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Discover the State Capital on a Bus Rental in Columbia, South Carolina

Experience the Capital of Southern Hospitality on a bus rental in Columbia, South Carolina.

Columbia, South Carolina

With a population of more than 133,000 people, Columbia is the biggest city in South Carolina. It is also the state capital and the seat of Richland County. The city is located in the heart of the state and has two rivers nearby. The city is also home to the University of South Carolina, the biggest university in the state.


As you can imagine, the city is rife to offer you several experiences from the arts and history to the outdoors and everything else in between. So get on a bus rental in Columbia, South Carolina and check out what you can do here.

Ride a bus rental in Columbia, South Carolina and explore the Soda City.

Columbia is one of Kiplinger Magazine's 10 Great Cities to Live In for the year 2013. It is also one of the country's most livable communities. It is part of the biggest metropolitan area in the state. There are several attractions that you would love to visit here as well as a myriad of things to do to satisfy everybody's interests. Charter a bus rental in Columbia, South Carolina from BusRental.com. It is very easy, just call us at 1-866-569-2012 and we will take care of everything for you.

Entertainment & Amusement Parks

Frankie's Fun Park in Columbia is one of the amusement parks under the Frankie's brand and gives you the chance to play mini golf, ride go-karts, play laser tag and inside the Fun House. You can also practice at the batting cage or play games at the video arcade. Then you can let younger kids try driving at the Rookie Track, while the adults try out the Drop Zone.

Further, there are bumper boats here and the Monaco Slick Track for a more extreme go kart experience.

You can also go to Side Pockets where you can enjoy great alcoholic drinks, billiards and karaoke.

Arts & Culture

Columbia, Arts & Culture

Columbia has a wealth of arts and culture attractions. For visual arts, there are museums in the city where you can view different exhibits. There is the South Carolina State Museum, which gives you a chance to see different displays that deals with science, history, technology, and of course, the arts. It is one of the biggest museums in the Southeast and it the biggest one in the state.

Then you have the Columbia Museum of Art that has several temporary exhibits every year. The facility offers art exhibits, films, tours and lectures all year round. Meanwhile, EdVenture is among the biggest children's museum in the area and has several displays that let kids explore and discover on their own while also having tons of fun. Further you have the McKissick Museum. Located on the campus of the University of South Carolina features art exhibits, science exhibits, history and folk art displays.

Performance arts. There are several theaters and performance groups in the city that you can see. These include:

  • Town Theatre, which is the oldest community theatre in the United States that has been in constant use. The national historic place has been producing musicals and plays since the 1910s.
  • Trustus Theatre is a professional theatre group that is more than two decades old. The group brings new shows and rare classics to the local stages in the city.
  • The Nickelodeon Theater accommodates close to 100 people and holds to movie screenings every night and matinee screenings thrice a week. This intimate art house theater attracts 25,000 people every year.
  • The Columbia Marionette Theatre is the only one of its kind. The group is the only theatre in the country that is focused solely on marionette arts.
  • The South Carolina Shakespeare Company produces Shakespearean plays as well as other classical productions all over South Carolina.
  • Workshop Theatre of South Carolina is close to five decades old and has consistently been putting up Broadway shows and musicals for local audiences. The group is also responsible for bring new productions to the city, and is a great training ground for both new and veteran directors in the area.
  • The Richland County Public Library has one main library and nine various branches. The main library occupies 242,000 sq. ft. of space and allows you access to its large number of books, reference materials and even a collection of children's books and periodicals. The library also has several art exhibits.
  • The Columbia City Ballet produces at least 80 major productions every year.
  • The South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra is the city's resident orchestra, which gives audiences a full season every year featuring well-known and highly-respected musicians from the city.
  • The Columbia City Jazz Dance Company has been putting out some of the best dance productions since the 1990s. It has been named as one of the top dance companies in the country. The dance group performs different jazz dancing styles, including lyrical, percussive and modern styles.
  • The Palmetto Opera is more than a decade old and has been the city's premiere source of professional opera shows.
  • The Columbia Choral Society is a choral group that has been giving outstanding choral performances since the 1930s.
  • Alternacirque gives you a chance to experience a professional circus experience. The group produces variety and full scale productions.

