Your complete guide to living in the Soda City!
So, you been dreaming of sultry summer nights sipping ice tea on the back porch shaded by palm trees. Or, perhaps your PCS ing to Fort Jackson from Fort Hood, bringing your new student to University of South Carolina, or reporting to a new job with your company. Whatever the case, you will be making Columbia, SC your new home. That’s a great reason to keep reading this blog. After living on the East Coast, the Left Coast, and also through many Midwestern winters, I’ve come to call Columbia home after a decade here, and I couldn’t be happier. You’ll find just about everything you would in the big city but that still retains it’s small town vibe. There are museums, a fantastic library system, public transportation, delicious food, fantastic festivals and much more! If you choose to live downtown, you will be in walking distance to all of this. Check out homes in neighborhoods near Downtown Columbia.
By the way, do you know why Columbia is called the Soda City? Although you may think it is because we love our sweetened beverages, is it not because of Coca Cola. Cola is the shortened name for Columbia, thus “Soda City”.
First of all, check out the weather! You won’t experience snow here, too often. The last time I saw snow was 10 years ago and we got wolloped! Eight inches….but it was gone by 3 in the afternoon. This was a totally new experience because in Northern Indiana the same snow that comes down in November is still on the ground in April!
As a matter of fact, our wonderful city is referred to as “Famously Hot” and with good reason. Check out the average Temperatures here:
You may find these other statistics about South Carolina’s State Capital:
Population (city limits): 130,000 some
Richland, Lexington, Kershaw Counties: 668,000+
Median Household Income: $43,650
Median Age: 28.3
Commerce: The two largest industries are Education and Insurance
Median Home Price, Columbia, Lexington, Kershaw County
Getting to Columbia is easy. We are located smack dab in the middle of the state at the intersection of three interstate highways, I-77, I-26, and I 20
Closest Airport: Columbia Metropolitan Airport
Military Installations: Fort Jackson, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Shaw Air Force Base
Columbia’s location is fantastic. We are located 13 miles from geographical center of the state. With easy access to the beach, mountains, Atlanta, GA , Charlotte, NC, and Charleston, SC.
Miles to Beach: 124 miles to Isle of Palms Beach, SC
Miles to Mountains: 138 miles to Hendersonville, NC
Columbia is split between two counties: Richland and Lexington. An there are distinct
We are Friendly, Be forewarned, we do not say “hi” or “hello”. It is “hey” around here. Actually, it’s “hey y’all; or plural “all y’all”! I have found it so easy to pick up conversations with complete strangers everywhere I go. We are a diverse community that gets along together well. When I first moved here I was surprised and unprepared for how often complete strangers will raise their hand and wave to me. This happens even on city streets. They may contact and wave. Now when I travel to other states and do the same, people think I am crazy!
Also I have found this community to be the most friendly and giving I have ever experienced. From local churches (one on every corner and all denominations represented) to Harvest Hope the love is spread around. So many of my friends and co-workers help to feed children, house the homes and in general help those less fortunate. There is hardly a weekend that goes by without the opportunity to give in this community. Here are just few:
This is just a sampling of wonderful local charities. Please go here for a more complete list. My personal mission is to help send hearing a speech impaired children to camp through Richland Sertoma Club.
You can expect to find people from Columbia to be not only friendly but giving. We’ll look forward to seeing you!
C. WE LIKE TO HAVE FUN
And there is a lot of fun to be had in Columbia. You may participate in outdoor sport or you may be more of a spectator, which ever you will find it here. Most Saturdays in the Fall, you’ll find us at Williams Bryce Stadium taking in our beloved University of SC Gamecocks football
Head Coach : Will Muschamp
Rivals: Clemson Tigers, one of the top instate rivalries out there!
And let’s not forget our National Champion Lady Gamecocks! Dawn Staley brought home the trophy in 2017.
Gamecock Baseball team has one two consecutive champ in 2010 & 2011. South Carolina has perennially been one of the best teams in college baseball since 1970, posting 32 NCAA Tournament appearances, 11 College World Series berths, and 6 CWS Finals appearances.
So if you like sports I could go on and on about the collegiate opportunities in our town. I will have to blog about all of those separately.
On the pro-side, in 2016 Segra Ball Park was built to house the class A South Atlantic league team associated with the NY Mets. This is a great venue to watch baseball and an evening out.
If you prefer the outdoors, we are definitely a green city. In fact, Columbia houses Sesquicentennial State Park within the city. You can tent or RV camp, paddle the waters of the lake, hike, bike, or play in their new splash park. This is all within their 14,000 acre park. Just down the road in Hopkins, SC you’ll find Congaree National Park.
The Saluda and Broad rivers converge in Columbia’s downtown to form the Congaree. These large rivers allow you to tube, kayak, canoe, and fish right here in town. On the banks of the Saluda, you will find Riverbanks Zoo and Garden where you can see over 2,000 animals and a world class botanical garden. They have many terrific events throughout the year. One of my favorites is the Boo at the Zoo in October. You can even plan your corporate event or wedding among the elephants.
