Exploring the Vicinity of the Capital: Must-See Places Near Columbia, SC

Columbia, the heart of South Carolina, is not just a hub for political maneuvers and legislative sessions; it’s a city brimming with historic landmarks, artistic expressions, family entertainment, and natural beauty. This article guides you through the must-see places near Columbia, SC, revealing the diverse attractions that make this area a treasure trove for tourists and locals alike. From historic homes and museums to vibrant art scenes, outdoor adventures, and culinary delights, there’s something to captivate every visitor.

Key Takeaways

  • Columbia offers a rich mix of historical sites, including the South Carolina State Museum and the Governor’s Mansion, that provide a glimpse into the state’s past.
  • The city’s cultural scene is vibrant, with the Columbia Museum of Art and public art installations enhancing its artistic landscape.
  • Family-friendly attractions like the EdVenture Children’s Museum and Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden offer educational and fun experiences for children.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can explore a variety of parks and natural spaces, such as the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park and Saluda Shoals Park.
  • Columbia’s culinary scene is diverse and mouthwatering, with local food tours and restaurants like Mr. Friendly’s and The Oyster Bar Columbia showcasing Southern flavors.

Historic Havens: Time Travel Near the Capital

Historic Havens: Time Travel Near the Capital

South Carolina State Museum

Step into a world where history and technology converge at the South Carolina State Museum. With four floors of exhibits, this state-of-the-art facility offers a unique blend of art, cultural history, natural history, science, and technology. It’s a place where you can travel through time, from dinosaur bones to historical portraits that tell the tale of South Carolina’s past.

  • Permanent Exhibits: Discover South Carolina’s rich history through a vast collection of artifacts.
  • 4D Interactive Theater: Experience movies with sensory effects that bring the action to life.
  • Planetarium and Observatory: Gaze into the cosmos and explore the universe beyond.

Located on the banks of the Congaree River, the museum is not just an educational journey, but also a scenic one. Whether you’re a history buff, a science enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun day out with the family, the museum caters to all interests. Don’t forget to check their website for the latest operating hours and pricing to plan your visit seamlessly.

Embrace the opportunity to learn about the Palmetto State’s role in the broader narrative of the United States. With more than 1 million items in its collection, the museum is a treasure trove of knowledge waiting to be explored.

Governor’s Mansion

Nestled in the heart of the historic district, the Governor’s Mansion stands as a testament to South Carolina’s rich history. This grand residence, set on nine acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, has been the home to thirty governors so far. Visitors can explore the public rooms, which house a collection of treasures from past governors, now permanent fixtures of the mansion’s allure.

The Governor’s Mansion is more than a home; it’s a living museum that offers a glimpse into the lives of South Carolina’s political history.

While the mansion is a private residence, it graciously opens its doors to the public, allowing a peek into the state’s gubernatorial elegance. To plan your visit, take note of the following details:

  • Address: 301 Gervais Street, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Contact: Phone: 803-898-4921

Whether you’re a history buff or simply appreciate the beauty of historic architecture, the Governor’s Mansion is a must-see on your journey through Columbia.

Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens

Step into the past with a visit to the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, a beacon of Columbia’s rich history. Built in 1818, this mansion has witnessed a transformation from Federal-style architecture to Greek Revival, reflecting the tastes of its various owners, including the influential Hampton and Preston families.

The gardens are a true highlight, once boasting an acclaimed collection of both native and exotic plants. Today, they offer a serene escape, inviting visitors to wander through the remnants of antebellum splendor.

The mansion’s walls echo stories of its diverse past, having served as a home for colleges and even commercial enterprises before its restoration in 1970.

If you’re planning a visit, here’s what you need to know:

  • Address: 1615 Blanding Street, Columbia, SC
  • Contact: 803-252-7742
  • Hours: Check the official website for current visiting hours as they may vary.

Robert Mills House & Gardens

Step back in time as you wander through the Robert Mills House & Gardens, an architectural gem designed by the renowned Robert Mills in 1823. Discover the elegance of the Classical Revival style that characterizes this historic townhouse, originally built for the affluent merchant Ainsley Hall and his wife Sarah. The house’s journey through history is fascinating, having served as a seminary, a bible college, and even commercial space before its restoration and rebirth as a museum in 1970.

The gardens are a testament to the horticultural grandeur of the antebellum South, boasting an array of native plants and exotic specimens. Visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of this green oasis, which was once celebrated for its extensive collection.

Experience the rich narrative of Columbia’s past with a visit to this storied residence, nestled in the heart of the city’s historic district.