Festivals and annual events. South Carolina State Fair is held every October and is one of the top fifty fairs in the country. The festival has been held for more than 140 years and features the best produce and products from all across the state. There are also various exhibits that touch on history, education and commercial. You have 12 days to experience the fair, and enjoy the musical concerts, stage acts and other performances from schools in the state. You can also enjoy amusement rides here.

Another top festival in Columbia is the Greek Festival, held every September. The four-day event has been held for close to three decades now and pays tributes to the contributions and culture of the city's Greek population. The festival focuses on Greek music, food, dances, arts and entertainment. Go to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church to join in the fun.

Other notable events you can attend in Columbia include:

  • Artista Vista
  • Eau Claire Renaissance Faire
  • FamilyFest
  • Indie Grits Festival
  • Jubilee: Festival of Heritage
  • Main Street Jazz
  • Riverfest Celebration
  • South Carolina Gay & Lesbian Pride
  • The Finlay Park Summer Concert Series
  • The Irmo Okra Strut
  • The Southeastern Piano Festival
  • The St. Patrick's Day Festival
  • Urban Tour
  • Vista Lights
  • Viva La Vista

Restaurants & Shopping

Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar is a flexible dining venue where you can take your date to or perhaps discuss business with colleagues. Anytime you want to impress, you can book a table here. It has delicious food that ranges from starters to small plates to full courses. Be sure to order their scallops, filet mignon, and pork chop.  

Mr. Friendly's New Southern Café has a handful of signature dishes and is owned by the same people who own Solstice. This restaurant remakes the classic favorites into something more innovative and upscale. Crab cakes here are covered in pecan and served with mayo and pickles, while filet mignon comes wrapped in succulent bacon. The wait can prove to be longer in this establishment so come early. And if you find yourself in line here, check out their list of wines and microbrews that will make the long wait seem shorter.

Gervais & Vine is yet another dining option from the owners of Solstice and Mr. Friendly. This time around, you have a fine selection of alcoholic drinks. Check out the close to three dozen tapas including petite filet mignon, seared scallops, bruschetta, and others. They also have an array of gourmet pizzas to enjoy as well.

Terra is a high-end restaurant that gives you the opportunity to experience the gastronomic delights that come out of Chef Mike Davis' kitchen. Order the quail that comes with foie gras and apple, crawfish, seared scallops and BBQ lamb. On top of these yummies, you would also love the stylish decor.

Saluda's interiors speak of history, with a grand piano that comes from the 1910s, a mahogany bar that was built in the 1800s and being housed in a historic building. But the restaurant's best draw is its delicious variety of Continental and Southern dishes that have been prettified and modernized. Order the bruschetta, seared scallops and white truffle risotto. Come here for Sunday brunch!

Other places that give you great Southern dishes are Blue Marlin, Lizard's Thicket, Carolina Wings & Rib House, Congaree Grill, and Foxfire Grill.

Ruth's Chris Steak House is the best place to get juicy and delicious steaks, which you can enjoy with the lovely decor and the relaxed ambience. The service here is impeccable and the wine list is similarly stellar. This is the best choice for those who want to make their special occasions especially memorable or those who are out to impress business partners and investors. Order anything you like as you are bound to love with everything they have on the menu.

Motor Supply Company Bistro was the first restaurant in the Vista district after the district was revamped decades ago.  They have an ever changing menu that usually offers grilled steaks. Be sure to order the fried eggplant, pork chops and mussels if they are available. This is also one of the best Sunday brunch spots in town. Check out their award-winning wine list as well.

Dianne's on Devine is one of the best restaurants in the city and has a modern feel and offers a variety of delicious dishes on the menu.  Great for business dinners because of its upscale decor, do check out the antipasto platter, the fettuccine Alfredo, the linguine, and other great pasta dishes. Then check out the filet mignon, trout picatta and chicken cacciatore and other main dishes.

Hennessy's Restaurant and Lounge has been open for close to two decades and is the fine dining restaurant to be all this time. They serve American Continental dishes as well as Southern favorites.

Garibaldi's of Columbia offers up the best Italian food in the city, along with attentive service and Art Deco interiors. Other Italian greats here are Al's Upstairs Italian Restaurant, Ristorante Divino, Villa Tronco, Dianne's on Devine, Travinia Italian Kitchen and Pasta Fresca.

