The 15 Coolest Things to See and Do in Columbia SC

Best tourist attractions in Columbia SC

Visit Columbia SC and take in its top 15 most incredible sights! From tranquil lakes to sprawling botanical gardens, there is something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the culture of this charming location by exploring these highly acclaimed tourist attractions.

Top 15 Tourist Attractions in Columbia SC

Best tourist attractions in Columbia SC
Best tourist attractions in Columbia SC

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

  • Address: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia, SC 29210, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (17818)
  • Phone: +1 803-779-8717
  • Website:
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Tuesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is fabulous! We absolutely love it here and have been visiting regularly for 10+ years. The animal variety is second to none. The layout of the zoo flows very nice to ensure you can enjoy each stop to see all that it offers during your visits. The staff do a great job of keeping the zoo very clean and safe. They are very, attentive, and provide excellent service every time we are there. The expansions keep coming and continue improving and evolving this Zoo into one of the best visits you and your family can make. If I was going to provide a critique, I would recommend more fans through out the park. South Carolina (especially in the midlands) can get very hot and humid during the summer months and that heat can make visiting the park a less than pleasant experience if you are not use to the heat down here (heck even if you are 😂). More fans through out the park would add to the already amazing atmosphere and help create some more much needed cool zones through out. One last add. Please visit during the Halloween and Christmas events. They are fantastic and highly recommended. For adults the Brew at the Zoo is one of the best attractions around. Enjoy!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Jacob Gillen (6 months ago)
    Riverbanks zoo reminds of Animal Kingdom set in good old Disney World without the financial hard ship going there. Riverbanks is simply an amazing zoo. I would recommend setting aside 3-4 hours to see everything, this of course is set with a two old in mind. We stopped and saw just about everything and even petted some very friendly goats. Some stuff does cost extra, $20 on the zoo card will be more than enough for two children.The giraffe feeding stops at 1:30pm so if that is on your agenda I would get in line early. We went on a Sunday and the crowds were not too bad. We will definitely become frequent visitors. 10/10 I highly recommend.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Tai Sanders (10 months ago)
    The zoo was awesome! There were a lot of nice animals, and the enclosures/habitats were more than adequate for the animals. Healthy animals! My favorite places to visit had the flamingos and the lions. They had a grizzly bear, which I had not seen before. The botanical gardens were nice, as well. Small, but nice. There is a tram that takes you from the zoo to the garden. It took me and my partner about 3.5 hours to do the zoo and the garden.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Mar Pepin (8 months ago)
    We really enjoyed our trip here over the weekend. The layout was perfect for making a lap around the entire zoo in order to see everything easily and efficiently. All the employees we spoke with were friendly and knowledgeable. It was unfortunate that several attractions were under construction during our visit, but it didn’t affect the overall experience. I will say you will definitely get your money’s worth, the sooner you decide to visit. Especially if you’re bringing children.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Preston Sanders (7 months ago)
    This small zoo was awesome! Exhibits seemed nice bringing the animals up close but giving them some space too. Giraffes were galloping around, gorillas were performing for us and just a beautiful day. The cost was about $20 military with discount + $5 parking. It was well organized and easy to navigate.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By ronald hinkle (3 months ago)

