15 Best Things to Do in Columbia SC

South Carolina’s regions have amazing places and top attractions to visit and relax such as its beaches, the Lowcountry, live oaks, coastal retreats and many more are top of the list for travelers.

The smaller cities and towns like Charleston, Beaufort, Hilton Head and many others are worth a visit but the state has a lot more to see inland.

Columbia is the capital of the 32,000 square-mile state and it is situated in the heart of the state’s region known as the Midlands of South Carolina.

Visitors get to enjoy their stay whether they are on vacation or on a business trip such that they see the sunrise on the mountain and experience sunset at the many beaches.

The prestigious University of South Carolina’s campus is located in the historic downtown area of Columbia with its lush appeal.

Visitors get to excite themselves with college sports during football season. There are many restaurants, museums, gardens, and parks with many hiking trails, rivers and so much more.

If you want to make your vacation more special, travel Columbia SC. Here you will get different things to do in Columbia which make your journey memorable.

South Carolina State Museum

South Carolina State MuseumSource: Wikipedia.org/Abductive | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

The state’s largest and most comprehensive museum, the South Carolina State Museum is located along the banks of the Congaree River.

The South Carolina State Museum is home to more than 70,000 pieces of art on display throughout the four floors of its building.

It is a great place to learn about the people, history, art, and natural resources in the state. It serves to tell the story of South Carolina’s history and features a number of both educational and entertaining exhibits.

It has an adjoining building with a rotating observatory state-of-the-art telescopes, 4D theatre for entertainment for both adults and kids.

There is also a café with great snacks and the museum shop offers cool souvenirs and gift items for your loved ones.

Address: 301 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

Columbia Museum of Art

Columbia Museum of ArtSource: Wikipedia.org/Akhenaton06 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

Columbia Museum of Art is a two-storey building with modern architectural design and layout.

It has an impressive collection of art pieces and other exhibits. Visitors are often marveled by the amazing quality of temporary exhibits like the M.C. Escher and Van Gogh, which travellers say rival art exhibits in the bigger cities.

The museum has the Cross Hatch which allows you to create your art, it is a great place for adults and kids alike. Entry is free on Free First Thursday events held in the district.

Address: 1515 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

EdVenture Children’s Museum

EdVenture Children's MuseumSource: Wikipedia.org/Akhenaton06 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

EdVenture Children’s Museum is the 7th largest children’s museum in the United States and the largest in the South.

Certainly, one of the best places to take your kids is Columbia, EdVenture Children’s Museum is a combination of education and adventure for kids with more than 350 activities.

The museum encourages playtime as a path to fast learning.

You will find six exhibit galleries, two resource centers, two outdoor galleries, several laboratories, a 200-seat community theater, two resource centers, two outdoor gallery spaces, a library, and other amenities.

There are more than 350 individual hands-on exhibits.

There are a lot of activities for kids to participate in such as taking up the roles of firefighters, mechanics, farmers, and many more during role play; there is the Bio Lab which allows kids to create concoctions; or crawl within the 40-foot-tall EDDIE, an interactive human body replica.

Other activities include playing in the full-size aeroplane cockpit, fire truck, and so much more.

Toddlers are not left out as they have a dedicated space to explore and learn socialization, communication, self-confidence, and creativity.

Address: 211 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

Koger Center for the Arts

Koger Center for the ArtsSource: Wikipedia.org/Darkspots | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

Columbia undoubtedly has many museums and art centers, Koger Center for the Arts is one of those amazing places you want to be when in the city.

It is the prime facility for performing arts in Columbia and houses the University of South Carolina School of Music.

Aspiring professional musicians can enrol for any of the 20 programs offered by the school.

Furthermore, there are major events at the main theatre such as music, operas, ballets, and many more.

There are also orchestra concerts, jazz ensembles, choir recitals, and more open to the public. With a lot of free music school events, this is a great place to meet new people and socialize.