South Carolina is also known for its barbecues.  Maurice's Piggie Park is a legend as far as BBQs are concerned because of its secret sauce and no-fuss barbecues. Then check out Hudson's Smokehouse, where you can taste the most delicious slow-smoked pulled pork in the city, or order the grilled catfish, ribs, chicken or beef brisket. Carolina Wings & Rib House is your affordable barbecue option that is just perfect for family gatherings and groups. However, if you want to go to the best barbecue joints in Columbia, choose between Doc's Barbeque & Southern Buffet and Shealy's Bar-B-Que.

Leave room for coffee and desserts! There are some great options you can go to for some after-meal conversation, such as:

  • Adriana's
  • Art Shack Gallery
  • Café Strudel
  • City Café
  • Cloud Nine Market
  • Cool Beans
  • Goatfeathers Coffee Bar
  • Immaculate Consumption
  • Literary Sweets Cafe and Market
  • Nonnah's

Shopping. When it comes to shopping, the city has it all. Some of the top shopping destinations in Columbia include the Columbia Place Mall, which has ten dozen stores anchored by Macy's, Sears, and Dillard's. Some of the national retailers here include Bath & Body Works, Old Navy, American Eagle Outfitters, Foot Locker, Gamestop, and Victoria's Secret. After shopping, you can watch a movie at the cinema on premises.

You can also go to Columbiana Centre, the best-looking mall in the city where you can shop at Belk, Dillard's, Sears, and JCPenney, among others. There are no less than 100 retailers here, allowing you to buy from the known brands such as Ann Taylor Body Shop, Loft, bebe, New York & Company, Yankee Candle Company, Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic, J. Jill, Aeropostale, Coldwater Creek, and Build-A-Bear-Workshop.

Go to the Congaree Vista. This former warehouse district was revamped in the 1990s and is now home close to four dozen restaurants, five dozen art galleries, museums and smaller shops. You can also go to Five Points, which is more known as a nightlife district with its fair share of clubs and bars.  But you can also find some of the most unique shops and great items here.

Meanwhile, the Village at Sandhill gives you 300 acres of shopping fun that allows you to shop at Old Navy, Home Depot, World Market, and other known department stores and shops. Or you can stroll down Devine Street and find ten blocks of shopping options. The area is especially attractive to art collectors and vintage lovers, and those who want to find the latest fashion trends, the loveliest jewelry and great gifts.  On top of these, you can also enjoy the many historic buildings here, as well as a fine selection of restaurants.

Antique lovers would love Columbia Antique Mall, where they have 25,000 sq. ft. to roam around in. They would also get the chance to buy from more than two dozen collectors and antique dealers here. Another great destination would be the West Columbia Antique Mall, where you could buy from more than 100 dealers. At 30,000 sq. ft. this is the state's biggest antique mall. Further, you can search for your biggest vintage finds at Old Mill Antique Mall, which brings together at least 75 dealers. Lastly, check out the City Market Antiques Mall, where you have 75 dealers all dealing with vintage stuff, antiques, glassware, collectibles, and china.

Other stores you should not miss are:

  • Cromer's P-Nuts
  • Happy Bookseller
  • Kicks Exceptional Shoes
  • Papa Jazz
  • The Gourmet Shop

Golf Courses & Sports Venues

Columbia, Golf Courses & Sports Venues

There are several golf courses here that you can play in. These courses give you the best way to challenge your game or just relax for a while. Choose between:

  • Club At Rawls Creek
  • Forest Lake Club
  • Golf Center
  • LinRick Golf Course
  • Northwoods Golf Club
  • Oak Hills Golf Club
  • Riverside Golf Center
  • Spring Valley Country Club
  • The Wildewood Country Club
  • The Woodlands Country Club

Sports venues. If you want to catch some professional sports, then you should check out the:

Columbia Blowfish baseball team playing at the Capital City Stadium, the Columbia Olde Grey rugby team play at the Patton Stadium, the Palmetto FC Bantams soccer team at the Stone Stadium, and the Columbia QuadSquad roller derby team at the Jamil Temple.

You can also check out the Carolina Coliseum, which accommodates around 12,400 people for a variety of sporting events, music concerts and graduation ceremonies.

