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The Best Columbia, SC Hotels and Fun Things to Do

Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, offers many enjoyable things to see and do, including excellent museums, parks, and restaurants. The downtown area is ideal for guests who want to to be in the center of all action, and best of all, Columbia's downtown is extremely affordable. This walkable city exhibits southern charm and hospitality at every turn and is home to a booming arts scene, an enthusiastic nightlife, and lots of family-friendly attractions for daytime adventure. 

The rural areas boast historic monuments from the Old South, such as former plantations and antebellum mansions, Southern America artifacts in museums, and music venues dedicated to country and bluegrass. Columbia is a city where you can relax one day and explore to exhaustion the next.



Columbia exudes fun!

bigstock-Skyline-of-downtown-Columbia--95846207-1.jpgWhile here, visit the top things to do in Columbia. Check out the Museum of Art, stroll along the scenic Riverfront Park, stop by the South Carolina Military Museum, and explore Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden.


Youngsters will especially enjoy the South Carolina State Museum and EdVenture Children's Museum. Visit idyllic Saluda Shoals where this 400-acre park allows children and adults to splash in the waterpark feature, enjoy horseback riding, and Fifi can run openly in the dog park.



Stay at the best Columbia hotels!


Closest to USC:  Clarion Hotel Downtown

Located at the corner of Gervais and Bull Streets, the affordable Clarion Hotel is close the the Columbia Museum of Art and the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. With free WiFi and parking, a sparkling pool, and in-room coffee service, the Clarion Hotel Downtown provides everything a traveler on a budget needs. And, it's located right across the street from the University of South Carolina.


Best Amenities: Hilton Columbia Center

 Bring the entire family – including Fido – to this еlеgаnt hotel. The Hilton Columbia Center features a fitnеѕѕ сеntеr, сhildrеn’ѕ асtivitiеѕ, frее high-ѕрееd Internet, and a рооl. In addition to its 222 standard rооmѕ, it оffеrѕ a vаriеtу of suite орtiоnѕ for visitors requiring a little mоrе space. Added рluѕ: fantastic views from the corner rooms.

Most Romantic Hotel in Columbia: Inn at USC Wyndham Garden

 The Inn at USC Wyndham Garden is thе tуре оf place where уоu’ll ѕреnd afternoons оn thе porch, rocking уоur саrеѕ аwау and сhаtting with nеw friends. Brеаkfаѕt and WiFi are inсludеd with the rooms. Thе Inn iѕ соnvеniеntlу lосаtеd across the ѕtrееt frоm thе University оf Sоuth Cаrоlinа. Addеd рluѕ: bаlсоnу rooms offer beautiful viеwѕ оf thе tree-lined ѕtrееtѕ.

Most Character: Inn at Claussen's

 A former bаkеrу, thе Inn at Claussen’s еxudеѕ сhаrасtеr. The rооmѕ аrе tastefully decorated аnd the рrореrtу features mаnу роintѕ of аrсhitесturаl intеrеѕt inсluding exposed pipes аnd a ѕрirаl staircase. Thiѕ iѕ nоt a сооkiе-сuttеr hоtеl. It offers frее WiFi and brеаkfаѕt аѕ wеll аѕ nеwѕрареrѕ and соffее in thе lоbbу. A small fitnеѕѕ center iѕ аvаilаblе tо guеѕtѕ. Addеd рluѕ: frее brеаkfаѕt iѕ delivered to guеѕtѕ’ rooms.
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Best Cookies:  Hampton Inn Columbia - Downtown

This Hampton Inn is within walking diѕtаnсе of mаnу rеѕtаurаntѕ and bаrѕ, just blocks from the ѕtаtеhоuѕе in a quaint раrt of dоwntоwn. Breakfast and WiFi iѕ inсludеd with the room. Guests will lоvе thе cookies in thе lobby and еvеning ѕnасkѕ after a long dау of ѕight-ѕееing. Added рluѕ: сhесk out Ristorante Divinо асrоѕѕ thе ѕtrееt fоr excellent Northern Itаliаn cuisine.

Most Historic: Sheraton Columbia Downtown

Thiѕ beautiful historic ѕtruсturе makes guеѕtѕ fееl likе royalty as thеу wаlk in thе door. Thе hоtеl has tаkеn grеаt care tо рrеѕеrvе the building’s original woodwork and mаrblе floors. Dесоr is traditional southern еlеgаnсе with a ѕmасk оf whimѕу in keeping dеtаilѕ оriginаl tо thе building likе thе оld bаnk vаult in the lobby. Addеd plus: viѕit the rооftор bаr at ѕunѕеt fоr amazing viеwѕ.

