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6 Scenic Outdoor Venues in Columbia, South Carolina

Harvest Dinner at City Roots Venue in Columbia, South Carolina

Although Columbia, South Carolina, is a bustling capital city, it’s not hard to feel connected to nature and get outdoors during meetings and events. Thanks to a temperate climate and a location that sits at the confluence of the Saluda and Broad rivers, which merge to form the Congaree River, the area is flush with trails, gardens, parks—and venues that take advantage of it all.

Don’t miss an opportunity to get your attendees outside during your next gathering in Columbia. Here are six venues that can help your group embrace the sunshine.

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Event under pavilion at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia
Event at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Credit:  Shell Suber

One of the most popular attractions in Columbia, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden offers a wealth of outdoor experiences, consisting of a 170-acre zoo, botanical garden and aquarium along the Saluda River. Visitors can see more than 3,000 animals and more than 5,700 species of native and exotic plants.

The natural beauty of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden lends itself well to special events. Highlights include the indoor-outdoor rustic Ndoki Lodge, which provides the views of a scenic treetop canopy and sounds of zoo animals, while The Magnolia Room is surrounded by fountains, cascading waters and seasonal blooms with French doors opening out onto bricked terraces.

Columbia Museum of Art

Event planners on the hunt for an impressive offsite space shouldn’t skip the Columbia Museum of Art, which can accommodate parties of 10-1,400. The museum’s art spans 5,000 years of global history in 26 galleries, and it often hosts special exhibitions. Its outdoor space, Boyd Plaza, which offers views of Main Street and has plentiful shade and beautiful landscaping, frequently hosts community events like yoga, live music and others, and can be used for private events. 

Historic Columbia Museums and Gardens

The Robert Mills House
The Robert Mills House. Credit: Brett Flashnick

Historic Columbia manages several historic properties in downtown Columbia, which can also set the stage for memorable events. Among the outdoor options are: 

  • The Seibels House and Garden—the site of the city’s oldest building and surrounded by lush greenery—that has a 350-person indoor-outdoor capacity.
  • Gardens of the Hampton-Preston Mansion, which can house 400 people surrounded by live oak trees and a gazebo garden
  • The recently opened Boyd Foundation Horticultural Center, a state-of-the-art greenhouse that can host up to 130
  • Robert Mills Carriage House and Gardens—named for the famous architect known for designing the first Washington Monument—can host up to 400 on its outdoor lawns and gardens
  • Gardens of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, the childhood home of President Woodrow Wilson, reopened this spring following renovations and offers a sweeping 250-capacity main lawn complete with fir trees and benches.


[Related: Iconic Foods of South Carolina and Where to Try Them]

Segra Park Fireflies game
Segra Park Fireflies game. Credit: Forrest Clonts

Segra Park

Baseball fans will revel at the chance to meet at Segra Park, home of minor league baseball team the Columbia Fireflies. Located in the historic BullStreet District, the design of the stadium comes from the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings, paying homage to Columbia’s past. 

Many spaces within or the whole park can be used for events. The ballpark can accommodate 9,000 people for sporting events and up to 15,000 for entertainment events such as outdoor concerts or corporate gatherings. Rentals of the entire concourse are possible, as well as suites and the Club Lounge with the outdoor Crescent Patio. 

Stone River 

This standalone event venue in West Columbia boasts expansive views of the historic Gervais Street Bridge, Congaree River, Three Rivers Greenway and downtown Columbia skyline. Together, the main hall, pavilion and porch can host up to 300.
Across the street, you’ll find the Black Rooster Italian restaurant, which has a rooftop bar just asking to be an open-air after-party spot. 

City Roots Venue

Set on a sustainable flower farm and managed by farm-to-table event company F2T Productions, outdoor events at City Roots Venue evoke some magic with the covered pergola, twinkling string lights and abundant floral surroundings. Eco-conscious groups will also appreciate the venue’s dedication to sustainability.

The Outdoor Pavilion can accommodate up to 200 guests and the newly updated Farmhouse can seat up to 75 guests for an indoor option. The entire farm can be booked as well for large gatherings or festivals as large as 3,000.

[Related: What’s New, and What’s To Come, Across the Coastal Carolinas]

A Planner’s Perspective on Meeting in Columbia 

Jen Charette, Zoo Community Impact Manager, TESSERE, Wichita, Kansas, details her experience planning an event at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia in the following Q&A.

Please describe your event.  

Jen Charette
Jen Charette

TESSERE is a planning and design firm with a division that specializes in zoos and aquariums. Each year, we convene an intimate group of changemakers from zoos and aquariums across North America to challenge status quos and drive innovation in conservation, animal well-being and guest experience. The conference, called ECHO, is built around the idea of inviting thought partners from outside the zoological community to share their experiences, how they are working to solve problems and what they see in the future. This collision of ideas from seemingly unrelated areas inspires new ways of thinking. ECHO24’s keynote speakers are Jared Orton, president of the Savannah Bananas, and Darren Ross, CFO of Service Freak.    

High-hospitality and curating fun, unique experiences that help our attendees build strong relationships is core to the ECHO experience, so the conference is all-inclusive. We arrange for participant travel, airport and event transportation, lodging and all meals.

Why did you select Columbia as your conference destination?  

Columbia was on the list because Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is an innovative leader in the zoo and aquarium community and partnered with TESSERE in 2023 to renovate the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. We chose the city over other options for its history, cultural institutions, proximity to an easy airport and climate.

What are some venues that really stood out to you during your site inspection that you plan to use during the event?

So many! It was hard to narrow it down, but we chose sites that were interactive, fun and uniquely Columbia. Our hotel is the beautiful Cambria Hotel Columbia Downtown the Vista, and conference sessions will be hosted throughout Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Evening events include a Columbia Fireflies game at Segra Park, concurrent escape rooms at Escapology, dinner and a band at Savage Craft Ale Works and dinner in Riverbanks Botanic Garden. Southern Valet is providing our transportation.

What surprised you most about Columbia?  

The team at Experience Columbia SC is extraordinary! We selected Columbia as our conference location prior to visiting, and when we came to town the team at Experience Columbia SC were phenomenal hosts and ambassadors. The food was great, too, and I loved the Yellow Shirt Ambassadors out and about day and night in the Main Street District. Everyone was just so darn friendly!  

Would you recommend Columbia to other planners? If so, why?  

Absolutely! In all the cities I’ve planned conferences, none have had a more supportive CVB than Columbia.  


Experience Columbia SC

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About the author
Danielle LeBreck | Senior Content Director

Danielle started at Meetings Today in March 2019 after seven years of editorial experience in the travel and food industries. She oversees all of the destination content for Meetings Today and collaborates with the team on digital content strategy and content marketing initiatives.