Saturday, May 4, kicks off National Travel & Tourism Week. To celebrate the power of tourism to the Columbia region, we're highlighting things to do in Columbia, SC so locals can learn more about all the area offers to residents and visitors alike.

For instance, did you know that Columbia, SC is The New Historic Hot Spot? We're home to a long list of historic buildings, sites and museums that will take you back in time.

Whether you're a local who wants to be a hometown tourist or a visitor who is interested in traveling to Columbia, SC, here are five highlights of The New Historic Hot Spot:


1. Explore the South Carolina State House - for free! 
Free guided tours of the South Carolina State House are available during the week and the first Saturday of the month. Step inside the State House to learn about this iconic structure and the history made inside its walls. Tours run on the half hour of each hour, beginning at 9:30 am. (Be sure to take walking tour of the State House grounds as well, where you will find the African-American History Monument just around the corner or the stars on the building that mark cannonball wounds from the Civil War).


2. Historic Columbia Home Tours
Whether you'd like to explore the stately Hampton-Preston Mansion and Robert Mills House & Gardens or uncover the story of one African-American family at Mann-Simons Site, Historic Columbia Foundation offers tours on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

3. Historic Walking Tours
Take one of Columbia, SC's walking tours to explore the region's history on the streets (perfect for taking a quick detour into one of our shops or restaurants). You can pick up a walking tour brochure at Columbia Regional Visitors Center today from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., where there will also be refreshments to help kick off National Travel & Tourism Week.

4. Lexington County Museum 
Home to 36 historic structures, Lexington County Museum gives a peek into the past from South Carolina's colonial time through the Civil War. The museum's flagship structure, the John Fox House, displays period furniture and a beautiful quilt collection. Visit Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.


5. South Carolina State Museum
South Carolina State Museum is a one-stop place to discover all of South Carolina's past, from its natural history to its connections to space and exploration. Uncover artifacts from the Civil War and be sure to learn more about the building's history as a cotton mill. Open Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

But that's just five things in a historic Southern city -- find a complete list of museums and historic attractions on Columbia, SC's website.