Stay and Play: Your Columbia, SC Travel Guide
This attraction-filled state capital is an exciting, yet laid-back, vacation destination. Enjoy premium dining and cultural offerings in the downtown area or spend some time exploring the natural parks surrounding the city. Make sure you don’t miss-out on the best sightseeing, or spend too much money, with this Columbia, SC travel guide.
Affordable Hotels Along the Interstate
Image via Flickr by David
If you’re looking for the cheapest room rates, consider staying outside the downtown area along one of the Interstate highways. If you’re driving to Columbia, or renting a car, book at the Courtyard by Marriott Columbia Northeast. This modern and quiet hotel offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, on-site dining, and easy access to I-77 and Fort Jackson. You’ll find other affordable hotels in Columbia along Interstates 20 and 26.
Must-See Downtown Attractions
The downtown area, featuring the University of South Carolina, is a mix of the modern and historic. With mild temperatures year round, exploring the downtown area on foot is a delight. Take a free tour of the South Carolina State House or spend a day with your kids at the interactive and highly rated Edventure Children’s Museum.
Drivers will find several public parking facilities in the downtown area with daily rates ranging from $3 to $10. If you prefer walking to these attractions, you will find reasonable room rates at some mid-scale downtown properties like the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites or the Sheraton Columbia Downtown Hotel.
Eats and Entertainment
Columbia offers a surprisingly vibrant entertainment community. To get the inside scoop, hire a local entertainment guide to sample the best of Columbia’s dining and performing arts scene. If you’re travelling with your kids, be sure to check-out the show schedule at the Columbia Marionette Theatre, while internationally acclaimed music stars and shows entertain at the downtown Colonial Life Arena.
Image via Flickr by Jason Lam
You can’t visit Columbia without tasting authentic southern BBQ. Keep your eyes peeled for gourmet food trucks and outdoor patios. Columbia locals love the wood-fired, pit-cooked, BBQ food served at Maurice’s Piggy Park. One of the restaurant’s 14 locations is found downtown on Elmwood Avenue. If you’ve worked-up an appetite, order the Big Pig traditional dinner and you’ll discover what the fuss is all about.
Explore the Surrounding Area
Nature-lovers will fall in love with the lakes and parks surrounding Columbia. Lake Murray, northwest of downtown, is a 41-mile long former hydro-electic facility. The lake is a hot spot for boating enthusiasts looking to fish, water ski, or simply float in the sun. Several marinas around the lake provide boat rentals.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the nature of the South, spend a day at Conagree National Park. This massive park of forest and wetlands provides endless hiking and canoeing opportunities. Free guided tours along the board walks or birdwatching through the forests are available year-round.
Columbia’s Southern hospitality will urge you to slow down and smell the BBQ. Any time of year is a great time to explore this welcoming sub-tropical city.
A former journalist, Tammy Banfield is a freelance travel writer who loves scouring the web for the best travel experiences. Tammy has written about more than 2,000 hotels and has traveled extensively throughout Canada and the United States. She is currently writing for Hipmunk’s City Love project.
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Feature Image via Flickr by Ken Lund