Columbia, South Carolina is ghetto and crime invested everywhere. The government officials have no respect for good people. There is no help. They will try to arrest you. The only people seem to get respect here are drug users, prostitutes, and those willing to sell out anyone and everyone to get what they want. There are no emergency shelters. This is really not a good place to raise children. Please don't have to go to court for criminal or civil because they don't care. Businesses and their employees are stealing from people. So much violence. People move here to get away well wrong answer. This place lacks any ambiance, the streets and highways are bad, you don't know who is out to get you. They steal so much. It's boring. I'm glad my family and I left an will never return. Seems like the walking dead. The same people get in trouble over and over again and get away with it, how is this. The agencies are so flawed and poorly ran its crazy. It's like the blind leading the blind. Hardly no assistance for women and children. The school buses drive like race cars. What is there to do for families? This place is country and stupid. Be ware!
I lived in Columbia for 15 years. Despite what the last reviewer saw while passing through Columbia has a number of family oriented attractions. There's a really great zoo, a few great museums including a children's museum, a railroad museum and an art museum. Then there's the state museum that always has fun exhibits. There's an inexpensive water park on Ft Jackson. If you like outdoor type stuff you can kayak and canoe down the Broad, Bush and Saluda Rivers. There are a few boats that offer tours and cruises around Lake Murray. There's the Congaree National Park that is absolutely breathtaking. Harbison State Forest is great for hiking and Sesqui State Park is great for picnics. And Saluda Shoals park offers a lot of great events for everyone including kids.
There are two fairly large shopping areas on opposite ends of the city...Harbison and Sandhill. Chances are the previous reviewer stopped in a really old dilapidated Columbia Mall that's over run by teens and young people. If you're looking for high end Fifth Avenue type of shopping you are certainly not going to find it in Columbia but there are great shops and boutiques all over the city including the downtown area, 5 points and the Vista. The same is true for restaurants. The Devine St area has great food...including a number of "international type cuisines".
If you're a history buff go on a couple tours of the historic homes in the downtown area and tour the State House.
There are "gay friendly" spots in the Vista, as well as dance clubs that appeal to the old and young.
In the warmer months there are quite a few pop up markets, bazaars and farmers markets. And lots of free live music!
Lately the city is attracting large musical acts at the various theaters and centers. USC often has free theatrical and music performances. There's also a children's theater. The Town Theatre and the Trustus put on good shows. The Koger Center is is where various ballets, operas and performing arts shows are put on.
The Free Times paper has the best info on the happenings around town!
There is plenty to do in Columbia if you care enough to look!
I passed through the city of Columbia, SC a few months ago on vacation with my wife. This was not our first experience in SC and I was expecting a great experience similar to our last visit to SC however I was very disappointed with Columbia.
Columbia is not a bad place but its very modest and we could not find many attractions or things to do. There is very little shopping in Columbia with one below standard mall in the City. The nightlife primarily consists of drunken southern folk which hardly makes it enjoyable nor a family place! The majority of the "night life" is small, poorly maintained bars and the chain restaurants which have ample bars.
While Columbia does have some great historic southern architecture, that is hardly enough to make it a worthy visit! The restaurants and dining in Columbia was above average assuming you enjoy southern cuisine. I do not particularly enjoy southern cuisine therefore that was also not enough for me! There is lack of any real entertainment or family oriented events in Columbia.
My overall impression is that Columbia, SC is a very small college city. If you are looking for a family oriented location, night life or extra impressive dining you may want to cross Columbia off your list. There are far better places to visit in SC than Columbia.