COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's most popular tourist destinations include Charleston's Historic District and Myrtle Beach. But now its capital city Columbia is redoubling efforts to attract visitors as it markets itself as "Famously Hot."
Columbia has been best-known for years simply as the seat of state government and home to the University of South Carolina, said Kim Jamieson, spokeswoman for the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism.
"We are trying to change that mindset that people have about Columbia," Jamieson said. "It's a challenge but it's exciting to be able to change that perception."
She said things began changing a few years ago. Today there's a marketing approach promoting the region as "Famously Hot," which Columbia summers certainly are, away from the state's cool mountain regions and beach sea breezes.
"It is the new Southern hot spot and that is something we have carried through with our branding," she said.
Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo, the Columbia Museum of Art, the Congaree Riverwalk and nearby Congaree National Park are all attractions the area promotes.
The boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson is in Columbia and the historic site reopens next month after almost $4 million in renovations.
The South Carolina State Museum is located in an old 1893 textile mill.
Later this year the museum opens "Windows to New Worlds," an addition including, among other attractions, an observatory, planetarium, theater and a gallery of historic telescopes. Museum officials expect the new features to result in an additional 75,000 visitors a year.
The Columbia 63 effort has sponsored a series of events commemorating the civil rights movement. Markers noting key Columbia events will be unveiled this year on Main Street.