Riverbanks Botanical Garden

  • Address: 1300 Botanical Pkwy, West Columbia, SC 29169, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (3597)
  • Phone: +1 803-779-8717
  • Website:
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Tuesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    Great place to go to get away from it all. Annual pass is a great bargain. Highly recommend parking on the Botanical Garden side and take the Woodland Trail and Riverwalk trail to the zoo (best kept secret!) it’s a beautiful walk by the river with some cool historical significance (I won’t spoil it).
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Lee Gandy (a year ago)
    This was a beautiful experience. So many different plants, and educational. Lots of different ways to explore. One of my favorite parts had a wooden walkway. There also is a water play area, but it was closed when we went. I think it would have been super cool to see that, but maybe next time! This is definitely a great place to take your kids, there are a lot of kid-oriented things here!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Mar Pepin (8 months ago)
    We are fortunate to have such a wonderful botanical garden. Try the wilderness walk from the zoo bridge to the garden instead of the tram. It’s a nice walk (not for strollers) along the river and some historical remains and up through the woods and brings you in at the rose garden.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Dean McCaughan (4 months ago)
    It was nice to walk around, although it wasn’t the biggest or had the greatest variety of plants and blooms. I will be honest and say that I’ve been to other botanical gardens that “wow’d” me more. But maybe it was the time of year? I will go back here to visit and give the garden another shot later in the spring/early summer. I did really enjoy the hidden trail to the factory ruins, that was very cool to see and take in a bit of history in the area.
    ✭✭✭ By Dina (9 months ago)
    We had a great time at the zoo! Been coming since I was little and now I’m bringing my little one. Splash pad is cool, the exhibits are cool, lights before Xmas is fun. Membership is worth it if you live nearby enough to go at least 2-3 times a year. We’ve been going a lot lately.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Amanda Childs (5 months ago)

South Carolina State Museum

  • Address: 301 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (2989)
  • Phone: +1 803-898-4921
  • Website:
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: Closed
    Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Sunday: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    Although it’s showing its age in places (some of the exhibits are 25+ years old) the museum is clearly undergoing a renewal. Many signboards and displays have recent updates, exhibits are being tweaked, new displays are going on. It’s true this isn’t the state of the art museum it was in the early 90s, but it’s still a solid place to pick up on state history and I still love coming here to see what’s been updated since my last visit. Watching the changes from one visit to the next in almost real time has been pretty exciting! In good weather, definitely check out the observatory. Even if it’s closed due to clouds or rain, they’re always happy to have a chat about the telescope and show off pictures they’ve taken with it, which is extremely cool. The updated space exhibits are also fantastic, as are the telescopes on display and the recent acquisitions hall. Showing its age in places, yes, but like I said it’s still definitely worth the visit.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Cara C. (4 months ago)
    Great place to explore. The building itself is cool. The planetarium is a great experience. Also do the observatory. Impressive telescope and knowledgeable staff. The other displays throughout are fantastic, but there isn’t much change. Still, I enjoyed repeated visits. The manually powered submarine model is fascinating. We went this last time for the eclipse. The staff members really make you feel welcome.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Jimmy Sadler (7 months ago)
    We visited with our 3 children and wasn’t sure if it would keep their attention. We were pleasantly surprised as they had a great time. Their were so many awesome things to see and so much history there. We also really enjoyed the planetarium as well. The staff was also very friendly and was very helpful and the bathrooms were very clean.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By D mike (5 months ago)
    I went to this museum as a chaperone with my kid’s school. I was expecting a more updated and modern museum. Some part were looking old. Overall we liked it, but there were not much signs showing which way we should go, and since it’s a big building it is a must. It took the teachers almost fifteen minutes to find the lunchroom. 4D was very good, kids loved it.
    ✭✭✭✭ By Beyza Koseoglu (7 months ago)
    This is definitely a gem. They have 4 floors of exhibits. We didn’t get thru it all today. They have kid friendly exhibits as well. They have a gift shop an they also show mini movies. Today admission was $1 per person. ( First Sunday of each month).
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Kimbryea Walker (11 months ago)

