Whether you’re interested in American civil war history, connecting with nature peacefully among beautiful parks and greenways or looking for art and culture mixed with just the right amount of southern charm, Columbia, South Carolina is a delightful destination city in the heart of the United States Sunbelt region. Columbia is one of the first planned cities in the United States, featuring broad avenues and picturesque settings amid the grand pre-Civil War houses of the American south. Visit the plantation home that was purchased by one of its former slaves and now serves as a museum and reminder of a unique time in history. Strolling through Columbia’s enchanting gardens and parks brings visitors to museums, art galleries and unique shops that are found throughout the city. For outdoor adventure, Columbia has an abundance of rivers that are suitable for canoeing, kayaking and parasailing. The 50,000 acre park, Fort Murray is a mere 15 minutes from downtown and a fantastic destination for hiking, fishing and water sports. For family fun, Riverbank Zoo and Botanical Center is considered to be one of the best American zoos and has both gorilla and koala exhibits as well as a wide variety of other animals to view. Edventure, a children’s museum, is located next to the state museum and has hands-on exhibits to entertain the little ones. Be sure to stop by the Melton Memorial Observatory on Monday nights for free viewing of the stars and planets.
April marks the beginning of tourist season in Columbia and ushers in a variety of festivals and events with Jazz Appreciation, the Congaree Art Festival, Earth Fest and the Capital City Wing and Fling. April and May bring the best weather of the year with warm temperatures and sunny skies – ideal for enjoying the city’s many parks. June through September are hot months with greater than average precipitation. Budget minded travelers should consider arriving in October, when hotel rates are lower, the weather is temperate and the city enjoys a month full of music and art festivals as well as hosting the South Carolina State Fair.
Columbia’s urban core is pedestrian-friendly and taxicabs can be found near the hotels and waterfront. Although the city has a decent bus system, it is scheduled and routed to meet the needs of local citizens and tourist destinations are not well served. Many tourists choose to rent a car, particularly if planning to visit the city’s surrounding parklands.