Columbia is the capital of South Carolina. It is a famous college city, home to the University of South Carolina. But that is not the reason that makes it a tourist attraction. Its focus is probably historical, with a great range of museums and historical sites. What people often do not know, is that there is much more to do in Columbia. The Broad, Bush and Saluda rivers, lake Murray, the canal and the national park offer the perfect place for relax and adventure. Columbia is a city that welcomes any age category of tourists. The downtown is famous for its night life for the more young visitors. While the zoo or the famous children's museum, are a preferred spot by families.
The South Carolina State Museum
The facility is located in downtown Columbia. This museum is known for its historical exhibits, but also, for its other ever-changing exhibits. These exhibits offer different categories of interests like art, science, technology or natural history. A lot of visitors are attracted by the dome planetarium, the observatory or the 4D theater.
This mix of ancient culture and cutting edge technologies makes it a must-see for any type of tourist.
The South Carolina Railroad Museum
Museums are not usually a place for small children. But the South Carolina Railroad Museum offers a unique time for all the family. You can watch the history of the Rockton, Rion and Western Railroad riding an antique train. The main displays are the 100 year-old cars like the Norfolk business, various diesel engines and the steam engine cars like the Baldwin 44. The museum's gallery showcases photographs and a mini-scale layout of the entire rail line.
The South Carolina Children's Museum
This facility focuses on offering a learning interactive experience for the really young visitors. It has a great number of exhibitions and playgrounds. The staff is welcoming and dedicated to explain you the possibilities. There are several programs that allow the parents to pass time with their children doing something creative.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
The facility has a surface of 170 acres of different natural habitats for 2000 animals. It is also home to one of the best botanical gardens in the United States. The zoo offers several exhibits ranging from natural sites to historical landmarks. There are several scheduled events that should not be missed. Between them, we can note the sea lion demonstration, the penguin and elephant presentations. There are also some more immersive experiences that allow the visitors to really get close to the animals. The aquarium dive demonstration allows the tourists to enter the wildlife of the Pacific Coral Reef. After that, you can attend the wildlife up-close event in the Discovery Center, where you can see and even touch several creatures with the aid of the staff. The gorilla feeding event is especially well-liked.
The botanical garden on the other hand makes up for 70 acres of the facility. Offering several themed gardens to showcase the flora in the US, but not only. The species of plants numbered are more than 4200. The most famous areas are the Waterfall Junction, the Asian Garden and the Bog Garden. The place is a preferred spot for weddings and special events.
Canoeing in the Broad River
Columbia's Broad River stretches in a forest of pines and hardwoods not too far from the city. The view from its sides while journeying in its waterway is relaxing and wild. Its water level is not deep, but it is still perfect for canoeing. There are a lot of kayak guides, who organize trips along this river. Tourists of any experience in this sport can join and have a great time. The quietness of the scenery is refreshing in comparison to the more noisy downtown area.
Visiting Lake Murray
The first step would probably be to pass by the Visitor Center. The reason being, that the activities you can take part in, are too many. The lake was constructed for electric-generating purposes, but has now become an important tourist attraction. Thousands of people visit its shores every week. It is the destination for every water related sport, boat trips and fishing. You can canoe the three rivers of the city. Boat rides are especially preferred by the visitors for the relaxing feel and the view. A lot of wildlife enthusiasts visit the lake for the rare fauna.
The Congaree National Park
Famous for its biodiversity, the Congaree National Park is the largest hardwood forest in the southeastern part of the United States. It is the perfect spot for the visitors searching for a relaxing walk, and the more adventurous ones alike. You can hike on one of the many trails to explore the life on the park. There are a lot of organized hiking activities that allow visiting even the most remote parts of the forest. The famous Cedar Creek Canoe Trail allows you to experience the wildlife from a different perspective compared to the hiking trails. There are a lot of fishing sites along the Congaree River, used by locals or the occasional passerby. The park offers front and backcountry camping sites for the ones that want to pass the night in the middle of nature.
Columbia's city life
Now that we have demonstrated some of the most famous historical and geographical sites, we may focus on the other part of the city. Columbia is definitely not a metropolis, but the city offers everything a modern urban zone has to offer. The shopping districts and businesses are focused on the downtown area, the Vista and 5 points. There are several good restaurants that offer the local cuisine for tourists. On Devine Street, there are a lot of more luxurious restaurants with foreign cuisine available. The Vista is the best area for visitors in search of nightlife. Art and musical events are frequent and well-liked. There is always something to do in Columbia.
In conclusion, Columbia is especially famous for its historical and natural sites. The city has the friendly vibe of a small-town, but offers the life of a modern lively city. It is the place for every tourist!