Even though the summer heat has given in to fall, Columbia is still hot with activities and attractions. Art, history, music, science, sports and outdoor activities are all top-notch. Both the state capital and home to the University of South Carolina, Columbia is the cultural hub of South Carolina’s largest metropolitan area.

Get inspired with a leisurely trip to The Columbia Museum of Art (

The S.C. State Museum (, covering art, history, natural history and science/technology, recently completed a $21 million expansion to include a 55-foot digital planetarium dome and theater, an online observatory and classroom, a 4-D multisensory theater and an outdoor telescope-viewing terrace. Housed in the nation’s first all-electric textile mill, the building itself is the museum’s largest artifact.

More than 300 American whiskeys and bourbons, as well as some of the top distillers in the nation, will be on hand Oct. 16 for The Great American Whiskey Fair ( at the downtown Market Building.

More than 2,000 creatures call the 170-acre Riverbanks Zoo and Garden ( their home. Here, adventure seekers can also soar 1,010 feet across the Saluda River on the Zip the Zoo zipline. Kids are invited to Boo in the Zoo, a spook-fest complete with Frankenstein’s Foam Zone, an eeky freaky DJ dance party, and a trick-or-treat trail, Oct. 17-30.

The S.C. State Fair ( comes to Columbia on Oct. 8-19, bringing along The Marshall Tucker Band, ZZ Top and others.

Nov. 14-16 at the S.C. State Fairgrounds, the Craftsman’s Christmas Classic Arts & Crafts Festival ( features original designs and work from hundreds of talented artists and craftspeople from across America.

Experience Crafty Feast ( on Dec. 14, when hip, high-quality crafters and artists from across the Southeast converge to sell unconventional, experimental, one-of-a-kind, and all-handmade goods at the city’s largest independent craft fair, staged at the Columbia Convention Center.

When it’s time to usher in the new year, do it in style at Columbia’s Famously Hot New Year’s party ( with live music by national headliners and one of the largest fireworks displays in the Carolinas.

A toast for 2015? Mark your calendars for the World Beer Festival (, held Jan. 17 at the Columbia Convention Center.

Area info: Zenda Douglas