For those interested in exploring further, the Robert Mills Historic District offers a captivating array of house tours. Here’s a quick glimpse of what you can expect:

  • A journey through five historic house museums
  • Insights into early American life and architecture
  • The opportunity to see the meticulous care taken in preserving these landmarks

Woodrow Wilson Family Home

Step into the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, a beacon of historical significance in Columbia, SC. As the only museum in the United States dedicated to the Reconstruction Era, this site offers a unique lens through which to view the post-Civil War period. Visitors can immerse themselves in the late nineteenth-century history of Columbia, dispelling myths and gaining a deeper understanding of this transformative time.

The museum provides a comprehensive experience with guided tours, interactive technologies, and panel exhibits. It stands as the only presidential site in the state, making it a must-visit for history buffs and curious minds alike.

  • Address: 520 Greene St, Columbia, SC 29201
  • Contact: 803-799-6027

Discover the layers of Columbia’s past and its journey through reconstruction at this pivotal historic site.

Mann-Simons Site & Outdoor Museum

Step back in time at the Mann-Simons Site and Outdoor Museum, a historical gem nestled in the heart of Columbia. Discover the evolution of this site from a simple one-room house in the early 19th century to a home that reflects the changing eras and the family that resided there. The story of Celia Mann, a free-black midwife who, according to family legend, made the arduous journey on foot from Charleston to Columbia, is particularly inspiring.

The Mann-Simons Site offers a unique glimpse into the past, allowing visitors to explore the rich history of Columbia and the resilience of its people.

Make sure to take advantage of the special events, such as Free Sundays at the Mann-Simons Site, presented by Historic Columbia. Here’s a quick look at the details:

  • Title: Free Sundays at the Mann-Simons Site
  • Presented by: Historic Columbia
  • Dates: March 17, 2024
  • Location: 1403 Richland Street, Columbia, SC 29201
  • Contact: Email Us
  • Price: FREE for all visitors

Artistic Adventures: Cultural Gems in the Area

Artistic Adventures: Cultural Gems in the Area

Columbia Museum of Art

The Columbia Museum of Art stands as a centerpiece in the vibrant art scene of Columbia. With its world-class permanent collections, including Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces, the museum is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Notably, the museum houses Botticelli’s Nativity, a testament to the rich cultural offerings available.

The museum is not only a place to admire art but also serves as a social hub where empathy and inclusion are at the forefront. It’s a place where the community gathers to be inspired and to celebrate creativity.

The museum’s European collection is a highlight, featuring Monet’s View of the Seine among other significant works. Additionally, the museum’s Asian, Contemporary, Modern, American, and Vogel collections offer a diverse range of artistic expressions. With monthly visiting exhibitions, block parties, concerts, art classes, lectures, and tours, there’s always something new to discover. The museum also places a strong emphasis on family-friendly programming, ensuring that visitors of all ages can engage with art in meaningful ways.

Address: 1515 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201
Phone: (803) 799-2810
Website: Columbiamuseum.org

Columbia Marionette Theatre

Step into a world where strings bring characters to life at the Columbia Marionette Theatre. This unique venue specializes in the art of puppetry, captivating audiences of all ages with their enchanting performances. The magic of storytelling is reimagined through the intricate movements of short-strung marionettes, showcasing a blend of creativity and craftsmanship.

With a variety of shows throughout the year, there’s always a new tale to be told. The theatre’s rendition of classic stories, like ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, provides a fresh and delightful experience for both children and adults.

Here’s what you need to know before your visit:

  • Address: 401 Laurel St. Columbia, SC
  • Contact: (803) 252-7366
  • Showtimes and tickets: Check their website for the latest schedule and pricing.

Tunnel Vision Mural

Step into the realm of imagination with Columbia’s Tunnel Vision Mural, a 50×75-foot masterpiece that transforms a downtown parking lot wall into a gateway to another dimension. The illusion of depth and perspective is so convincing, it’s like peering into a different world. Created by the renowned South Carolina artist Blue Sky, this mural is a testament to the power of public art to enchant and inspire.

Visitors often find themselves captivated by the mural’s realism, especially when viewed at dusk when the lighting adds to its otherworldly ambiance. While it may not be a destination you’d go out of your way for, those who stumble upon it are rarely disappointed. The mural, along with Blue Sky’s other oversized works like the Neverbust Chain and Busted Plug Plaza, has been well maintained, ensuring that this visual spectacle continues to delight passersby.

For a truly immersive experience, locals recommend visiting the mural at dusk to see it in a different light—literally and figuratively.

