What's in Columbia, South Carolina?
It's all here — nightlife, art, food, nature, music, history, athletics— and it's affordable.
Want to pump up the volume?
Nightlife in the city ranges from a rooftop party at a local sports pub, to a live DJ in a dance club, to a quiet date in a coffee shop.
The Vista, a premiere entertainment district, is a great place to be. Like jazz? Try The Blue Martini, which features local contemporary jazz celebrities, or The Hunter Gatherer, a local eatery and microbrewery on Main Street. Also check out Five Points, The Blue Marlin, Motor Supply, The Thirsty Fellow, Hudson's Smokehouse, The Comedy House, and Terra.
The Columbia art scene is a mix of traditional and trendy. The Congaree Vista, one of Columbia's premier entertainment districts, houses several art galleries. The city heats up in the fall season as new plays are being performed, ballet shoes are being laced andmusical instruments are being tuned. Don't miss the S.C. Philharmonic, Columbia City Ballet, Vibrations Dance Company, Columbia Classical Ballet, Workshop Theater, Trustus Theater, Nickelodeon Theatre, Columbia Museum of Art, and Town Theater.
And you know that the hometown of Hootie and the Blowfish has to have great local bands and live music venues.
Love the great outdoors?
If your dream life includes piles of snow, day after day, all winter long, Columbia probably isn't what you're looking for. Sure, you can get to piles of snow in the winter — major ski slopes are just a couple of hours away by car. A trip to the mountains or the beach is also just a two-hour drive away.
But Columbia is amazing because you can do tons of outdoor stuff all year long. In fact, Earth Day Network recently ranked Columbia No. 1 in Parks and Recreation Opportunities.
Columbia's beautiful outdoor resources include Congaree National Park, Saluda Shoals Park, and Sesquicentennial State Park.
Want to sail, waterski, go tubing, or camp overnight? You can have hours of fun on and around Lake Murray, a major recreation destination.
Want to hike in a national park, or canoe down the Saluda River? You can do that here, too.
Never actually done any of these things? There are lots of opportunities to learn. The University's Office of Recreation has classes and lessons. So do several local companies, including River Runner Outdoor Center, Half-Moon Outfitters, and Adventure Carolina.
Need a little culture in your life?
The Columbia art scene is a mix of traditional and trendy. You can see it all in the numerous art galleries that populate the city.
Columbia is ranked one of top ten "most creative" cities in Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class.
The city really heats up in the fall season. Don't miss the S.C. Philharmonic, Columbia City Ballet, Vibrations Dance Company, Columbia Classical Ballet, Workshop Theater, Trustus Theater, Nickelodeon Theatre, Columbia Museum of Art, and Town Theater
Cuisine in Columbia varies from quaint cafés and smokin' barbeque spots to upscale Italian and French-influenced restaurants. There's lots of good old-fashioned Southern cooking. Don't like grits? Not a problem. There are more than 450 restaurants and cafés in the city.
Crazy for The History Channel?
Columbia is very successful at blending the old with the new. Historical markers dot the city, reminding residents that the city's roots run deep.
Want to visit the graves of early pioneers, take a moonlit walking tour down Main Street, or take a trolley tour of the historic Elmwood neighborhood? You can do it. The Historic Columbia Foundation offers tours of historic homes, including the boyhood home of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
Want to walk in the footsteps of General Sherman? You can do that, too.
Other must-sees include the South Carolina State Museum, South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, South Carolina Military Museum, the Statehouse, Randolph Cemetery, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, and the Lexington County Museum.
Feel the need for speed?
Columbia Facts & Figures
Population 2009: 129,333
Average High Temp: 91° Average Low Temp: 33° Average Rainfall: 50"
Attending the annual Carolina Cup and Colonial Cup horse races in nearby Camden is a tradition for many students and their families.
Darlington Speedway and thrilling NASCAR races are about 75 miles down the road.
Another family-friendly destination is Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, one of the top zoos in the nation. Riverbanks is home to koalas and kangaroos from Australia, Gentoo “flying” penguins, giraffes that eat right out of your hand, gorillas, and more than 2,000 other animals living in a natural habitat-like setting.
The family will also like EdVenture Children's Museum, Three Rivers Greenway, Frankie's Fun Park, and lots of local parks and playgrounds.
All this fun is affordable.
With its low cost of living, Columbia consistently appears on national affordability lists.
In a study released in November 2010, Coldwell Banker Real Estate named Columbia one of the top five most affordable college towns in the nation.
In 2009, Forbes magazine named Columbia a Top 20 City on its “America's Bang for the Buck” list, and MSN Real Estate named the city one of its “Most-Livable Bargain Markets” on MSN.com.
Can you get there from here?
You bet. Columbia is geographically situated in the center of the state and in the middle of the Southeast region. Three major interstates run through the city, making it easy to get both into the city and out onto the road.
A great benefit of living in Columbia is its proximity to other fun cities. Charlotte, North Carolina, is less than two hours to the north, and historic Charleston, South Carolina, is less than two hours to the south.
Or you can leave in the morning and reach Atlanta and all it has to offer by noon.
If you prefer to fly, Columbia Metropolitan Airport is serviced by Continental, American Eagle, Delta, United, and U.S. Airways airlines.