Nice and neat in the middle of the state is the capital of South Carolina, Columbia. It’s easy accessible by Interstates and other major roads. There are many things to do here, but I’ll only touch on a few and go in detail in following posts. Even though I’ve lived here years, I’m just getting started finding all the places to visit. The visitor center is a good place to start as well along with the main tourist web sites. Each has good information and not all duplicated. I found some of the walking tour brochures only at the visitor center. The parking garage opposite is a good place to park and start even though you have to then walk uphill to the capital complex. It’s more interesting if you walk toward Gervais Street and the Columbia Vista, then head east.
First settled by Europeans in the early 1700’s, Columbia was chartered as a town in 1805 and became the state capital in 1786, beating out Stateburg in now Sumter County by only a few votes. The previous capital was Charleston, but state legislature wanted a more central location. The city was SC’s first planned city and named after Christopher Columbus. There’s a statue of Columbus in Riverfront park.
Being in a central location it became a center for trade and manufacturing. One of Columbia’s textile mills, now the SC State Museum, was the first mill to be operated by electricity in the United States. The main campus of the University of South Carolina (founded 1802) is located in downtown and there are other colleges too along with two historic black colleges: Benedict College and Allen University.
The Civil War wasn’t kind to the city. Sherman burned much of it in February 1865. There’s a General Sherman’s March on Columbia walking tour for those interested. Brochures for several walking tours of the city can be found at the visitor center located at 1101 Lincoln Street. A fun new tour is the Sally Salamander tour. As visitors wander and admire the architecture and historic sites of downtown they can search for Sally Salamanders. There are ten of them close to the capital building. Another hike is the Palmetto trail which passes through.
Sites of interest downtown include parks, historic homes, museums, churches, and buildings, as well as murals and sculptures. New is an observatory at the State Museum on Gervais near the Congaree River.
Further out, are Riverbanks Zoo, Sesquicentennial Park, and more.
How to get there:
I20, I26, I77
The visitor center is located near the capital and off Gervais St (US1, US378).
What’s Close By:
Congaree National Park