32 Best & Fun Things To Do In Columbia (South Carolina)

Things To Do In Columbia SC
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Columbia is a bright and teeming city known for its heat, food, and community of artists.

It’s packed with so many places to go that offer wonderful opportunities for exploration and tourism.

If you’re planning a visit to the city, we’re here to help you choose the spots you should visit!

Here are our picks for the best and fun things to do in Columbia, South Carolina.

Things To Do In Columbia, SC

1. Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden

Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden
Katherine Harward / Shutterstock

The Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the best Columbia attractions you can find.

Situated along the Lower Saluda River, it opened its doors back in 1974.

Spanning 170 acres, it is home to over 2,000 different animals of all kinds and is especially popular among families.

It has received the honor of being the most outstanding tourist attraction in South Carolina twice from the Governer’s Cup Award!

The Riverbanks Zoo area is divided up into multiple different sections, including the Petting Zoo, Reptile House, and Bird Complex, so you can fully immerse yourself in the world of each type of animal along the way.

You’ll learn from interactive exhibits about all sorts of things like habitats and beekeeping tactics, and even watch computer programs to find out about each animal.

You’ll get to meet unique animals and even feed the giraffes!

On the other hand, the Riverbank Botanical Garden takes up 70 acres of space and showcases 4,200 different kinds of plants from not just Columbia, but all of North America.

Lush gardens, rare collections of plants, thick woodland, and even ruins are waiting to be discovered.

Many are exotic, too!

Don’t forget to walk along the River Trail, which runs for 0.3 miles beginning at Saluda Bridge all the way to the Saluda Mills Interpretive Center.

This walk teaches you about the textile history of the town and how the textile mills work!

Address: 1300 Botanical Pkwy, West Columbia, SC 29169, United States

2. Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens

Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens
Historic Columbia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens were first built in the year 1818 for Ainsley Hall, a rich merchant of Columbia, and has since passed many hands.

It earned its name from the Hampton family, which it served as a private residence.

It is the Hamptons who changed its style, shifting to Greek Revival architecture from the original Federal style.

It was used as a Union Army Headquarters, then the Preston family owned it next and eventually sold it when the Civil War was over.

It then became a South Carolina Governer’s Mansion.

Over the years, the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens has been the home of a whopping four colleges.

It was eventually partitioned up in 1970 following renovation for commercial use, as a part of the Midlands Tricentennial Exposition Center, housing events and activities.

It also got onto the National Register of Historic Places.

Now, the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens is one of the most fun tourist attractions in the city.

Its garden is packed with both local and international plants and the grounds stretch across four acres, giving you plenty of space to explore.

Address: 1615 Blanding St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

3. South Carolina State House

South Carolina State House
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The South Carolina State House is one of the most famous places to visit in Columbia and around its vicinity.

It’s a symbol of fine Greek Revival design and is one of the state’s most-visited locations by tourists.

Construction on the structure began in 1851, but couldn’t be completed till after the war; by that time, the Greek style was already outdated, but the building’s historical value and beautiful architecture make up for that.

Designed by John Niernsee, the towers of the State House reach 180 feet into the air and boast a regally painted dome of copper.

The grounds of the capitol provide a lot of historical context to Columbia and its state.

With monuments such as the American-Mexican War Monument, the Revolutionary War Generals Monument, the African-American History Monument, and multiple other monuments for State Law Enforcement Officers and even President George Washington.

If you walk along the building’s exterior, you’ll eventually find a pattern of five stars.

This is a mark of where cannonballs of the union hit the structure in the Civil War prior to its completion.

It’s a unique touch that adds a somber sort of awe to the atmosphere.

Naturally, there are tours available to take of the interior of the State House for free.

View chambers and halls at no cost!

Address: 1100 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29208, United States

4. EdVenture Children’s Museum

EdVenture Children's Museum
Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock

Of all the cool places to go, the EdVenture Children’s Museum is one of the most fun things to do in Columbia, SC, hands down!

The entertainment begins right at the door with a huge statue of museum mascot Eddie, a towering plastic structure measuring 40 feet in height and 17.5 tons in weight.

