COLUMBIA, S.C. (Wednesday, March 6, 2024) – Experience Columbia SC is pleased to share that Columbia has been voted one of the 2024 Cities on the Rise in Southern Living’s annual The South’s Best Awards. 


Each year, Southern Living editors compile a list of destinations based on research, reporting and their own personal experience. From there, readers vote from that list in the annual South’s Best Awards survey. The survey was open from July 12 – August 23, 2023, and received more than 20,000 responses. The results landed Columbia at number five in the list of 25 cities being recognized for their culinary scenes, downtown districts, access to nature, art, hospitality, projects leading to major growth and more. 


While the reasons touted for this accolade include the influx of energy University of South Carolina students bring to the area each year, billions of dollars of investments made throughout the region in 2023, plans to renovate the Blossom Street Bridge this year and the ongoing developments happening in West Columbia, we’re sure that national attention brought on from James Beard Award recognition both last year and this year and the upcoming global spotlight the Rivals in Red soccer match will bring this August certainly didn’t hurt, either. 


“To be recognized by Southern Living and its readers as a top city on the rise is a testament not only to the work our organization does to position the Columbia region as a premier destination for business and leisure travel, but also the strides the community and our partners are making each and every day to put us on the map and make this a place people want to visit, live and invest in,” said Bill Ellen, president and CEO of Experience Columbia SC. “From new restaurants opening each month and James Beard Award-recognized establishments, new hotels being built and an expansion of our nationally ranked zoo, to an international soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool, SEC sports and developments happening along our rivers, there’s so much going on. Columbia is truly experiencing a hot streak of activity and we welcome all who want to come be a part of the experience.”


Other categories in The South’s Best include Cities; Small Towns; Waterfront Towns; Food & Drink; Local Treasures; Barbecue Joints; Islands; Arts, Culture, & Entertainment; Outdoor Adventures; Museums & Historic Landmarks; and Road Trips. 


The South’s Best Cities on the Rise article can be found here and this, plus the complete list of 2024 winners, can also be found in the April South’s Best print issue on newsstands March 22.