Columbia County residents seeking fun before summer vacation ends and the new school year begins won't need to venture far from home.
And with gas prices hovering near $4 a gallon, finding fun nearby is an attractive alternative for some in the community.
"We had planned to go to the Florida Keys, but with the gas prices, we went to Myrtle Beach," said Martinez resident Annette Taylor. "Also, we normally go more times in the summer."
In addition to the beach, Taylor said she and her family often visited Thurmond Lake and a local pool.
County attractions such as Adventure Crossing are desirable, Taylor said, because they keep children active and entertained.
Busy in Adventure Crossing's arcade, Lucas Hasenmyer and Zachary Quick were relishing their last days of vacation.
Both boys, who will start the fourth grade at Greenbrier Elementary School on Aug. 11, said they frequently come to the Martinez amusement park and enjoy other summertime activities.
"I've been going to the pool a lot," Lucas said, adding that he is partially ready for the school year to begin.
"I'll try to get as much time with my friends as I can," he said.
The county offers lots of opportunities to do just that.
Fun for the family
- Adventure Crossing's 6,520-square-foot laser tag arena opened in March, and the park is running two specials. Four games of laser tag are available for $10 per person, and an hour of unlimited access to the facility's outdoor attractions can be added for $8.99. Also, two-hour unlimited ride passes are available for $17.99 per person. Other attractions include three Go-Kart tracks, two 18-hole mini-golf courses, batting cages, midway rides and an indoor arcade.
The park is open noon until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, noon until midnight Friday, and 10 a.m. until midnight Saturday.
Beginning at 12:30 a.m. Aug. 9, the facility will offer a lock-in until 6:30 a.m. for $25 per person.
- Putt-Putt Golf and Games will offer a back-to-school special from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day until school resumes Aug. 11. For $12, patrons will receive one round of laser tag, unlimited golf, 20 game-room tokens, a hot dog or slice of pizza and a drink.
The Martinez facility includes two 18-hole Putt-Putt courses, bumper boats, batting cages, laser tag, an indoor playground for children and an arcade.
The park is open 10 a.m. until midnight Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. until midnight Sunday.
- Children can participate in a scavenger hunt for school supplies Aug. 15 at Jumpin' Party Zone USA, an indoor jumping facility in Martinez. The facility offers an inflatable jump house, obstacle course, sports center and slide. Owners Mike and Kristen Small will also hold a karate camp through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at American Martial Arts Academy. T-shirt Tuesday and a parent drop-off program is also available at the jumping center.
- At Monkey Joe's, eight inflatable units, including a slide and obstacle course, are designed for children of all ages. The cost ranges from $7.99 Monday through Thursday to $8.99 Friday through Sunday for unlimited daily access. For children ages 2 and under, the cost is $5.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
- In Evans, Jump City offers five inflatable units, including a basketball section, a 22-foot inflatable fire truck, The Incredibles obstacle course, a carrousel moonwalk and a Disney princess moonwalk. Open jump costs $2.14 for children ages 2 and younger and $5.35 for children ages 3 and older. The facility is closed on weekends for private parties. Those interested in open jump hours should call (706) 262-4653.
Eight parks dot the county. Blanchard Woods Park, the county's newest park, consists primarily of soccer fields. Patriot's Park, an 100-acre park located in Grovetown, contains nine tennis courts, numerous baseball, softball and soccer fields, and a disc golf course, among other amenities.
... and at the lake
- Wildwood Park in Appling sits on 975 acres and offers campsites, horse trails, boating and swimming. Four boating ramps at the park remain open. Admission is $2 per vehicle.
- The Professional Disc Golf Association is based at Wildwood Park. The complex features a full-service pro shop inside the clubhouse as well as two championship disc golf courses. Discs range from $8 to $16 inside the pro shop, which is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The fee is $3 for county residents and $5 for non-county residents.
- Little River Marina offers boating, fishing and camping. With low water levels, visitors can hunt for arrowheads on emerged islands. Fishing off the dock costs $4, and parking at the marina costs $5. Mistletoe State Park also presents a variety of options.
- Bartram Trail Golf Course in Evans is offering a junior golf incentive. After 4 p.m. on weekends and all day Monday, children under 18 can play for free with a paying adult. The course costs $48 to play on weekends, $38 Monday through Thursday and $40 on Friday. In addition to an 18-hole golf course, the facility consists of a practice range and two putting greens. It is open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. each day.
- Jones Creek Golf Club offers an 18-hole golf course that spans nearly 7,000 yards, as well as an instructional academy that includes a Taylor Made MATT System. The Evans course costs $42 to play Monday through Thursday and $52 Friday through Sunday. Tee times begin at 8 a.m. during the week and 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- At Gordon Highway Driving Range, buckets holding 35 balls cost $2.50, buckets holding 70 balls cost $5 and buckets holding more than 100 balls cost $7.50. The facility is open 11 a.m. until dark Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday.
- The Harlem Library will hold story time on Tuesdays in August at 10:30 a.m. The Columbia County Library will hold an Adobe Photoshop class from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.
- The Grovetown museum is free to the public from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday through Sunday. The Laurel and Hardy Museum in Harlem is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
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