Better yet, he’s not off limits – he’s a hands-on educational tool.

Kids get to climb onto and into the statue and interact with his carefully made organs to learn more about bodily structure.

350 more enticing exhibits, all hands-on or at least interactive, decorate this Columbia, South Carolina museum.

Children aged 12 and younger are the target audience, though family can of course come with them.

EdVenture Children’s Museum aims to inspire children to love learning through play and unique methods of teaching complex concepts, and it certainly does that!

Among the exhibits is a pet care lab called Wags and Whiskers to learn about caring for pets and animals with the aid of plush toys.

There’s also an inventor’s lab for kids aged five and above called Marketworks, where tools, blocks, and more are used to innovate and create.

Next up is World of Work, which tells children about the adult world of jobs and careers, Planet Putt and Play that teaches geometry and math with miniature golf, and Dalmation Station that has a real fire engine to interact with!

If anyone gets hungry, just head to Carousel Cafe for simple kid-friendly favorite bites, like hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese.

Address: 211 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

5. Columbia Museum of Art

Columbia Museum of Art
Columbia Museum of Art

The Columbia Museum of Art isn’t just one of South Carolina’s top 10 museums for modern art, but it’s also a hub for the city’s community.

More than 5,000 years of art history are here on display with over 25 world-class galleries and an incredible set of permanent collections.

It’s no surprise that this Museum of Art is one of the most renowned of its kind in the southeast.

It’s won awards like the National Art Education honors, the National Park Foundation Award, and the Governor’s Award for outstanding contribution to the arts in South Carolina.

Among the most delightful things to see at the Columbia Museum of Art is the Press Collection, continuing Renaissance and Baroque pieces that are here thanks to donations by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

The European collection is also completely stunning and very diverse.

In both, you’ll see great masterpieces like the Nativity Fresco by Sandro Botticelli the Florentine master and the View of the Seine by Claude Monet.

The American art collection is great too, with marble work by Hiram powers, ceramics by Victor Toothaker, portraits by Charles Willson Peale, decorative furniture by Duncan Phyfe, and even sculptures made by Frederic S. Remington.

Other great collections are the Asian, Modern, Vogel, and Contemporary exhibits.

Apart from showcasing these masterpieces, the Museum of Art also hosts block parties, kids’ programs, art classes, tours, concerts, and lectures.

If you’re here at the right time, you might be able to catch one!

Address: 1515 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

6. Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park

Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park
Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park

Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park is a wonderful linear urban park that you’ll see running along the Columbia Canal and Saluda River.

It’s 14 acres in size and located in the downtown area, designed to be accessible to all.

Walkways are paved for easy walking, wheelchair pushing, jogging, or biking, with all 2.5 miles of path offering lovely views of the rivers.

It’s a wonderful place to have a picnic or simply relax, and you can even workout at the interesting outdoor gym that is free to use.

It’s also one of the city’s interesting places to visit because it can teach you a bit about town history.

It’s where the world’s first textile mill was first opened and is the site of the state’s oldest plant for hydroelectric technology that is still in business today.

Address: 312 Laurel St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

7. South Carolina State Museum

South Carolina State Museum
Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock

The South Carolina State Museum is one of the best things to do in Columbia, SC due to its ability to educate visitors on the history of the state.

It opened in 1988 in a building that was once a 19th-century mill, with four floors dedicated to displays of all kinds.

The museum offers a mix of personal historical collections and rotating exhibits.

Stories are told about the history of the state, sometimes through lenses of culture, technology, people, and art.

One of the museum’s bigger draws is its 4D theater, which is interactive and much-loved by visitors.

Other fun stops on museum grounds are America’s first steam locomotive, an observatory, and a submarine.

There are more than 70,000 items exhibited in all, so take your time going through them all!

Address: 301 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

8. Robert Mills House and Gardens

Robert Mills House and Gardens
Dr. Blazer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Robert Mills House and Gardens are truly amazing spots for sightseeing, especially if you see lots of fun in architecture and arts.

The home building is the creation of the titular Robert Mills, and it’s a townhouse in the style of Classical Revival elegance.

It was made in 1823 for a wealthy merchant of Columbia named Ainsley Hall and his wife.

