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“Good Zoo, definitely not the best in the country” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden

Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden
Ranked #1 of 108 things to do in Columbia
Certificate of Excellence
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.
Level Contributor
33 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Good Zoo, definitely not the best in the country”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 June 2014 via mobile

Just visited Riverbanks for the first time yesterday for a day trip. We have been to several zoos on the east coast.

Value 9/10- For $11 per adult, you can not go wrong here. The zoo is on the small side, but you do get to see a majority of species that are present at other zoos.

Atmosphere 6/10- The zoo is under construction in many parts, but they are expanding which is a positive. The paths are relatively wide, yet for some attractions where u feed animals, the spaces are on the small side.

Food 5/10- There is no value here, u are better off eating a large meal at a decent price before u enter the zoo. Good and drinks are expensive and the food is not the best.

Intangibles 3/10- The major issue we had, based on our other zoo experiences is the signage, it's non-existent. Yes they give u a map, but a sign post with arrows would make the experience so much more easier.

Staff 8/10- Any staff members we spoke to that were either feeding, cleaning, walking around or at the concession stands were friendly and helpful.

Botanical Gardens 7/10- Quite nice, didn't think it held a candle to Daniel Stowe though. If u do the woodland walk about, it's very long. They should post the distance of the trail. You see some enormous rocks along the trail and woods galore, very peaceful and very quiet.

Columbia itself 4/10- It's a college town when class is in session. We drove around and it appears to be a very depressed area in many parts, especially for being a state capital. Lots of closed store fronts, a "mall" that has maybe 5 stores open and it looks like Belk is heading out as well.

Conclusion 5/10- I would definitely suggest it as a day trip if ur nearby. The zoo itself is small and u can probably cover it in 3 hours taking ur time, taking pictures etc. Wouldn't suggest it for a several day stay. It's clean and well maintained. Some of the indoor attractions were a little smelly. It's definitely not the best zoo in the country, but it has great value for what u see.

Visited June 2014
2 Thank Frankiemoney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2,095 reviews from our community

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English first
Kansas City, Mo
Level Contributor
16 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Small zoo”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 June 2014

I make it a point to visit a cities zoo if I can when traveling.
The Riverbanks zoo does not compare to the others. It is small, most of the animals have standard cages instead of the larger living spaces that is the norm now. I felt we were always bumping into someone, and there were often crowds around the interesting animals that made view difficult. Also the paths are narrow and often uneven.

Visited May 2014
Thank CMarr024
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hollywood, South Carolina
Level Contributor
178 reviews
49 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Nice Zoo in Mid State South Carolina”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 June 2014

The Riverbanks Zoo is a nice zoo. I have been to nicer zoos but I believe they do a really good job her at Riverbanks Zoo. The location of the zoo being directly on the bank of the river just outside of downtown Columbia is easy to get to and out of. Parking can get a bit hectic but there is no charge for parking. The pricing of entrance into the zoo is reasonable. Be aware there are additional attractions inside the zoo not included in the entrance price so be prepared for the potential additional expense. They do offer annual passes and passes for unlimited use on some of the additional attractions inside so check those options out as well. The one thing I thought was very well done was how you had very good views of all the animals even during the heat of the day when they were trying to escape the sun and heat. The habitats are set up so you have multiple viewing points which as well as multiple areas the animals can relax giving you a better viewing experience. The zoo is a little small. If you only go to see the animals and don't go to the botanical gardens or don't do any of the additional attractions inside the zoo, you could be done in about 2 hours. The zoo is a great place for families with children of all ages. While in Columbia, its an attraction you shouldn't miss.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank DDB0726
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Columbia, South Carolina
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 June 2014

I liked everything, it is clean and well maintained forget going to an expensive aquarium this had everything you want to see and them some.

Visited April 2014
Thank Cameron L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mauldin, SC
Level Contributor
51 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“One of the best zoos in the country”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 June 2014

I buy a yearly zoo pass so I can go whenever I want to go to see my animals. The exhibits are well presented and the staff and volunteers do a wonderful job of keeping the place clean. The botanical gardens are beautiful, and the bridge across the river to the gardens is a great place to hang out and watch people come down the river. Just go very early in the summer as Columbia is one of the hottest places in the US.

Visited March 2014
1 Thank drluch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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