Best Cleanliness: Holiday Inn Expresss & Suites Columbia - Downtown 

Indulgе in comfort at thе Holiday Inn Express. Lосаtеd оff I-126 аnd Huger St, Cоlumbiа, SC this hotel is рrасtiсаl with natural ассеѕѕ to major attractions. Situаtеd оnlу one milе frоm thе Univеrѕitу of Sоuth Cаrоlinа, the hiѕtоriс Viѕtа diѕtriсt, аnd the Columbia Rivеrfrоnt Park, the Holiday Inn Exрrеѕѕ Columbia hotel guаrаntееs соnvеniеnсе.  Take a ѕtrоll аnd еnjоу a рiсniс аt Finlеу Pаrk, рlаn a triр tо Riverbanks Zоо, or make thе short thrее-milе commute tо the Sоuth Cаrоlinа State Fаirgrоundѕ. With еndlеѕѕ орроrtunitiеѕ fоr еnjоуmеnt, this Columbia, hоtеl iѕ situated nеаr a vаriеtу оf lеiѕurе activities that will please еvеrу guеѕt. Shop on Hаrbiѕоn Boulevard at Cоlumbiаnа Mаll оr boat оn Lаkе Murrау, tour thе Sоuth Carolina Stаtе Muѕеum аnd discover the аrеа'ѕ uniԛuе history.
Unlikе mаnу mеtrороlitаn hot spots, Cоlumbia, SC downtown hotels аrе есоnоmiсаllу рriсеd. Trаvеlеrѕ саn find аffоrdаblе Cоlumbiа hоtеlѕ. Guests can find hotel орtiоnѕ tо meet any budgеt. The wаlkаbilitу оf this capital city allows viѕitоrѕ tо park thеir саrѕ and еnjоу thе mаnу wоndеrful restaurants аnd ѕhорѕ.

Now that you've envisioned your stay at one of Columbia's top hotels, check out these fun things to do!

Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical GardeniStock-488580536.jpg
Home to more than 2,000 impressively beautiful animals, Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden is one of the nation's most inspiring and magnificent botanical gardens. The massive 170-acre site showcases scenic views of the Saluda River, features fascinating exhibits with natural habitats, incredible valley overlooks, and several historic landmarks. Plus, explore the large award-winning Aquarium Reptile Complex featuring amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, and fish on display in four distinct galleries.

Observe zebras, ostriches, and giraffes roam their 2-acre African savanna and watch baboon and lions in their exhibits.  The Asian natural habitat features endangered species including tapir, Komodo dragons, babirusas (pig- deer), siamangs (Gibbons), and tigers. In Australia, interact via a walk-through exhibit with red kangaroos and wallabies. Help feed the friendly Lories in the lorikeet aviary, and take the time to view the Koala Knockabout, an exhibition featuring cute koalas, Australian fish, and reptiles.
Marvel at the array of zoo creatures, and don’t miss any of the ten spectacular gardens.  Treat yourself to waterfalls, old roses that date to before the year 1987, and a serene Asian garden with a wooden boardwalk, bamboo, and trickling water.  As you stroll through the grounds, enjoy the whimsical bog highlighted by a lavender wall painted with native, carnivorous pitcher plants, water lilies and aquatic Lotus.  The unique gardens also feature a shade garden, dry garden, the walled garden and a collection garden with over 100 varieties of Crinum lilies.  Plus, enjoy an urban garden with flowers and vegetables and a colorful garden in perpetual bloom.

The zoo and botanical gardens also offer train rides, pony rides, has a 4-story sky-high safari walk, endangered species carousel, and several zip lines.

South Carolina State Housebigstock-Columbia-South-Carolina-USA--91615064.jpg

 The century-old South Carolina State House, located in downtown Columbia, is the home to the House and Senate chambers, along with the Governor’s office.  Built mostly out of blue granite, the state’s official stone, the building was under construction from 1855 to 1907 and is completely fireproof.
Most days, tours are available, and a gift shop is located on premise to commemorate your trip to the state capitol.  Choose from holiday-themed gifts, home décor, professional gifts, jewelry, and apparel.

Room Escape Games

 Whether traveling with family or business colleagues, try out one of the two escape rooms in Columbia. The Final Door, started by two sisters after experiencing an escape room, became obsessed with the games and puzzles and launched their own company.  The Final Door offers immersive adult-themed games which sometimes includes crawling through small spaces, partial restraints, loud noises and strobe lights.  All props and rooms are designed in-house, and games last an hour.  Beer and wine are served in the cozy lounge before and after games.
The second option, The Escape Room, currently offers three themed rooms with rotating games to persons age 12 and over with parental permission. The escape rate is about 30%, and there is always an ‘exit button’ available for those who need a break during the game.  Plus, clues are available from the staff to help you move along.  Perhaps you should try to stage an escape?