Mills very rarely designed private homes, so catching a glimpse of this rarity should be on your list of what to do!

At first, after it fell out of private resident provision, the house was a bible college and seminary.

But in 1961, the home was restored completely and then opened up as a house museum for tourists and interested locals.

It was narrowly saved from being torn down, so the fact that it remains today is truly a blessing!

As a house museum, the Robert Mills House and Gardens showcase decorative arts from the 19th century.

French Empire, English Regency, and American Federal works, particularly of furniture, are displayed throughout the building.

Art exhibitions of all kinds also stop by and set up shop in the basement gallery now and then.

Address: 1616 Blanding St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

9. South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

SC Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum
SC Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum

The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is one of the oldest museums in Columbia.

In fact, it’s the third oldest in the entire state!

It’s dedicated to telling the history and tales of war, from the Revolutionary War and beyond until the current war on terrorism.

Most of the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum focuses on the Civil War, with a range of memorabilia, guns, uniforms, artifacts, and medical gear that speak volumes about the so-called War between the States.

It’s more than just little bits and pieces of remnants, though; it’s also manuscripts, ledgers, detailed letters, and written documentation that truly entrenches you in the story of the war and what life was like back then.

The Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is maintained by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

For history buffs, visiting here is one of the most interesting and educational activities in Columbia.

It’s one of the points of interest you shouldn’t miss!

Address: 301 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

10. Governor’s Mansion

Governor's Mansion
KudzuVine, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Governor’s Mansion, situated in Colombia’s historic district, is home to the actual governors of the state of South Carolina.

It’s a stately, impressive mansion set upon nine well-cared-for acres of magnificent land.

Not only do all 30 of the state’s governors genuinely reside in this large and imposing manor to be near their offices, but it’s also a crucial public space to Columbia residents.

The publicly open rooms serve as a glimpse into the lives of previous and even current governors, containing all sorts of artifacts of significance.

Original paintings with considerable value, gorgeous pieces of china, historically rich documents, and even antique furniture all paint a picture of the history of South Carolina.

The building is also often used to entertain dignitaries and high-ranking visitors from across the globe.

If you’re looking for where to go, the Governer’s Mansion is a great way to experience the state’s hospitality and its regality, all at once.

Address: 800 Richland St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

11. Melton Memorial Observatory

Melton Memorial Observatory
Melton Memorial Observatory

The Melton Memorial Observatory is one of the coolest Columbia attractions for those with a love for astronomy and the great world beyond our world.

Located in the University of South Carolina and is a simple yet sophisticated spot for stargazers who want access to good equipment to seek out the celestial bodies.

Before heading over to the Melton Memorial Observatory, it’s best to check what the weather in Colombia will be like at the time.

You want clear skies so you have a good view of space!

Address: 1429 Greene St, Columbia, SC 29208, United States

12. Harbison State Forest

Harbison State Forest
Harbison State Forest

The Harbison State Forest is only about nine miles away from the heart of Columbia and, as far as tourist attractions go, it’s among the top options for nature-lovers.

The forest park covers 2,137 acres of land, bordering the Broad River and packed with over thirty miles of hiking trails and roads for bikers.

The forest is made up of hardwood and pine, interspersed with lush glades and relaxing streams.

It is primarily designed as an educational and recreational space, but some of its portions have a little more fun in them as they’re meant to demonstrate common forestry-relaxed practices.

This includes site preparation, planned thinning, planned burning, harvesting, and planning.

Address: 5600 Broad River Rd, Columbia, SC 29212, United States

13. Saluda Shoals Park

Saluda Shoals Park
Saluda Shoals Park

Saluda Shoals Park is only a few miles away from the downtown area of Columbia, and it’s one of the best places to visit if you’re seeking a little serenity or tranquility.

Lush and by the riverfront of Saluda River, it’s packed with different opportunities to enjoy yourself.

Spanning 400 acres, Saluda Shoals Park hosts many different rich experiences, from the cultural to the educational and, of course, to the recreational.

It’s the home of the Environmental Education Center and Exhibit Hall, which covers 11,000 square feet of ground, and the equally known Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission Headquarters.

