Columbia is enjoying one of the most exciting urban revitalizations in the United States. At the heart of this renewal is an area known as The Vista, a 1200-acre district in the heart of the city. This historic area features a high concentration of historic buildings, which have been rehabilitated with contemporary flair. Restaurants and bars, art galleries and museums, unique shops and professional office space, sporting arenas and entertainment venues add up to make this area popular with area residents and visitors.
The Colonial Life Arena is the largest arena in the state and is home to the University of South Carolina's men's and women's basketball teams. With seating for 18,000, the arena hosts the Columbia Riverbanks Region's most exciting entertainment and family shows. Another significant asset in the Vista is the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. This state of the art facility contains nearly 150,000 square feet of exhibit, classroom and ballroom space, and will bring much new convention and meeting business to the Vista area. Main Street is undergoing a beautification project, conducted block by block, replacing curbs and gutters, adding brick pavers for sidewalks, angled parking, new street lights, plantings and site furnishings. Downtown Columbia is one of the most beautifully landscaped cities of the South.
A long growing season in a semi-tropical climate creates lovely gardens and fantastic natural beauty. Spring comes early to Columbia. In February, frogs start singing again and daffodils pop open. The floral display is breathtaking as abundant dogwoods, redbuds, magnolias and azaleas fill each neighborhood with an awesome array of color. Summertime brings warm days and sunshine. Summers are long, and the color changes of autumn normally take place in late October and November. The hills around Columbia take on the typical reds, oranges and golds of a New England fall. When the leaves finally drop in December, a mild winter is on its way. The average high temperatures in January and February are 55°F and 60°F, with lows averaging 34°F and 36°F. For snow lovers and skiers, the white covered mountains of North Carolina are but two hours away.
Recreational opportunities include boating and fishing on Lake Murray, a 50,000 acre paradise just northwest of Columbia. With its 500+ miles of shoreline, it is a natural wonder to explore and a true fisherman's challenge. Columbia's spectator sports include University of South Carolina Gamecock football, basketball and baseball. Parks and playgrounds are managed by the City of Columbia, Richland County and Lexington County, as well as some of the smaller towns that make up the metro area. Two area state parks are here, as well as the Congaree Swamp National Park. Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a top ten zoo in the US and offers extraordinary gardens and woodland paths. The list of annual events is long and fun! The people of Greater Columbia love to have a good time. Three Rivers Music Festival, the Okra Strut, the State Fair, the Peach Festival, the Catfish Stomp, the Greek Festival, Lexington FunFest...they all celebrate an aspect of life in the Riverbanks Region.
The cost of housing in Greater Columbia is 93.2% of the national average. Additionally, Greater Columbia is justifiably proud of its outstanding educational system. From elementary schools that teach Japanese and Latin to the University of South Carolina with its highly ranked business school, Columbia's schools are truly on the cutting edge.
Nine institutions of higher learning are located in Columbia, including Midlands Technical College with its four area campuses. Recognizes as the region's leader in health care and medical research, Greater Columbia has 10 major hospitals, all offering diversified medical care and wellness services and programs to the community. The University of South Carolina's School of Medicine is affiliated with seven area hospitals. Columbians continually cite the location as one of the city's greatest assets. Day trips to the mountains of the Upstate, the beautiful beaches of the Grand Strand and the historic sites and parks of the Lowcountry are a benefit of living in Columbia. People move to Columbia for a multitude of reasons. Many for jobs, many for military transfers, many for retirement...whatever your reason, welcome! You're going to love it!