here, your child can pretend to be a news anchor or even a producer. With realistic equipment and large TV screens to look up at, this exhibit is sure to be a treat. Be mindful that to get here, you will have to go up a small flight of stairs! 

EdVenture vet

Wags & Whiskers

Get ready to put your children’s pet care abilities to the test! In this area, they will be able to care for a variety of different animals with x-rays, grooming and veterinary tools, and basic pet care needs. Wags & Whiskers teaches your child how to care for the health of their pets through interactive play.

Biolab at EdVenture

Let your child explore their inner scientist in the Biolab, designed to teach kids about biomedical science in a fun way! With teaching laboratories, this exhibit and programming is geared toward kids ages 5 – 14 to spark a lifelong interest in the biomedical field.

Cooking Lab at EdVenture

Enjoy cooking and preparing real food in the Cooking Lab, all while learning about the body, how nutrition is important, and tie all the information together with what is taught in the Biolab.

Outdoor Fun at EdVenture

The outdoor area at EdVenture is made up primarily of water play which is great in the warmer months, but be mindful that your kids may get pretty wet so an extra shirt or full change of clothes isn’t a bad idea! There are also several tricycles and a small, model airplane in this area that kids can climb into and “fly.” 

Seasonal Exhibit

The seasonal exhibit changes frequently to match whatever is going on during…well, each season! EdVenture often has holiday characters such as Santa and the Easter Bunny set up here. You will also find holiday-specific activities, education on different cultural and traditional beliefs, and goodies throughout the year! 

Fly an Airplane on the Second Floor of EdVenture 

The second level of the museum is home to all things science, engineering, and technology, but with a closed-off room dedicated to the tiniest explorers. 

edventure indoor playground
EdVenture

Flight

This part of the museum is full of flight simulators and educational, hands-on displays that teach children about gravity, the solar system, and how/why some things can take flight while others can’t.

My son’s favorite part of this exhibit is the Boeing 757 cockpit where you can sit in the pilot’s seat, explore the gears, and look out of the windshield at a view of the city.

In this area, you can also create and launch your own paper airplane, climb and play in a rocket ship, read interesting facts about aeronautics, and learn to fly in the Boeing 777 flight simulators. 

Maker Works 

In this area, your children will be able to create and build. In the “Open Make” center, there are several recycled materials where your kids can cut, glue, fold and color their own creations. There are also several different styles of blocks that can be found – magnetic, large Legos, KAPLA blocks, waffle blocks, etc. that will put your child’s problem-solving and engineering skills to the test!

This part of the museum is best suited for children 5-10 years old, however, with extra assistance, younger children might also be able to engage in some of the play (especially with the building blocks). 

My Backyard exhibit at EdVenture

My Backyard

Strictly reserved for children 3 years old and younger, here you will find tons of toddler and baby-safe play! There is a treehouse-styled jungle gym, a boat where kiddos can dress up in rain boots and large yellow jackets, puzzles, soft play mats, a ball pit, and several ways to meet the sensory needs of your tots!

As mentioned before, there is also a nursing area and large, family-style restroom within. 

Party Room at EdVenture

Looking for the perfect place to host a birthday party? You might want to check out the EdVenture party room! Parties are $300 for non-members and $260 for members. The birthday packages come with several incentives including all-day admission for 35 guests, discounts in the gift shop, downloadable party invitations, 90-minute private party, and more! You can visit the EdVenture Birthday page to check for dates and find out more. 

Visit EdVenture: Columbia ,SC

EdVenture
211 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Hours:
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm to 5 pm
Closed Tuesday

We want to know…where did your family spend the most time in EdVenture: Columbia, SC? 

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Enjoy a Spectacular Puppet Show at the Marionette Theater in Columbia, SC

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Have you been thinking about a family trip to the Columbia Marionette Theater? Are you looking for something “new” to do with your kids? No matter what time of year it is or how old your children are, you will love it at the Marionette Theater! It is such a unique and wholesome opportunity for fun with puppets, bright colors, lights, music and smiles to be had by all. We’ve got all you need to know to make your trip to the next puppet show a terrific one! 

Looking for more indoor things to do? Check out our list with 30+ more ideas for indoor things to do in Columbia, SC!

Make it to the Marionette 

The Columbia Marionette Theater is somewhere that I have wanted to go for a long time. When my family and I finally got the opportunity to go to a show, it did not disappoint and I left asking myself why we hadn’t gone sooner!

The building itself is so charming – painted to look like a castle and oh so welcoming. Neither of my kids, but especially my toddler, could get enough of the magic, and the whole way home he was asking when we could go again! 

Marionette Theater in Columbia

It’s Showtime at Columbia’s Marionette Theater! 

The Marionette Theater is a non-profit organization that specializes in puppetry. They host puppet shows every Saturday at 11 am and 3 pm and every third Monday of the month at 10 am. The Saturday shows last about 1 hour – the PERFECT length of time before littles start to get too wiggly! 

The Monday shows are a bit more hands-on than the Saturday shows. At “Marionette Monday”, your kiddos not only get to see the production, but also learn more about the puppets and behind-the-scenes work, try out a puppet, see various puppet demonstrations, and more! 

Each production is shown for about 3 months at a time. You can visit the Marionette Theater website to see current and upcoming shows.

Tickets for the Puppet Shows 

Tickets for the shows cannot be purchased in advance. Have no fear, though, there are 200 seats within the theater, and shows rarely sell out.

Tickets to Marionette Theater are $7 per person and children under 2 years old are free. Senior citizens and active duty military can purchase tickets for $6. 

Stage at Columbia Marionette Theater

Seating Within the Theater 

All seating at the theater is general admission. Because of this, we suggest arriving a few minutes early to secure a great spot! To be sure that kids have the best possible view of the show, the first 3 rows are reserved just for them. Our family sat in the 5th row and we had a great view the whole time. Even our 3-year-old decided to stay with us and never complained about not being able to see. 

Take Home a Puppet of Your Own 

The gift shop at the Marionette Theater is so charming and cute! With beautiful murals on the walls, puppets everywhere you look and the kindest staff, it will be hard to go home without a little souvenir. They have everything from large puppets to $1 finger puppets and everything in between. 

The gift shop at Marionette Theater
Marionette Theater gift shop

Plan Your Next Birthday Party at the Marionette Theater  

Around the perimeter of the stage and main seating, there are 4 rooms decorated in different themes: dinosaur, underwater, Wizard of Oz, and Medieval Castle. These are their birthday party rooms and can be rented for $75 plus $6 per child. Birthday parties are 2 hours long and come with a special prize for the birthday boy or girl, priority seating for attendees, and more. 

Don’t forget, Kidding Around also has a huge guide to birthday parties in Columbia, SC!

Columbia Marionette Theater 
401 Laurel Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Shows every Saturday at 11 am and 3 pm 
Every third Monday of the month at 10 am 

What puppet show did your family get to enjoy at the Columbia Marionette Theater?