Then you have the following venues as well:

  • Colonial Life Arena is the city's premiere entertainment and sports arena. It seats around 18,000 people for college basketball games and has several features such as suites, entertainment suites and a hospitality room called the Frank McGuire club.
  • The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center is the state's only convention center located in a downtown area. It has more than 142,000 sq. ft. of space and has a state of the art facility for conventions and meetings. There are several restaurants, specialty shops, art galleries and antique stores nearby. The main hall here has around 25,000 sq. ft. of space while the ballroom has 18,000 sq. ft. of space. There are also several meeting rooms here.
  • Williams-Brice Stadium is where USC Gamecocks football team play their home games. The stadium is the 24th biggest college football stadium in the country, accommodating more than 80,000 people.
  • Carolina Coliseum seats more than 12,400 people and is the former home of the USC Gamecocks basketball teams.
  • Township Auditorium is where you go if you like wrestling matches. The historic building has a Georgian Revival design.
  • Charlie W. Johnson Stadium is where the soccer and football teams of Benedict College play their home games. It can comfortably seat 11,000 people.
  • The Carolina Stadium accommodates 8,400 people and regularly hosts college baseball games. This is the biggest baseball stadium in the state.

Historical Sites & Landmarks

Columbia, Historical Sites & Landmarks

The Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum gives you the chance to view artifacts ranging from the Colonial years to the space age era, while also having a very diverse artifact collection from the state's confederate period.

The city has 124 sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you want to see more sites within a short time, then check out the various historic districts in the city where you could a variety of historic structures that are architecturally, historically, or culturally significant. These districts are:

  • Bellevue Historic District
  • Benedict College Historic District
  • Columbia Commercial Historic District
  • Columbia Historic District I
  • Columbia Historic District II
  • Elmwood Park Historic District
  • Forest Hills Historic District
  • Granby Mill Village Historic District
  • Old Campus District, University of South Carolina
  • Old Shandon Historic District
  • University Neighborhood Historic District
  • Waverly Historic District
  • West Gervais Street Historic District

Columbia also has several sites that are submitted as multiple resource areas, or sites that share a common theme. For instance, the following sites are part of the Columbia Multiple Resource Area: Arcade Building, Bethel A.M.E. Church, Buildings at 1210-1214 Main Street, 1644 Main Street, 1722-1724 Main Street and 303 Saluda Avenue, Canal Dime Savings Bank, Claussen's Bakery, Columbia Mills Building, Eau Claire Town Hall and Survey Publishing Company Building, First National Bank, Gervais Street Bridge, Greyhound Bus Depot, B.B. Kirkland Seed and Distributing Company, Lutheran Theological Seminary Building: Beam Dormitory, National Loan and Exchange Bank Building, Palmetto Compress and Warehouse Company Building, and the US Courthouse.

Meanwhile, these sites are part of the South Carolina Multiple Property Submission:

  • A.P. Williams Funeral Home
  • Columbia Township Auditorium
  • Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital
  • Harden Street Substation
  • Wade Hampton State Office Building

You could also go to the Robert Mills Historic House and Park, which is also known as the Ainsley Hall House. The historic house was designed by Mills himself and is now operating as a house museum with decorative arts coming from the early part of the 1800s. Pieces here reflect different styles, including English Regency, French Empire, and American Federal.

Or how about the Hampton Preston House, which served as the residence of the Hampton family. You could admire the house's classical revival architecture, while also appreciating the displays in the house museum inside. You could learn about the lives of rich planters in the state here.

Aside from these two, there are close to 30 houses here that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include A. Fletcher Spigner House, Caldwell Hampton Boylston House, Dovillers Manning Magoffin House, Ensor Keenan House, Fair Rutherford and Rutherford Houses, George R. Price House, Hale Elmore Seibels House, Harriet M. Cornwell Tourist House, J. Davis Powell House, Keziah Goodwyn Hopkins Brevard House, Modjeska Monteith Simkins House, Preston C. Lorick House, and W. B. Smith Whaley House.

