Columbia's varied mix of historic destinations, artsy attractions, entertainment venues and signature festivals offer up year-round fun.
Historic Sites and Museums
Take a step back in time at the South Carolina State Museum, where visitors will find artifacts and exhibits that tell the state's story. Located in the Columbia Mill textile building, which was built in 1893, the museum has collections of South Carolina art, natural history displays, science and technology exhibits, and a history collection with more than 45,000 pieces.
Honoring the 28th president of the United States, the Woodrow Wilson Family Home includes many of the family's belongings and is the home that President Wilson grew up in. Tours through this historic home and others, such as the Mann-Simons Cottage, Hampton-Preston Mansion and Robert Mills House, are available. Also historically significant is the Modjeska Monteith Simkins House, where the woman considered “the matriarch of Civil Rights activists of South Carolina” lived.
Art enthusiasts enjoy the works on display at the Columbia Museum of Art. The facility has more than 20,000 square feet of gallery space and features traveling exhibitions, and also includes nearly 12,000 square feet of permanent collections.
In addition, Columbia is home to EdVenture, the biggest children's museum in the South. The 92,000-square-foot facility has more than 350 hands-on exhibits, eight exhibit galleries, a library, learning laboratories and resource centers.
For concerts, sporting events and other live shows, Columbia residents head to the Colonial Life Arena, which is the state's largest entertainment venue. The 18,000-seat arena, located on the University of South Carolina's campus, has hosted top performers such as Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood.
Offering family-friendly entertainment, the Columbia Children's Theatre features shows like The Commedia Rapunzel and Disney's Aladdin Jr. The venue also provides training for young performers in acting, singing, musical theater, dance and movement.
The Palmetto Opera performs for Columbia crowds weekly as part of Opera Thursdays, a program in which area restaurants host the performers during dinnertime on Thursdays. In addition, the Palmetto Opera performs at local venues such as the University of South Carolina's Drayton Hall and events including Columbia's annual Italian Festival and Bocce Tournament.
The city is also home to the Columbia City Ballet, which puts on shows like The Nutcracker and Alice in Wonderland.
Festivals and Events
Serving up more than 10,000 pounds of steamed and fried oysters, the South Carolina Oyster Festival is the city's largest outdoor oyster roast. Attendees can also enjoy live music, arts and crafts vendors, and tours of the Robert Mills House and the Hampton-Preston House.
The Columbia International Festival takes place at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds and brings cultures from around the world together. The event includes an international food court and artifacts, costumes and souvenirs from more than 60 countries. The World Beer Festival, held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, also has a global flair. The event is organized by All About Beer Magazine and features more than 150 beers from national and international breweries.
Additional annual Columbia festivals include the Craftsmen's Spring Classic Art & Craft Festival, Central Carolina Food and Wine Festival, South Carolina Book Festival, and the Palmetto Peanut Boil.
Read about Columbia's restaurants and eateries.