We are still are basking in the selection of Columbia SC as one of the Coolest Up-And-Coming cities by the readers of Hemisphere’s Magazine. Literally, we have our Columbia SC branded shades on (shameless plug – visit shopcolumbiasc.com to order yours) and are snapping our fingers to songs with “Cool” in the lyrics (it’s “Cool” by Morris Day and Time for me). If you know, you know, but for those who don’t, here are some of the reasons why we’re cool.  

The People

Did you know Columbia was designated one of the Top Five Most Neighborly Cities in America by Neighbor.com? I mean, of course we were. This is truly a city where you never meet a stranger. In true Southern tradition, you’ll easily find yourself talking about where you’re from, where you went to high school and college, and all of your favorite pastimes within minutes of meeting a local (probably over some sweet tea or something barrel-aged). Add to that the diverse cultures, vibrant neighborhoods, fresh perspectives and a thriving business community and Columbia is a city bursting with big ideas, forward thinkers and modern attitudes. 

The Vibes

We often refer to Columbia as a city with grit and you may be wondering what that means. It’s a vibe. It’s our vibe. We are a brave, resilient, spirited city that cannot be described in a bubble, and we think that’s fine. We give you an urban feel with easy access to a nature getaway. We’re a college and business town yet there’re plenty of options for your artsy friends. We’re the seat of legislature and full of intellectual diversity. We’re pimento cheese and burgers; cocktails and breweriesbrunch and happy hours; coffee shops and shoppingvegan food and barbeque. Our vibe is unexpected and here, you can discover something new for every day of the year. 

Inside, Outside, Upside, Down

I couldn’t resist using the Berenstain Bears classic as a metaphor for Columbia. Think about it – you can experience it from the inside with all of our attractions and restaurants, outside at our parks, rivers and festivals; upside on our burgeoning rooftop dining scene and underground in some cool, unexpected spaces.


From museums like the Columbia Museum of Art to restaurants and hotels in historic spaces (Motor Supply Co. Bistro and Hotel Trundle are two of my favs), to experiencing live music at The Senate or Chayze Lounge, the indoor options are endless. Or, explore the many outdoor recreation options and visit Congaree National Park, the state’s only national park, for an adventurous outside experience. Indulging in Italian cuisine with rooftop views of Congaree River at Black Rooster in West Columbia, the region certainly has its fair share of the “upside.” So what could be down? From 1972-1978, Columbia once had a series of restaurants and bars called Down Under Columbia under the Arcade Mall on Main Street. Today, Historic Columbia offers periodic behind the scenes tours of the space. 


Columbia’s history stretches across centuries and cultures and represents some defining moments in the makeup of this country. From exploring the State House, to taking a deep dive into everything from the Civil War to Reconstruction; African-American history to Jewish heritage; historic house tours to neighborhood explorations – there are countless ways to connect with history. Learn about the history of South Carolina at the South Carolina State Museum, tour historic houses in the Robert Mills District through Historic Columbia tours, learn about Columbia’s role during the Civil Rights era by taking the Columbia SC 63 walking tour or take a themed history walk through Congaree Creek in the 12,000 Year History Park and learn about Native American history and colonial settlers there.