There are so many interesting places in Columbia, South Carolina to explore that you may not know which ones to visit on your next trip to the area. If you’re having trouble planning your stay, use this guide to pick a few of the best attractions to check out.
Finlay Park is one of the area’s most visited parks. Its central location puts it near many shops, restaurants, and cheap hotels in Columbia. However, it’s not just convenience that makes this park so popular; it’s also visually stunning and considered one of the most beautiful parks in the area. There’s a large waterfall with a stream that runs into the park’s lake, two playgrounds, a café, plenty of picnic tables, and many walking paths. In the summer, the park is also home to free outdoor concerts, outdoor movies, and plenty of entertaining festivals and events.
Congaree National Park
Situated less than a half-hour outside of Columbia, the Congaree National Park has the largest expanse of old growth hardwood forest in the southeastern United States. The Congaree and Wateree Rivers also flow through the park to create a beautiful ecosystem. If you want an easy walk to enjoy the beauty of the park, you can take the 2.4-mile Boardwalk Loop. This elevated walkway takes you through a unique swampy environment. Those looking for more of a challenge can hike the 11.1-mile King Snake Trail or tackle the 20-mile canoe trail on Cedar Creek.
South Carolina State Museum
Located on an old shipping canal and just a few blocks from the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Columbia Downtown, the South Carolina State Museum is the largest museum in the southeastern part of the country. It’s housed in the old Columbia Mills Building, which it considers its largest artifact. When the mill opened in 1894 it was the only all-electric textile mill in the world, and today is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Popular exhibits in the museum include a collection of historic astronomical equipment and telescopes, more than 45,000 objects related to the history of the state, and a terrifyingly huge life-size replica of Megalodon.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
If you’re planning a trip to Columbia, you must make the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden one of your stops. This 170-acre complex is an aquarium, zoo, and botanical garden all in one place. Over 2,000 animals call the zoo home including a 55,000-gallon Pacific coral reef tank that has eels, sharks, and other saltwater fish, a 2-acre replica of the African savanna with ostriches, giraffes, and zebras, and an Australian exhibit with lorikeets, wallabies, red kangaroos, and koalas.
The botanical garden takes up 70 acres and has over 4,200 species of exotic and native plants. Themed gardens include a rose garden, woodland walk, and Asian garden.
If you’re planning a trip to Columbia, make sure you check out Hipmunk’s Columbia hotels page for more information about the city. If you’ve been there before, please share some of your favorite places around the city in the comments.
Author Bio: Kristen McCalla is a Hipmunk writer and avid blogger who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with her husband, cat, and dog. When she’s not writing on her blog, 31 Million Seconds, she enjoys traveling and exploring all over this beautiful country.