This unincorporated district in the outer Columbia, SC metropolitan area serves as a bedroom community for the state capital. Though still quite small, Rion is poised to grow as a gateway to both Columbia’s urban sprawl and the Midlands' many recreation opportunities. It offers a slow rural pace without sacrificing on barkworthy recreation.
Proximity to bustling Columbia gives Rion’s dog lovers access to the city’s many dog parks — there are six within the Columbia city limits — and its excellent services. Two of metro-Columbia’s dog parks are within a 20-mile trip from Rion: Sesquicentennial State Park’s dog run and Lake Carolina Dog Park. Sesquicentennial offers annual passes for just $25 for their off-leash 2-acre dog run, and the park also has 1,400 acres to explore, including a 30-acre lake and 12 miles of on-leash hiking trails. For better playtime at home, Palmetto Scoopers pet waste removal service can have your yard spic-and-span with weekly or bi-weekly poop-busting plans.
There’s plenty to do outside of the city, too, including the 500 miles of lakeshore at nearby Lake Murray. Once the world’s largest man-made reservoir, Lake Murray will delight the water dogs in your pack. If you prefer your recreation dry, here’s an activity you’ve probably never done with your dog: antiquing. The Little Mountain Unlimited Antique Mall offers 70 stalls in an indoor-outdoor setting, and well-behaved dogs are welcome to join you as you browse.
Established as a town in 1904, the Columbia neighborhood of Shandon offers leafy shade and sidewalks through a labyrinth of homes dating from the early 20th century. For dogs who don’t care about history, though, try Pupcakes Pet Boutique and Bakery, with a wide variety of healthy and decadent doggy treats for sale. They’ll even host birthday “pawties” for your fur babies. Work off the calories at Emily Douglas Park, particularly the off-leash dog park! It has the distinction of being one of Columbia’s few free public dog parks. The leash-required areas of the park also include an amphitheater and lawn perfect for lounging around.
For a taste of nature in an unusually quiet setting, consider Lake Monticello Park in Jenkinsville, a mere 12 miles northeast of Rion. No development is allowed on the lake, which means no houses: you can really get your bark on. Water-skiing or jet-skiing are also no-nos, so dogs who fear loud noises have a peaceful play-spot. The water level can shift up to 5 feet due to the lake’s hydroelectric dam, so keep an eye on swimming dogs. The park offers a fishing pier and sports fields along with a one-mile paved trail, so you have a range of places to walk or soak up the sun. Best of all, Lake Monticello Park is completely free! Nearby is the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station Nature Trail (if the name doesn’t scare you off) offering an additional 1.5 miles of hiking.
A Columbia suburb near the lake, Irmo brings together the best
of town and country less than 30 miles from Rion. There are 3 dog-friendly restaurants, including carnivore’s
paradise Carolina Wings. From the pup perspective, though, Irmo is all about its
free and beautiful city parks. Irmo Town Park has a small amphitheater: stage your own mini dog show.
Just a few blocks away, Irmo Community Park has walking trails surrounded by a 0.4-mile loop, as well as grassy lawns, plenty of trees, and good (human)
restrooms. Irmo Veterans Park is another good pick for athletes: pups get their workout on a walking
trail featuring built-in human exercise stations
along the way. Dogs make great spotters!