From History to the Great Outdoors: Tours in Columbia SC
Friday, July 27, 2018 2:00 PM by Charlene Slaughter
Touring a city is a great way to explore the heart of a new place or to rediscover an old friend. Be it walking, boating, riding or floating – eating, learning, kayaking or strolling – there’s a tour for every passion in Columbia SC.
Grab your walking shoes, appetite, or a kayak and discover the city in exciting and inspiring ways.
Food & Beverage Tours
Two Gals & A Fork
Dive into Columbia’s culinary scene with a historic walking and tasting tour in the Vista, led by Two Gals and a Fork Food Tours. Tour guides from Historic Columbia will share Columbia’s history while you enjoy the offerings from five restaurants in the Vista. Leave full from delicious food, and fun historical facts! Two Gals and a Fork also offer "Brunch and Munch" and "Sites and Bites" and "Sunday Funday" tours every month.
Columbia Food Tours
Columbia Food Tours invite you to experience Columbia one bite at a time. The Main Street walking food tour takes you throughout downtown Columbia, learning about the Capital City as you try cuisine from five-to-seven locally owned restaurants. The Lexington tour features restaurants on and around the Main Street area of downtown Lexington.
Columbia Brew Bus
A tour bus, brews, beer trivia, snacks – no we’re no rock stars. But the Columbia Brew Bus makes you feel pretty close to one. The bus tour includes a brewery-led tasking session and facility tour of three Columbia breweries. There’s also sightseeing of local landmarks and coolers to keep beer purchases cold along the way.
City Roots Tour
Larger groups wishing to tour City Roots Farm, South Carolina’s first urban farm, can do so in an hourlong walking tour guided by farm staff. The tour highlights organic field crops, greenhouse microgreens, composting, fresh-cut flowers, solar power, farm events and more! A self-guided tour is also available for individuals and families who would like to see the farm at their own pace. Just stop by the farm store and pick up a guide.
Grab a flashlight, family and friends and tour 160 years of history during Historic Columbia’s Cemetery Tours. The tours, offered April – October, include a journey through Elmwood Cemetery, one of Columbia’s oldest, and reveals centuries of stories etched in stone on the markers and headstones
Historic Columbia offers a variety of Weekend Strolls and Rolls in neighborhoods and at historic sites throughout the heart of Columbia. From Cottontown and Lower Richland, to Melrose Heights and Hollywood – Rose Hill, Columbia’s neighborhoods are brimming with history.
Tour the home of the South Carolina Legislature. Guided tours of the South Carolina State House tell the history of the historic building, give an up-close view of legislative chambers and feature artwork and architecture throughout depicting the heritage of the state’s second capitol building.
Want to venture out on your own? Take a self-guided tour via web-based tours offered by Historic Columbia. Tours can be done on your computer, or turn it into a walking tour using your mobile device. Print brochures are also available at the Gift Shop at the Robert Mills House located at 1616 Blanding Street.
As you stroll around Columbia, in addition to stopping to “smell the roses,” stop to spot the salamander. The Sally Salamander walking tour introduces you to Columbia’s ambassador in the form of bronze statues of the state amphibian perched on some of downtown Columbia’s iconic sites.
State House Grounds Tour
Visitors to the State House can take a self-guided tour of the State House Grounds by picking up a tour brochure at the Columbia Regional Visitors Center. Discover nature and history at the State Capitol Complex, which sits on 18 acres. See where Sherman’s cannons hit the walls of the unfinished Capitol, where tens of thousands rallied on behalf of civil rights and the State House steps where governors are inaugurated.
Congaree National Park Self-Guided Tours
Congaree National Park is always waiting to be explored, with arms opened wide. Take a self-guided boardwalk tour and discover Congaree’s cultural history and its natural beauty. Pick up a boardwalk tour guide at the park visitors center and embark on a 2.4 mile wildlife adventure.
Outdoor activities in Columbia SC have no season. Tours of our waterways are just as delightful in the spring as they are in late fall. Boat tours of Lake Murray are available on public cruises aboard the Spirit of Lake Murray – the lake’s only dinner and reception tour yacht. Hop on board for sightseeing or to learn about the lake’s rich history, with B-25 bombers, schools, churches, bridges and even entire towns deep below the waters.
Interested in a more intimate tour setting? The folks at Lanier Sailing Academy offer small skippered cruises for small groups.
Congaree National Park
Explore the great Congaree River in tours available at Congaree National Park. The Wilderness Canoe Tour features a canoe trip on Cedar Creek with a park ranger. On the tour, rangers talk about the natural and cultural history of the last remaining old-growth bottomland forest in the United States. Rangers are also on hand to lead you on an Owl Prowl. Walk along the Boardwalk and learn about owls and other nocturnal creatures that call the park home. Don’t forget your flashlight!
Self-guided kayak or canoe tours of Cedar Creek through the forest are also available at CNP and can spark visits from river otters, deer, turtles, wading birds and the occasional alligator!
Kayak tours are plentiful in Columbia SC where you can literally float down a river while looking at the city skyline. Carolina Outdoor Adventures takes kayakers south on the Congaree, past sites of ancient Congaree Indian settlements. Single and tandem kayaks can also be rented at Saluda Shoals Park and Sesquicentennial State Park which boasts a 30-acre lake.
Adventure Carolina provides guided kayak and canoe river and lake trips in Columbia. Explore the region's many waterways including the Congaree, Saluda and Broad Rivers, Lake Murray, Congaree Creek and Cedar Creek.
Looking for more fun in Columbia SC? Check out our things to do page.