Local Schools The Columbia School Districts house over 150 public schools and 70 private schools, and serve more than 100,000 students. The Greater Columbia region has eight secondary schools that are recognized as model schools by the United States Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Schools Program. The University of South Carolina is located downtown and is dedicated to providing excellence in education while retaining its reputation as one of the best colleges in America.
Economy and Job Market The Columbia economy is well diversified with a rich mix of retail, manufacturing and service companies. A number of local, regional, national and international businesses are expanding and/or locating in the area. The state's aggressive business development, geographic location and superior work force are attractive for new businesses. Additionally, South Carolina's strong tourism industry also allows for many job opportunities. Columbia Metropolitan Airport is located six miles southwest of Columbia's central business district and is also conveniently located near three interstate highways which run through the city. The airport itself is home to more than 50 agencies and businesses.
Parks and Recreation Columbia has three beautiful rivers running through it. For decades, river travel was a primary transportation mode, so the capital city was laid out just up from where the Broad and Saluda Rivers confluence form the Congaree River. These rivers are popular for recreation and much development is happening along the rivers. Visitors can also take guided canoe and kayak trips and experience the breathtaking scenery of the Congaree River. For a more adventurous outing, float through the Congaree Swamp and see the 22,000-acres of rare old-growth bottomland hardwood forest or splash through the whitewater of the Saluda River.
Lake Murray is a 50,000-acre lake just a short drive from downtown Columbia. Constructed between 1927 and 1930, the lake covers an area of 78 square miles with 520 miles of shoreline. The waters of the Saluda River that feed Lake Murray supply energy to the Saluda Hydroelectric Plant. When completed, Lake Murray was the largest power reservoir and Saluda Dam the largest earthen dam in the world. Today, Lake Murray stills supplies electric power and has become the water playground with boating, sailing, canoeing, picnicking, fishing, skiing, swimming, camping and plenty of family fun.
If you prefer dry land, the Palmetto Trails stretch over more than 320 miles of South Carolina's magnificent forest and sandy terrain, historical and cultural areas, and glorious, scenic foothills with magnificent views of native wildlife. Columbia residents also have access to more than 500 acres of beautiful public parklands in the city. Finlay Park has been around since the early 1800s and is rich in history. It is the setting for many festivals, concerts and picnics, with a gleaming waterfall that flows in the background.
Columbia is a paradise for golfers. Players can experience an outstanding variety of well-designed courses on a low budget. Residents enjoy year-round golf at great rates, with small crowds, and dozens of public, semi-private and private courses for players of all levels.
Attractions and Areas of Interest As the first U.S. city to be named after Christopher Columbus, Columbia has come to be known as the "Queen of Festivals." A wide variety of celebrations are held throughout the year to entertain, educate and influence. From a St. Patrick's Day Festival that features live bands, arts and crafts and an array of fine foods to the annual Riverfest Celebration in early spring with a 5K River Run, musical entertainment, arts and crafts and food booths, to First Thursday on Main which brings world-renowned performers, jazz music, and great food to Columbia each month, Columbia has it covered.
The city is also home to a number of attractions including the Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden, recognized as one of the top 10 zoological parks in the nation. The Zoo offers a relaxing, entertaining and educational experience for the entire family. Named the No. 1 travel attraction in the Southeast, Riverbanks is home to more than 2,000 animals. Just across the Saluda River from the zoo are 70 acres devoted to woodlands, gardens, historic ruins, plant collections and visitor facilities at Riverbanks Botanical Garden. The garden features scenic river views, a half-mile of nature trails and a spectacular walled garden with fountains and formal plantings.
Shopping malls and antique malls are scattered throughout the city and offer some of the finest shopping in the nation. Five Points shopping village and Devine Street both feature tree-lined streets spotted with boutiques and specialty shops and cafes and restaurants. Columbia's vast cultural diversity and enthusiastic support of the fine arts are represented in an impressive series of museums, theatres and a variety of performance venues. The city is home to the Palmetto Mastersingers, the Columbia Classical Ballet Company, the Trusts Theatre, the South Carolina Philharmonic, the Columbia City Jazz Company and the Columbia City Ballet.
The U.S. Army Training Center at Fort Jackson was established in 1917 to prepare soldiers for imminent involvement in World War I. The fort was named after Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States and a South Carolina native. Fort Jackson is one of the largest training facilities of its type in the world, training more than 67,000 annually on its 52,303 acres which also includes 1,700 buildings. The Army's largest and most active initial entry training center, Fort Jackson is responsible for training about 30% of the men and women who enter service each year.
Your Real Estate Expert Specializing in Columbia, SC