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Start off the adventure in the Capital City’s Vista, once a bustling cotton warehouse district and commercial railroad terminal, this part of downtown maintains its historic charm while bursting with every modern necessity. The beautiful Midlands region of South Carolina is conveniently located off Interstates I-77, I-20, I-26 in the central part of the Palmetto State.

Visitors can peruse 40 art galleries, collect timeless wares and fun threads at specialty shops and taste their way through the more than 60 restaurants and bars spanning a virtual globe with flavorful offerings—all without leaving the region. Burn off all of those good eats with a city walking tour and stroll the streets that are etched in civil rights and Civil War history. Continue to step back in time and explore the area’s antebellum homes, the South Carolina State House or one of the many museums that call Columbia home. Make sure the little ones get in on the Ed-Venture—the largest children’s museum in the South or take them for a walk on the wild side at the nationally acclaimed Riverbanks Zoo.

After exploring all of the big city sites, recharge in nature with the pristine outdoor opportunities this region offers, including the Purple Martin Phenomenon when, each summer, the skies over Lunch Island on Lake Murray come to life as more than one million birds venture north for the summer and roost on the island, giving spectators a rare look at one of nature’s treats. Guests will see why Boating Magazine named Lake Murray one of the top 10 places to boat and live. Cruise through the nationally recognized fresh waters by climbing on board The Spirit of Lake Murray and listen to live music as the captain sets sail into the beautiful Carolina sunset.

Take a tour of the State’s only national park—Congaree National Park. Canoe, kayak or hike through these preserved and serene marshlands. Whether water lovers feel the need for speed or prefer to float on the area’s sparkling waters, local rental shops can accommodate everyone. At the end of the day, recharge in accommodations spanning cozy cabins and lovely waterfront rentals. Whether attracted to big city lights or the soft moonlight bouncing off quiet waters, Capital City/Lake Murray Country leaves nothing to be desired. www.LakeMurrayCountry.com.

Fast Facts and Trivia

  • Capital City/Lake Murray Country consists of four counties within the beautiful Midlands region of South Carolina: Richland, Lexington, Newberry and Saluda.
    Columbia, SC, located in Richland County, is both the state capital and the largest city in the Palmetto State.
  • Boating Magazine named Lake Murray as a top 10 place to live and boat.
  • U.S News and World Report named Columbia as a “Top 50 Place to Live,” describing the city as, “a traditionally Southern city with a modern twist.”
  • A home to the arts, visitors can catch a Broadway performance at the Koger Center, take a tour of the South’s premier international art museum—The Columbia Museum of Art—or catch a show at one of the oldest operating opera houses, the Newberry Opera House.
  • Livability named Newberry as one of the top 100 best small towns.
  • Capital City/Lake Murray Country is also known for its food. Take taste buds for a spin at the more than 60 restaurants in Columbia’s Vista alone. Or travel along South Carolina’s Famous BBQ trail with a stop at Batesburg Leesville’s Shealy’s BBQ.
  • The area is rich in Civil War history. Union Major General William Sherman had his sights set on Columbia where the secession began. On January 30, 1865, Sherman’s 65,000-man army launched the invasion burning 10 to 12 miles a day. Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour of Sherman’s march.
  • Saluda County is known as the “birthplace of the Alamo Heroes.”  The Saluda County Museum tells the stories of William B. Travis and James Butler Bonham. The museum gives directions to the historic Bonham House (c.1780), the only existing birthplace of an Alamo hero and to the monument marking Travis’ birthplace.
  • Lexington is one of the fastest growing areas in South Carolina. The Town of Lexington grew from approximately 9,800 citizens in 2000 to 17,870 in 2010. Take a cell-phone walking tour in Historic Downtown, shop in boutiques that flood Main Street or peruse the state’s finest homegrown offerings at the weekly Farmer’s Market.
  • Capital City/Lake Murray Country is a dream escape for golfers. Choose from 33 Champion Golf Courses where you can tee off. If golfers happen to be coveted badge holders to the Masters Tournament, Capital City/Lake Murray Country is only 70 miles from The Augusta National.
  • Visitors can take a scenic stroll on the Lake Murray Dam walkway and the best nature trails to hike and bike are at Saluda Shoals Park or Harbison State Forest. Or, nature-lovers can take a serene riverfront stroll along the Cayce Riverwalk.
  • The Congaree National Park is the only national park in the state of South Carolina. This National Park Service site features a visitor center with 3,000-square-feet of exhibit space and an introductory film. Canoe trails, a 21-mile wheelchair accessible board walk loop trail and 18 miles of hiking trails lend access to this forested wilderness wonderland.
  • Dreher Island State Park spans three islands, 348 acres and provides access to 12 miles of Lake Murray shoreline. Visitors will find recreational water activities, nature trails and some of the best striped and large-mouth bass fishing spots, all only 30 miles from Columbia. The State Park has long been a popular location and launching spot for major, national fishing tournaments.
  • Riverbanks is a 170-acre Zoo & Garden featuring two distinct parks along the scenic Lower Saluda River. This nationally recognized zoo houses more than 2,000 animals in natural habitat exhibits. Each area of the Zoo offers a combination of animal exhibits, graphics, enrichment programs and special feedings. Visitors can also take a zip line canopy tour.
  • There is something for every shopper in Lake Murray Country. Shop funky and fabulous stores in Columbia’s Five Points, the hip district located near the University of South Carolina. A shopper can get everything they need at Columbiana Mall or the Village at Sandhill, where major retailers and specialty shops collide. Or, shop upscale boutiques on Devine Street where more than 95% of stores are locally owned and operated.
  • Three rivers converge in this region: The Broad, The Saluda and The Congaree. The Capital City is one of the only metropolitan areas to have three rivers flowing right through the city. Fishermen can find their favorite rock and fish all day, runners and walkers enjoy the Riverwalk Park and Three Rivers Greenway’s walkways. Get Your Gear On and Palmetto Outdoors, offer tubing and kayaking white water adventures down this area’s prized rivers.
  • Lake Murray is known as the “Jewel of South Carolina.” The lake was named after William S. Murray, who was an engineer involved in the design and creation of the dam. The lake and dam were under construction from 1927 through 1930.
  • Many people are fascinated by what is under Lake Murray. There are nearly a dozen communities, thousands of graves, the Wyse Ferry Bridge, bomber airplanes, a pipeline, several railroad tank cars, an old rock house, as well as homes, boats, and bomb fragments deep beneath the waters of Lake Murray.
  • The Lake Murray Fireworks Celebration earned a spot as a Top 20 Event by the Southeastern Tourism Society.
  • Lake Murray is a boating paradise for all type of boaters. Whether its canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding in its calm waters, navigating sails through cutting winds or leisurely cruising in a power or fishing boat, rental shops can accommodate everyone’s need.
  • At night, the Purple Martins take flight! Each summer the skies over Lunch Island on Lake Murray come to life as the Purple Martins arrive for their summer vacation. It is estimated that more than one million birds venture north for the summer and roost on the island. Purple Martins take over the sunset filled skies each year from the end of June to the beginning of August.

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