South Carolina State Museum

 The South Carolina State Museum is engaging for kids of all ages. Exhibits on four floors feature art, history, natural history, technology, and science.  See displays showcasing the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, African American history and learn more about the history of South Carolina. Don’t miss ‘Finn’ the giant prehistoric megalodon shark replica as you wander through the intriguing dinosaur and pre-historical fossil displays.

Also, enjoy the spectacular 145-seat dome theater inside the Planetarium which offers a multi-media presentation about astronomy and the earth.  Too, explore the permanent NASA gallery in the planetariums lobby featuring interactive displays and artifacts of four South Carolina astronauts.
The 2,500 square-foot Boeing Observatory features an outdoor viewing terrace and showcases a historical 12-3/8 Alvan Clark refracting telescope. Now attached to a modern computer control system, the telescope can quickly point toward objects in the sky. 

Recently, the museum launched the first permanent 4-D theatre in the state and will run shows to complement museum exhibits. The 4D effect combines on screen 3D technology and real-life sensations to add to the fourth dimension. Blasts of air simulating the wind, water spray to appear as rain, vibrating seats and a sense of smell provide a sensory experience for all to enjoy.

Another museum in Columbia worth highlighting is the EdVenture Museum

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The EdVenture Museum is a non-profit educational institution with the mission to create lifelong learners through unique museum experiences, special programming, and camps. 
The largest museum for kids in the Southeast, EdVenture is an interactive science museum for children of all ages. There are over 350 exhibits, teaching kids all about biology, nature, being inventive, and basic exploration, with hands-on activities. From a mock news room where kids can act like journalists and newscasters, to a dress-up room where kids can be princesses, knights, dragons, mad scientists, and wizards, there are dozens of things here to keep your kiddos entertained. EdVenture hosts special nights each week, like Family Night, when admission is only a dollar per person.
One of the best areas is Maker Works, designed for children 5+. Tinker with circuits and switches to make 'thing-a-ma-jigs', create a sculpture or test your ability to fold an origami animal. The museum is engaging and provides interactive components for the entire family.
Columbia Canal and Riverfront
The city's original waterworks and the location of the world’s first electric textile mill are home to the popular walking and jogging trails at the Columbia Canal and Riverfront. Experience the scenic paths and self-guided tour which pass segments of the old water plant. The two and one-half mile paved trails meander along the river and brick amphitheater, which hosts concerts and annual events.  Plus, grab a quick workout in the outdoor gym featuring 7 pieces of exercise equipment.
Saluda Shoals Park
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The 400-acre Saluda Shoals Park is located on the Saluda River and offers outstanding cultural and recreational opportunities.  Here, find both paved and unpaved trails for biking, hiking, and riding horses.  There is a river observation deck, and even a ramp to launch your kayak, canoe or boat.  Visit the education center, exhibit hall, picnic shelters, and the seasonal Saluda Splash water feature. Plus, if Fifi needs a little exercise, take her to the two-acre fenced Barking Lot Dog Park. This grassy area provides two bone-shaped pools for dogs to splash in, and there is access to a drinking fountain designed for canines.  Why not take a few hours to enjoy this great Columbia park?
Conagree National Park

Or — as a nature lover you will have oh-so much fun traversing the natural wonders of Congaree National Park. The large, towering forests are gorgeous and untamed, with trails the weave through the trees. There are rugged hiking trails, several places to camp and rest, and creeks for kayaks, canoes, and fishing excursions. The perfect idea? Bring a loaded backpack, do a little walking around to find the perfect campsite, cook your freshly caught fish over an open flame, and spend the night under the stars. This huge, beautiful park covers well-over 26,000 acres, so there is plenty of outdoors fun to be had. Bring Fido but be sure to clean up after him and dispose of waste in the designated trash bins. Keep the park clean for everyone!


shutterstock_101772481.jpgAnd hey --- If you love good food with sweet twists, take a chance on The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli, located on Devine Street. Aside from famous, homemade cinnamon rolls, this café serves up American favorites with foodie spins, like pita chips dipped in bourbon caramels, a bacon, egg, cheese, and avocado breakfast sandwich, and classic grilled cheese with tomato bisque soup.

Bonus: ALL sandwiches come with a delicious, fresh-made “mini” cinnamon roll for dessert. Keep in mind that this deli is open for breakfast and lunch, so get there before 2pm for some good eats and decadent treats.

There are so many pleasure-filled activities and attractions, so bring your family and explore this fabulous southern city. Enjoy!  Book now, save now, TravNow!
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Topics: South Carolina