No matter what it is you want to do, you can probably get it done here.

Canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, horse riding, biking, having a picnic, and simply hiking are all common options.

There’s also a lovely observation deck with plenty of space to view the world around you.

It’s a really good getaway option to consider this weekend for a more peaceful tourist experience.

If you’ve got kids, don’t forget to take them to the splash pad!

Address: 5605 Bush River Rd, Columbia, SC 29212, United States

14. The Columbia Fireflies

Columbia Fireflies
slgckgcFollow / flickr

The Columbia Fireflies are the city’s local Minor League Baseball team, based in Segra Park.

The team, which participates in the Class A South Atlantic League, used to be based in Savannah, Georgia before their 2015 relocation to South Carolina’s Greenville.

Watching a Fireflies baseball game is probably one of the most fun things to do in Columbia, SC, especially if you have kids!

The grass section allows for relaxed viewing and the Kids Play Zone keeps children occupied.

The laid-back, low-key, casual setting of their games is ideal for someone’s first baseball-watching experience, too, so don’t be intimidated if you’ve never spectated this sport before!

Address: 1640 Freed Street, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

15. South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra

South Carolina Philharmonic
South Carolina Philharmonic

If you’re looking for some musical entertainment, you’ll be thrilled to know that the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra is based in the city of Columbia!

Every year, it showcases an entire season of wonderful, talent-filled performances that is one of the greatest things to see in the city.

Occasionally, popular musicians from across the country – and, sometimes, the world – appear as guests and join in with the Philharmonic Orchestra’s performances.

If you’re lucky enough to catch such a guest appearance, you certainly won’t regret the trip!

Address: 1051 Greene St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

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16. Waverly Historic District

Waverly Historic District
Eastward Gypsy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Waverly Historic District is the first suburb to ever be built in Columbia.

The community is incredibly diverse, an enclave packed with people of color who are social activists, crafters, professionals, and artists alike.

It’s also just one of the city’s fun and more vibrant places to visit, with lots of activities and options to keep you occupied.

Allen University and Benedict College, two historically black learning institutes of high acclaim, are here.

They were known for providing higher education during the segregation era.

A walking tour takes you to them and also to other spots of note, such as the 1885-built Bishop’s Memorial AME church that is among the locations on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other good areas to visit in Waverly Historic District are Carpenter’s Hall, the Heist-Russell House, Carver Theater, the Waverly Five and Dime, and Daddy Grace’s Parsonage.

Check out the official walking tour guideline and itinerary to find out where you’ll be heading!

Address: 2222 Washington St, Columbia, SC 29204, United States

17. Nickelodeon Theater

Nickelodeon Theatre
Nickelodeon Theatre

The Nickelodeon Theater, known simply as the “Nick”, is one of the most wonderful ways to catch indie films in Columbia, South Carolina.

It’s unique in the sense that it’s a small, intimate setting that only showcases three independent screenings on a daily basis.

The Nick is completely not-for-profit and has been since the year 1978.

With just 99 seats, it’s a hipster-like location with genuine class and great taste.

Sometimes, film festivals are also held here, which are some of the top things to do in Columbia, SC!

Address: 1607 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

18. Columbia Food Tours

Columbia Food Tours, LLC
Columbia Food Tours, LLC

Columbia Food Tours capitalizes on how quickly the city is becoming a haven for foodies packed with innovative and delightful eateries of all kinds.

As a walking tour, it is led by knowledgeable guides who bring you to between five and seven restaurants to try out the most fun and delicious offerings of this South Carolina city.

Along your way, you’ll learn about the history, culture, architecture of buildings near the trail, and even more about local cuisine as guides exposit and educate.

There are two tours to choose from, one lasting two and the other lasting three hours.

It only takes about ten minutes to get from one eatery to the next, so you’ll never get bored!

As far as what to do in Columbia, SC, experiencing local cuisine is one of the greatest ideas!

19. Sesquicentennial State Park

Sesquicentennial State Park
stunnafulphotos / Shutterstock

If you’re looking for stuff to do and you’re a fan of nature-loving activities, then Sesquicentennial State Park might be one of your best options in the South Carolina area.

