20 Great Things About Columbia, SC

20 Great Things About Columbia, SC

Shell Suber Photography

For the past 3 years, Greenville has had my heart, but Columbia is my hometown. My parents, brothers, and many close friends call South Carolina’s capital home. As a Clemson graduate, I’m all too familiar with people knocking on my home city – but in reality, it’s a wonderful place to grow up and a FUN place to visit. Though it’s hard to beat the Upstate’s charm, delicious food, and proximity to the mountains, Columbia deserves a spotlight for all that it has to offer.

If you need a getaway weekend or even a day trip, make sure to add a few of these items to your bucket list. As their previous and unintentionally divisive branding efforts insinuate, this “famously hot” city is “surprisingly cool.” Side note – let’s be honest, South Carolinians are used to uncomfortably balmy summers no matter what part of the state you call home.

Outdoor Activities:

  • Soda City is possibly the best farmers market I’ve ever attended. Rain or shine, make sure to stop by Saturday morning from 9am-1pm and see the 3+ blocks of food vendors, groceries, handmade gifts, and live entertainment.
  • Home to three beautiful rivers, the Congaree, Saluda, and Broad Rivers converge about 3 minutes from downtown and offer endless adventuring. Enjoy a guided tubing or kayaking tour, or take a stroll along the beautiful Riverwalk!
  • South Carolina’s only national park, Congaree National Park, is made up of boardwalks, and the largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States.
  • Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is known as one of the best zoos in the Southeast. Even if it’s raining, you can enjoy the indoor exhibits. Home to over 2,000 animals, the zoo is fun for all ages. My favorites are the koalas, giraffes, and sea lions, oh my!
  • Catch a minor league baseball game to cheer on the Columbia Fireflies in the Spirit Communications Park. The park sits in the developing BullStreet District and features baseball with a side of craft beer and post-game fireworks.

Art and Culture:

  • As mentioned in a previous blog post, the Columbia Museum of Art is home to renowned collections and exhibits. The museum has been recently renovated and sits beautifully in the heart of downtown.
  • Columbia’s downtown movie theatre, The Nickelodeon, is the perfect place to spend a rainy day. The Nick offers foreign and independent films along with beer, wine, and snacks.
  • Shoppers and thrifters will love browsing Five Points for vintage finds and boutique shoppers will enjoy pursuing the shops that line Devine Street and fill Trenholm Plaza.
  • Music lovers can catch live music throughout Columbia at places like The Senate, Tin Roof, and New Brookland Tavern. If you’re looking for something more hole-in-the-wall, I recommend Art Bar or Pearlz Upstairs Lounge.

Food and Drink:


  • The best pancakes in town are found at Original Pancake House (a Columbia staple).
  • The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli is famous for its (you guessed it) cinnamon rolls, fabulous sandwiches, and baked goods.
  • DiPrato’s has the best pimento cheese in town, but everything on the menu is a win at this signature delicatessen.
  • Vegans and vegetarians will be delighted by the flavorful choices found at the Good Life Café.
  • Another Columbia staple, The Gourmet Shop, is located in the heart of Five Points and boasts the ambiance of a French café and market. Trust me when I say the chicken salad is to die for!


  • Tazza Kitchen’s fun atmosphere and creative menu is the perfect spot for a date night or dinner with friends.
  • The War Mouth offers southern fare with a twist. Their unique cocktails and cozy patio make it a perfect spot for a casual night out.
  • Coa Agaveria y Cocina is an upscale destination for delicious Mexican food. Located in the Vista, this downtown spot is always a crowd-pleaser.


  • Columbia’s newest rooftop bar, Hendrix, is conveniently located on Main Street and boasts delicious cocktails with equally appealing views of the State House.
  • River Rat Brewery is a stone’s throw from Williams-Brice Stadium and is a relaxed spot for beer and outdoor games. With limited release craft beers on tap, beer lovers will enjoy tasting their newest creation.
  • Kaminsky’s is known less for their drinks and more for their dessert, but it deserved to make the list, nonetheless. This Charleston original has a menu that will satisfy any sweet tooth!

These 20 great things only scratch the surface of what South Carolina’s capital has to offer. Though you will not be able to complete everything on this list when you visit, you may just leave ready to plan your next trip to Cola town!

About the Author

Virginia Wilson is the Marketing Content Specialist at Coldwell Banker Caine. As a content guru, her job involves two of her favorite pastimes – social media & writing! Virginia also loves practicing yoga, experimenting with recipes, and searching for the best cup of coffee in Greenville.