Columbia is famously hot! In a city with roots reaching back to the 1700s, it remains largely undiscovered. Here are a few ideas you won’t want to miss – try some outdoor recreation – the rivers offer great opportunities for paddling, take in a game – the University of South Carolina always has some sort of sporting event, and visit a museum that has as its largest artifact the place where everything else is displayed.
plan your visit
Columbia Convention and Visitor Bureau
Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism
1101 Lincoln Street
Columbia, SC 29202
Toll Free: 800-264-4884
City Center Partnership (CCP)
1201 Main Street, Suite 150
Columbia, SC 29201
While you are downtown, you'll want to follow this link to a comprehensive list of places to eat, shop, and enjoy Downtown Columbia. It will help you complete your itinerary and to find out more about Parking & Shopping Downtown along Main Street. Once you get here, if you find you have a question or concern, just look for one of CCP's ambassadors. They are easy to find because they'll be wearing their signature Yellow Shirts. They will happily take you to any of the businesses listed in the CCP Main Street city guide by way of the Earth-friendly 100%-electric zero-emission courtesy shuttle, lovingly called ZeRover! Your smile is the only gratuity they’ll need. Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. Call 803-309-7758 for a lift or details.
You'll want to reference the Downtown Parking Map while planning your visit to South Carolina's Main Street. And you might also want to check out the Official City of Columbia Website, too.
For more information on where to go, what to do, and where to stay in the land of Smiling Faces and Beautiful Places, visit South Carolina Travel and Tourism online at discoversouthcarolina.com.
things to do
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is home to more than 2,000 magnificent and fascinating animals and is one of the nation's most beautiful and inspiring botanical gardens. There are lots to things to do. Feed the Giraffes. Ride the Endangered Species Carousel or the Spots and Stripes Train. Scale the Wild Adventures Rock Wall. Zip the Zoo on one or both of the new zip courses. The Zoo is celebrating 40 Wild Years in 2014.
The Nickelodeon Theatre
The Nickelodeon Theatre, affectionately known as “The Nick,” is the only non-profit art house film theatre in South Carolina. Located in Columbia, SC on the corner of Main and Taylor Streets, adjacent to the Mast General Store, The Nick is run by the Columbia Film Society and is the host of the Indie Grits Film Festival.
Columbia Museum of Art
South Carolina's premier international art museum houses a world class collection of European and American fine and decorative art that spans centuries. The collections include masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, works by significant furniture and silver makers, as well as modern and contemporary art from the present time. Of particular interest are Sandro Botticelli's Nativity, Claude Monet's The Seine at Giverny and art glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Museum also offers changing exhibitions from renowned museums and educational programs that include group and public tours, lectures, films and concert series. And don't forget the kids. The Museum has several special programs for younger art lovers.
The State House Grounds - Self Guided Walking Tour
The State Capitol Complex sits on 18 beautifully-landscaped acres, and these grounds are as much a part of history as the debates that took place under its copper dome. Sherman's cannons shelled the blue granite walls of the unfinished Capitol and a century later thousands rallied for civil rights.
For every child who visits EdVenture, seeing will be believing and doing will mean remembering. All exhibits at EdVenture are hands-on and experiential. EDDIE®, the world’s largest child is 40 feet tall and is quite the greeter. The EdVenture seeks to ignite and foster the joy of learning for all.
The Museum has four large floors devoted to the disciplines of art, history, natural history and science/technology. It houses both long-term exhibits and five changing exhibit galleries. Housed in the historic 1893 Columbia Mill textile building, which is its "biggest artifact," the South Carolina State Museum tells the history of South Carolina through our many traveling museum exhibits, permanent collections and educational programs.
Main Street Columbia: From the Capitol to the Courthouse Walking Tour - Historic Columbia Foundation
Offering over 150 years’ worth of architectural trends, Columbia’s Main Street is a physical legacy. See the city’s oldest skyscraper, an IBM punch card inspired office building, and the State Capitol. Walk through Columbia’s first indoor shopping mall and learn how an old department store became an art museum. Allow approximately 60 minutes for this tour.
Seibels House & Garden
Located in the heart of Downtown Columbia's Historic District lies one of the city's most popular venues for corporate special occasions. Believed to be the oldest house in Columbia, the Seibels House has stood for over 200 years as the epitome of gracious southern hospitality.
Soda City Farmers' Market
Located in the 1500 block of Main Street—Saturdays, 9 a.m.–1 p.m., the Soda City Farmers' Market is filled with local vendors selling produce, meat, baked goods, crafts and more. Check each week for the list of local vendors.
Harbison State Forest
Located just 8 miles from Downtown Columbia, Harbison State Forest is the largest urban green space in the Southeast. More than 20 miles of trails are designed for walking, jogging, hiking, and biking and range from moderately easy to very difficult. A canoe landing provides entry to the Broad River for kayaks and canoes. Friends of Harbison State Forest is a non-profit organization founded to preserve and promote the recreational and educational aspects of this forest.
Just a few blocks from Main Street, the Vista is vibrant with restaurants and bars, and about 40 art galleries and specialty shops. In addition, Columbia’s Colonial Center arena and the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, shape the southern boundary of the Vista. The Publix Market, located in the historic South Carolina State Dispensary warehouse, has ushered in a new era of urban residential development.
The Main Library located on the corner of Hampton and Assembly Streets is home to a permanent collection of South Carolina art, including works by Blue Sky, Jean McWhorter and Philip Simmons. The Children's Room features a mural of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are," making the library the first and only place where the renowned author has allowed his work to be used as public art. While books are important, you'll find so much more here, like craft classes, tips for your taxes, and even Tai Chi.