If you’re planning a visit, here’s a quick tip:

  • Park nearby and take a short walk to the mural.
  • Don’t forget to check out Blue Sky’s other nearby artworks.
  • Capture the moment with a photo, but remember, no picture does it justice compared to seeing it with your own eyes.

Public Art Strolls

Columbia’s streets are a canvas, showcasing vibrant public art that captures the city’s creative spirit. Stroll through the city to discover murals, sculptures, and installations that tell the story of Columbia’s rich cultural tapestry. One such marvel is the Tunnel Vision Mural, a 50×75-foot artwork that transports viewers to another world through its stunning optical illusion.

Embrace the local art scene with a self-guided tour, where each step unveils a new piece of the city’s artistic soul.

For a more interactive experience, participate in one of the many scavenger hunts offered in the area. These activities not only provide fun and games but also a unique way to engage with the art around you. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these art strolls are a delightful way to explore local art and culture at the Columbia Museum of Art and enjoy the outdoor activities and historical attractions at the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park.

Family Fun Escapades: Kid-Friendly Attractions

Family Fun Escapades: Kid-Friendly Attractions

EdVenture Children’s Museum

At the heart of Columbia’s family attractions, EdVenture Children’s Museum stands out as a beacon of creativity and fun for children. This interactive museum is a wonderland where kids can climb through the world’s largest child, EDDIE(R), exploring his organs from spine to brain. With over 350 hands-on experiences, it’s a place where curiosity meets discovery.

The museum’s nine exhibit galleries, along with outdoor spaces, offer a diverse range of activities that cater to all interests. From firefighting on a full-size fire truck to unraveling the mysteries of DNA, EdVenture provides an educational adventure that’s as entertaining as it is informative.

Parents and children alike rave about the museum’s engaging exhibits, such as MedVenture and World of Work, and the Flight simulator is a definite highlight. While some visitors suggest a desire for more STEM-related exhibits, the current offerings provide a rich and varied experience that can spark a lifelong love of learning.

Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden

A visit to the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden is a journey through a world of wildlife and lush gardens. With nearly 2,000 animals representing over 350 species, the zoo offers a glimpse into habitats ranging from African plains to Pacific coral reefs. The Botanical Garden is a 70-acre wonder, featuring theme gardens, historic ruins, and a rich collection of plants.

The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is not just an attraction but an immersive experience that educates and inspires conservation.

For families and nature enthusiasts alike, the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden provides an engaging day out with interactive exhibits and the chance to observe a wide variety of animals up close. Don’t miss the opportunity to feed the friendly giraffes or watch the baboons. The interactive computer programs and special graphics throughout the habitats enhance the learning experience.

Here’s what you can expect during your visit:

  • Diving expedition on a Pacific coral reef
  • Safari through the plains of Africa
  • Encounter with sociable lorikeets in the Outback
  • Stroll through lush woodlands and theme gardens
  • Exploration of historic ruins and a restored log cabin

Located at 500 Wildlife Parkway, the zoo is a must-see for anyone visiting Columbia, SC. It’s a place where nature, history, and entertainment converge, offering a memorable adventure for visitors of all ages.

Sesquicentennial State Park

Nestled in the heart of the Sandhills region, Sesquicentennial State Park offers a serene escape within Columbia’s bustling urban environment. With over 1,400 acres of natural beauty, this park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and families alike.

The park’s 30-acre scenic lake is the centerpiece for a variety of activities, from hiking and biking to fishing and picnicking. It’s the perfect spot for those seeking a peaceful retreat or an active day out in nature.

Facilities at the park are designed to accommodate all visitors, including a dog park for your furry friends and a splash pad for the little ones. The park’s historic log house, dating back to the mid-1700s, adds a touch of history to your visit.

  • RV and tent camping with full hookups
  • Upgraded pedestrian bridges
  • Well-maintained bike and pedestrian trails

Whether you’re planning a family reunion, a camping trip, or simply a day out, Sesquicentennial State Park provides a picturesque setting filled with the best kid-friendly activities that Columbia has to offer.

Harbison Environmental Education Forest

Just a stone’s throw from the heart of Columbia, the Harbison Environmental Education Forest offers a serene escape into nature. Spanning over 2,137 acres and bordered by the Broad River, this forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore more than thirty miles of trails on foot, bike, or jog, and immerse yourself in the lush pine and hardwood forest.

The forest serves a dual purpose, providing both recreational space and educational insights into modern forestry practices. From planned burning to harvesting, visitors can witness forestry in action. It’s not just a walk in the woods; it’s a learning journey.

Activities and Features:

  • Hiking, biking, and jogging trails
  • Educational displays on forestry practices
  • Interactive experiences for all ages

Embrace the tranquility of the Broad River and the vibrant greenery that makes Harbison Forest a cherished local gem.

