When visitors step into one of the South's largest children's museums, there's one thought that commonly crosses their minds: That's a big kid. Waiting to greet them is a 40-foot-tall statue of EDDIE, a reinforced, molded-plastic boy who weighs 17.6 tons and—like almost everything at EdVenture Children's Museum—is ready for kids to explore. After they've climbed inside his heart, up to his brain, and slid down his intestines—all while learning about their own bodies—kids race to explore the rest of the museum's more than 350 hands-on activities contained within nine exhibit galleries. As a testament to its attractions, EdVenture Children's Museum received the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, an honor given to only 10 libraries and museums in the nation.
Past Eddie, EdVenture’s permanent exhibits include the World of Work, where kids climb aboard a John Deere tractor, take the helm of a 24-foot fire truck, and learn the value of money by spending Eddie Bucks on groceries or flooding the market to undermine the local economy. At the Aha Factory, wee ones recycle everyday items into paper snowflakes, pipe-cleaner butterflies, and glitter-encrusted egg cartons. Children 3 and younger, meanwhile, can explore the My Backyard exhibit, an age-appropriate haven of soft surfaces.
Using hand-finished and hand-carved frames from all over the world, the crafty staff at Havens Framemakers & Gallery prepares artwork and memorabilia for perching stylishly on walls. While specialists stand by for free consultations, clients peruse more than 5,000 moulding samples and matting options of varying colors, textures, and scratch-‘n’-sniff scents. Diplomas can be framed for around $100, and small items such as cross-stitches and children’s drawings can be framed for $100 or less. From portraits and needlework to mirrors, framesmiths delicately handle all items in their large workspace and employ high-quality equipment for making accurate cuts on mats and frames. Also, Havens’ shadowbox-framing services help preserve three-dimensional prized possessions such as soccer trophies and medals from Law and Order: SVU marathon watching contests.
Paddlesport buffs can keep their arms well muscled with the Congaree River kayak trip led by a certified guide. The Congaree River Trip departs most Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. while the After Work Trip departs seasonally from October through April on Thursdays only at 5:30 p.m. and during April heads out on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 6 p.m. Either watertop excursion skims across the river’s back for three miles, and offers participants plenty of eye-soothing vistas and the chance to melt fellow tourists with magical river splashes. All gear and transportation is included. For a more adventurous adventure, kayakers can put the value of this Groupon toward a more expensive trip.
Four generations of the Wilson family have maintained Cotton Hills' sprawling homestead, which continues to yield cotton, wheat, timber, pumpkins, and other produce. Guided tours relax visitors with a 40-minute wagon ride through the twists and turns of a working farm and grant agricultural knowledge without the tedium of a scarecrow's memoirs. Patrons navigate the rustling halls of a corn maze and exchange greetings with barnyard animals in the crisp air. Visitors admire the farm’s 19th-century barns, which are steeped in pastoral history. Though not included in this Groupon, locally made ice cream and fresh produce from the adjoining market energize farm visitors more pleasantly than an early-morning phone call from a rooster.
A mother horse and her newborn colt saunter up to the wooden fence, greeting the children eager to pet the creatures' noses. The team members of Graystone Ranch thrive on seeing these types of interactions. Managing 500 acres of woods and pasturelands that serve as a preserve and rehabilitation center for both domestic and exotic animals, the ranch hands form a nonprofit team dedicated to teaching children and adults how man and animals can live in harmony.
Concurrent with such educational programs as summer camps, the grounds also host abundant recreational opportunities with two spring-fed lakes, wooded hiking and horse-riding trails, zip lines, and a petting zoo. Further diversions range from a gem-and-mineral museum to a horse-painting program, which lets kids put their colored handprints or re-creations of a favorite Monet on the sides of a white horse.
The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History is a House-Museum, and is alive with activities that represent what Lucy Craft Laney lived and worked for in the Augusta area. In addition to exhibitions and lectures, the museum provides arts, history, preservation programs and storytelling activities.