Once you’ve reunited with your soldier, it’s time to go explore.
If your soldier is finishing Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Jackson, you’ll want to have a list of activities ready to go.
As soon as your soldier can leave, head out to see the area’s beautiful state parks, museums, and more.
You won’t want to waste time Googling once you’re there, which is why we’ve compiled this list of things to do near Fort Jackson.
While Fort Jackson is technically in Columbia, South Carolina, you’ll still have to drive off base a bit to visit local attractions. Don’t want to leave base? That’s okay. This list includes attractions on and off base for you to explore at your leisure.
Here’s a look at the top 7 things to do near Fort Jackson:
1. U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum
The museum is on base and tours are self-guided. Best of all, it’s free. Vehicles formerly used in combat are displayed outside. Your soldier may even be able to spout off some additional knowledge on the historic contents inside. Throughout the museum, you’ll get a look at the history of the base from its opening in 1917.
Hours: Monday-Friday 9 am – 4 pm. Extended hours for family day.
Phone: (803) 751-7419
2. Sesquicentennial State Park
This 1,400 acre park is located just 3.3 miles from Ft. Jackson National Cemetery. Called “Sesqui” by locals, this huge park offers a splash pad, lakes, fishing, walking trails, camping, kayaking, and biking opportunities.
Hours: Open daily 8 am – 6 pm
Admission: $5 adults; $3 children 6-15, 5 and under are free
3. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
Located about 25 minutes from base, this 170-acre zoo and garden sits right on the river. If you have enough time, you can visit with all 2,000 animals. Admission includes the price of the zoo and garden. The zoo has a zipline as well, and you can even do a River Zip and Moonlight Zip.
Hours: Open daily from 9 am – 5 pm
Admission: Ranges from $13.95-$19.95 with online and military discounts
Phone: (803) 779-8717
4. Palmetto Falls Water Park at Fort Jackson
Depending on the time of year, you’ll have to see if this on-base water park is open as it’s seasonal. It’s perfect during the sweltering summer months to take a dip to cool off. The park has a large family pool, two water slides, splash-down pool, kiddie pool, lazy river, and a snack bar.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11 am – 7 pm; weekends for military families only
Admission: Daily passes are $13; season passes are $55
Phone: (803) 751-3475
5. Columbia Food Tour
Foodies, rejoice. There’s plenty of food to chow down on if you go on a local food tour. Located about 25 minutes from base, this company offers a variety of food tour options. The Main Street Tour might be a weekend favorite as it hits 5-7 restaurants during the 2-3 hour walking tour.
Hours: Start most Saturdays at 1:45 pm
Admission: $45 per person; $40 military
Tickets must be pre-purchased
Meet at 1:30 on the steps of The State House on the Gervais Street side
Email and contact form on website
Note: Private tours available during the week.
6. Tour a Historical Home…or Four
If visiting beautiful 20th century homes is your thing, you’ll love scoping out the museums right in the Robert Mills Historic District. Historical homes and gardens are open for tours 7 days a week. It’s possible to see all 4 houses in one day via guided tours hosted by Historic Columbia. Tours usually last between 60-75 minutes.
- Robert Mills House & Gardens
- Mann-Simons Site
- Hampton-Preston Mansion
- Woodrow Wilson Family Home
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 am – 4 pm; Sunday 1-5pm; Monday: Closed
Admission: 1 house for $10 or all 4 for $36 ($7-$24 kids)
Phone: (803) 252-7742
Address: All tours begin at the Gift Shop at the Robert Mills House
7. Soda City Market in Downtown Columbia
Want to get into how the locals live? Then visiting Soda City Market is a must. Every Saturday, Main Street is converted into a street market fashioned after European open-air markets. Browse and purchase fresh produce and other local wares. Visitors can enjoy local art, artists, and street performers rain or shine.
Hours: Saturdays from 9 am – 1pm
Admission: Parking is free in Columbia on Saturdays
Downtown Columbia, SC
Start Building Your Fort Jackson Itinerary Today
This is just a small sampling of things to do near Fort Jackson after BCT training.
A few alternative options might include the Columbia Museum of Art; the South Carolina State House, the Columbia Canal, or the Riverfront Park.
No matter what you decide, just enjoy your time with your soldier. They’ll be excited to see you and explore the area they’ve been living in for the last few months. If you have the time, include them in the planning process. Send this list to them to see if anything piques their interest.
Did we miss anything? If you’ve been to Fort Jackson and found an attraction you loved, be sure to share in the comments below!
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