South Carolina Part 1 – What to Do With a Few Hours in Columbia

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Ever since Skyler was a little kid, he has loved going to South Carolina every few years with his family. When his parents asked him and his brothers to choose between going to a theme park or South Carolina, they always chose South Carolina. Since we have been married, I’ve heard all about fishing, the beach, baseball games, the different foods, and so on. We have looked forward to going with the family as a couple, and this year we were finally able to! In this blog post series, I’ll write about our highlight days. On the other days we relaxed as a family and played on the beach. It was awesome, but not necessarily super fun to read about. 😉

We booked our flight to the Charlotte NC airport, so we decided to take a little detour to Columbia on our way to Pawleys Island. We would only have a few hours here before we needed to get back in the car and head to the beach house. With such a small amount of time, we wanted to make sure we saw the best attractions.

Columbia has some awesome historic sites to visit. We found a company called Historic Columbia which offered tours of 4 historic homes. This was exactly what we were hoping for. We purchased our tickets for a tour of the home Woodrow Wilson (28th president) lived in as a teenager. While we waited for our tour to start, we gave ourselves a tour of the Robert Mills gardens. We were impressed with how well they are taken care of.

The Robert Mills Gardens are lovely!

The Robert Mills House. Isn’t is beautiful?

We really enjoyed our tour of the Woodrow Wilson home. Here are a few of the highlights for us during that tour:

  • The tour had a focus on Reconstruction in Columbia. Reconstruction is the era after the Civil War when the South was being rebuilt. We learned about how this time affected Woodrow Wilson and his decisions as a president.
  • Columbia was almost completely burned down during the war. The people there practically had to start from scratch.
  • Columbia was the first city to use the grid system!
  • We were interested to learn that many social programs, such as public schools, began during this era.
  • Our tour guide did a great job helping us envision daily life during this era. She pointed out many things we wouldn’t have thought about. For example: wearing white was a sign of status because white clothes were very difficult to keep clean! Who knew?
  • They have an original copy of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I was geeking out just a little bit. At first I thought it was a little random that they had it here, but this book had a huge impact on life for Southerners as they were very religious.

Photo courtesy of Historic Columbia.

The Woodrow Wilson home is so charming! Photo courtesy of Historic Columbia.

*If you’re interested in visiting these historic homes, I was able to get a great deal for you! When you purchase your tickets, give them the code: firmhappymom to get $3 off of the adult ticket. Be aware that tickets must be purchased at the Gift Shop (1616 Blanding Street). Learn more about their tours here. Hours and pricing are here.

After visiting the historic homes, we drove a couple of minutes away to get pictures with the largest fire hydrant in the world! No dogs allowed. Ha!

Next, we drove to Pawley’s Island. We stayed at a beach house for the rest of our trip. If you’re planning to visit the area, I highly recommend you stay in one too! It was only a 5 minute walk to the beach. We also had a creek running behind our house with two fishing docks. Nothing beats heading to the backyard in your jammies to go fishing. Skyler would catch two fish on this trip! 

The fun didn’t stop here, click here for more adventures in South Carolina.

This is the creek right behind our beach house.

What a view!



  • Tiffany
    8 months ago

    I keep seeing more snd more about South Carolina and I am thinking its time to book a trip. I looove old home tours. Bonus if they have hidden rooms. Any of those in Wilson’s house?

    • firmhappymom
      8 months ago

      Definitely! South Carolina is so much fun. No hidden rooms in Woodrow Wilson’s house, but I wonder if Historic Columbia’s other 3 homes have any. It’s still a great place to visit! Lots of artifacts and cool things to learn.

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