Everything to know about visiting the South Carolina State House
The South Carolina State House is a majestic building in Columbia that is both a historical landmark and a popular tourist destination. The third house in South Carolina’s history, it was built in the 1850s and is home to the House and Senate chambers, as well as the Governor’s office.
Located in the heart of the city at the intersection of Gervais Street and Main Street, the capitol building is a must-see for anyone visiting downtown Columbia. And even if you don’t opt for a free tour of the inside, you should definitely spend a few minutes strolling the grounds. It’s impressive, beautiful and steeped in history.
What to see at the SC State House
The State House is located in downtown Columbia on Main Street. If you are standing on the steps looking out you’ll see the commercial Main Street district with tons of restaurants and shops. There are also a few additional restaurants located behind the building.
The State House is located on 18 acres of meticulously landscaped grounds, with mature trees, manicured lawns, and walking paths scattered with park benches. Before you even set foot on the South Carolina State House grounds, you will be struck by their beauty.
There are also several monuments and statues on the grounds, which pay tribute to the history and culture of South Carolina.
The South Carolina State House is a beautiful place to relax and take in the sights. You can stroll through the grounds, admire the architecture, and learn about the history of the state. It’s especially fun to do on Saturday mornings when the Soda City Market is in full swing just down Main Street. Grab breakfast and enjoy it at a bench on the grounds!
The grounds are home to 27 monuments, each of which tells a story about South Carolina’s past. You can also find a variety of trees, including some that are over 100 years old.
The State House Building
The SC State House is an impressive Classical Revival-style building with an iconic copper dome. The building clocks in at over 130,000 square feet (!!) and is home to South Carolina’s executive and legislative branches of government.
As you enter the building you will walk into a grand lobby decorated with paintings, plaques and statues. On either end of the lobby, you will see the chambers of the two bodies of the legislature — the Senate chamber and the House chamber.
The building was under construction during the Civil War. Though cannon fire caused damage, the building was eventually completed. Six bronze stars mark the locations on the exterior of the building where it was hit by cannonballs. This guide shares more information about the history of the building.
SC State House Tours
Free self-guided and guided tours of the State House are available to the general public. Walk-ins are welcomed and encouraged.
Tours begin with a 15-minute video educating visitors on the history and architecture of the building followed by a tour of the building.
Parking at the State House
There is no special parking for visitors to the South Carolina State House. Metered street parking is available on all streets around the building.
We recommend parking on Main Street or in the Vista to enjoy the shops and restaurants in the area when visiting. Assembly will typically have parking– it’s the divider between the two neighborhoods. There are garages accessible on Main Street.