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Top Things To Do In Columbia

Columbia, South Carolina is an enchanting town with an abundance of Southern charm. Visitors will delight in its historic downtown architecture, Instagram-worthy landmarks, and thriving art scene. Foodies are encouraged to explore the city’s vibrant restaurants and culinary events. Whether cheering on the South Carolina Gamecocks at a football game or hiking the winding trails of Sesqui, there’s something for everyone to discover.  

Columbia has a way of telling its history with fun, educational activities. Enjoy an afternoon on a guided tour or spend the day learning about native plants and animals at a state park.

 

The best attractions near Columbia:

  • Canoe down Cedar Creek and hike the forests at Congaree National Park
  • Explore Sesquicentennial State Park, a green getaway lovingly known as “Sesqui”
  • Attend a free guided tour of the South Carolina State House
  • Connect with nature at the Riverbanks Botanical Garden
  • Peer back in time at the house museum of famed architect Robert Mills

Find ways to enjoy your time in Columbia without breaking the bank. Create your own masterpiece at an art workshop before eating a picnic lunch on the park lawn.

Cheap activities near Columbia include:

  • Lounging at popular Finlay Park  
  • Enjoying a docent-led tour of Mann-Simons Cottage  
  • Relaxing in the serene cathedral of Saint Peter’s Catholic Church
  • Jogging through the gardens at Irmo Town Park
  • Attending a local arts workshop or speaker at the Jamil Shrine Temple
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Columbia is known for hosting exciting festivals. The South Carolina Seafood Festival serves up fresh shrimp, scallops, and other beloved local staples. The Southeastern Piano Festival features an international piano competition and nightly concerts.

Popular visitor attractions near Columbia:

  • Rent a bike and ride near the water at Columbia Canal Riverfront Park
  • Explore art that spans 5,000 years of history at the Columbia Museum of Art
  • Listen to live music at the West Columbia Riverwalk Ampitheatre
  • Lay out under the stars on a camping trip to one of the state parks
  • Watch the South Carolina Gamecocks take on their football rivals


Get in on the action. Immerse yourself in a 4-D movie screening at the Interactive Theater or tour Columbia’s most well-regarded pubs.

Exciting activities near Columbia include:

  • Jumping across the splash pads at Waterfall Junction
  • Eating New Southern chicken and grits or fried green tomatoes at Mr. Friendly’s cafe
  • Exploring 2,137 acres of wildlife at Harbison Environment Education Forest
  • Drink your way down the main drag with a Beer Tour of Columbia’s finest pubs
  • Stopping by Soda City Market for food trucks, drinks, and local vendors

For the partiers, the night owls, and those with evenings free, there’s always something happening at night in Columbia. Catching a Broadway show or hit the dance floor with the locals.

More nightlife attractions near Columbia:

  • See a live performance at the Koger Center for the Arts
  • Escape the ordinary with a night at the underground Art Bar, a midtown club with live music and a packed dance floor
  • Lounge on leather sofas with a beer in hand at The Capital Club
  • Savor the famous Ya Ya Hurricane! cocktail at Bourbon
  • Tickle your funny bone at a comedy show in the historic Trustus Theater

Take some time off to make new memories in Columbia this weekend. Snap a photo for the scrap book at a local landmark, then raise a pint to the weekend at a local brewery.

Weekend activities near Columbia:

  • Explore local plantation history at the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens
  • Play disk golf or horseback ride on the trails at Granby Park
  • Take a pic in front of the Tunnelvision Mural on Marion St.
  • Embark on a challenging hike to Riley Moore Falls at Sumter National Forest
  • Tour the tasting room of River Rat Brewery and try their special Blood Orange Pineapple Gose

Family outings are a blast in this southern city. EdVenture offers exhibits to delight every age group, while Palmetto Falls Water Park allows parents to relax while the kids swim and play.  

Family-friendly things to do near Columbia include:

  • Sending the kids to a day camp at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
  • Learning about pet care or explore the forces of flight at EdVenture
  • Racing your way to champion status in a go-kart at Frankie’s Fun Park
  • Walking the trails at Owens Field Skate Park while the kids master the half pipe
  • Splashing around the pools at Palmetto Falls Water Park

Enjoy a romantic night on the town with your loved one in Columbia. Make this date one to remember with a hands-on sushi making class or a horseback ride at sunset.

Other date night ideas in Columbia include:

  • Seek thrills together on a mountain-biking adventure at Harbison State Forest
  • Raise a glass at the esteemed II Giorgione restaurant
  • Horseback ride within view of the river at Saluda Shoals Park
  • Cook a delicious dinner out of ingredients found at the South Carolina State Farmers Market
  • Master rice-rolling at a couple’s sushi class at Sakitumi

Columbia has something for everyone in your party to enjoy. Bone up on local history on a tour or play a high-stakes game of laser tag.

More things to do with your friends near Columbia:

  • Work your way out of an escape room at Final Door Escape Room
  • Learn about history, architecture, culture, and local cuisine on a Columbia Food Tour
  • Test your skills as an assassin during a laser tag game at Frankie’s Fun Park
  • Spend an afternoon blueberry picking at Berry Hill Farm
  • See a live show at Town Theater, one of the oldest continually operating theaters in the country

For a day spent relaxing indoors, consider enjoying seafood at a local restaurant before seeing a ballet performance.

Other things to do indoors near Columbia include:

  • Fresh oysters inside an authentic and old-fashioned oyster bar at Oyster Bar Columbia
  • Honing your skills as a potter at Southern Pottery Workcenter & Gallery
  • A night of dance and celebration at the Columbia City Ballet
  • Singing your heart out at karaoke at Tsubaki
  • A hot stone massage at Pura Medical Spa

Thrill your inner adventurer with a day spent hiking trails, and afterwards lounge on the campus of USC.

Outdoor activities in Columbia include:

  • Camp on Lake Murray at Dreher Island State Park
  • Kayak the Columbia River on a guided tour from Fairmont to Lake Windermere
  • Explore the Timmerman Trail portion of the Cayce Riverwalk
  • Walk the original campus of The University of South Carolina, dubbed “The Horseshoe”
  • Enjoy a brilliant sunset on a Purple Martin Public Cruise to Bomb Island, SC

For those hoping to find solitude during their travels, Columbia offers a number of local secrets and less-trafficked landmarks to explore.  

Must-see places near Columbia include:

  • The world’s largest fire hydrant at Busted Plug Plaza
  • The giant titanium chain linking two buildings together in downtown Columbia, which was originally installed without permission
  • The stuffed hot wings from the famous 2 Fat 2 Fly food truck
  • Unique gift for a friend back home at Uptown, from zany housewares to college team paraphernalia
  • An old train trestle re-imagined as an Egyptian obelisk on Heyward St.

Top Attractions