Address: 1051 Greene St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

Finlay Park in Downtown Columbia

Finlay Park in downtown ColumbiaSource: Wikipedia.org/Akhenaton06 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

Finlay Park is located in the downtown area of Columbia, South Carolina, USA.

The park offers the best and most amazing views of the city’s skyline with a panoramic point overlooking the Governor’s Mansion.

Termed the “crown jewel” of public parks in Columbia, Finlay Park has been around since the 1900s.

It is an 18-acre green area not too far from the Main Street district, which is the liveliest location in the city.

It features playgrounds, quiet walking paths around the small lake, a waterfall with a statue of the former mayor of the city, Kirkman Finlay, cool landscaping, and so much more.

Finlay Park is one of the best known parks in the state.

It hosts a little bit of everything from political events, festivals, the Summer Concert series, and more.

The park is named after park is named for Kirkman Finlay, Mayor of Columbia.

Address: 930 Laurel St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

Memorial Park, Downtown Columbia

Memorial Park, downtown ColumbiaSource: Wikipedia.org/Akhenaton06 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

Located just by the corner of Gadsden and Hampton streets, the 7-acre park is dedicated as a memorial to those who fought and died for America.

It features flowering bushes, benches, and winding paths, and it is a popular location to relax in the afternoons.

There is a Vietnam Memorial Monument with inscriptions of all the names of South Carolinians who lost their lives in battle during the Vietnam War.

Just a block away from Finlay Park, it honours USS Columbia Warship which served in WWII; December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor casualties and so many more.

Address: 700 Hampton St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Riverbanks Zoo & GardenSource: Wikipedia.org/Surfer43 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin
Giraffe being fed at Riverbanks Zoo

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is another wonderful place to be in Columbia, South Carolina.

Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Gardens is located just two miles from downtown, along the Saluda River.

It is famous all around the nation and a great spot for weekend stops.

You get to watch gorillas feed, lemurs play chase with each other, feed Giraffes during their lunchtime and so much more.

Over 2,000 animals call Riverbanks Zoo their home and you get to see over 6,000 animals and plants including: koalas, crocodiles, elephants, bears, tigers, and more.

The zoo is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Kids will have a swell time here with zip line tours, animal interactions, rock climbing, there is a splash park (Water Junction) to cool off during the hot summer, and so much more.

Address: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia, SC 29210, United States

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Congaree National Park, South CarolinaSource: Flickr.com/Scott Oves | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

Congaree National Park is located 18 miles southeast of Columbia’s downtown area and offers travelers the rare opportunity to peek into the natural landscape around the city.

The park is home to the largest bottomland forest in America and visitors can also engage in paddle activities down the Cedar Creek Canoe Trail which runs about 15 miles.

There is wildlife to see such as bats, owls, deer, bobcats, foxes, otters, snakes, and so much more.

The most amazing thing to see in the park is after dark when the fireflies come out to play, also take note there are mosquitos so best prepare at dusk.

Be sure to stop at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center for more information about the best activities at the park.

Address: South Carolina, United States

Lake Murray Reservoir Columbia SC

Lake Murray Columbia SCSource: Wikipedia.org/Isis4563 | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

Lake Murray is an enormous man-made reservoir covering about 55,000 acres with a 650-mile shoreline to explore on a boat.

There are boat rentals for you to see the islands, visit the beach or go for a picnic at any of the public parks with awesome views of the water.

Visitors who love fishing can also pass the time reeling out varieties of fish, while travellers who love exploring on land can go hiking and mountain biking on the trails and in public parks around the lake.

On the fourth of July, the community hosts fireworks on display over the lake with bars and restaurants open to drink and eat.

Though the lake was originally built in the 1930’s as a hydro-electric generation facility, Lake Murray is now a major recreation destination in the area.

It borders several cities including: Lexington, Chapin, and Irmo, only a short drive from Columbia, this is a great way to enjoy a number of outdoor activities.

