Charleston and Myrtle Beach are top-of-mind for many travelers when they think of vacationing in South Carolina. But don’t rule out the state capital. Columbia is no slouch when it comes to entertaining attractions, historic landmarks, and budget-friendly hotels. Here are five reasons you’ll want to spend your next family vacation in Columbia, South Carolina.
Walkable Downtown Area
Image via Flickr by David
Columbia is not a sprawling metropolis that requires buses, trains, and subways to navigate. Most major attractions are within a 15-minute walk of each other, including the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina State House, and Colonial Life Arena. Downtown hotels are close by too. The affordable Courtyard by Marriott Columbia Downtown at USC is one the few downtown hotels to offer free parking, and your kids will love splashing around in the outdoor pool.
Affordable Hotels Throughout the City
Downtown Columbia hotels are less expensive than those in other major cities, but if you’re really looking to stretch your travel budget, consider hotels near Fort Jackson Army base or the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Staying in these areas could save you up to $80 per night over downtown hotels. For families that prefer to prepare their own meals, the Wingate by Wyndham Columbia Fort Jackson hotel offers kitchenette suites.
Free Admission and Tours at Congaree National Park
Image via Flickr by Hunter Desportes
This park just south of downtown Columbia offers hikers and paddlers an enchanting experience. Boardwalks and waterways spider throughout the park, immersing visitors in the surrounding nature. The best part? Admission and guided tours are completely free. Sign up in advance for a free canoe tour that explores the wetlands (canoes provided).
Warm Weather Year-Round
South Carolina’s subtropical climate means you can visit anytime of year without worrying about the weather. Columbia enjoys comfortable winter temperatures in the 60s, while the summer brings temperatures in the 80s. There is no particularly rainy time of year, though July and August do see brief periods of rain.
Summer is generally considered tourist season throughout South Carolina. Avoid the crowds and higher prices; book your vacation for late spring.
Cheap Children’s Attractions
Image via Flickr by heschong
The highly interactive EdVenture Children’s Museum is the largest of its kind in the South. With 92,000 square feet of learning fun, your kids are sure to sleep well after a trip to this museum. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, which sits on the scenic Saluda River, features a variety of animals including lions, kangaroos, and elephants.
Buy a “Cool Pass” online or at South Carolina Visitors Center. This pass grants admission to three area attractions, including the EdVenture Children’s Museum and the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, for just $25.
Columbia is an underrated gem in the heart of the South. Your family is sure to fall in love with the hospitality, while your wallet will love the prices.
A former journalist, Tammy Banfield is a freelance travel writer who loves scouring the web for the best travel experiences. Tammy has written about more than 2,000 hotels and has traveled extensively throughout Canada and the United States.