Columbia, SC, emerges as the place for family travel
What’s the largest city in South Carolina?
Well, that’s a hard answer to nail down. In asking that question, I found myself in a Southern gentleman’s duel between Columbia and Charleston. You see, it’s a status that is passed between the two, with Charleston just recently acquiring the title from the South Carolina state capital by a mere 76 people.
Maybe the rivalry began way back in 1786?
That's when the South Carolina State Assembly voted to move the state capital from the shores of Charleston to the more centrally located Columbia. At the time, the extra hours trekking to the coast proved an undue burden for government officials. Because of its location and abundant waterways, Columbia was selected. The city was birthed, planned and carefully laid out, prior to the capital move. Which explains why, even today, you'll find the city streets are easy to navigate, much like a giant checkerboard.
There are other things that I didn’t know about Columbia.
First, it is a college town, the city’s urban structures meld with the landscape of the University of South Carolina so that it is unclear where the college begins and ends. Second, three rivers run through downtown: Broad, Saluda and the Congaree River, which make rafting, fishing, and tubing popular summer events. Third, Columbia boasts major city credentials, like an award-winning zoo, the world’s largest fire hydrant, a brand-new baseball park for the Columbia Fireflies, the Class-A affiliate of the New York Mets, and a late-night spot called Five Points, with pubs, restaurants, and shopping. Other Columbia, South Carolina, points of interest include the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park, EdVenture Children’s Museum, and the South Carolina State Museum.
This city told us that they are a hot spot for traveling families.
So, we tried it out. We partnered with the city’s convention and visitors bureau (CVB) and drove 6.5 hours from Nashville, TN, to Columbia, SC, to see what the city had to offer. The CVB hosted us for two full days, and we're going to share with you what we discovered.
We think the city is a great fit for these four types of travelers:
1) families who enjoy educational trips,
2) families who are planning a trip to Charleston, SC,
3) families who are touring US capitals, and
4) families with teens in high school who are making college visits.
If you can’t find yourself in the criteria above, it DOES NOT mean that you should stay away from Columbia. We just think that the groups above will get the most out of what the city has to offer.
Next up: Worth the money: The best things to do in Columbia, SC
Want another trip idea to a fun family city? Have you ever considered Cincinnati?