It’s known for being a beautiful place for picnics and is generally loved by visiting families, due in part to its huge lake and many different trails.

If you do want to have a picnic here, you usually need to reserve a picnic pad in advance – that’s how popular it is!

Just twenty minutes away from vibrant downtown Columbia, Sesquicentennial State Park, often referred to simply as “Sesqui”, is accessible and great all year round.

A splash pad is open seasonally for kids, and you can go hiking, camping, or exploring at your leisure.

Address: 9564 Two Notch Rd, Columbia, SC 29223, United States

20. Tunnelvision

Tunnelvision
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock

Tunnelvision was created by Blue Sky, an artist from South Carolina who is also responsible for a number of other famous modern artworks in Columbia; you’ll read about some of them in a little while!

He was inspired to create it based on a dream, and the result is a whimsical, almost otherworldly sort of masterpiece that looks like a portal to a different world.

Located in downtown Columbia in an unassuming parking lot, Tunnelvision is painted across a large wall measuring 50 by 75 feet.

The mural depicts a “tunnel” into another world, the distinction clear by way of the different moon hanging in the sky.

It’s large enough to drive a car through – that is, if it were a real tunnel!

The optical illusion often makes the tunnel look genuine, which is why it’s on this list of what to see in Columbia.

Luckily, so far no cars have actually driven into it.

With one of the most casual sites, it’s an unorthodox attraction that you can drop by with no bells or whistles.

Address: 1550 Marion Street, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

21. Mr. Friendly’s

Mr. Friendly's
Mr. Friendly’s

Can you consider eateries and good food among Columbia attractions?

With fun, delicious places like Mr. Friendly’s, it’s tough not to!

It refers to itself as a new Southern cafe and serves cuisine fitting that theme.

Located in Historic Five Points, it might be the most loved restaurant in its area!

Not quite sure what new Southern food is?

Think of grits, fried tomatoes, chicken, and even special meals like Sesame Seared Yellowfin Tuna and Low Country Seafood Cakes.

Daily specials rotate regularly and showcase the chef’s incredible grasp of Southern flavors that are uniquely Columbia.

Go on Mondays to try out Mr. Friendly’s Moonpies, which have won awards and are as decadent as they come!

Address: 2001 Greene St A, Columbia, SC 29205, United States

22. South Carolina State Farmers Market

South Carolina State Farmers Market
South Carolina State Farmers Market

Farmers markets aren’t exactly typical tourist attractions, but you’ll forgive us for including the Columbia-based South Carolina State Farmers Market on this list for its charm and selection.

Fresh produce, gardening materials and supplies, and home-baked goods are all waiting at this Farmer’s Market this weekend.

Need to know what will be available in advance?

Check out the harvest calendar, which works in tandem, naturally, with the climate of Columbia, to see the specific produce types that will be for sale.

Address: 3483 Charleston Hwy, West Columbia, SC 29172, United States

23. Mast General Store

Mast General Store
Mast General Store

The Mast General Store in Columbia is a delightful mix of all sorts of different products.

It’s one of the best places to visit when you have a wide range of shopping “genres” to take care of in one go.

It carries dozens upon dozens of brands and sells everything from candy to outdoor gear and from fashion to souvenirs.

The Mast General Store is also just a good place to go to get away from the heat of Columbia, South Carolina – but expect to get caught up looking around for a while, even when your intention was just a quick break from the sun!

Address: 1601 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

24. Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park
Zack Frank / Shutterstock

Known as one of the most beautiful places to visit in the US, sightseeing in Congaree National Park is one of the most fun things to do in Columbia, SC.

A whopping 26,000 acres of beautiful, lush land waits to be explored, its thick and plentiful nature, due to the Wateree and Congaree rivers that are both packed with nutrients, spill onto the hardwood forest floor.

The forest is also one of the world’s tallest deciduous forests!

There are so many different things to do here that it can get a little overwhelming.

Your best bet is to begin at the Hampton Visitors Center to grab maps, learn about the area’s biodiversity, and talk to guides for more information.

There’s a Junior Ranger Program for children and some small exhibits to take in, too.

