Named after the great explorer Christopher Columbus, Columbia is not only the capital of South Carolina, but also one of America's first planned cities. Gracious and historic, Columbia is filled with southern charm with plenty of sunshine for relaxation or recreational activities, plus a mix of unique architecture and museums. During the warmer months, expect to find gorgeous azaleas in bloom and vibrant outdoor festivals. To make of the most of your visit, travel around with a car and discover the best Columbia has to offer.
Explore Columbia’s city center, where its historic roots meet a vibrant and sophisticated downtown with a burgeoning restaurant, arts and culture, and entertainment scene. On Saturday mornings, Main Street is bustling with local food and craft vendors at the Soda City Market.
Nearby, visitors will find the Columbia Museum of Art with exhibitions featuring artwork from up and coming local artists to an impressive Renaissance and Baroque painting collection. Columbia also has a robust music and dance scene with symphony orchestras performed at the South Carolina Philharmonic and USC Symphony Orchestra, Broadway productions on the stages of Koger Center and Harbison Theater, and dance performances at the Columbia City Ballet or the USC Dance Company.
With such homegrown fiery talent, it’s no surprise that the culinary scene in Columbia continues to grow in a dynamic fashion. Visitors can feast themselves on southern barbeque classics at places, such as Hudson's, Little Pigs, and Doc’s. Alternatively, try fine dining establishments, including Mr. Friendly’s and the Oak Table. Craft beer is also on the rise and Columbia is currently home to three breweries, River Rat, Conquest, and Swamp Cabbage.
For the architects and history buffs, the South Carolina State House is a monumental landmark in Columbia that embodies an air of grace and refinement. Tour the surrounding grounds or admire the interior of the building and learn about South Carolina’s legislation. Another must-see is the elegant Robert Mills House, one of the few private homes Mr. Mills designed apart from his notable public buildings such as the Washington Monument.
Take advantage of Columbia’s surrounding national parks and green spaces as there are ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to wander through nature or escape from life’s hustle and bustle. Families and young children will enjoy Columbia’s Riverbanks Zoo, the largest attraction in the state, where animals from every continent around the world can be viewed in their natural habitats.
For those looking for a more adventurous day trip, visitors can drive to Congaree National Park, the largest old-growth floodplain forest in all of North America. Located a few miles outside of the city, the park is a natural wilderness with plenty of places for hiking, nature walks, picnicking, camping, fishing, and more. Another place not to miss is the tranquil shores of Lake Murray, the jewel of South Carolina. From a relaxing and romantic dinner cruise on a yacht, to recreational activities including sailing, fishing, paddle boarding, and waterskiing, the lake is a top destination for locals and visitors.
Let us bring you peace of mind as you explore all that Columbia has to offer with a comfortable and convenient rental car. We at Orbitz cater to every customer’s needs with guaranteed low rates and a variety of rentals from comfortable SUVs to eco-friendly compact cars.