When it comes to dipping your toes back in the travel waters, there's no denying there's been a resurgence in good old-fashioned road trips. With three interstates that intersect the Columbia SC, getting here is straightforward and once you’re here, it’s easy to get around. Whether you’re just dreaming of a weekend escape right now or hoping to venture out safely in the coming weeks, a weekend respite isn’t out of reach and a quick road trip to Columbia SC may just be the change of scenery you seek. Pack up the car and come see why Columbia isn’t just a stop along the way – it’s the destination.
Social(ly Distant) Gatherings
Our usually never-ending roster of live music, events and festivals may look a little different these days, but like anything else this past year, they’ve learned to adapt to the times to offer attendees a safe experience. Come anytime to enjoy Soda City Market on Saturdays or plan ahead – Artista Vista, Columbia Food and Wine Festival, various Cola Concerts shows and more are all coming up later this spring. Check out our full calendar of events here.
Our award-winning attractions are worth a trip in and of themselves. Spend the day among the animals at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, meander through the galleries at the Columbia Museum of Art, tap into history at the South Carolina State House, South Carolina State Museum and Historic Columbia’s gardens or engage your little ones’ minds at EdVenture. Bundle the experiences and save with our exclusive CoolPASS or CulturePASS options.
The Great Outdoors
Here in Columbia, it doesn’t take long to get from the middle of town to what seems like the middle of nowhere. Unplug, escape into nature and give yourself some breathing room amidst fresh air, cool waters and old growth hardwood forest in next to no time flat.
Did you know we’re home to South Carolina’s only National Park? That’s right – Congaree National Park lies about 20 – 25 minutes from the city center and spans 26,000 acres. Come for the camping, the kayaking, the wildlife or even just a stroll along the boardwalk.
Columbia lies at the confluence of three rivers – the Saluda, Broad and Congaree – and is also home to Lake Murray, providing plentiful options for water recreation. Swimming, sailing, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, tubing and more all await you year-round. Come in the spring to see the rare Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies blooming through the rocks in the rivers or later in the summer to see 800,000 – 1 million Purple Martins come to roost at the nation’s largest Purple Martin sanctuary on Lake Murray’s Bomb Island.
Plus, the area is flush with regional parks, trails and gardens that make it easy to slip outside for some Vitamin D.
Back in Action
Sports have always given the good people of Columbia reason to rally and we’ve all missed the feeling of cheering on our favorite teams something fierce. Whether you’re coming to root on the home team or traveling to see yours take the field, pick a South Carolina Gamecocks, Columbia Fireflies or Lexington Blowfish game to come center your weekend around.
Walk the Walk
Tired of driving? Park the car and hit the pavement – you’ll be surprised how much ground you can cover on foot thanks to our walkable downtown districts. Flit from Five Points to Devine Street in a dash or move from Main Street right over to The Vista. Or, just stick to one at a time if you want, as there’s plenty to do in each. Check out our recommendations for 24 hours in Cayce, West Columbia, The Vista and Forest Acres, then keep your eyes peeled for more in the future.
Signature Bites & Bevs
You know what they say – the fastest way to experience a destination is through your stomach. (Did we get that right?) With a climate conducive to year-round, farm-fresh ingredients and a talented pool of chefs who know just what to do with them, we highly recommend taste-testing your way through the region.
From Southern staples and unexpected vegan eats to multicultural fare and an entire passport program dedicated to pimento cheese, Columbia’s restaurant scene boasts a flavor that’s all its own and will have you hopping back in the car for more.
Wash it all down with an inventive ice-cold pint from one (or more!) of our 11 local breweries.
Get Your Good Side
Capture the memories of your visit here on camera against the backdrop of stunning scenery, public art and more with these guides to the most picture-perfect spots around town that are prime for posting on social media: Pt.1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3.
It Ain’t About the Money
The best part? Columbia SC grants you front row access to all of this and more with affordable prices. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, your significant other or solo, there are options to suit every budget. In fact, here’s a list of things you can do with the little ones that are entirely free.