Most people like the hiking trails at Congaree National Park.

They all require good boots and suitable attire in general, but some are easier than others.

The Boardwalk Trail is the simplest, elevated above the muddy ground and spanning 2.4 miles through the forest.

Some other great options are the Bluff Train and River Trail for those who love trees and nature, the Kingsnake Trail for bird-watchers, the Weston Lake Loop Trail to get good Cedar Creek views, and the Longleaf Trail to get to the campground.

Guided walks are available, too.

The Big Tree Hike is led by park founder John Cely, lasting three hours over five miles as you view some of the park’s biggest trees.

The Nature Discovery Walk teaches you about the flora and fauna of the park.

There are even Ranger Led Canoe Tours, which take you through the waters with an experienced guide.

You can also opt for your own personal things to enjoy, like canoeing, fishing, watching the fireflies, or camping.

All in all, there’s lots to do at this Columbia, South Carolina national park!

Address: 100 National Park Rd, Hopkins, SC 29061, United States

25. Never Bust Chain

Never Bust Chain
Jason Eppink / flickr

If you’re looking for enthralling but unusual things to see in Columbia, you’ll want to check out the Never Bust Chain.

It’s a work of art by Blue Sky, an artist of South Carolina who also did Tunnelvision, located in downtown Columbia.

No city approval was sought, only approval from the owners of the buildings involved, but it gained immediate government approval thanks to the renown of the artist.

The Never Bust Chain was installed in the year 2000 between two big buildings of offices.

The huge chain provides an added industrial feel that is still whimsical and fascinating to behold.

2,000 pounds of hydraulic pressure were required to link the final parts of the chain together, as it had to be welded professionally for the sake of public safety.

It’s a good thing, too – the rather imposing artwork hangs over an alley that plenty of the public cross daily, ten feet above the ground!

Though viewing these modern works of art is one of the more unorthodox tourist activities in the city, it’s still very interesting to see.

Blue Sky said that he decided to install this work of art here because one of the buildings appeared to be leaning slightly – and whether that’s a complete truth or a vague metaphor, it’s pretty brilliant!

Address: 1502-1508 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

26. Good Life Cafe

Good Life Cafe
Good Life Cafe

Looking for vegan cuisine?

One of the most reputable places to visit for such fare in South Carolina is the Good Life Cafe!

It serves organic food that is fully plant-based and is one of Columbia’s only eateries to do so.

What’s the menu like?

The Good Life Cafe offers delicious smoothies, healthy and fresh juices, incredible cold-pressed cocktails, great sandwiches and burritos, and even some burgers and salads!

All servings are fun and colorful, perfect for a quick bite that tastes great without wreaking havoc on your body in the process!

Address: 1614 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

27. Lake Murray Dam

Lake Murray Dam
pim pic / Shutterstock

Lake Murray Dam is the top spot for romance in Columbia.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s that special place where couples go to put padlocks onto the gate that symbolize their relationship.

Usually, those padlocks will be decorated with the initials of the happy couple.

It’s such a popular date activity that it brings lovers from across South Carolina and beyond!

With a pedestrian walkway spanning 1.7 miles and a beautiful shoreline of 650 miles along Lake Murray itself that offers opportunities for kayaking, boat rental, and camping, this is a great vacation location.

Whether you’re looking to lock in – pun intended – your love with your partner or just get some entertainment out of looking through the already existing locks, this is one of the best things to do in Columbia, SC for the romantics at heart!

Address: 1832 N Lake Dr, Lexington, SC 29072, United States

28. Villa Tronco

Villa Tronco Italian Restaurant
Villa Tronco Italian Restaurant

Not sure what to do for a meal at night?

Why not eat in a place that serves delicious food with a side of history?

Villa Tronco is Columbia’s oldest Italian restaurant and is still among South Carolina’s oldest, too.

It boasts a homey and comforting atmosphere and rustic, old-fashioned exterior that mixes the migrant past of Columbia with intimate dining.

All portions at Villa Tronco are distinctly generous so you won’t leave without feeling satisfied!

