Living

2,500 reasons to stick close to home

To go or not to go? Don’t let that be the question this summer when it comes to family fun.

Sure, a week at Disney has long been the hallmark of family vacation time. But all that Mouse magic can put a serious dent in your wallet. By our calculations, a week in the happiest (and most hyped) place on Earth would cost $2,500, not including food. Gas, accommodations, park admission, souvenirs — it’s enough to make you want to stay at home.

But don’t forgo making memories altogether. Just set your sights on more local adventures. For nearly the same price — $2,532 — you could rack up an entire summer of fun closer to home and have a little left over for snacks or souvenirs. Let us show you how:

Mileage figured from downtown Columbia round trip. Gas cost calculated at $4 a gallon for a vehicle getting 15 mpg.

Disney World $2,173.94 — Magic Your Way Package for family of four (both children 10 or older), with Park Hopper passes for seven days, seven nights at Disney All-Star Movies resort

Trip expense: It’s 860 miles round trip. Figure in some side trips and driving at Disney World, go with 1,000 miles, in a vehicle getting 15 mpg with gas $4 per gallon: total is about $260.

Total cost, minus food and other expenses, $2,433.94.

Add in a few souvenirs and we’ll say $2,500 before food.

Coast and Coasters in Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach has something Orlando doesn’t — a beach. Take a mini-break at the shore and still get a thrill at the new Hard Rock Park.

$606 for three nights midweek at an oceanfront hotel $202* (average for standard room without tax or fees)

$93 for gas for 350 miles roundtrip, including in-town driving

$217-for four tickets for Hard Rock Park

$916 total

Thrill rides and water park wonders at Carowinds

Hang out on the hottest rides like the Afterburn or stay cool in the big water at the new Bondi Beach wave pool and Boomerang Bay water park.

$183 for four tickets at $45.99

$47.46 for gas, 178 miles

$230 total

Parades and fireworks on Lake Murray, Saturday, July 5

Wave at the decorated boats motoring and sailing in the annual boat parade in the afternoon (it starts at noon). Then spend the day at the south side beach. You can stake out your patch of sand to view the evening fireworks or head back up on the dam for a better view over the lake for the 9:15 p.m. display.

$3 for parking

$9.60 for gas, 36 miles

$12.60 total

INFO: LAKE MURRAY DAM, HIGHWAY 6, LAKEMURRAYCOUNTRY.COM

Columbia Blowfish Baseball

Head to the ballpark on July 12 and July 19 to toss the ball around with the Blowfish boys of summer on the field before the game.

$18 for tickets (two adults, two children)

$3 game program

$6 souvenir baseball

80 cents for gas, three miles

$3 parking

$30.80 total

INFO: CAPITAL CITY STADIUM, 301 S ASSEMBLY ST., (803) 254-3474, WWW.BLOWFISHBASEBALL.COM

Tubing the Saluda River

Laugh and splash through a lazy afternoon floating down the Saluda River perched in a comfy tube.

$60 for four tubes at $15 (cost includes tube rental, life jacket, shuttle to put-in)

$2.13 for gas, eight miles

$62.13 total

INFO: PALMETTO OUTDOOR, 731 MEETING ST., WEST COLUMBIA, (803) 360- 4697, WWW.PALMETTOOUTDOOR.COM

Congaree National Park

Make reservations for a four-hour guided canoe trip inside the park along Cedar Creek; where giant bald cypress and tupelo remind you why this is a regional treasure.

Free (every other Sunday, reservations required at least two weeks in advance)

$8.53 for gas, 32 miles

INFO: 100 NATIONAL PARK ROAD,

HOPKINS, (803) 776-4396, WWW.NPS.GOV/COSW/

Chattooga River rafting adventure

A scenic five-hour rafting adventure down the premier white-water river in S.C.

$356 (four participants, 10 and older at $89 for weekday trip, includes lunch, weekends and BBQ; Fridays are more expensive)

$85.87 for gas, 322 miles

$441.87 total

INFO: Wildwater Rafting, Long Creek, S.C., (800) 451-9972, www.wildwaterrafting.com

Riverbanks Zoo

Join the popular zoo with a family membership, and cool off with a special members night Friday, July 18. The zoo is open after hours that evening, and will have specials on concessions as well.

