A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Columbia vs. Arlington for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Backpackers

Should you visit Columbia or Arlington?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Columbia or Arlington? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Columbia

Columbia is a welcoming, suburban, and friendly city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and shopping.

Arlington

Arlington is a historical, educational, and international city. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Columbia and Arlington: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Home to Arlington National Cemetery


Is there more to do in Columbia or Arlington?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Arlington than Columbia, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Arlington is more touristy than Columbia and is popular for its international connections, its biking and walking trails, and being the location of the Pentagon. It is also home to Arlington National Cemetery. Columbia is popular for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Arlington?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Arlington and Columbia. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Columbia or Arlington?

Columbia
Arlington

Arlington is a well-known place for its sights and museums. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its museums and history.

Arlington offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Arlington National Cemetery is where you'll find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as the tomb of John F. Kennedy Jr. There are many memorials around town, with the most famous being the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial. There are also several museums like the DEA Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Columbia. As the state capital, there are some decent museums around town like the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina Military Museum, the South Carolina State Museum, and the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum.


Is the Food Better in Columbia or Arlington? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Columbia
Arlington

Arlington is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Columbia is not a good city for its restaurants.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Arlington. It's a global city, and the restaurants reflect that. You'll find amazing Thai, Japanese, and Mexican restaurants. There are also less common cuisines to choose from such as Ethiopian, Moroccan, and Peruvian.

Columbia may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. Barbecue and other southern favorites are among the more local dishes, but the city is also filled with fast food joints and other major chain restaurants.

Is Columbia or Arlington Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Arlington

Arlington is a well-known place for nightlife and partying. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its evening party scene.

Arlington offers plenty to do in the evening. The city has a huge young population that drives the nightlife scene. There are clubs, bars, and lounges in many neighborhoods. There are also comedy clubs and plenty of live music.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Columbia. You'll find live music venues as well as low key bars and more trendy cocktail lounges.

Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Arlington?

Columbia
Arlington

Both Columbia and Arlington are good shopping destinations.

Columbia offers some nice shopping areas. You'll find independent and locally owned shops along Devine Street and in the Five Points area. Also interesting are the Vista, which is a warehouse district, and Trenholm Plaza.

Arlington has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Many neighborhoods have local shops or farmer's markets. There are also shopping centers and malls such as Ballston Quarter, The Crossing Clarendon, and The Village at Shirlington.


Is Columbia or Arlington Better for Families?

Columbia
Arlington

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Columbia or Arlington.

Columbia is a family-friendly place to visit. Around town you'll find parks, playgrounds, and kid-friendly restaurants. There's a zoo in the area as well as a nice state park - Sesquicentennial State Park. There's also EdVenture Children's Museum, which is filled with hands-on exhibits.

Arlington is a family-friendly city. Kids will enjoy seeing the planes talk off from Gravelly Point park. There are also plenty of outdoor spaces and educational opportunities in the area, including world class museums.

Is Columbia or Arlington Better for Couples?

Columbia
Arlington

Arlington is a popular place for its romantic activities. However, Columbia is not a good city for couples.

Arlington makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There's a vibrant cultural scene and many international restaurants that couples can enjoy. It's also a great place to take in a show or concert.

Columbia is not always the best place to visit for a couple. You'll find parks to explore and some nice restaurants that make for a good date night.

Is Columbia or Arlington Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Columbia
Arlington

Arlington is a well-known place for backpackers. However, Columbia is not a good city for backpackers and budget travelers.

Arlington is a great city to visit for backpackers. There are a couple of hostels and many free activities nearby. There's also great public transportation that makes for a convenient backpacker destination.

Columbia is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. While it's not an expensive place to visit, there is little in the area to attract backpackers.


Is Columbia or Arlington Better for Students?

Columbia
Arlington

Arlington is a well-known place for students. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Arlington is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. There are a huge number of colleges and museums in the area as well as many great internship and educational opportunities.

Plenty of students visit Columbia. The University of South Carolina, and other nearby colleges all bring in a decent student population.

Is Columbia or Arlington Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Columbia
Arlington

Arlington is renowned for its public transit. However, Columbia is not a good city for times when you don't have a car.

Arlington has a great public transit system. There is a reliable bus system around town as well as many metro connections.

Public transit is mostly limited in Columbia. The COMET is the bus system through town, but you really must have your own car to enjoy the city.

Is Columbia or Arlington a more walkable city?