Natural Retreats: Exploring the Great Outdoors

Natural Retreats: Exploring the Great Outdoors

Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park

Nestled along the Broad River, the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park offers a serene escape with its popular jogging and biking trail. Stretching for two and a half miles, the park is a favorite among locals and visitors alike for its lush scenery and peaceful atmosphere.

Whether you’re looking to engage in some active recreation or simply want to unwind, this park provides the perfect backdrop for both. With ample green space and the gentle flow of the river, it’s an ideal spot for meditation or a leisurely afternoon.

Visitors often remark on the charm of the old water treatment plant and the numerous spots to sit and savor the view. It’s a picturesque setting that’s well-suited for those seeking a tranquil outdoor experience before heading back to the hustle of daily life.

Saluda Shoals Park

Nestled on the banks of the Saluda River, Saluda Shoals Park offers a tranquil escape with a plethora of activities for nature enthusiasts and families alike. With its lush landscapes and serene river waters, the park is a perfect spot for kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing. The Environmental Education Center and Exhibit Hall provide enriching experiences, while the spacious observation deck invites visitors to soak in the picturesque views.

The park is not just about the water; land lovers can enjoy miles of trails for biking, hiking, and horse riding. For those looking to engage in some friendly competition, The Courts Tennis Complex and a disc golf course are available. Children can revel in the Saluda Splash and Playground, ensuring a day full of laughter and fun.

Saluda Shoals Park is a natural haven that seamlessly blends educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities, making it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the vicinity of Columbia, SC.

Here’s a quick glance at some of the attractions you can enjoy at Saluda Shoals Park:

  • Environmental Education Center and Exhibit Hall
  • Observation deck with stunning views
  • Trails for biking, hiking, and horse riding
  • Boat launch ramp for water activities
  • Tennis complex and disc golf course
  • Saluda Splash and Playground for kids

Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature or seeking an active day out, Saluda Shoals Park caters to all. Don’t forget to check out nearby attractions like the Dreher Shoals Dam Walk and Lake Murray for a complete experience.

Finlay Park

Nestled in the heart of Columbia, Finlay Park offers a serene escape with its lush greenery and tranquil water features. This 18-acre oasis is not only a favorite spot for relaxation but also a hub for community events. From the vibrant Summer Concert Series to the joyous celebrations of Kids Day, there’s always something happening at Finlay Park.

The park’s history is as rich as its landscape. Once known as Sidney Park, it has undergone transformations from a bustling commercial site to a state of neglect, and finally to the beloved public space it is today, renamed in 1992 to honor former Mayor Kirkman Finlay. Whether you’re planning a picnic with family or seeking a peaceful stroll, Finlay Park’s welcoming atmosphere is perfect for all ages.

Finlay Park is a testament to Columbia’s commitment to preserving green spaces and fostering community spirit.

For those interested in the local scene, the park’s location at 1404 Taylor St makes it easily accessible. It’s a must-visit for anyone exploring the vicinity of the capital, and best of all, it’s one of the top free things to do in Columbia.

Culinary Delights: Savor the Local Flavor

Culinary Delights: Savor the Local Flavor

Columbia Food Tours

Columbia is quickly becoming a foodie town, with a vibrant array of eateries that showcase the city’s culinary prowess. Embark on a journey through taste with Columbia Food Tours, where knowledgeable local guides lead you on a walking tour through the capital’s most celebrated restaurants. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Sampling of signature dishes from five to seven top-notch restaurants.
  • Insightful stories about Columbia’s rich history and architecture.
  • A chance to learn about the local culture and cuisine.

This is more than just a food tour; it’s a cultural expedition that satisfies the palate and enriches the mind.

Whether you’re a long-time resident or a visitor looking to explore fun family activities in Columbia, SC, this tour offers a unique blend of delicious cuisine and engaging storytelling. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to savor the local flavor and discover the city’s hidden gems.

Mr. Friendly’s

Nestled in the heart of Historic Five Points, Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe is a culinary gem that redefines Southern comfort food. With a 4.9/5 star rating from DoorDash users, it’s clear that this cafe has won the hearts of locals and visitors alike. The menu is a delightful fusion of traditional Southern dishes with a modern twist, featuring favorites like chicken and grits, and the innovative Sesame Seared Yellowfin Tuna.

The chef’s daily specials are a must-try, offering a unique take on Southern cuisine that will leave you craving for more.

