Columbia SC: Sightseeing and Activities in the Heart of the Confederate South...

Columbia SC, Part of the Old South...

Columbia SC, which is located right in the heart of the old south, is awash with the history of the United States and the War of Northern Aggression during the 1860’s…  As far as state capitols go it’s not huge and overbearing, but just the right size for a warm and leisurely sightseeing trip to this part of the country.  There are fewer people that live in the state of South Carolina than the total number living in the city of Atlanta area!  The people in South Carolina tend not to congregate all in one spot; they are spread out in different cities and towns both on the coast and inland…

There was much damage to the city of Columbia SC because of the war crimes committed by the criminal General Sherman during the War of Northern Aggression.  After he took the city of Atlanta, he headed toward the eastern coast with his army and burned everything in his path.  There were few buildings that were left from that destruction, but you can find some here and there that were left.  One of these is the historical South Carolina State House, which is magnificent and is a must see tour if you are in town.  You can walk around the outside of the building and still see cannon ball hits that were left over from the war!  It’s amazing, and luckily the building survived for future generations.

University of South Carolina Horseshoe, in Columbia SC...

Right next to the Columbia SC State House, is the old University of South Carolina, with another incredible and interesting walking tour which includes the “Horseshoe”. The Horseshoe is one of the original parts of the university, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The students and graduates at the university were some of the first people of the state to vote for secession from the union.

Columbia SC is an incredible outdoors town, and there is so much to do if you like to connect with nature! They have designed several very green parks in the downtown area that host many events during the year such as summer concerts and oyster festivals. There is also a traditional Easter egg festival every year for the kids… Some of the major parks are the Riverfront Park and Historic Canal, Memorial Park, and Finlay Park. They are all fantastic and great places to get some exercise by a walk, run, or bike ride, or maybe to walk your dog. Springtime in Columbia SC is awesome, and the Bradford Pear Trees and Magnolias are all in bloom!

The Riverbanks Zoo and Lake Murray, near Columbia SC...

One of the best zoos in the country is located in Columbia SC, called the Riverbanks Zoo.  It is located right on the Saluda River, just 2 miles from downtown.  There are more than 2,000 birds, animals, and reptiles at this zoo, with many fantastic exhibits and attractions!  One of the more recent additions to the zoo is the gorilla habitat, which is amazing!  Being able to see these primates in their natural environment can really teach you a lot about these extraordinary creatures.  They do have a very musky smell to them though, so be prepared for that!  There is also a tropical rainforest exhibit that you walk through and every few minutes the rains and sounds of the jungle start coming out…  It’s really an amazing experience, and one of my favorites at the Riverbanks Zoo. 

There is a huge manmade lake near Columbia SC, called Lake Murray.  It was created years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers so that the city could keep a reservoir of water available for their needs, and of course it sure makes for an incredible fishing and boating destination!  On a hot summer day, you can find many of Columbia’s residents out on the lake or on one of the beaches cooling off in the water.  The many coves and nooks around the lake also make for some great fishing as the fish like to hide out in shaded areas near the shoreline.  If you have your own Jet Ski or boat, there are plenty of ramps that you can use to put into the lake.  The lake is located just to the west of Columbia, in a mainly rural area.

Columbia SC: Congaree National Park and other State Parks in the Area...

The Congaree National Park is also located just south of Columbia SC, and it’s the largest existing strand of old growth floodplain forest left on the whole continent of North America!  That’s saying a lot, and they have relatively recently upgraded the status of the area from a National Forest to a National Park.  It’s incredible to walk through and see all of the trees and wildlife, and most of us would call it a swamp…  There are boardwalks so you won’t get your feet wet as you walk through, and the rangers really do a great job in explaining everything that you can see around you.  At certain times of the year, they also hold night time “Owl Prowls” that will let you see what happens at the park after the lights go out…  If you get a chance head over to the Congaree National Park, you won’t regret it!

Other great state parks are the Sesquicentennial State Park and the Harbison State Forest, both of which are really good for hiking and biking!  Harbison State Forest especially has some really good mountain bike trails if you are looking to challenge yourself with some rough and ready rides! 

If the arts and culture are what interest you, there are plenty of museums to see in the downtown area, along with a variety of concert and theatre activities for your amusement…  Be sure to plan your trip to Columbia SC well, so you won’t miss the many attractions and sightseeing activities available!  It’s a fun town; I know you’ll enjoy yourself!

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