Columbia
Arlington

Arlington is a well-known place for its high level of walkability. However, Columbia is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

Arlington is a very walkable city. There are many pedestrian-friendly areas around town, particularly in the neighborhoods that are concentrated around metro stations.

Columbia is not a very walkable city. It's filled with suburban-style development and is generally very car dependent.


For even more information, also check out Is Columbia Worth Visiting? and Is Arlington Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Arlington or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Arlington?

It's fun to spend time in either Columbia or Arlington. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Arlington due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Columbia, and 2-4 days is enough time in Arlington.

Families should spend more time in Arlington than Columbia. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Arlington, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Arlington than Columbia. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Arlington that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Arlington than Columbia if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Arlington.


  • How many days in Columbia or Arlington? Ideal Length of Stay
    Columbia 1-2 
    Arlington 2-4

One day in Columbia or Arlington?

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Columbia. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Columbia has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

The city of Arlington offers food and shopping. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Columbia or Arlington?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the welcoming destination of Columbia. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Arlington is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Arlington, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Columbia or Arlington?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and shopping when visiting the friendly city of Columbia. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Arlington is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A week in Columbia or Arlington?

Columbia is a popular choice for travelers. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Arlington is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City.


Which place is cheaper, Arlington or Columbia?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Columbia is $0.00, while the average daily cost in Arlington is $264. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Columbia and Arlington in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Arlington $131
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Arlington $262
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Arlington

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Arlington? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Columbia


Hotels in Arlington


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Columbia Hotel Prices and Arlington Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Arlington $49

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Arlington

Also for Arlington, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Ronald Reagan DCA Airport Transfers: $160

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Arlington?

Prices for flights to both Arlington and Columbia change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Columbia $5.03
    Arlington $81

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Arlington $11

Tours and Activities in Columbia

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Columbia are as follows:

  • Soda City: A Self-Guided Audio Tour in Columbia: $12

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Arlington $17


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Columbia and Arlington, we can see that Arlington is more expensive. And not only is Columbia much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Columbia would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Columbia and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Arlington would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Arlington than you might in Columbia.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Columbia Expensive? and Is Arlington Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Arlington?

Arlington has a larger population, and is about 59% larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Arlington, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Columbia or Arlington?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Columbia or Arlington in the Summer?

Both Arlington and Columbia during the summer are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Columbia for the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, many visitors come to Arlington in the summer for the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Columbia is around the same temperature as Arlington. Typically, the summer temperatures in Columbia in July average around 82°F (28°C), and Arlington averages at about 79°F (26°C).

In Arlington, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Columbia. In the summer, Columbia often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Arlington. Columbia gets 293 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Arlington receives 278 hours of full sun.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Columbia. Columbia usually gets more rain in July than Arlington. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Arlington receives 3.5 inches (88 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Arlington 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Arlington in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Arlington. Many visitors come to Columbia in the autumn for the shopping scene. Furthermore, most visitors come to Arlington for the shopping scene during these months.

In October, Columbia is generally a little warmer than Arlington. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 64°F (18°C), and Arlington fluctuates around 60°F (15°C).

In Columbia, it's very sunny this time of the year. Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Arlington during autumn. Columbia gets 230 hours of sunny skies, while Arlington receives 197 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Columbia usually receives around the same amount of rain as Arlington. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Arlington receives 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Arlington 60°F (15°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Arlington in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Arlington. Most visitors come to Columbia for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Additionally, the winter months attract visitors to Arlington because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

The weather in Arlington can be very cold. Columbia is much warmer than Arlington in the winter. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 45°F (7°C) in January, and Arlington fluctuates around 35°F (1°C).

In the winter, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Arlington. Columbia gets 171 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Arlington receives 139 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets more rain in January than Arlington. Columbia gets 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain, while Arlington receives 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Arlington 35°F (1°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Arlington in the Spring?

Both Arlington and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities.

In the spring, Columbia is a little warmer than Arlington. Typically, the spring temperatures in Columbia in April average around 64°F (18°C), and Arlington averages at about 56°F (14°C).

It's quite sunny in Arlington. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Arlington during spring. Columbia gets 273 hours of sunny skies, while Arlington receives 228 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Columbia usually receives around the same amount of rain as Arlington. Columbia gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Arlington receives 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Arlington 56°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Arlington and Columbia

Columbia Arlington
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 35°F (1°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 37°F (3°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 56°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 66°F (19°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 79°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 78°F (26°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 71°F (22°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 60°F (15°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)