Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Columbia - a city guide for meeting professionals. In the heart of South Carolina, tradition and tomorrow pair perfectly in Columbia. It's a modern city where stately buildings buzz with new businesses and centuries-old sites give rise to fresh perspectives. It has all the gracious charm you'd expect from a Southern destination - nothing saccharine, just good old-fashioned kindness. Historic homes and local farms mix in among several distinct entertainment districts, public art, and unexpected venues. With three rivers running right through town, it doesn't take long to get from the middle of the city to what seems like the middle of nowhere. As home to both the University of South Carolina and the state's capital, Columbia is a vibrant city and creative hub bursting with big ideas and modern attitudes.
Columbia's ground transportation is served by three major interstates (I-77, I-26, and I-20), and its central business districts are situated just 7 miles from Columbia Metropolitan Airport. The airport is served by American Airlines, Delta, and United, with nonstop flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, Washington Dulles and Washington National, with Miami soon to come.
Hotels in this capital city include high-profile properties such as the 300-room Columbia Marriott, with 17,896 square feet of meeting space; the 222-room Hilton Columbia Center, with 6,000 square feet of meeting space; and the 238-room Doubletree by Hilton and Conference Center, with 22,700 square feet of meeting space.
Near Columbia's downtown hotels, the 142,500-square-foot Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center has a 16,000-square-foot ballroom, 18,560 square feet of meeting space, and a 23,700 square-foot column-less exhibit hall. Other large-scale facilities include the 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena, with 41 suites and the McGuire Room, a full-service hospitality room suitable for up to 300 people, and the USC Alumni Center, with more than 60,000 square feet of event space.
To add sizzle to a special event, the city has several unexpected venues available. Featuring over 8,000 square feet of space and located in what was formerly the central power plant for the historic S.C. State Hospital, Central Energy was designed as a blank canvas with industrial and modern touches to help bring your vision to life. For a quintessential Southern setting, the 200-year-old Seibels House and Garden in the middle of downtown can accommodate up to 150 for a cocktail party and 250 for a garden reception. Or stage your event outdoors under a covered pavilion and café lights amid rows of farmland at City Roots - located smack in the middle of downtown.
Show you're savvy with the local set by hosting an event at one of Columbia's culinary hot spots. You'll find swanky décor, specialty drinks, and even a few rooftop views at places such as Hendrix, Black Rooster, and Hall's Chophouse, just to name a few.
For relaxation and recreation after your meeting wraps up, the area is full of regional parks and opportunities for outdoor adventures, including Lake Murray and South Carolina's only national park. Popular group-oriented attractions include Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, a complex encompassing a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, and splash pad; the South Carolina State House Capitol Building; and the Columbia Museum of Art, which has unique international collections and curates exhibits using works from famous artists such as Van Gogh.
As a Southern city, Columbia has a healthy dose of staples, such as shrimp and grits and barbecue. But with chefs flocking here from all over, you'll find all manner of tasty eats and trendy spots. Bourbon mixes the traditional with a Cajun flavor in its dishes, and you're likely to see an influx of young professionals and legislators grabbing drinks after work. Get your barbecue fix at The War Mouth, and get it served with a specialty cocktail or local brew. Step into what feels like another time zone at Lula Drake Wine Parlour. A hat shop in its previous life, this cozy spot has a history and a wine list that loom large. Not to mention its distinctive food menu. Or find surprisingly delicious eats at one of Columbia's many breweries. With a green space, rooftop bar, and vegan food options, River Rat Brewery is nothing traditional. With evidence of renewal everywhere, Columbia will leave you looking forward to what's next.