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Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Experiences and Hidden Gems in Columbia

Columbia is a vibrant and culturally rich destination offering a diverse array of attractions for residents and visitors alike. From historic landmarks and cultural institutions to outdoor adventures and culinary delights, the capital city of South Carolina has something to suit every taste. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in Columbia.

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

One of the premier attractions in Columbia, the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden offers a thrilling and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Home to over 2,000 animals, the zoo showcases diverse exhibits such as African Plains, Koala Knockabout, and a captivating aquarium. The adjacent botanical garden features lush landscapes, walking trails, and themed gardens, creating a perfect blend of nature and wildlife.

South Carolina State House

Immerse yourself in history by exploring the South Carolina State House, a symbol of the state’s political heritage. The majestic Greek Revival building boasts striking architecture and beautiful grounds. Guided tours provide insights into the state’s legislative processes, historical events, and the iconic dome topped with the statue of “Miss Freedom.”

Congaree National Park

For nature enthusiasts, Congaree National Park is a haven of biodiversity and natural beauty. Located just a short drive from Columbia, this national park features lush forests, hiking trails, and the enchanting Congaree River. Explore the elevated Boardwalk Loop or paddle through the park’s waterways for an immersive experience in this pristine wilderness.

Columbia Museum of Art

Art aficionados will appreciate the Columbia Museum of Art, a cultural gem in the heart of the city. The museum showcases a diverse collection of American, European, and Asian art spanning centuries. Rotating exhibits, educational programs, and engaging events make this museum a dynamic hub for the arts in Columbia.

Historic Columbia Foundation and House Museums

Delve into Columbia’s rich history by visiting the Historic Columbia Foundation, dedicated to preserving and promoting the city’s cultural heritage. The organization manages several house museums, including the Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion, and the Mann-Simons Site. Guided tours offer a glimpse into the lives of Columbia’s early residents and the city’s evolution.

Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park

Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park, situated along the Congaree River. The park features walking and biking trails, gardens, and picturesque views of the river. Take a stroll along the scenic boardwalk or explore the historic ruins of the Columbia Canal, which played a crucial role in the city’s industrial past.

EdVenture Children’s Museum

Perfect for families with young children, EdVenture Children’s Museum offers an interactive and educational experience. The museum features hands-on exhibits on science, technology, arts, and culture, encouraging learning through play. With its engaging displays and creative activities, EdVenture provides a fun and enriching environment for kids of all ages.

The Vista

Known as the city’s premier dining and entertainment district, The Vista is a lively neighborhood offering a diverse culinary scene, art galleries, and vibrant nightlife. Explore the streets lined with restaurants, cafes, and boutiques, and immerse yourself in the dynamic atmosphere of this trendy district.

Five Points

Another popular district in Columbia, Five Points is a bustling area known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. This historic neighborhood, located near the University of South Carolina campus, is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Explore the unique boutiques, dine at diverse eateries, and experience the energy of Five Points.

Sesquicentennial State Park

Escape to nature at Sesquicentennial State Park, a serene oasis just outside of Columbia. The park offers hiking and biking trails, a lake for kayaking and fishing, and spacious picnic areas. With its scenic landscapes and recreational activities, Sesquicentennial State Park provides a tranquil retreat for outdoor enthusiasts.

Columbia Fireflies Baseball

Catch a baseball game at Segra Park and cheer for the Columbia Fireflies, the city’s Minor League Baseball team. The modern ballpark provides an entertaining experience for sports enthusiasts, complete with family-friendly amenities, themed nights, and the energetic atmosphere of America’s favorite pastime.

Lake Murray

A short drive from Columbia, Lake Murray is a sprawling reservoir offering a variety of outdoor activities. Boating, fishing, and water sports are popular on the lake, while the Dreher Shoals Dam provides a scenic overlook. Take a leisurely boat cruise, relax on the shoreline, or enjoy the recreational opportunities around this expansive lake.

Palmetto Falls Water Park

Cool off on a hot day at Palmetto Falls Water Park, located within Sesquicentennial State Park. The water park features slides, splash pads, and a lazy river, providing a refreshing escape for families and water enthusiasts. It’s a perfect destination for a day of aquatic fun and relaxation.

South Carolina State Museum

Explore the South Carolina State Museum, a multi-disciplinary institution that combines art, science, technology, and cultural history. The museum’s diverse exhibits include artifacts from the Civil War, a planetarium, and interactive displays on paleontology. With its engaging and educational offerings, the State Museum is a fascinating destination for curious minds.

Palmetto Trail

For outdoor enthusiasts seeking a hiking adventure, the Palmetto Trail offers an extensive network of trails throughout South Carolina, including sections near Columbia. Lace up your hiking boots and explore scenic routes like the Peak to Prosperity Passage or the Capital City Passage, which winds through the city and showcases the region’s natural beauty.

The Nickelodeon Theatre

Film enthusiasts can enjoy independent and international cinema at The Nickelodeon Theatre, Columbia’s only non-profit art house cinema. Located in the vibrant downtown district, this theater screens a diverse selection of films and hosts special events, making it a cultural hub for cinephiles in the city.

Owens Field Skate Park

Skateboarders and BMX riders can showcase their skills at Owens Field Skate Park, a modern and well-designed skate facility. The park features ramps, rails, and obstacles suitable for skaters of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned skateboarder or just starting, Owens Field Skate Park provides a dynamic space for tricks and maneuvers.

South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

History buffs can explore the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, which houses an extensive collection of artifacts, memorabilia, and exhibits related to the state’s military history. From Civil War relics to items from modern conflicts, the museum provides a comprehensive look at South Carolina’s military heritage.

Columbia Marionette Theatre

Experience the enchanting world of puppetry at the Columbia Marionette Theatre. This unique venue hosts puppet shows and performances suitable for audiences of all ages. From classic tales to original productions, the marionette performances add a touch of whimsy and creativity to Columbia’s cultural landscape.

Craft Breweries and Distilleries

Columbia’s craft beverage scene has been growing, and the city boasts several breweries and distilleries. Take a brewery tour, sample local brews, and savor handcrafted spirits at venues like Columbia Craft Brewing Company. Enjoy the camaraderie of the craft beverage community while experiencing the flavors of Columbia.

Visit Columbia

Columbia stands as a dynamic and welcoming city, offering a blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re exploring the natural beauty of Congaree National Park, delving into the city’s history at the State House, or enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of The Vista and Five Points, Columbia invites visitors to discover its diverse and captivating attractions. With its southern charm, cultural vibrancy, and array of recreational opportunities, Columbia is a destination that leaves a lasting impression on those who explore its streets and surroundings.

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