Monday nights at Mr. Friendly’s are particularly special, as they serve their award-winning Moonpies. These heavenly desserts are a perfect blend of praline wafers, white chocolate mousse, and a sprinkle of chocolate and raspberry sauce, making them an irresistible treat.

For those looking to indulge in the local flavor, Mr. Friendly’s is an essential stop on your culinary journey through Columbia.

Il Giorgione

Step into the heart of Italy at Il Giorgione, where the love for Italian cuisine and culture is palpable. George V. Kessler, the chef and owner, extends a warm welcome to all who visit, ensuring an enchanting experience from the moment you arrive. The ambiance is set with a charming brick-paved patio and the aroma of fresh herbs, which accompany the delight of savoring thin crust Roman-style pizza served on a wooden platter.

For those seeking a touch of sweetness, Monday nights at Il Giorgione are not to be missed. The restaurant’s award-winning Moonpies are a dessert lover’s dream, featuring praline wafers and white chocolate mousse, all topped with a drizzle of chocolate and raspberry sauce.

Located in the bustling Historic Five Points, Il Giorgione is a testament to the vibrant culinary scene of Columbia. It’s a perfect spot for a romantic date or a casual gathering with friends, where every dish promises a taste of Italy’s rich gastronomic legacy.

The Oyster Bar Columbia

Nestled in the historic Vista, The Oyster Bar Columbia offers a dive into the world of fresh Gulf oysters, served raw or steamed to your liking. Savor the simplicity of their approach: a comfortable seat at the bar, a cold beer or wine in hand, and a continuous supply of oysters complemented by their renowned house sauce. No need to worry about shucking; they’ve got you covered, so you can focus on the delightful experience of eating to your heart’s content.

For those with an appetite for variety, the menu extends beyond oysters to include a range of seafood dishes featuring shrimp and scallops. The cozy ambiance and the allure of their famous oyster shooters make this spot a bustling hub of activity. It’s a place where the charm of an old-fashioned oyster bar meets the vibrancy of Columbia’s culinary scene.

The Oyster Bar Columbia is a testament to the timeless appeal of high-quality seafood and the joy of a meal shared in good company.

Motor Supply Company Bistro

Nestled in the heart of the historic Congaree Vista neighborhood, Motor Supply Company Bistro stands out as a culinary landmark in a refurbished motor supply factory. Its modern, cosmopolitan vibe is perfectly balanced with the warmth of brick walls and large wooden tables, creating an ambiance that’s both stylish and inviting.

Oyster enthusiasts rejoice! The bistro’s extensive menu features a variety of oyster dishes, as well as shrimp and scallops, sure to tantalize your taste buds. The popularity of their oyster shooters adds to the bustling atmosphere, making it a vibrant spot to dine.

With its cozy charm and innovative dishes, Motor Supply Company Bistro is a must-visit for food lovers exploring Columbia.

For a seamless dining experience, consider calling ahead:

  • Address: 1123 Park St, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Phone: 803-799-4484

Blue Marlin

After indulging in the diverse culinary landscape of Columbia, SC, the Blue Marlin stands out as a beacon of Southern charm and sea-inspired flavors. Savor the taste of the coast with their signature Encrusted Tuna or venture into other savory selections like fire-roasted chicken and hand-cut steaks.

The Blue Marlin not only offers a delightful dining experience but also engages in the community with events such as DOCK DINNERS and HAPPY HOUR ON THE SPIRIT OF LAKE MURRAY.

The restaurant’s commitment to quality is evident in their use of fresh, local ingredients, aligning with the farm-to-table movement that is thriving in the region. Whether you’re in the mood for a waterfront dinner or a cocktail hour that celebrates the best of South Carolina, the Blue Marlin caters to all tastes.

  • Encrusted Tuna
  • Pasta dishes
  • Fire-roasted chicken
  • Hand-cut steaks

The vibrant city of Columbia, SC, with its rich history, culinary delights, nature, arts, and outdoor activities, finds a perfect representation in the Blue Marlin’s menu and atmosphere. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to explore the local flavor and enjoy a meal that’s both satisfying and memorable.

Quirky Quests: Unique Columbia Discoveries

Quirky Quests: Unique Columbia Discoveries

World’s Largest Fire Hydrant

Columbia, SC, is home to a truly unique spectacle: the World’s Largest Fire Hydrant. Known locally as Busted Bug Plaza, this colossal structure was crafted by the renowned South Carolina artist, Blue Sky. Standing over forty feet tall and weighing in at a staggering 675,000 pounds, it’s a sight that’s hard to miss!