There’s more water, Lake Murray is the jewel of Lexington. It is one of five man made lakes in the state. 14 miles wide, 41 miles long and 189 feet deep, you can play all types of water sports. There are several public beaches around the lake and the beautiful Dreher State Park where you can access the water with a boat.
Those that save all their energy for nightlife, you will find plenty of that here in Columbia as well. If you like to enjoy an adult drive, we have you covered. As with many other cities across the nation, their are several microbreweries with more coming. Check out Flying Saucer, which offers every stlye beer you can imagine. The same goes for the wine collection at Lula Drake. The list of natural wines is ever-changing, but they focus on small vintners. You are sure to find something you’ve never tried. If you prefer the hard stuff, we even have a destination named Bourbon. The list of whiskies can hardly be contained on their web page. For the sophisticated Martini drinker, visit the Vault in the Sheraton Hotel on Main street. You can have a delicious martini in an actual bank vault.
4. WE EAT WELL
There are so many options for good eats in Columbia, SC that it is hard to nail down the top ten. Opinions on this top are widely varied, so I am just going to name a few of my favorites in several different categories, so you will get a well-rounded sampling.
My Personal favorite is the very fairly priced but upscale offerings of Mr. Friendly’s in NE Columbia. I have dined here often as it scores high with patrons over and over. Another bonus is it is just down the road from my home!
Best authentic Mexican restaurant goes to Real Mexico. For a great steak, you can try the new Hall’s Chop house on Main & Gervais, (pronounced “Jer-Vay”). There are also very casual dining establishments all over town for great eats, like Zesto’s and Rush’s for burgers. As always we have all the major chains here too, like Zoe’s, Pannera Bread, Applebee’s etc. Take you choice, you will be well fed.
My best barbecue option is World Famous Little Pigs, also found in ne columbia. Coach has been serving up Carolina style barbecue and has for years and never disappoints. The Buffet includes barbecue, ribs, brisket, pork chops, chicken, wings, fish, rice, hash, collards, beans, tomato pie, macaroni and cheese, and many more of your favorite home-cooked sides, desserts, and your drink! They are go to catering from Agent Luncheons.
V. WE ARE STEEPED IN HISTORY
Take a Tour
Interested in learning more about this site’s history? Tours of the Robert Mills House are available Tuesday – Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and on Sunday 1 and 4 p.m.
Tickets are available for purchase at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills which is temporarily housed in the Robert Mills Carriage House.
Columbia was chosen as the state capitol of South Carolina in 1786. As South Carolina was the first state to vote to susceed from the Union and form the Confederacy here in Columbia. In 1865 three quarters of the city was burned during the occupation of Columbia by General William T Sherman and his troops. There is quite some controversy about how the fire started and whom is to blame. Today there are still many historical building surviving and that are open for tours. Be sure to see the Seibels House, Robert Mills house, Hampton- Preston Mansion, and The Governors Mansion.
The 20th century brought the cotton mills and textile manufacturing to Columbia
NEXT , WE ARE MILITARY FRIENDLY
We are considered the “most military friendly community” with the 2019 Great American Defense Community designation. We appreciate and respect the military like no other community. With 250,000 people coming to Columbia to participate in military related programs, it brings 45 million dollars to the local economy. Fort Jackson is the Army’s largest initial training facility and is home to 3500 permanent post positions and 3500 permanent civilian positions. Yearly over 80,000 soldiers come here for training of some kind.
Located about 40 miles east of Columbia, South Carolina, Shaw Air Force Base ranks as one of the oldest installations in the Air Force and is the home of the 9th Air Force Headquarters and the 20th Fighter Wing. The 20th Fighter Wing’s Mission is provide Combat Ready Airpower and Airmen to Meet Any Challenge, Anytime, Anywhere. You’ll often see the F-16CM Fighting Falcon flying over the Midlands.
McEntire Joint National Guard Base is owned by the U.S. Air Force affiliated with the South Carolina Air National Guard (SCANG). It is home to the 169th Fighter Squadron supporting the F-16 Flying Falcon.
LASTLY, WE HAVE A GREAT LOCALE
The city is located approximately 13 miles (21 km) northwest of the geographic center of South Carolina, and is the primary city of the Midlands region of the state. This positions the city perfectly. Columbia is 1.5 hours from Folly Beach and 2.5 hours to Asheville, NC. The beach and mountains are close. If you would like a big city adventure, Charlotte is 2 hours away and Atlanta is three. In addition, there are many other wonderful day trips available like Charleston, Augusta, Greenville, and so many more. So if it is July in Famously Hot Columbia, you can get out of town easily.
Ok, these are just seven reasons you may want to live in Columbia, SC. If you decide to relocate here, you wont be disappointed. We are a small city, but just as cosmopolitan as any big metropolis. We have it all on a smaller scale, less expensive, and more friendly. If you have any questions about living here, don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me.
You can contact me here or at (803) 429-0308. I am happy to help.