Locations: Lake Murray Blvd, South Carolina, USA

Cycling in Columbia

Cycling in ColumbiaSource: Wikipedia.org/Dr. Blazer | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

The city of Columbia, South Carolina is filled with lots of top attractions which include many parks and gardens, hiking and biking trails to explore.

Bike rides are some of the best ways to explore this city to see most of the attractions and the Blue Bike stands are readily available around the city.

If you are on the Riverfront, you can get the bikes for a small fee which makes exploring simple and convenient.

Visitors are advised to keep their eyes open for wildlife as waterfowl and birds are most common at some of the small islands around, some attractions like the Congaree National Park, Lake Murray, and so many more.

Five Points Fountain

Five Points FountainSource: Wikipedia.org/Runner1928 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

Five Points Fountain is located just by the South Carolina University Campus and sees a lot of travellers, students, and locals.

The city often has year-round festivals one of which is St. Pat’s.

The festival is held at Five Points and it is the largest street festival in the Midlands and the southeast.

There are other festivals such as the Main Street Greek Festival, Irmo Okra Strut fried okra festival, and other places to see around like Mr Friendly’s a favourite restaurant in Columbia, and Drip one of the best Coffee shops in the city to name few.

Address: 728 Harden St, Columbia, SC 29205, United States

The Horseshoe

The HorseshoeSource: Wikipedia.org/Totalcatharsis | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

The Horseshoe is a historic spot on the University of South Carolina’s campus and it is a favourite for visitors, locals, and students for evening strolls.

It houses 12 historic buildings which date back to the 1800s surrounded by lush green spaces.

Horseshoe is the epicentre of the original university campus, the lush green areas feature brick walkways, manicured green lawns, old oak trees, and many monuments.

A few top things to do within the Horseshoe include a free visit to the McKissick Museum open to the general public, and McCutchen House a food service teaching facility and restaurant management also open to the public.

Address: Columbia, SC 29208, USA

Soda City Market

Soda City MarketSource: Wikipedia.org/Dr. Blazer | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

The street fair is held on Saturday mornings and basically for a variety of growers, performers, and makers from all over the region to Columbia’s Main Street in the downtown area.

The market starts from 9 am to 1 pm.

It is a European-style market with lots of things on sale from fresh produce to flowers, food, antiques, dog food, and so much more.

More than 150 vendors set up shop to serve over 5,000 visitors weekly. It is a great way to socialize and meet new people in Columbia, SC.

Address: 1300-1600 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

Williams Brice Stadium

Williams Brice StadiumSource: Wikipedia.org/Eisenthesky Productions | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

Williams Brice Stadium is one amazing place for visitors to see football games during the season.

Although Columbia is the state capital of South Carolina, the University dominates when it comes to the night games at the stadium.

It is a thrilling experience even for those who are not fans of the University of South Carolina.

There are restaurants and food vendors to get some night snacks.

If you are in luck and visit the city in October, there is usually a state fair that hosts 20,000 people in attendance just south of downtown close to the stadium and a lot of fun things to do.

Address: 1125 George Rogers Blvd, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

South Carolina State House

South Carolina State HouseSource: Flickr.com/Ron Cogswell | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

The South Carolina State House is easily among the most beautiful statehouse complexes around the United States with its medieval architectural design.

Visitors can embark on the daily statehouse tours all year round to explore the architecture, and history of the complex and see the place where legislation takes place.

The surrounding areas are well-manicured and beautifully designed for a perfect stroll around.

Address: 1100 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29208, United States


Visiting Columbia, South Carolina is one of the best things for any traveler planning to enter the United States of America.

The city has so many top attractions to see and serves everyone from adults to kids, whether you love calm and quiet, boating, hiking, biking strolling, museums, drinks, food and so much more.

The Mian Street in the downtown area of Columbia houses some of the best nightlife spots in the city, there are also many parks and gardens to take a stroll and relax during the day.

Make sure to add these top things to do in the city to get the best fun out of your visit.

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