Then you also have the historic churches here:

  • Bethel A.M.E. Church
  • Ebenezer Lutheran Chapel
  • First Baptist Church
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • House of Peace Synagogue
  • Ladson Presbyterian Church
  • Sidney Park Colored Methodist Episcopal Church
  • St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church
  • Trinity Episcopal Church
  • Washington Street United Methodist Church
  • Wesley Methodist Church
  • Woodrow Memorial Presbyterian Church

You can visit historic schools such as Florence C. Benson Elementary School, Logan School, McMaster School, Wardlaw Junior High School, and Zimmerman School. Or visit historic public or government buildings such as Babcock Building, South Carolina State Hospital, Columbia Central Fire Station, Columbia City Hall, South Carolina Governor's Mansion, South Carolina Memorial Garden, South Carolina State Armory, South Carolina State Hospital, Mills Building, and South Carolina Statehouse.

Other sites you can go to include:

  • Allen University
  • Columbia Electric Street Railway, Light & Power Substation
  • Confederate Printing Plant
  • Efird's Department Store
  • Elmwood Cemetery
  • John C. Calhoun State Office Building
  • North Carolina Mutual Building
  • North Columbia Fire Station No. 7
  • Pacific Community Association Building
  • Thomas Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home
  • World War Memorial Building

Parks & Outdoor Activities

Columbia, Parks & Outdoor Activities

Columbia takes care of five dozen city parks, more than 600 acres of parklands, close to five dozen tennis courts, more than a dozen city pools, ponds and spray pads, as well as nine fountains.

There are two dog parks here: NOMA Bark Park, which benches, shade trees, water fountains, and play areas for your furry friends. Doggie Park is another park that welcomes dogs.

Owens Field Skate Park gives you the chance to play soccer, baseball, and rugby. It is also a great place for skateboarding.

Regional parks. You can go to Finlay Park, which is located in downtown Columbia. There are several festivals and events that are held here.  The park covers 18 acres of space and was first opened in 1859. Play at the playgrounds, enjoy the man-made lake or the fountain, or play at the sports fields here. Granby Park, on the other hand, is a river park that will connect different cities in the future. Nature lovers would love it here, as well as those who are looking for some adventure.

Meanwhile, Memorial Park covers four acres of space and pays tribute to the men and women who served their country in times of war.

Riverfront Park has a lot of history behind it and it is worth visiting if you want to find out more about the first electric textile mill in the world, the oldest hydroelectric plant in South Carolina, and other features.  With 140 acres, you have a lot to do here, including going on the hiking and running trails, or just watching the shows at the amphitheater.

South East Park is the newest and biggest tennis facility in the city. Aside from the tennis courts, you also have trails, a play area, and other amenities.

Neighborhood parks. The neighborhood parks that you could go include:

  • Anna Mae Dickerson Mini-Park is great for outdoor games. It has a playground, basketball courts, and a picnic shelter.
  • Earlewood Park hosts several business and social events.
  • E.B. Sessions Park has a playground area and swing sets. It also has a small concrete walking area for hiking or running.
  • Elmwood Roy Lynch Park has a picnic shelter, playground, and water spray area.
  • Fairwold Park has a playground with several play structures, picnic tables and is generally very beautiful.
  • Hollywood Park has a picnic area that is covered with vines and well-maintained surroundings. There is a large open area here where you can play or throw frisbees.
  • Isaac McClinton Park has a tot lot for kids two to five years of age.
  • Rosewood Park has a paved trail that is just perfect for biking, skating or hiking. Rest on the benches or play in the open fields.  Or let the kids have fun at the playground, where they can go rock climbing or go down the squiggly slides.
  • Valencia Park has 2 acres of space and features a baseball field and play areas.

Other parks you should visit include: Katy Park, Lester Bates Park, Lincoln Park, Marshall Park, RA-Rock, Realtors Park, and Tyler Park.

Zoos & Aquariums

Columbia, Zoos & Aquariums

The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden occupies 170 acres of space and features a zoo, a botanical garden, and an aquarium. The facility is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is visited by at least a million people every year.

It is home to more than 2,000 animals, including birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. Some of the most notable exhibits here include the Birdhouse at Riverbanks, African Plains, the Aquarium Reptile Complex, Ndoki Forest, Riverbanks Farm, and Kangaroo Walkabout.

The Botanical Garden, on the other hand, covers 70 acres of space and has around 4,200 exotic and native plants.

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