Five Free Museums to Visit in Columbia

Columbia, SC features a wide variety great educational attractions. From The State Museum, to EdVenture, Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens to the Columbia Museum of Art. But, lets not forget our fantastic free museums, here is our list of gems to visit for the budget minded weekender...

City of Columbia Fire Department Museum

Located at 1800 Laurel St., The Columbia Fire Department Museum showcases a collection of firefighting tools used throughout its history. The museum features two full size historic fire fighting vehicles as well as photos and other artifacts that highlight CFD’s work in our capital city.


You can request a guided tour with advanced notice or just stop by and take a quick walk through

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SC Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame

Situated right next to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy at 5400 Broad River Rd. The SC Criminal Justice Hall of Fame is unique in honoring all of our state’s law enforcement agents. The museum features a restored 1950’s State Highway Patrol vehicle as well as a memorial rotunda that honors the over 360 officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  While admission to this museum is free, the South Carolina Criminal Justice Hall of Fame keeps its doors open exclusively from a small portion of court administered fine… So if you have ever paid a speeding ticket in our state, in a small way, you have done your part in honoring those who risk their lives protecting and serving our community

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The McKissick Museum

Celebrating their 40th anniversary is the McKissick Museum. Located at 816 Bull Street on the University of South Carolina’s campus, the museum’s mission is “to tell the story of southern life, community, culture, and environment.  The McKissick museum features 4 separate temporary galleries as well as a permanent natural history gallery. From fine silver to fine art, artifacts from the old south to the largest collection of political pins south of the Smithsonian, the McKissick Museum is a hidden gem right here in downtown Columbia… by the way the McKissick museum also houses a massive collection of gems, shells, fossils, and minerals.

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Fort Jackson Museums

The largest and most active initial training center in the U.S. Army, reading 50% of its troops for service, Fort Jackson is a major player in midlands culture. The Fort house 3 public museums: The Basic Combat Training Museum, The Army Chaplain School and Museum, and the Adjutant General Corp and Finance Corp Museums.


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South Carolina Museum of Education

Once housing an extensive archival collection of educational materials, the Museum of Education now serves exclusively as a museum with its exhibitions, publications, and programs portraying the perennial issues of education as a means to generate thoughtful discussion among members of the university community and general public.

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South Carolina Military Museum

The South Carolina Military Museum possesses a vast array of artifacts ranging from period and authentic firearms, edged weapons, uniforms, artillery pieces, and armored fighting vehicles. Although another expansion is on the horizon, the Museum currently consists of two large buildings packed with these artifacts in chronological order. Visitors can experience the entire scope of South Carolina’s military tradition as they literally travel in time.

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