The largest city in South Carolina, this state capital is home to the University of South Carolina and the Fort Jackson Army base. Tourists flock to Columbia to sample its infamous Southern fried food, lounge in the shade of fragrant magnolia trees, and experience the local hospitality. Here’s how to have the best Columbia vacation without spending a fortune on hotels, transportation, and attractions.
Stay Near the Airport or Fort Jackson
Image via Flickr by TimothyJ
While staying downtown is convenient for walking to restaurants and entertainment, room rates in the downtown area are much pricier than at hotels near Fort Jackson and the airport. Around Fort Jackson, you’ll find elegant hotels with full amenities offering cheap prices, like the Wingate by Wyndham Columbia Harbison. This budget-friendly choice offers plenty of value, with a free breakfast, laundry facilities, an outdoor pool, and spacious kitchenette rooms for travelers who want to prepare their own meals.
The simple, but budget-friendly, Days Inn and Suites Fort Jackson is a solid choice for a short getaway. Wake-up to a free breakfast every morning and unwind in their refreshing indoor pool. You’ll find many Fort Jackson hotels along Highway 1, just a short drive from Columbia’s most popular attractions.
Find other affordable hotels in Columbia near the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, along I-26. Several budget chain hotels populate this area, including Days Inn and Suites, Sleep Inn, and Knight’s Inn.
Visit Columbia in Springtime
Image via Flickr by geraldbrazell
With mild weather and the start of the college fall semester, September to November is peak tourist season. Winter is the slowest tourist season, while the scorching summer temperatures also seem to keep travelers away. To get the best prices and the best weather, book your trip for early spring. This season is a beautiful time to visit the city; the plants and flowers are blossoming and the temperatures range from 60 to 80 degrees. To save a bit more on your hotel room, stay mid-week and not on weekends.
Drive Around Columbia
Image via Flickr by Ken Lund
The easiest way to explore attractions scattered throughout the Columbia area is by car. If you’re not driving to Columbia and you plan to stay near Fort Jackson or the airport, you should consider renting a car. Taxi rates in the city will cost about $3 per mile and getting to downtown Columbia or the Riverbanks Zoo could cost as much as $30 each way.
Explore Free Attractions
Image via Flickr by Miguel Vieria
Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the trails and waterways of the Congaree National Park. With free admission and free guided tours, this is probably the best free attraction in the Columbia area. Sign-up for a free guided canoe tour and paddle under Tupelo trees. If you’re headed downtown, don’t miss the free tours of the South Carolina State House that cover the history and architecture of the building.
Keep these tips in mind when you book your trip to Columbia, SC and see how far your travel budget can stretch. You might save enough money to stay an extra day!
A former journalist, Tammy Banfield is a freelance travel writer who loves scouring the web for the best travel experiences. Tammy has written about more than 2,000 hotels and has traveled extensively throughout Canada and the United States.