Last updated: 04:35 PM ET, Wed September 16 2020
Columbia, South Carolina Fountain.  (photo via SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus)


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Downtown Columbia, South Carolina
PHOTO: Downtown Columbia, South Carolina. (photo via Kruck20/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Columbia, South Carolina, the capitol and largest city in that state, is known for its Southern hospitality; dining and nightlife hot spots; parks, gardens and outdoor activities. It also celebrates its past with numerous historical sites.

Visitors to the city are drawn to its abundant natural beauty. There are over 35 parks to choose from. In the Riverbanks Region, you can spend an afternoon fishing on beautiful Lake Murray, kayak down one of its three rivers or enjoy a nature walk through nearby Congaree National Park, a breathtaking place which contains one of the country’s last remaining stands of old-growth forest, including bald cypress and loblolly pines that reach to 165 feet. Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is home to more than 2,000 animals that represent over 350 species from around the world.

You'd need a month to enjoy all of the dining & nightlife hotspots found in Columbia's thriving specialty districts. Eating in the South is a way of life, and Columbia does it well. From southern comfort foods to new bistro specialties, Columbia offers over 450 dining options. And, on almost any night in the region, visitors and residents can enjoy a musical, ballet or theatrical performance. Although Columbia is in a renaissance period with growth and development flourishing, its history is preserved through its many historical buildings and markers, carefully interwoven throughout the city blending the old with the new.

The Lexington County Museum is a seven-acre complex with 30 historic structures. The museum interprets everyday life in Lexington County from ca. 1770 to the start of the Civil War. Among others, buildings on the site include the ca. 1832 John Fox House, a 10-room home depicting life in the 1850s; the 1771 Lawrence Corley Log House, the oldest building in the town of Lexington; the 1850 Wadlington Pigeonaire and numerous outbuildings. The museum features a large collection of locally-made artifacts such as historic quilts, firearms, furniture and pottery. Two sites on the National Register of Historic Places are First Baptist Church and Kensington Mansion. First Baptist Church is the site of the first Secession Convention in December 1860. The church was constructed in 1859 for a congregation dating from 1807. Kensington Mansion is an Italianate Revival mansion, an architectural and historic treasure completed in 1854. Founded in 1896, the SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is the oldest museum in the Columbia area. The museum focuses on South Carolina's military history from the Revolutionary War to the present.

Columbia wants its visitors to feel welcomed and catered to. As part of these efforts the city is encouraging all employees who frequently interact with area visitors to participate in its Certified Hospitality Hotspotter Program, which educates them on customer service skills and local attractions. The air gateway for Columbia is Columbia Metropolitan Airport.