12 Day Trips From Columbia, SC For Small Town Visits

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Columbia is the capital of South Carolina and is also the second-largest city in the state. The city is host to a whole lot of attractions itself.

The city’s name originated from Christopher Columbus and the city is home to a wide range of historic attractions, ranging from museums and fascinating galleries. 

Let us explore some of the best day trips that you can take from Columbia SC.

Sullivan’s Island, SC

Sullivans Island

Sullivan’s Island is known for its affluent residents and lifestyle. It makes for a fantastic day trip from Columbia SC.

The best thing about Sullivan’s Island is that it is two hours from the mountains and two hours from the beach. Start by hitting up one of the best beaches in the town,  Sullivan’s Island Beach. 

The beach has a mix of people looking to have a good time and keep to themselves. Plus there are plenty of bars and restaurants behind the main drag itself. 

Also, visit the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse that marks the southern end of the beach and you can see many cruise ships as well. 

For a change of pace, you can head to the Edgar Allan Poe Library. The library is tucked in a hillside, which used to be a military bunker was converted into a small library.

Distance: 1 hour and 55 minutes

Ideal for: Beach lovers 

Lake Moultrie, SC

Lake Moultrie

Explore the 70 miles around the edges of Lake Moultrie as you enjoy the scenic area around the lake. The area is known as Lake Moultrie Loop which is a 3.5-hour drive and makes for a great day trip from Columbia SC.

Some attractions include Pinopolis, the Swamp Fox Passages of the Palmetto Trail, Bonneau Beach, Lake Moultrie, and General Francis Burial Site. Lake Moultrie itself is a great place to relax. 

It is a man-made lake that covers an area of 60,400 acres.

Distance: 1 hour and 34 minutes

Ideal for: Relaxed getaway

Atlanta, Georgia


Located just around three hours away from Columbia SC, Atlanta makes for a great day trip from Columbia SC.

Atlanta is a great city to tour as it has a lot of attractions. The most popular tourist spot is the Atlanta Aquarium. 

It is the largest open ocean tank in the world where you can see whale sharks (the only display in the world other than Japan). If you love history, then you can head to Fernbank Museum of Natural History which has famous dinosaur exhibits and an Imax.

The world of Coke is also lots of fun to visit with your family. 

Distance: 3 hours

Ideal for: Family getaway

Charleston, SC


Charleston has a lot of activities to offer as it is is a hub of activity, culture, and history. It makes for the perfect day trip from Columbia SC.

Start by visiting downtown and enjoying the unique markets and historic buildings. For a change of pace visit the lush Magnolia gardens for a relaxing walk.

You can even head to Sullivan’s Island from Charleston to dip your toes in the sand. 

Distance: 1 hour and 53 minutes

Ideal for: Fun getaway

Kershaw, SC


Located in Lancaster County, Kershaw is only around an hour away from South Carolina and makes for a great day trip from Columbia SC. This quaint town pulls a lot of outdoor enthusiasts as it is home to some amazing reserves.

Start by visiting the  40 Acre Rock Heritage Preserve, which is home to a 14-acre rock. The entire 2,965 acres of the preserve include water slides, waterfalls, a beaver pond, caves, and indigenous plants and animals.

If you are a car enthusiast, then visit t Carolina Motorsports Park Inc where any level of car enthusiast can take a car or kart for a spin in the park. 

If you are left wanting more, then visit  Kershaw Skate Park which is one of the largest state parks in South Carolina.

Distance: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Ideal for: Outdoor enthusiasts

Santee, South Carolina


Known as one of the best golf destinations in America, Santee makes for a great day trip for golf enthusiasts.

The town is situated on the south shore of the State’s largest freshwater lake – Lake Marion. The state is home to some great golf courses Lake Marion, Santee National, and the Santee Cooper Country Club within 5 minutes of any place in town. 

Apart from that, you can also visit the Santee State Park which sits on 2,500 acres of land that includes campgrounds, picnic shelters, boat ramps. 

Distance: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Ideal for: Golf enthusiasts

Augusta, Georgia


Located on the banks of Savannah River, Augusta is located around one hour and fifteen minutes away from Columbia, South Carolina. This town is steeped in history and makes for a great day trip for history buffs. 

There is a mix of Southern charm with amazing food, shopping, and entertainment experience. Visit the  Augusta Canal Discovery Center to get to know more about how the city used its waterways for importing and exporting goods.

Other places of interest for history buffs include Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson or visit the Augusta Museum of History. Also, visit the August Riverwalk for a great experience.

The riverwalk is known for great places to eat, bike riding, and access to things like the James Brown Statue and Riverwatch Brewery.

Distance: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ideal for: Family fun

Sumter, South Carolina


Considered one of Columbia’s neighboring cities, Sumter is around 57 minutes away from Columbia, SC. Start by visiting the s General Thomas Sumter Memorial Park which is the burial place for the Revolutionary War hero and former congressman.

Next, visit the Sumter Opera House has played host to many national acts over its decades of existence and is an almost historic site to visit. 

Another must-visit place is Swan Lake Iris Gardens, which is known for its black water. It is home to eight species of swans.

Distance: 1 hour

Ideal for: Quick getaway

Parris Island, SC

Parris Island

The site of Marine Corps recruit training, Parris Island makes for a great kid-friendly trip. Located just around 2 hours and 30 minutes away, it makes for a great day trip from Columbia, SC.

There are various monuments which you can visit around town, along with beautiful scenery as well. Take the kids on a walking trail and enjoy nature in its full glory.

Distance: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Ideal for: Family holiday

Camden, SC

Kershaw-Cornwallis House

The historic city of Camden makes for a great day trip from Columbia SC. Founded in 1732, Camden is South Carolina’s oldest inland town.

There are more than 60 historical buildings in Camden which you can explore, some of them dating as far back as 1865 that are listed in its National Historic District.

Visit the Robert Mills Courthouse, the Camden Clock Tower, and the Kershaw-Cornwallis House. Take a break from history and have a meal at one of the cute cafes in the town.

Distance: 36 minutes

Ideal for: History buffs

ACE Basin, SC

ACE Basin

Hollywood is the home of the ACE Basin, which makes for a great day trip from Columbia SC. The beautiful ACE Basin scenery will literally take your breath away.

There are other outdoor recreational activities like kayaking and hiking which you can indulge in. You’ll enjoy the abundant native wildlife as well as the long stretches of marshland.

Distance: 42 minutes

Ideal for: Nature buffs

Orangeburg, SC


Also known as The Garden City, Orangeburg makes for a great day trip from Columbia SC. It is a beautiful city and offers a plethora of things to do. 

Nature lovers will love roaming around this city as there are a lot of gardens and parks which you can explore. 

Distance: 47 minutes

Ideal for: Nature buffs


Columbia makes for a great base to explore the state of South Carolina which has a lot of gems to offer. So, what are you waiting for? Go on and explore the beautiful state.

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