Sunday is not a good day to visit Columbia or really anywhere in South Carolina, as we were driving back from Hickory, NC to Columbia, SC we tried to stop in historic York, everything there was closed. We stopped in Rock Hill to see if we could find some lunch, the 1st BBQ place was closed on Sunday, we thought about trying Chick-a-fil since we don't have that chain in our area, all closed on Sunday. We thought about visiting a battlefield near York, didn't open until 1pm. All of the restaurants on Main Street were closed, the Capitol building was closed. I even saw a couple of gas stations that were closed.
Columbia is safer than it gets credit for. The crime here is mainly focused around gang violence which shouldn't affect anyone visiting here. There are really no places in the city that are dangerous during the day. There are places to avoid either day or night simply because you have no business there unless your looking for drugs. These areas include North Main Street (North of Earlwood Park), "Waverly" (just east of the downtown center past Harden Street around Benedict College and Allen University), the lower portions of Two Notch Road and Farrow Roads. I would say that downtown ghetto Columbia would be Two Notch road and Taylor street. The oldest and least desired public housing projects are at this intersection along with the areas main prostitution zone just a few blocks up Two Notch. Two Notch is not safe at night until you reach the 9500 block. There are also some shady areas that are spotty south of Rosewood Drive, particularly in the Owens Field Airport area. Just stay away at night and most of these places are really not all that dangerous.
The immediate downtown area is actually pretty safe, but can get a little suspect on Main Street heading north after Hampton street but only at night. During the day it's perfectly safe. More and more people are moving into this area making it safer and safer. Note:The police patrol heavily in the immediate downtown area, but don't look for them in high crime areas. They are known for staying away from them. Late night safety can easily be found in the Vista (Gervais street between Assembly and Huger) and Five Points (Harden Street and Blossom area). These areas are well lit and very safe with many places staying open late, especially Thurs-Sat. Overall, this is a great city to visit, and crime here is not much of a factor. Just use common sense and you will be fine.
Nat, better known as b1bob, was definitely on the loose and in rare form on our trip to Columbia. He loved the State House grounds and had a great time mimicking the statues around the area. Here he is posing like the father of our country, George Washington. Scary stuff.