Just outside of Columbia, Congaree National Park can be the perfect weekend getaway. While the park is expansive – at 26,000 acres (10,500ha) – you needn’t rough it to get in touch with nature here. Instead of a cabin or tent, there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs close by with a cushy bed for resting your head. Discover our favorites near the Congaree National Park in South Carolina, bookable on Culture Trip.
At the edge of Columbia and just a 20-minute drive from the park, the Courtyard by Marriott is a favorite for its fitness center, outdoor pool and views of the Congaree River. Suites are open, with fun, modular furniture and pops of color throughout. A number of smaller trails butt up to the back of the hotel, including the Timmerman and the Tennis, which leads straight to the Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve.
Just off I-77 in Columbia, you’ll find the Holiday Inn Express tucked among stores and restaurants. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to eating, but you’ll always be able to fill up on the complimentary breakfast buffet before heading to the Congaree National Park for the day. Once you’re tired out and back at your room, run a warm bath, close the room’s blackout curtains and relax.
This old-fashioned guesthouse in small-town Elloree will transport you back in time, with historic details such as stained-glass windows, rich floral wallpaper and tiled fireplaces throughout. In the summer months, you can take a dip in the backyard pool, while it’s only a few blocks to a cafe, antique shops and a local history museum. You’re also close to Lake Marion and Santee State Park, just off I-95, and a short drive to Congaree.
If you want to visit Congaree without skimping on comfort, head downtown, where boutique hotels like the Graduate Columbia await. Right on the University of South Carolina campus, this former home’s collegiate feel is fresh and fun. Rooms are decked out with pastel accent furniture and funky prints, while historic details including exposed wood beams are on display downstairs.
Hotel Trundle brightens up a Columbia street that’s filled with restaurants, boutiques and, only a block away, the Columbia Museum of Art. Before you decide to look around, check out the recommendations list left in your room by the owners, just one of the thoughtful details that will fill your stay here. And thanks to its convenient location, you’ll get to the Congaree National Park in no time by zipping down the highway.
History buffs will want to check out this seven-suite bed and breakfast in downtown Columbia, where Southern hospitality abounds. Each room is named after local highlights and heroes, from Fort Jackson to Thomas Sumter, and the Assembly Room is a snack-filled common area open around the clock. If you’re in town for the weekend, don’t zoom off to Congaree too quickly – instead, check out the Soda City Market a few blocks from the hotel, where local vendors and artists line the street with their wares every Saturday morning.
Check into the Hampton Inn & Suites in Orangeburg, the perfect place to rest your head after a long day exploring. From the edge of town, you’ll be able to easily access the lesser-visited south side of the park, including the Congaree Bluffs Heritage Preserve along the river. It also puts you close to the north end of Lake Marion, where fishing holes and campsites are plentiful.
This stunning guesthouse in downtown Sumter, about an hour from Columbia, has been painstakingly restored, maintaining the original hardwood floors, tiles and even a centuries-old oak tree in its yard. Home-cooked Southern breakfasts are prepared every morning, and you’re free to grab a sweet tea and sit in the white wicker chairs on the front porch. From Sumter, you can easily get to Congaree National Park or the Manchester State Forest nearby.