Columbia, S.C. (Wednesday, May 1, 2013) - This Saturday, May 4 kicks off National Travel & Tourism Week (NTTW) and Columbia Metropolitan CVB is encouraging visitors and locals alike to get out and explore everything this charming region has to offer.

Sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association and established by a presidential proclamation in 1983, NTTW is an initiative geared toward increasing travel and tourism across the nation. During the week, Columbia Metropolitan CVB will promote a number of area "hot spots" in an effort to bolster activity and enthusiasm throughout the community.

"Tourism is the number one industry is South Carolina," said Ric Luber, president and CEO of Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism. "Within the Columbia region, the tourism industry employs 65,000 individuals, generates $1 billion in revenue and attracts more than 4 million visitors annually- those stats should be celebrated."

Each year, Columbia Metropolitan CVB, along with cities from across the country, celebrate and recognize the nation's burgeoning travel and tourism industry. With more than $750 billion generated from travel and tourism efforts annually, NTTW celebrates the impact this industry has on the national economy and encourages destinations to continue to tout the cultural and social benefits of leisure travel.

"For visitors, this region is chock-full of things to see, do, taste and experience," said Luber. "For locals, this is an ideal time to reconnect with everything they love about the area. It is the perfect opportunity to get out and explore their own backyard."

Each day, Columbia Metropolitan CVB will highlight attributes and reasons leisure travelers visit the Columbia region. In celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week, the CVB encourages locals to "be a tourist in your own town" and share experiences on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #famouslyhot and #NTTW.

Some of the many activities to enjoy during National Travel & Tourism Week in Columbia, SC include:

Saturday, May 4
The New Historic Hot Spot

  • Learn about South Carolina's governmental history with a free guided tour, taking place every hour on the half hour, at the South Carolina State House,
  • Jaunt through the South Carolina State Museum's four floors and learn about the state's rich and compelling history,
  • Explore one of the many historic homes - like the Mann Simons Site, Robert Mills House or Hampton Preston Mansion - in Columbia by taking a tour provided by Historic Columbia Foundation,
  • Experience what life was like in the 18th century at Lexington County Museum - featuring 36 historic sites and an impressive collection of hand-sewn quilts - or take a walk through the chronicles of the region's first European settlement at Cayce Historical Museum.

Sunday, May 5
The New Game Day Hot Spot

  • Cheer on the Carolina Gamecocks baseball team at Carolina Stadium as they take on Vanderbilt! Columbia Metropolitan CVB will be passing out Game Day goodies, so make sure to swing by to pick up some #FamouslyHot swag,
  • Create a game of your own! Visit one of our many area parks and greenways for a game of disc golf, kickball, soccer or softball.

Monday, May 6
The New Culinary Hot Spot

  • Try out a new breakfast, lunch or dinner spot - the region's peppered with a plethora of delicious options,
  • Pick up a sweet treat at one of the many local bakeries,
  • Don't forget the que! May it be covered in a mustard, ketchup or vinegar based sauce, go hog wild with some Southern pulled pork...just don't forget the fixins'.

Tuesday, May 7
The New Kid-Friendly Hot Spot

  • Meet EDDIE®, the world's largest child, at EdVenture Children's Museum. This highly interactive children's museum is chock-full of fun and engaging things to do and see,
  • Come face-to-fin with African penguins at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, feed the giraffes, hang out with the monkeys or relax with the fluffy koalas,
  • Keep your eyes peeled for the state's friendly salamander, Sally! You can spot her on numerous historic buildings and cultural sites throughout Columbia's downtown district.

Wednesday, May 8
The New Southern Hot Spot

  • The South evokes many things, including the sweetest sweet tea, fried green tomatoes, BBQ and pimento cheese. It also evokes a sense of style like none other. Today don your best bow ties, seersucker and boat shoes and indulge in your favorite Southern comfort foods and traditions.

Thursday, May 9
The New Military Hot Spot

  • Visit the SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum to learn more of this regions military involvement and history,
  • Spend the afternoon at Fort Jackson's US Army Basic Combat Training Museum, US Army Chaplain Museum, US Army Finance Corps Museum or US Army Adjutant General's Corps Museum.

Friday, May 10
The New Romanic Hot Spot

  • Fine dining establishments abound in the Columbia region, so make reservations, call the sitter and enjoy a night on the town,
  • What's better than dinner and a movie? Check out what's playing tonight at The Nickelodeon - it's sure to be ‘reel' sweet,
  • This time of year is perfect for a sunset stroll at Riverfront Park, West Columbia Riverwalk or along the Lake Murray Dam,
  • Don't underestimate simple! Pack a picnic and spend some quality time at University of South Carolina's historic Horseshoe.

Saturday, May 11
The New Adventure Hot Spot

  • Run or bike the winding trails at Harbison State Forest,
  • Get up close and personal with nature, walk the boardwalk or camp at Congaree National Park,
  • Grab some friends and go tubing down the Congaree River or out at Saluda Shoals Park,
  • Rent a boat and make a day of fishing, cruising and sunbathing on the beautifully vast Lake Murray.

Sunday, May 12
The New Artistic Hot Spot

  • Head over to Columbia's Main Street and explore Columbia Museum of Art's permanent art collection and rotating exhibits, all free on Sundays,
  • Check out the latest art exhibit or show at Tapp's Art Center,
  • Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center isn't just a meeting space, it's an art gallery as well! Take a stroll through the center with a self-guided brochure of the art found scattered throughout building,
  • Spend time perusing the numerous art galleries located in the Congaree Vista,
  • Public art can be found around nearly every turn in the Columbia region. Make sure to check out Busted Plug Plaza, 701 CCA for Contemporary Art, Neverbust, Tunnel Vision or Vista Station.

For a complete list of things to do in the Columbia region during National Travel & Tourism Week, stop by Columbia Regional Visitors Center (located inside Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center) for a go-to guide for free things to do in the region or visit for ways to be a tourist in your own town.

About the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism:
The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism is a private, not-for-profit corporation funded primarily by revenue generated by visitors through accommodations taxes and is the parent organization of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and the Columbia Regional Sports Council. The mission of the Midlands Authority is to strengthen the area's economy by marketing and selling Columbia, its accommodations, restaurants, facilities and attractions as a destination for meetings, conventions, trade-shows, special events and leisure travel. For more information, please visit