$59 (annual membership for two adults and two children)

$3.20 for 12 miles

$62.20 total

INFO: 500 WILDLIFE PARKWAY, (803) 779-8717, WWW.RIVERBANKS.ORG

Jet ski on Lake Murray

Who needs Space Mountain when you can rocket your way across a cool waterway on a rented jet ski.

$150 (two one-hour rentals at $75, does not include fuel)

$22.93 for gas, 86 miles

$172.93 total

INFO: WET AND WILD JET SKIS, SPINNERS RESORT, 101 SANDALWOOD ROAD, BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, (803) 665-6736, WETANDWILDRENTALS.COM

Columbia Museum of Art Family Fun Night 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 11

Make merry and make art with the kids at this family event that includes music from the band Lunch Money, puppets and theater performances.

$14 (two adults, two students) museum admission

$1.60 for six miles

$15.60 total

INFO: MAIN AND HAMPTON STREETS, (803) 799-2810, WWW.COLUMBIAMUSEUM.ORG

Saluda Splash at Saluda Shoals Park

Cool off in the interactive splash zone. Dry off and bike or stroll along shaded paths throughout this river retreat.

$12 ($3 per person)

$5 parking

$7.20 for gas for 27 miles

$24.20 total

INFO: 5605 BUSH RIVER RD., (803) 731-5208, WWW.ICRC.NET/SALUDASHOALS

Palmetto Falls Water Park at Fort Jackson

Make the most of a summer day on this park’s two water slides, pools and lazy river.

$38 at $9.50 per person

$5.33 for gas, 20 miles

$43.33 total

INFO: 3381 MARION AVE., (803) 751-4056, WWW.FORTJACKSONMWR.COM/WATERPARK/

Frankie’s Fun Park

There’s no mouse, but plenty of amusement, from go-karts to putt-putt and climbing walls to bumper boats. Take a swing at the batting cages or take aim at laser tag.

$200 (combined cost for four tickets to all attractions except arcade games)

$6.90 for gas, 26 miles

$206.90 total

INFO: 140 PARKRIDGE DRIVE, (803) 781-2342, WWW.FRANKIESFUNPARK.COM

State Museum

Relieve the Sunday boredoms once a month by exploring the natural and cultural history of South Carolina; and get in cheap.

$4 (four tickets on $1 Sundays, first Sunday of each month)

$1.87 for gas, seven miles

$5.87 total

INFO: 301 GERVAIS ST., (803) 898-4921, WWW.MUSEUM.STATE.SC.US

Trail Ride on horseback

Saunter along cowboy style on a one-hour guided trail ride in Blythewood.

$160 ($40 per person)

$15.46 for gas, 58 miles

$175.46 total

INFO: BEAR CREEK STABLES, 288 PINE GROVE ROAD, BLYTHEWOOD, (803) 786-5394, WWW.BEARCREEKSTABLES.NET

EdVenture, July 8

From 5 to 8 p.m., the children’s museum is having a Family Night. Take in all the fun EdVenture has to offer, including BubbleLoosa and AirPlay this summer.

$4 admission ($1 each for two adults, two children)

$1.87 for gas, seven miles

$5.87 total

INFO: 211 GERVAIS ST., (803) 779-3100, WWW.EDVENTURE.ORG

Purple mMartin cruise

Get back to nature with a visit to Bomb Island the roosting site for thousands of purple martins. Lake Murray’s Southern Patriot cruises to the preserve in a two and one-half hour trip that often includes a spectacular sunset.

$108 (four tickets at $27)

$10.40 for gas, 39 miles

$118.40 total

INFO: SOUTHERN PATRIOT, LAKE MURRAY MARINA, 1600 MARINA ROAD, (803) 749-8594, LAKEMURRAYTOURS.COM

— Compiled by Robin Cowie Nalepa

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