Columbia is the capital of South Carolina, its largest city, and a premier location for entertainment, arts, culture and recreation. Our city offers a broad variety of attractions, making it an ideal location for any lifestyle. Concerts, festivals, beautiful parks and greenspaces, nightlife, and a thriving art scene guarantee that there is no shortage of available entertainment options. The climate is subtropical with mild winters, warm springs and autumns, and hot summers. Temperatures range from average summer highs in the 90s to winter lows in the 40s. Columbia is relatively close to both the beach and mountains, both are drivable within an hour and a half. Low commute times and good, affordable housing make Columbia a great community to live and work in. With an abundance of southern hospitality and charm, it's no surprise Columbia was recognized as one of the 2011-12 "American Cities of the Future" by fDi Magazine
Entertainment and Nightlife
When it comes to nightlife, The Vista provides the perfect setting for anyone interested in enjoying dinner on the town or a fun filled happy hour. The Vista hosts several food and arts themed festivals throughout the year as well as Vista Lights, an event officially marking the start of the holiday season in Columbia.
There are a variety of clothing shops and restaurants in Five Points, which also hosts one of the largest St. Patrick's Day festivals in the Southeast (over 40,000 attended in 2012). Other popular events include the 5 After 5 Spring Concert Series and their annual Chili Cook Off.
Main Street is currently experiencing a boom in residential and business development. The completion of the Mast General Store and a recent facade improvement program, have helped attract new projects and investment to the area. Popular events such as First Thursday and the Annual Urban Tour have helped to generate traffic on the street outside of regular 9-to-5 business hours.
The USC Gamecocks continue to provide one of the best college sports experiences in the nation. During the fall, William-Brice stadium, which seats 80,250 fans, fills past capacity with football fans eager to support the Gamecocks. In the winter, men's and women's basketball takes center stage at the Colonial Life Arena. Springtime brings baseball season, with excitement abuzz around a team that's won back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011. They also placed 2nd in the nation in 2012. From August to May, the Gamecocks keep Columbia in a perpetual state of excitement.
Our region is fortunate enough to have access to three major rivers and two large, beautiful lakes. This combined with a temperate climate provides ample opportunities to enjoy water sports and the outdoors. The Riverbanks Zoo is home to more than 2,000 fascinating and exotic animals, as well as 70 acres of scenic river views, spectacular valley overlooks and beautiful landscapes. Our city's Parks and Recreation Department maintains 49 outdoor parks within the city limits alone, including the beautiful Riverfront Park, a popular destination for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. Sesquicentennial State Park and Congaree National Park are both reachable in under 30 minutes from downtown and offer hiking and canoeing activities for outdoor enthusiasts interested in getting closer to nature.
Culture and the Arts
Live music, entertainment, and the arts are also readily available locally with USC, the Koger Center for the Arts, and the Township Auditorium constantly providing public entertainment. The newly renovated Nickelodeon Theatre offers a wide variety of alternative films and sponsors media arts events and educational programs to promote and enhance appreciation of media arts. Trustus Theatre is the Midlands only professional theatre and encourages acceptance of theatre as an integral part of culture of our region by providing unique, high quality theatrical experiences and new, award winning plays. The Columbia Museum of Art is the largest fine art museum in South Carolina. They offer a world-class collection of American and European art that spans seven centuries, and unique exhibits each year. The Columbia City Ballet is the second largest performing arts organization in South Carolina with 26 professional dancers. The South Carolina Philharmonic, founded in 1963, is the resident professional orchestra of central South Carolina which extends their activities statewide.