Located at 1550 Marion Street, the hydrant is not just a visual marvel; it’s built to withstand the forces of nature, symbolizing strength and resilience. Visitors are often amused to find water perpetually spraying from its base, adding to the illusion of a gigantic hydrant that’s been knocked askew.

Blue Sky’s creativity doesn’t end here. The artist is also responsible for other oversized installations in the area, such as the Neverbust Chain and Busted Plug Plaza. These pieces, along with the hydrant, form a quirky trio of roadside attractions that are a must-see for anyone exploring Columbia’s unique artistic landscape.

While the World’s Largest Fire Hydrant stands immovable, it continues to spark the imagination of all who pass by, serving as a reminder of the playful spirit that art can embody.

McKissick Museum

Nestled on the historic Horseshoe, the McKissick Museum is a treasure trove of Southern culture and history. With free admission, this public museum is a perfect stop for anyone looking to delve into the rich tapestry of "Southern life." Its collection boasts over 140,000 objects, including a significant natural science assortment, making it one of the most comprehensive in the Southeast.

The museum is not just about static exhibits; it offers a dynamic experience with scheduled tours and educational programs suitable for all ages. Whether you’re a history buff, a family with curious kids, or simply a lover of learning, the McKissick Museum has something to pique your interest.

Exhibitions at the museum range from historical displays to more contemporary issues, reflecting the diverse narratives of the region. For those planning a visit, here’s a quick look at some upcoming events:

  • Title: A Raisin in the Sun
    Date: Friday, Mar. 1, 2024
    Time: 8 – 10 p.m.

  • Snippet: MFA Thesis Exhibition: From Plantation to Present
    Duration: Ongoing through Saturday, Mar. 9, 2024
    Location: Check event details for more information.

The McKissick Museum is more than just a collection of artifacts; it’s a hub for community engagement and a window into the evolving story of the South.

South Carolina Military Museum

Step into a world where history and valor converge at the South Carolina Military Museum. As the largest museum of its kind in the nation, it’s a treasure trove of military artifacts that span from the early days of the South Carolina Militia to the modern National Guard. Discover a remarkable collection that includes everything from firearms to armored vehicles.

The museum’s exhibits are meticulously curated to bring the state’s military history to life, offering a poignant glimpse into the lives of the citizen soldiers who have served. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious, the museum provides an immersive experience that’s both educational and inspiring.

The museum is not just a collection of objects; it’s a tribute to the bravery and service of South Carolina’s soldiers throughout history.

If you’re planning a visit, here’s what you can expect:

  • Authentic military artifacts and exhibits
  • A vast array of indoor and outdoor displays
  • Knowledgeable staff and volunteers ready to share stories

Located at 1 National Guard Rd, Columbia, SC, the museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in military history or looking to pay homage to those who’ve served.

Refreshing Brews: Columbia’s Craft Beer Scene

Refreshing Brews: Columbia's Craft Beer Scene

Columbia Craft Brewing Company

Since its inception in 2017, Columbia Craft Brewing Company has quickly become a staple in the local beer scene. With a passion for quality and creativity, they offer an impressive range of beers, from barrel-aged sours to hazy IPAs and refreshing lagers. The dedication to craft is evident in every sip.

Located at 930 Laurel St, the brewery is not just a place to enjoy a pint, but a hub for community gatherings. Visitors often praise the excellent vibe and diverse beer selection, making it a must-visit for both locals and tourists.

  • Address: 930 Laurel St, Columbia, SC 29201
  • Contact: 803-733-8691

The upstairs area provides a fantastic view, adding to the overall experience. Whether you’re meeting friends or looking to try something new, Columbia Craft Brewing Company is highly recommended for an authentic Columbia craft beer experience.

Serene Stays: Relaxing Accommodations Around the Capital

Serene Stays: Relaxing Accommodations Around the Capital

Charming Bed and Breakfasts

For those seeking a more intimate and personalized lodging experience, Columbia’s charming bed and breakfasts offer a delightful alternative to traditional hotels. Nestled within the historic districts, these cozy establishments provide a unique blend of comfort and Southern hospitality, ensuring your stay is both memorable and comfortable.

  • Experience the warmth of local innkeepers who are eager to share their knowledge of Columbia’s best-kept secrets.
  • Wake up to the aroma of a home-cooked breakfast each morning, often featuring local ingredients.
  • Enjoy the quaint ambiance and decor that reflect the region’s history and charm.

Embrace the opportunity to unwind in a tranquil setting, where the pace slows down and the focus is on relaxation and rejuvenation.

Whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, a bed and breakfast in Columbia can provide a serene retreat after a day of exploration or meetings. Don’t forget to indulge in the local culture by attending a live music event or visiting the Columbia Museum of Art, which can be the perfect end to a romantic evening.