Notable meals include the titular Chicken Villa Tronco, the Pollo Parmigiana, and the calamari.

There’s also the famous cheesecake often said to be the very greatest of the town’s and the scrumptious wine offerings, including those that helped Villa Tronco win the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence!

Address: 1213 Blanding St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

29. Soda City Market

Soda City
Soda City

Soda City Market occurs every Saturday, effectively closing off Maint Street and bringing the locals of South Carolina rushing to pick up fresh produce, look at local art, and even catch a glimpse of cool street performances.

But why is it called the Soda City Market?

Well, that relates to the city’s own name of Columbia, which was shortened to Cola by locals and eventually jokingly shifted to the synonym Soda.

If you’re looking for places to go while you’re in town this weekend, this is a great way to have some fun and get a genuine taste of local life.

Address: 1300-1600 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

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30. Ra Obelisk

Ra Obelisk
Ra Obelisk

The Ra Obelisk didn’t always look like something straight out of Egypt!

Its story begins in 1989 when this wall was a part of a trestle of an old railroad.

Construction workers went to the site in Olympia, Columbia to tear it down, but when the wrecking ball failed to knock down this pillar, they gave up and left it standing.

A few years later, Richard Lane, a muralist of South Carolina, began thinking about how it appeared a little like an obelisk of ancient Egypt.

This sparked his desire to create a mural upon it, and in 1993, he painted an image of the Egyptian sun god Ra, surrounded by hieroglyphs and symbols, upon its surface.

The symbols actually have translations.

Among them are glyphs that read out titles of songs by the Beatles, like All You Need Is Love and Here Comes The Sun.

There is also a mysterious message on the right that Lane refused to reveal, stating that the concept is an ancient one.

He even invited others to try and translate it, eventually leading to The State, a newspaper, offering a reward for someone who could translate it accurately.

The Ra Obelisk is now located in a pocket park, with a bunch of benches that circle it and a simple sidewalk for you to stride to it through.

Artists Georgia Lake and Jeff Donovan repainted the work of art with color-matching, symbol-aligning perfection to keep the mural well maintained.

Without a doubt, taking a trip to view the Ra Obelisk is one of the most unique things to do in Columbia!

Address: 900 Heyward St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

31. Woodrow Wilson Family Home

Woodrow Wilson Family Home
mogollon_1 / flickr

The Woodrow Wilson Family Home is South Carolina’s only presidential site.

It was the home in which Woodrow Wilson, America’s 28th president, spent much of his boyhood years.

The home is a manse built in the style of an Italianate villa, standing out well from the backdrop of Columbia.

There aren’t many activities at the Woodrow Wilson Family House, but the main one is a treat for history buffs: vignettes and exhibits, complete with backstories regarding Wilson himself, that pepper the home.

They give you insight into 1871 and the history of Wilson, back then known by the nickname “Tommy”, and it’s one of the more special Columbia attractions as the last of its kind in the state.

Address: 1705 Hampton St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

32. Busted Plug Plaza

Busted Plug Plaza
Jason Eppink / flickr

Busted Plug Plaza is one of the most fun and unusual tourist attractions in Columbia.

Imposing and made of steel and concrete, the colossal sculpture depicts what is effectively the world’s largest fire hydrant.

It weighs a shocking 675,000 pounds and is more than 40 feet in height.

The Busted Plug in question was made by Blue Sky, a local of South Carolina and the same artist who created Tunnelvision.

The bottom of the large “statue” is made to look “broken”, with a fountain of water spraying out from there as if it were truly a damaged hydrant.

Ironically, the Busted Plug was made to be able to withstand the blow of natural disasters.

This is primarily a safety measure, allowing it to avoid harming anyone in the event of a hurricane or similar issue.

The plaza area and its land were recently purchased by new owners, though, but residents are hoping to have the beloved artwork moved to somewhere near instead of having it torn down.

Just in case, you’d better see it while you can!

Address: 1404 Taylor St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States

Start Planning Your Trip To Columbia, SC

Columbia, South Carolina is full of fun points of interest that should be added to your itinerary.

Hopefully, our list of the best that Columbia has to offer helps you to choose tourist locations that appeal most to you!