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10 Must-Visit Historic Sites In Columbia, South Carolina


by Lib Rolon


Columbia, South Carolina, is a city steeped in history, boasting a rich tapestry of cultural heritage and significant landmarks. From the colonial era to the Civil War and beyond, the city's historic sites offer a captivating journey through time. Visitors can explore a diverse array of attractions, each with its own compelling story to tell. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a curious traveler, or simply someone seeking to delve into the past, Columbia's historic sites provide a fascinating glimpse into the region's evolution.

In this article, we'll uncover 10 must-visit historic sites in Columbia, South Carolina. From stately homes to battlefields, museums to gardens, each location offers a unique perspective on the city's history. So, grab your walking shoes and prepare to embark on a memorable exploration of Columbia's rich historical tapestry. Let's step back in time and discover the captivating heritage that awaits at these remarkable landmarks.

The South Carolina State House

The South Carolina State House is a remarkable historic site in Columbia, South Carolina. Constructed in the Greek Revival style, this architectural gem has been the seat of South Carolina's government since the mid-19th century. The building's striking copper dome, which gleams in the sunlight, is a prominent feature of Columbia's skyline. Visitors can explore the State House grounds, adorned with monuments and statues that pay homage to significant figures and events in South Carolina's history. The State House also houses the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, and the South Carolina General Assembly, making it a hub of political activity in the state.

The Robert Mills House & Gardens

Nestled in the heart of downtown Columbia, The Robert Mills House & Gardens is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. This historic site showcases the work of Robert Mills, one of America's first native-born and trained architects. The house, built between 1823 and 1826, is a prime example of Federal style architecture and offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the early 19th century affluent South Carolinians. The lush gardens surrounding the house provide a serene retreat, inviting visitors to stroll along winding paths and admire the meticulously curated flora.

The South Carolina State Museum

The South Carolina State Museum stands as a testament to the state's rich cultural and natural history. Housed in a former textile mill, this expansive museum offers a diverse range of exhibits, including art, natural history, science, and technology. Visitors can marvel at the museum's collection of artifacts, from ancient fossils to space exploration memorabilia. The museum also features a state-of-the-art planetarium, where visitors can embark on celestial journeys through immersive shows and educational programs.

The Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens

Stepping onto the grounds of the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens is akin to journeying back in time to antebellum South Carolina. This historic site, once a bustling plantation, now serves as a window into the lives of the enslaved individuals and the wealthy families who called the mansion home. The meticulously restored gardens, with their vibrant blooms and tranquil ambiance, offer a serene escape from the bustle of modern life, inviting visitors to reflect on the complex history of the site.

The Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park

The Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park provide a picturesque setting for visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region. The historic canal, which once powered Columbia's early textile mills, now offers a scenic backdrop for leisurely strolls and outdoor activities. The adjoining Riverfront Park boasts expansive green spaces, perfect for picnics and recreational pursuits, while also hosting various events throughout the year. Visitors can also explore the park's historic ruins, which stand as a testament to Columbia's industrial past.

The Mann-Simons Site

The Mann-Simons Site holds a significant place in Columbia's history as a testament to the resilience and contributions of the city's African American community. This historic site encompasses the former home of the Mann and Simons families, free African Americans who played pivotal roles in shaping the cultural and economic landscape of Columbia. Through guided tours and interactive exhibits, visitors can gain insight into the daily lives and legacies of the Mann-Simons families, offering a deeper understanding of Columbia's diverse heritage.

The Woodrow Wilson Family Home

The Woodrow Wilson Family Home stands as a tribute to the 28th President of the United States and provides a glimpse into his formative years. This meticulously restored site offers visitors the opportunity to explore the home where Woodrow Wilson spent his childhood and early adolescence. The exhibits within the home shed light on Wilson's upbringing and the influences that shaped his future leadership. The site serves as a compelling link to both local and national history, inviting visitors to connect with the legacy of one of America's influential leaders.

The Columbia Fireflies at Segra Park

Segra Park, home to the Columbia Fireflies, offers an immersive sports and entertainment experience for visitors of all ages. The minor league baseball team, the Columbia Fireflies, brings the excitement of America's favorite pastime to the heart of Columbia. The stadium's vibrant atmosphere and modern amenities provide an ideal setting for enjoying a game with family and friends. Beyond baseball, Segra Park hosts a variety of events, concerts, and community gatherings, adding to its appeal as a dynamic destination in Columbia.

The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum stands as a guardian of the state's military history, housing an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits. From Civil War memorabilia to artifacts from modern conflicts, the museum offers a comprehensive look into South Carolina's military heritage. Visitors can explore the museum's diverse displays, which honor the bravery and sacrifices of those who served in defense of the state and the nation. The museum serves as a place of reflection and education, preserving the stories of South Carolina's military past for future generations.

The Columbia Museum of Art

The Columbia Museum of Art stands as a cultural beacon, showcasing a diverse array of artistic treasures from around the world. The museum's collection spans centuries and continents, offering visitors a journey through the realms of classical and contemporary art. From renowned masterpieces to thought-provoking contemporary installations, the museum's exhibits captivate art enthusiasts and novices alike. The museum also hosts engaging events, educational programs, and interactive experiences, fostering a vibrant arts community in the heart of Columbia.

This comprehensive guide to the 10 Must-Visit Historic Sites in Columbia, South Carolina provides a captivating glimpse into the rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty that awaits visitors in this vibrant city. Whether exploring the architectural marvels of the State House, delving into the stories of the Mann-Simons families, or immersing in the artistic wonders of the Columbia Museum of Art, each historic site offers a unique and enriching experience, inviting visitors to connect with the captivating heritage of Columbia, South Carolina.


Columbia, South Carolina, is a treasure trove of history, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich tapestry of the state's past. From the majestic beauty of the South Carolina State House to the poignant stories preserved at the Mann-Simons Site, each historic site holds a unique significance. As visitors wander through these hallowed grounds, they are transported back in time, gaining a deeper understanding of the events and individuals that have shaped the region. Whether exploring the grounds of the Robert Mills House or standing in awe at the Hampton-Preston Mansion, the historic sites in Columbia provide an immersive and enlightening experience for all who seek to uncover the captivating history of South Carolina.


Q: Are these historic sites suitable for family visits?
A: Absolutely! Many of the historic sites in Columbia, South Carolina, offer engaging activities and educational programs suitable for visitors of all ages. Families can enjoy guided tours, interactive exhibits, and special events that bring history to life in a captivating and accessible manner.

Q: Can I take photographs at these historic sites?
A: While photography policies may vary at each location, most historic sites in Columbia welcome visitors to capture the beauty and significance of their surroundings. However, it's advisable to check with each site regarding their specific photography guidelines to ensure a memorable and respectful visit.