Luxury Hotels with Southern Hospitality

When it comes to experiencing the charm of the South, nothing quite compares to the luxury hotels in Columbia, SC. These establishments are not just about providing a place to sleep; they offer a gateway to Southern elegance and comfort. Indulge in the opulence of well-appointed rooms, savor gourmet cuisine at in-house restaurants, and enjoy the personalized service that makes you feel like Southern royalty.

From the grandeur of historic inns to the modern amenities of boutique hotels, each accommodation is designed to ensure your stay is as memorable as it is comfortable. Here’s a taste of what you can expect:

  • Sumptuous bedding and exquisite room decor
  • Fine dining experiences with a Southern twist
  • Relaxing spa services to rejuvenate your senses
  • Attentive staff ready to cater to your every need

While staying at these hotels, you’ll be conveniently located near some of Columbia’s most sought-after attractions. Take a leisurely stroll to the nearby Riverbanks Zoo and Garden or explore the rich history at the South Carolina State House. And for those who love to shop, the Tanger Outlets Myrtle Beach Hwy 501 is just a short drive away.

Embrace the warmth and generosity that is synonymous with Southern hospitality as you unwind in the lap of luxury.

Whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, these hotels provide the perfect backdrop for your Columbia adventure. Remember to explore the local area and discover top free things to do, such as visiting the State House or enjoying the natural beauty of Riverfront Park.

Active Adventures: Sports and Recreation

Active Adventures: Sports and Recreation

Kayaking on the Congaree River

Embark on a serene journey down the Congaree River and experience the tranquility of nature from the unique vantage point of a kayak. Paddle through the calm waters and immerse yourself in the lush surroundings of Congaree National Park, South Carolina’s only National Park. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or trying it for the first time, the river’s gentle flow makes it an ideal spot for all skill levels.

For a hassle-free adventure, consider renting your equipment from local outfitters like Palmetto Outdoors. They offer not only kayaks but also canoes and tubes, and even guided tours for those looking to learn more about the Congaree Swamp System.

If you’re visiting between mid-May and mid-June, you’re in for a treat. The park becomes a stage for a natural spectacle as synchronous fireflies light up the night in a breathtaking display. It’s a must-see event that requires a bit of planning, as tickets are limited and distributed through a lottery system to protect the delicate ecosystem.

Here’s a quick guide to get you started on your kayaking adventure:

  • Check the weather and water conditions before you go.
  • Rent your equipment from Palmetto Outdoors or bring your own.
  • Plan your visit around the firefly spectacle for an unforgettable experience.
  • Don’t forget to pack water, snacks, and sunscreen for your day on the river.

Remember, the Congaree River is not just a place for kayaking; it’s a gateway to exploring the diverse wildlife and pristine landscapes of the region. So grab a paddle and let the river’s current guide you to discovery.

Hiking Trails in Local Parks

Columbia’s local parks offer a serene escape with a variety of hiking trails that cater to both casual walkers and avid hikers. Sesquicentennial State Park is a natural haven within the urban landscape, boasting over 1000 acres of wooded refuge perfect for a peaceful hike.

Harbison Neighborhood Trails surround a picturesque lake, complete with playful ducks and a charming playground area. For those seeking a more structured outdoor experience, Saluda Shoals Park provides a blend of nature trails and recreational amenities.

The trails in Columbia’s parks are not just pathways, but gateways to experiencing the natural beauty and tranquility of South Carolina.

For a comprehensive outdoor adventure, consider exploring the multiple parks in Lexington, SC, such as Virginia Hylton Park and Corley Park, which are easily accessible and offer additional trails for your hiking pleasure.

Golfing at Premier Courses

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just looking to enjoy a leisurely round, the golf courses around Columbia, SC, offer a blend of challenge and beauty. Cobblestone Park Golf Club’s Garnet Course is a prime example, boasting a layout that will test your skills while providing a picturesque backdrop for your game.

For those who appreciate a well-maintained green, the variety of courses in the area means you’ll never be short of options. From the lush fairways of Hillcrest Golf Club to the strategic hazards of other local favorites, each course offers a unique golfing experience.

Embrace the serenity of the sport amidst the rolling hills and tranquil lakes that characterize Columbia’s golfing landscapes.

Here’s a quick glimpse at some of the top-rated courses:

  • Cobblestone Park Golf Club – Garnet Course
  • Hillcrest Golf Club
  • Other notable mentions in the vicinity

Remember to book your tee times in advance, especially during peak seasons, to ensure your spot on these coveted greens.

