Columbia, SC Breaks the Mold With Conventional and Unconventional Venues

Columbia, South Carolina, is steeped in old-school values of hospitality and welcomeness. It is also replete with modern charms today’s visitors expect during a trip, whether it’s for business or pleasure. That’s because the team at Experience Columbia SC believes every experience should be one for the books, even if you are here working connections and generating leads.

Planners looking to future events can trust Columbia will charm attendees. After all, Southern hospitality never goes out of style. However, tastes do, which is why this destination never stops evolving. We’re proud of our classics, and excited to share new developments and venues designed to maximize your group’s time together.

We invited planners to come see for themselves why Columbia will create an experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere. See firsthand the different options available and start crafting a dream event.

Large annual meetings, conventions and trade shows will have plenty of space to engage attendees excited to meet face-to-face with their peers, counterparts, colleagues and friends. More intimate events can be staged in myriad venues unique to Columbia, setting the stage for a memorable experience while creating a fear of missing out from those unable to attend.

In other words, Columbia is ready for your group if traditional venues are in order or if planners have leeway to try a more unconventional approach. The best part is that it’s not an either/or. Come have your cake and eat it too. See how it’s possible when learning more about the following venues.


The following sites and venues are favorites for a reason. Planners can’t go wrong with one of these tried-and-true solutions.

Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center

There’s no better place to start than Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, an ideal example of the best-of-both-worlds experience your group will have here. Several thousands of attendees can easily fit into the facility’s largest spaces without anyone feeling overwhelmed. The two best words to describe planning here are “manageable” and “convenient,” which are two of the most beautiful words in the English language to event professionals.

Beyond the ability to hold more than 450 trade show booths or seat more than 4,500 attendees, the center excels with its flexibility. There are seven meeting rooms, including the 16,704-sq.-ft. ballroom that can split into three, that are conducive to productive general sessions and breakouts alike.

What sets the convention center apart are amenities including truly exceptional F&B offerings that will have your guests asking for seconds. The location, in the heart of an entertainment district known as the Vista, is a planner’s dream. You and your attendees are steps from that essential coffee run, as well as farm-to-table restaurants, local hot spots, dive bars are more. It’s all part of being classy but not stuffy. More than girls want to have fun!


Don’t need all the space of a convention center or just want a change of scenery? Columbia has an array of hotels with staff and spaces renowned for hosting meetings and events.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Columbia, South Carolina, has 23,000 square feet of event space, making it one of the area’s premier places for planners to create experiences. The Congaree Ballroom seats up to 1,500 while the executive boardroom is ideal for intimate gatherings for boards of directors, C-suite leaders and other VIPs. Free parking, Wi-Fi and shuttle service add to the convenience factor.

Marriott Columbia places your group conveniently close to the University of South Carolina, a potential prime spot for SMERF events and higher-education seminars. Columbia Museum of Art, Riverbanks Zoo, the state capitol, Vista District, Township Theatre, Colonial Life Arena and Williams Brice Stadium are among the many attractions that can be included for pre- or post-show activities, or for receptions and activities during the event. Plan a 1,000-person reception here or take advantage of the 16 meeting rooms.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Columbia Greystone is an affordable and enjoyable option for meetings and/or group functions. Hilton Garden Inn Columbia Downtown is another budget-friendly property with an on-site restaurant, business center and other amenities to get business done.

Hilton Columbia Center is an upscale option for boutique events, including financial institutions that will appreciate the hotel’s location in the city’s economic and historic corridors. Graduate Columbia also specializes in customized events, presenting a mixture of campus and classic atmosphere in downtown.


The same sites tourists turn to for culture and dining are also top places for planners to transform a meeting into an event.

Columbia Museum of Art

This acclaimed venue, featuring thousands of years’ worth of creativity and precision, is an inspiring choice to spark attendees’ imagination to develop new solutions to everyday challenges. Consider a thought-provoking educational session or engaging teambuilding activity inside the auditorium. Boyd Plaza and the Atrium are great choices for an evening reception, and the indoor and outdoor spaces provide options for different preferences.

Central Energy

This event space was built specifically for planners to develop outside-the-box events. A testament to Columbia’s revitalized downtown, Central Energy used to be the central power plant for the old South Carolina State Hospital. Now, it is a vibrant venue with historic touches—one for a great time while also showcasing the results of reimagining purposes for existing resources.

Segra Park

Hit it out of the park with an off-site party, reception or special event at Segra Park, a Minor League Baseball stadium. The full stadium and concourse are available for large events, while the club lounge, conference room and balcony will meet your needs for intimate gatherings.

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

You don’t have to be a party animal to appreciate the enjoyment a night out at the zoo would bring attendees after a day of business meetings. Citywide events and large conventions would do well with a rental of the full 170-acre property that features a botanical garden and scenic river views. Make a day of it by renting a meeting room before hanging with the apes.

The Lace House at Arsenal Hill

This three-story historic home is a favorite for weddings, and works just as well for private corporate events. Attendees will enjoy the elegance of this true Southern classic. Be sure to make use of the majestic outdoor gardens, where a group of 600 will appreciate this breath of fresh air from old-fashioned receptions.

701 Whaley

One of Columbia’s most popular venues, historic 701 Whaley specializes in hosting receptions, fundraisers and other special events. It holds up to 1,000 attendees.

1208 Washington Place

Few sites compete with the atmosphere at 1208 Washington Place, where bank vaults are now corporate event spaces. This historic building dating back to 1924 is another shining example of how Columbia continues to reinvent itself.

Junction 800

Located in Vista District, this is a fine option to break up time spent at the convention center without traveling too far. With seating for 500 and the capability of hosting a 1,000-person standing reception, Junction 800 is a good option for award ceremonies and specialized events.

Columbia is always up on the times but never forgets its history. That’s what makes this a can’t-miss destination to bring your group. Come see for yourself. We promise you will be glad you did.