EdVenture Children’s Museum

  • Address: 211 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.5 (2807)
  • Phone: +1 803-779-3100
  • Website:
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Tuesday: Closed
    Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Sunday: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    Nice little science museum with some fun activities. Not amazing for a full day but okay for a couple hours. I would become a member if we lived closer to make the price worth it. Eddie is a neat exhibit and is designed for climbing with a slide too. Upstairs the craft area has potential but depends on what other kids have already been through.
    ✭✭✭ By Jennifer Martin (3 weeks ago)
    This place is amazing! A great little way to spend some time letting kids run around, explore and learn. My son is 6 yrs old and autistic, he loved it and can’t wait to go back. So many things for them to climb on and touch. Children on state assistance also get a discounted rate on admission.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Lupe Kleber (2 months ago)
    We had a great time visiting this museum. So many fun interactive things for the kids to do. They loved Eddie and had a blast climbing him and Learning about all the different parts of the body. We will definitely be back!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By D mike (6 months ago)
    The six year old had a good time, but it definitely could use a cleaning/painting/item replacement refresh in certain exhibits where the wear and tear was very obvious. Hand sanitizer pumps all about, but half that were tried were empty… even the soap dispenser one hour after opening.
    ✭✭✭✭ By Krystal B (6 months ago)
    Great time with our two year old. She didn’t want to leave! They had multiple hand sanitizer stations which was nice too. Only complaint is that most of the exhibits were very dusty and didn’t not like they had been cleaned in a long time!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By J. W. Coffin (7 months ago)

Sesquicentennial State Park

  • Address: 9564 Two Notch Rd, Columbia, SC 29223, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.5 (2757)
  • Phone: +1 803-788-2706
  • Website:
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Tuesday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Wednesday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Thursday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Friday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Saturday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Sunday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    This park has a nice campground. Only 9 sites are full hookup though. They have a great trail for running. It’s a loop through the woods. About 3.5 miles long. Good surface and mostly shaded. And you can easily add running to & from campsite to get 5 miles — or obviously whatever distance you want if you keep running around the loop. Nice lake with ducks & kayak & SUP rentals.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Lisa Smalls (3 months ago)
    This park was truly beautiful and we didn’t even walk the entire thing. The water was very pretty to look at and we almost rented a paddle boat but it was a little chilly. The waterfalls we saw were so nice to just sit and listen to. It was very peaceful and not crowded. Parking was ample however it was a little annoying that we had to pay to get in. The only thing missing was definitely more swings to sit in to look at the water. There was only one and a lady was sitting in it for over the hour that we were there. Will definitely be back and recommend it to anyone visiting. Our first park visit was Finlay park so needless to say, the bar was almost non-existent when it came to finding a nice park, but we were very pleased with our visit.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Jerikah Barnett (2 months ago)
    I recently moved to Columbia with for my job. Today was an absolutely gorgeous day to explore the park with my dog. The park staff was wonderful and welcoming. You can tell they are passionate about the park. The park itself is lovely and very well maintained. Xena and I enjoyed a nice 6 mile hike. This will be a regular spot for us to decompress and spend time together. I love that the dog park has a fee and REQUIRES shot records and photo IDs for the dogs to keep everyone safe and healthy.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Michele Lennon (a year ago)
    The smell of pine trees fills the whole park. Nice trails that are well kept as well as nature trails. The lake looks like it might be fun for kayaking or paddle boating. Nice little store at the park office. It was $6 to enter.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Christine G (a month ago)
    Even snow couldn’t keep us from having a great time! Great State Park in the middle of the state. Easy access to shopping and attractions, just off the interstate. Turn off Two-Notch and experience a wilderness setting in the heart of Columbia. Walking trails, paddle boats and amazing Rangers await!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Brian Odgers (11 months ago)

West Columbia Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater

  • Address: 109 Alexander Rd, West Columbia, SC 29169, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (2427)

Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park

  • Address: 312 Laurel St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (2373)

Soda City Market

  • Address: 1300-1600 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (1991)

Finlay Park

  • Address: 930 Laurel St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 3.5 (1397)

Columbia Museum of Art

  • Address: 1515 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.6 (1310)

Saluda Shoals Park

  • Address: 5605 Bush River Rd, Columbia, SC 29212, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (991)

Busted Plug Plaza

  • Address: Busted Plug, 1404 Taylor St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.3 (419)

Riverfront Park

  • Address: 1115 Gist St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.4 (419)

South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

  • Address: 301 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.6 (258)

South Carolina Military Museum

  • Address: 1 National Guard Rd, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.9 (233)
Best tourist attractions in Columbia SC
Best tourist attractions in Columbia SC

Thank you for reading! We hope this list helps you find the best tourist destinations in Columbia SC. If you have any additional information, please leave a comment below!

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