Seasonal Spectacles: Annual Events and Festivals

Seasonal Spectacles: Annual Events and Festivals

Columbia’s Summer Fest

When the summer sun warms the streets of Columbia, the city comes alive with the vibrant Columbia’s Summer Fest. This annual extravaganza is a celebration of all things summer, from live music and mouth-watering food to activities that cater to all ages. Make sure to mark your calendars; this is an event you won’t want to miss!

  • Live music performances
  • Local food vendors
  • Family-friendly activities
  • Arts and crafts stalls

The festival atmosphere is electric, with the community coming together to enjoy the long, balmy evenings. It’s the perfect opportunity to experience the local culture and create lasting memories.

Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, Columbia’s Summer Fest offers a slice of the city’s heart and soul. Dive into the fun and discover what makes Columbia so special during these festive summer days.

Fall Craft Fair

As the leaves begin to change and the air turns crisp, the Fall Craft Fair beckons with its array of handcrafted goods and local artistry. Experience the charm of the season at this vibrant gathering, which is a highlight for both residents and visitors. The fair offers a unique opportunity to find one-of-a-kind gifts and decorations, all while enjoying the festive atmosphere.

The fair not only showcases the talents of regional craftsmen but also serves as a delightful social event. With live music, food stalls, and interactive workshops, it’s a perfect day out for the whole family.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • A variety of artisan vendors
  • Live entertainment and street performers
  • Hands-on crafting sessions
  • Delicious local cuisine

Mark your calendars for a day of autumnal fun and creativity at the fair. It’s an event that truly captures the essence of the community spirit in Columbia.

Winter Holiday Markets

As the year winds down, Columbia’s Winter Holiday Markets come alive, offering a festive atmosphere that’s perfect for finding unique gifts and enjoying seasonal treats. Columbia’s vibrant cultural scene provides a backdrop for these markets, where the community gathers to celebrate and share in the joy of the season.

The markets are a showcase of local craftsmanship and culinary delights, with vendors offering everything from handcrafted jewelry to homemade jams. It’s a place where you can find that one-of-a-kind present for someone special or simply indulge in the holiday spirit.

The Winter Holiday Markets are not just about shopping; they’re about experiencing the warmth and charm of Columbia during the most wonderful time of the year.

Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, make sure to wrap up your year with a trip to these enchanting markets. They’re an essential part of the holiday festivities and a testament to the city’s commitment to fostering a vibrant community experience.


As we wrap up our journey through the must-see attractions near Columbia, SC, it’s clear that this vibrant capital city and its surroundings offer a rich tapestry of experiences for all types of travelers. From the historical treasures of the Governor’s Mansion to the natural beauty of Sesquicentennial State Park, there’s a slice of South Carolina charm waiting at every turn. Whether you’re indulging in the culinary delights of local eateries like The Oyster Bar Columbia and Motor Supply Company Bistro, or exploring the cultural depths of the Columbia Museum of Art, your visit is bound to be memorable. So pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready to create lasting memories in the heart of the Palmetto State!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some historic attractions near Columbia, SC?

Near Columbia, you can visit historic sites like the South Carolina State Museum, the Governor’s Mansion, Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, Robert Mills House & Gardens, Woodrow Wilson Family Home, and the Mann-Simons Site & Outdoor Museum.

Are there cultural activities to enjoy in the vicinity of Columbia?

Yes, the area offers cultural gems such as the Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia Marionette Theatre, and public art strolls that include the Tunnel Vision Mural.

What kid-friendly attractions are there near Columbia, SC?

Families can enjoy the EdVenture Children’s Museum, Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden, Sesquicentennial State Park, and Harbison Environmental Education Forest.

Where can I find natural retreats around Columbia?

For outdoor enthusiasts, Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park, Saluda Shoals Park, and Finlay Park offer beautiful natural landscapes to explore.

What are some recommended places to eat in Columbia?

Columbia boasts a variety of culinary delights, including Columbia Food Tours, Mr. Friendly’s, Il Giorgione, The Oyster Bar Columbia, Motor Supply Company Bistro, and Blue Marlin.

What unique attractions can I discover in Columbia?

Quirky finds in Columbia include the World’s Largest Fire Hydrant, McKissick Museum, and the South Carolina Military Museum.

Is there a craft beer scene in Columbia, SC?

Yes, Columbia has a thriving craft beer scene, with places like Columbia Craft Brewing Company offering a taste of local brews.

What are some annual events and festivals in Columbia?

Columbia hosts various seasonal spectacles, including Columbia’s Summer Fest, Fall Craft Fair, and Winter Holiday Markets.

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