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Visit Columbia &
the Environs

Hotel & Location


Visit Columbia & the Environs

About Columbia, SC

The VistaWhether you're into sightseeing, history, outdoors, or nightlife, Columbia has something for you. There is much to see and do while here. Below are some ideas to get you started.

Entertainment districts close to the hotel include:

The Vista
With its eclectic architecture, this renovated industrial sector now boasts one of the city's best selections of restaurants, bars & nightlife.
Spring 2011 Concert Series
The Vista After 5 concert series will begin on Thursday, April 7th, 2011, featuring one of the southeast's best variety dance bands for your dancing and entertainment pleasure. These concerts are held outside in the parking area behind Jillian's Entertainment Complex at 800 Gervais Street in the heart of Columbia's "Vista" area. All concerts are free and open to the public and run from 5:30-9PM.

Five Points
A hotspot with the college crowd, Five Points houses many local shops, bars and restaurants, including more than its fair share of local favorites, such as Yesterday's, Groucho's, and Andi's Deli. These are the sort of places that anyone who used to live here (particularly if they went to USC) says, "If you're going to Columbia, you've GOT to check out ... ."

Devine Street
Columbia's Devine Street, located in the heart of the historic Shandon area, offers a variety of upscale specialty shopping, dining, entertainment and commercial businesses in a community environment.

For a complete list of things to do citywide, see the Columbia Visitors' Bureau website.

Where to Eat

Check out the Free Times' handy Guide to Dining, Attractions & Nightlife. It's arranged by cuisine, so you can quickly locate what you like. Flip to the section on the Vista for places close by - and the Downtown section is also a short walk from the hotel. You can also check the Columbia Visitors' Bureau restaurant guide.

What to see

The State House
Begun in 1851, South Carolina's State House still shows the scars of the Civil War. The building grounds host much to see, including the SC Confederate Dead and African American History monuments.

Robert Mills House (and other historic locations)
Plan a walking tour to visits some of the city's historic homes.
Downtown ColumbiaAlso check out Linda Martin's SEAALL Newsletter article highlighting some of the "must-sees" historic homes in the area. (Article starts on page 13)

Columbia Museum of Art
South Carolina's premier international art museum houses a world class collection of European and American fine and decorative art that spans centuries. In recent years, the Museum's collection of Asian art and antiquities has grown through generous gifts to the collection. Founded in 1950, the museum opened its new building on Main Street in 1998 by transforming an urban department store into a sleek and airy, light-filled space with 25 galleries. The collections include masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, works by significant furniture and silver makers, as well as modern and contemporary art from the present time. Of particular interest are Sandro Botticelli's Nativity, Claude Monet's The Seine at Giverny and art glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
During the month of April, the Museum will be exhibiting Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 - Present. New York Times reviewer Ken Johnson wrote, " ... to study images of Elvis Presley, Madonna and others when they were starting out is to marvel at the youth of those who created the huge global industry of today's pop music." Who Shot Rock & Roll is the first major exhibition on rock and roll to put photographers in the foreground, acknowledging their creative and collaborative role in the history of rock music.

Edventure Children's Museum
The south's largest children's museum, EdVenture is designed to appeal to families and children around the state as well as visitors to the Midlands. Permanent exhibits and programs along with a vibrant schedule of changing exhibits will entice both return visitors and new arrivals.

South Carolina State Museum
The State Museum is housed in its largest artifact, the former Columbia Mill. This former textile mill also is a world-first. When it opened in 1894, manufacturing cotton duck cloth (a canvas-like material), it was the first totally electric textile mill in the world. It was also the first major industrial installation for the General Electric Corporation. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum has four large floors devoted to the disciplines of art, history, natural history and science/technology. It houses both long-term exhibits and five changing exhibit galleries. The State Museum has more than 70,000 artifacts in its collection, and it is still a very young institution. The State Museum was voted one of the three top museums by readers of Southern Living magazine, along with the High Museum in Atlanta and the Smithsonian Institution.

Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden
One of the best zoos and gardens in the Southeast. If you belong to your local zoo, you may get a discount on tickets at Riverbanks.

What to Do

Outdoor Activities and DestinationsMain Street

Dancing SIS information & outings:
Thursday night following the opening reception - Shag night at Jillian's or salsa at Vista Ballroom
Friday night following the social event - Salsa at the Salsa Cabana

Three Rivers Greenway
Luckily for you, the 3 river confluence that inspired our conference theme cuts right through the heart of the Vista, so enjoying a stroll in one the parks should be on everyone's list. Visit the Three Rivers Greenway to get an idea of what the Parks have to offer. On the Saturday of the conference, the West Columbia side will be hosting the 3rd Annual Riverwalk Music Festival, showcasing local music talent and an Artists Courtyard featuring 25 local artists.

Congaree Swamp National Monument
Congaree Swamp National Monument, with 22,200 acres, rests on a floodplain of the Congaree River and is not a true swamp. This remnant preserves, in a wilderness state, the largest intact tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. The monument was authorized as a unit of the National Park Service on October 18, 1976 and was made a national park in 2003. The area boasts approximately 90 tree species, with many trees that hold the state record for size. The variety of trees equals half the number found in all of Europe. Loblolly pines as tall as 169 feet grow here in a rare association with hardwood swamps. Click here to find out more about Kayaking on the Congaree River.

USMC Mud Run
The United States Marine Corps Mud Run is a 5.2-mile course with 34 obstacles that each team needs to maneuver requiring team work and loads of determination. The 5.2-mile course is an all-terrain race conducted on trails to include mud holes, walls, trenches, and other challenging obstacles that require swimming, crawling, climbing and jumping. This year’s Mud Run will be Saturday, April 16, 2011.


Indie Grits
Indie Grits is a local independent film festival and much more. The good news is that this year's festival will coincide with the SEAALL conference, so be sure to check out an event or two. Local crafts, art, music, food - kind of like our own version of Sundance, but much, much cooler.

Midlands Plant and Flower Festival
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture will hold its annual spring Plant and Flower Festival at the new State Farmers Market in West Columbia. This four-day event features plants and yard decor for sale from local and regional vendors. Come find just what you need to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood. Free admission and free parking. Just don't forget to wear comfortable shoes. South Carolina State Farmers Market, April 14-17, 2011
3483 Charleston Highway, West Columbia, SC 29172

Musical / Theatrical

Theater Carolina - Comedy of Errors, April 15 - 23, 2011

Sports / Athletic

College Baseball - South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Vanderbilt Commodores - April 15 - 17, 2011 Purchase tickets from Ticketmaster

Day trips - What's Close by:

Newberry - About a 45 minute drive, this historic small town boasts the famous Newberry Opera House, as well as picturesque Southern homes and fantastic antique stores. What's more, the Pork in the Park BBQ competition is being held Saturday, April 16, 2011. Yum.

Charleston - Historic Charleston, less than 2 hours away, is a must see while in the area. Check back for more details soon.

All photos courtesy Columbia Visitor's Bureau.