The pockets of green scattered throughout Columbia SC and the expansive nature and wildlife just minutes from downtown make our city a nature lover's paradise. But to keep the heart of SC looking this way, locals and visitors alike have to do their part in committing to sustainable practices to take care of our city and our environment. Keep reading to challenge yourself to be a more environmentally responsible traveler!

Pack with Sustainability in Mind

Before you even hit the road, prepare to reduce your use of single-use plastics and make sure you pack your reusable to-go’s. Consider bringing a tote bag to carry all your purchases, a cute water bottle to keep you hydrated, and a metal or rubber straw for all those cocktails you plan on drinking.

Forgot to pack something? Check out the Visitors Center in-person or online for totes and on-the-go reusable drink ware.

Getting Around

Keep your carbon footprint at a minimum by taking public transportation like the Soda Cap Connector or the COMET. With routes across the Columbia region, they’ll get you where you need to go at an affordable cost.

When in doubt, walk it out. Strolling to your destinations will allow you to notice the city’s most beautiful details, and you might just discover new stops you want to add to your trip itinerary. However you decide to get around Columbia, make sure to leave to no trace. This means picking up after yourself and throwing away your trash. Bonus points if you recycle!

Shopping & Dining

You can shop your heart out and feel good doing it when you support local. While there are countless local shops around town to discover, the best place to find hundreds of sustainable businesses is at Soda City Market. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the vendors of this producer-only market line the 1300-1500 blocks of Main Street with all things SC hand-crafted and grown, along with mouth-watering food options.

When dining, plant-based and local options don’t just make the planet happy. They’ll also make your taste buds sing. From fried “chicken” sandwiches at A Peace Of Soul Vegan Kitchen to rich smoothies blended to perfection at Tasty as Fit, we’ve rounded up the best veggie-friendly spots for you here. Be sure to make time during your trip to support farm fresh fine dining as well at Motor Supply Co. Bistro, Hendrix, and Terra.

Explore the Great Outdoors

When you’re working so hard to keep our earth clean, you also need to spend some time outside and appreciate it. Bike the Riverwalks in Cayce and West Columbia, kayak the Saluda, or go for a hike at Congaree National Park, which protects the largest intact tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the U.S. While you’re visiting these places, learn how you can support their mission so Columbia can continue to be home to all of this beautiful nature. To make sure you hit all the best spots, use our Outdoor Adventurer trip itinerary as a guide when planning your trip.