A major water feature marks the center of Finlay Park, one of the most iconic parks in South Carolina. With 18 acres (7 hectares) of picturesque terrain, it is Columbia’s central gathering point and holds political rallies and festivals of all kinds. Appreciate the oasis of green that stands out as a serene haven in the downtown area.
Bring the kids to the two playground areas and watch them clamber over the frames. Play sports with friends and family on the fields and find an open grassy spot for a relaxing picnic. The park’s highlight is the large spiral fountain at its core. Marvel at the swirling layers of the remarkable feature, with water splashing over rocks into a lower basin.
Capture photos of the Governor’s Mansion and other highlights in the downtown area from the vantage point of the park. Enjoy snacks and refreshments from the café that opens in the summer. Swing in the pleasant pergola and read a book.
Attend one of the park’s many events, such as the Summer Concert Series, Mayfest and Columbia Kids Day.
Hear about the history of this park, which dates back to 1859, when it was known as Sidney Park. It fell into disrepair following the Civil War, before reopening in 1990 and taking the name of Mayor Kirkman Finlay. Find the bronze statue of the former mayor, appearing to sit on a bench. It was sculpted by artist Maria Kirby-Smith and unveiled in 2000.
Note that the park has excellent accessibility, with paved paths for strollers and wheelchairs. Admission to the park, which is open all day, is free.
Finlay Park is in the Arsenal Hill district, a few blocks east of the Congaree River in central Columbia. Visit other intriguing attractions in the area, such as the Columbia Museum of Art, the Governor’s Mansion and the Riverfront Park Amphitheater.