Things to do

Founded in 1786 in the heart of the state of South Carolina, the City of Columbia has a lot to offer for people of all ages – the perfect place for young and young-at-heart! Whether you want to do something local or rent a car and day trip to other parts of the state, we’re sure you’ll be able to find something of interest! 

In the heart of South Carolina, tradition and tomorrow pair perfectly. As a creative hub that's fed by university and capital city communities, a gritty spirit and vibrant energy can be felt all around. It’s a city where stately buildings buzz with new businesses and centuries-old sites give rise to fresh perspectives — all this in the midst of surrounding natural beauty. Find things to do while visiting Columbia by visiting the Columbia SC Visitors Center online.

Renting a car while visiting South Carolina? Check out the SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism’s website, Discover South Carolina, for ideas for day trips and more. Columbia’s location near the geographic center of the state means that most locations are within a three-hour (or LESS!) drive from the Capitol City.

From food tours that walk you through Columbia's entertainment districts to historic house and garden tours to brewery and pedal parlor tours, there's something for everyone looking for someone else to show them around the city. Ready to be one with nature, but don’t want to travel far from the city? Less than two miles from the city center you can rent a tube, canoe or kayak and float down the river with nothing but trees around you and views of the skyline. Learn more

Nestled in the Main Street district, the Columbia Museum of Art brings energy and inspiration to the capital city through its internationally renowned collection, exhibitions, and programs. One of the largest in the Southeast, this international collection houses a diverse number of pieces spanning across many eras. Every few months, the CMA rotates exhibitions — some are created in-house, while others are traveling shows

The South Carolina State Museum is a state-of-the-art facility featuring four floors of permanent and changing exhibits, a digital dome planetarium, 4D interactive theater and an observatory. The State Museum, originally the location of the world’s first textile mill completely run by electricity, is the largest and most comprehensive museum in the state and is located along the banks of the Congaree River in downtown Columbia.

EdVenture, the South's largest children's museum is the home of Eddie, the world's largest child, along with 300 exhibits to inspire children to experience the joy of learning. Where else but EdVenture can children talk to a skeleton, drive a real fire truck, become a veterinarian for the day or visit another country. EdVenture is located across from the State Museum.

Looking for a place for run/walk in downtown? Built around the city's original waterworks, Riverfront Park and Historic Columbia Canal opened in 1983 for recreational usage. This park was planned around the site of the world’s first electrically operated textile mill and the city’s original waterworks and hydroelectric plant, the oldest one in the state and it is still operating. The Park is 4 miles long and provides a flat, easy-walking, paved trail that follows the old towpath of the Columbia Canal. Open dawn to dusk. 

One of America’s best zoos, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 2,000 magnificent and fascinating animals and one of the nation’s most beautiful and inspiring botanical gardens. The lush 170-acre site features dynamic natural habitat exhibits, scenic river views, spectacular valley overlooks and significant historic landmarks. Riverbanks boasts a national reputation as one of America’s best zoos, drawing one million visitors annually.

Featured as one of the South’s Best Parks by Southern Living magazine, South Carolina’s only national park – Congaree National Park. The 26,000 acre National Park protects the largest intact tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States. The park contains some of the tallest trees in Eastern North America with one of the highest canopies in the world and broad bio-diversity. The park is recognized as International Biosphere Reserve, federally designated Wilderness Area, and Globally Important Bird Area.

Strategically centered in downtown Columbia, the South Carolina State House is the seat of state government in South Carolina. Free guided and self-guided tours are available of the State House Monday-Friday. The State House gift shop is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm Monday-Friday, and 10 am to 4 pm on (most) Saturdays.

Columbia’s Greek Festival, Sept 14-17, is an annual four-day event hosted by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Columbia, SC.  The Greek Festival is their opportunity to share Greek culture in food, dance and music with the community and raise money for Church and Charity (Columbia’s Greek Festival has donated more than $400K in charity over the past several years).

If you bring non-seidea23 participants with you, have them check out Soda City Market. 150 vendors line the 1300-1500 blocks of Main Street on average each Saturday. From 9 am through 1 pm, browse and shop all things SC hand-crafted and grown, fill up on a melting-pot of food offerings, and meet some of Columbia's most musically talented as they perform in the street.

Sally Salamander Walking Tour
Self guided. Downtown.

Anne Frank Center
USC is the Official US Partner of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and the only partner site in North America.

Robert Mills House and Gardens
(PSST: Mills designed the Washington Monument!)

Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens
200 year old home and gardens situated on four-acres in the city center.

Museum of the Reconstruction Era at the Woodrow Wilson Family Home
Only US museum dedicated to post-Civil War Era 

South Carolina Military Museum
One of the premiere National Guard museums in the country. Pieces date back to 1670s.

Craft Axe Throwing
Throw an axe. Grab a beer. Have a great time!

Located in the heart of the Vista. Up to 6 players.

The Grand on Main
Boutique Bowling and upscale casual dining.

Transmission Arcade + Bar
Games. Dine-in. Bar.

Nickelodeon Theater
Not-for-profit. Best place to catch indie films.

Mast General Store
Candy to outdoor gear, fashion to souvenirs.

Tin Roof
Live music. Food and drink.

The Senate (@ Tin Roof)
Live entertainment. Variety. Check calendar.

New Brookland Tavern
Alternative/heavy metal music club and tavern. Open 7 nights a week.

Blue  Marlin
Cuisine inspired by the flavors of South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

Hall’s Chophouse
Very upscale and popular dining located steps away from the SC Statehouse.

Chef-inspired dining. Unique rooftop cocktails. In Downtown.

Did you know... Interesting Facts and Trivia about Columbia, South Carolina