We're kicking off National Travel and Tourism Week today (continuing through May 11) and encourage you to celebrate the tourism industry, its dedicated workers and the impact travel has on our community. The travel effect proves the travel industry has a measurable and purposeful impact on our lives, businesses and the nation's economy as a whole. For the Columbia region, the tourism industry brings in 4 million visitors for a $1 billion impact on the local economy. 

As a part of National Travel & Tourism Week, we'd like you to be a "tourist in your own town" and explore all of Columbia, SC's hot spots this next week! We'll be highlighting things to do and places to go, so stay tuned to our blogFacebook or Twitter pages for more details.

Today, start by The New Historic Hot Spot!

State House Tours
Let the gleaming copper dome of the region's most iconic landmark lure you in for a free guided-tour of the South Carolina State House. Tours today begin every hour on the half hour, except there is no tour at 12:30pm. Free tours are also offered on weekdays.

Historic Columbia Homes & Garden Tours
Join Historic Columbia for a tour of the area's oldest, expertly preserved properties and impressive antique gardens, like the Robert Mills House and Gardens, the Seibels House and Garden, the Mann-Simons SiteHampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens and The Woodrow Wilson Family Home and Garden and House Museum. Tours are from 10am - 3pm.

The Woodrow Wilson Family Home and Garden was just reopened to the public after years of restoration to closely resemble the president's childhood home. Take a tour and meet a president at South Carolina's only presidential site!

Civil Rights
Take a free walking tour and learn about the Civil Rights story as it happened in Columbia, SC. The tour starts with the first Columbia SC 63 wayside sign on Main Street just across from the South Carolina State House. It continues down Main Street taking you past sites that commemorate the key moments and landmarks when leaders, activists and students made their mark on history.  

South Carolina State Museum
Take a walk through the Palmetto State's past with a trip to the South Carolina State Museum, where each floor of the former electric cotton mill represents art, history, science and technology or cultural history.

Lexington County Museum
Step into the past and learn about everyday life for 18th-century Lexington County residents with a costumed guide at the Lexington County Museum. Tours are from 10am - 4pm.

Historic Walking Tours
Take one of Columbia, SC's walking tours to explore the region's history. Walk through city streets, old neighborhoods and warehouse districts to learn how Columbia has expanded and evolved.

Test your courage through some of Columbia, SC's haunted sites on a Columbia Ghost Walk with Old Capital Tours, offered in the evening. During the day, explore Columbia from its start as a village to the present with their Old Capital Living History Tour.

Pick up walking tour brochures at Columbia Regional Visitors Center and be sure to peruse Historic Columbia's engaging Interactive Self-Guided Tours found on their website.

Find a complete list of museums and historic attractions in the New Historic Hot Spot on Columbia, SC's website. Then be sure to check back in tomorrow for ideas on things to do in The New Adventure Hot Spot!

Share your hometown tourist moments by posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #nttw14, #famouslyhot and #traveleffect. We might just show off your pictures on our social media!