6 Outdoor Spots in Columbia for Perfect Family Photographs


Whether you have chosen a professional photographer or are equipped with your own point and shoot, finding the best place to take family photos can be a tall order. Luckily, Columbia has many outdoor options for creating fantastic photographs. Here is our list of six outdoor spots in Columbia for perfect family photographs.

Riverbanks Botanical Gardens

Featuring 70 acres of beautiful blooms, the Riverbanks Botanical Gardens provide a gorgeous backdrop for family photos. Spring and Fall are the ideal times to take photos at the gardens, as the flowers and plants will be at their peak. However, there is always something in bloom to create a nice backdrop all year long. There is also a charming children’s garden and play area that can be used for great candid shots of your children at play.

Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Extended spring/summer weekend hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays

Location: 1300 Botanical Parkway, West Columbia 29169 

Visit the gardens in the Spring and Fall for the lushest blooms and prettiest pictures.
Visit the gardens in the Spring and Fall for the lushest blooms and prettiest pictures.

University of South Carolina Horseshoe

Located in the heart of the USC campus, the horseshoe will lead itself to some truly lovely shots. Whether you opt to sit on the grass beside a stately tree or pose in front of the historic buildings surrounding the horseshoe area, your portraits will be steeped in the history of the university.

Hours: Open daily

Location: 902 Sumter Street, Columbia 29208 

The Rowan family posing for their family portraits on the USC horseshoe. Photography by Stacey Coats

South Carolina State House Grounds

Visit the State House grounds in November and early December and you will find yourself in the company of many families looking for a Christmas card photo. The giant Christmas tree provides the perfect festive backdrop. Visit in the spring and you might run into some prom parties taking photos on the stairs. Regardless, you’ll be sure to capture some beautiful shots that are deep rooted in with our capital’s history.

Hours: Open daily

Location: 1100 Gervais Street, Columbia 29201 

My sweeties on the statehouse grounds during our family photo shoot Photography by Stacey Coats
My sweeties on the State House grounds during our family photo shoot. Photography by Stacey Coats

Columbia Canal/Riverfront Park

There are so many great places to take photos at the Canal and Riverfront Park! Canal side you have the old water works building with its fantastic big red barn door that a certain Moms Blog might have posed in front of recently 😉 . Along the Riverfront there are gorgeous views of the Gervais and Blossom St. bridges.

Hours: Daily – dawn to dusk

Location: Canal side – 312 Laurel Street, Columbia 29201; West Columbia Riverfront – Corner of Meeting Street and Alexander Road, West Columbia 29201 

The West Columbia Riverwalk provides a gorgeous backdrop for photographs.
The West Columbia Riverwalk provides a gorgeous backdrop for photographs.

Irmo Town Park

Looking for a picturesque gazebo to pose your family in? Irmo Town Park has one! How about a bridge overlooking a small pond sprinkled with lily pads? It has that too! This shady park is small, but very quaint. Get there in late afternoon for the best natural light.

Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m

Location: 1249 Lexington Ave, Irmo 29063 

Picturesque backgrounds include lots of greenery, a gazebo, bridge and pond – what more could you want?

Finlay Park

Babbling brooks, roaring waterfalls, rocky paths and the fountain provide the perfect photo backdrop. Bonus: There is a big playground and a large field for kids to run around – a great opportunity for them to burn off energy and for you to snap some some great candid shots. Grab the family and relax in one of the porch swings around the park – you may even be able to score a picture on one with the skyline of downtown Columbia in the background.

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Location: 930 Laurel Street, Columbia 29201

The fountain at Finlay Park is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Columbia.

Have you chosen one of these six spots for a family photo shoot? Is there another place in Columbia you recommend?



  1. Thanks – these are great spots, and it’s about time for me to get pics of the kids done again! 🙂 I think we’ll do Horseshoe.

    One other great place I’d add is the Children’s Garden over at the Clemson Rd. Extension near the Sandhills.

  2. We have done photos at Riverbanks Botanical Gardens and at Irmo Park (the one with the gazebo) and loved the backdrop of both! I would love to do the State House as well, eventually. 🙂

  3. I shoot at Irmo Town Park often! It offers great photos! I have done family, prom, engagement, ect. Findlay is a great park as well, have shot many Senior casual pictures there as well!

    A couple other great places (although not in Columbia) are Edisto Gardens and Aiken Gardens. I definitely did not think about the Horseshoe, but will try it sometime!



    • Great ideas! This piece was written awhile back and there are definitely some wonderful additions to add. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I know this is a old post but it’s worth a shot at asking. I’m originally from Columbia as a child however haven’t lived there for years. My grandmothers 80th birthday is coming up and we will be traveling to her. My mom asked me to bring my camera along with me to take some photos of my grandmother. Are there any permits or fees needed to shoot at any of these locations?

    • No, not to our knowledge are permits needed at these places. I would probably suggest not going to Finlay Park. It has been declining over the years.


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