Columbia, South Carolina
Located smack dab in the middle of South Carolina, Columbia is a city defined by what’s new and hot in the city (its marketing slogan is “famously hot”). It’s a city where there’s always something to do, especially outside the convention center. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, set on 170 acres along scenic Saluda River, is recognized as one of America’s best zoos. It’s home to elephants, tortoises and birds, and has instituted a number of green practices. For events, the zoo’s Ndoki Lodge can accommodate up to 300 people.
Congaree Vista, once the home of warehouses and railroad station structures, is Columbia’s historic arts and entertainment district. Known as Hell’s Kitchen before it was developed into the half-acre arts community it is today, the area is filled with antique shops, art galleries, eclectic restaurants and music venues. It’s also where you’ll find the Columbia Museum of Art, which features exhibits on natural history, science and technology, and cultural history. There are a variety of mini theaters dispersed throughout the museum, and plans are underway to add a planetarium, which will be one of the largest in the Southeast. There’s also the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina’s premier international art museum, and like all of the other attractions, it can accommodate private functions.
Other sites in Columbia worth visiting include the state capitol grounds, the Mann-Simons Site, and the Robert Mills House and Gardens. And for meetings, the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center is impressive with its outstanding artwork, greenery and ergonomic chairs, which create an ideal learning environment.