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

Should you visit Columbia or Boise?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Boise? 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 is a welcoming, suburban, and friendly city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and shopping.


Boise is a welcoming, authentic, and friendly city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Columbia and Boise: Pros and Cons

  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples

Is there more to do in Columbia or Boise?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Boise than Columbia, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Boise is more touristy than Columbia and is popular for its many outdoor and recreational activities. It is also home to the Idaho State Capitol Building. Columbia is popular for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Boise?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Boise 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 Boise?


Plenty of people visit the good sights and museums in both Columbia and Boise.

Columbia offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. 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.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Boise. As the state capital, there's a nice selection of local museums around town. Favorites include the Boise Art Museum, the Basque Museum & Cultural Center, the Idaho Black History Museum, and Discovery Center.

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


There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at decent restaurants in both Columbia and Boise.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Columbia. 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.

Boise may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. While Idaho has long been associated with the potato, the locals usually think of "finger steaks" when describing local food. These are deep-friend beef strips that are as good as they sound.

Is Columbia or Boise Better for Nightlife?


Both Columbia and Boise are good when it comes to partying.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Columbia. You'll find live music venues as well as low key bars and more trendy cocktail lounges.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Boise. In downtown Boise you'll find a selection of bars, lounges, and breweries. There's enough around town to keep the nightlife scene interesting.

Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Boise?


Both Columbia and Boise 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.

Boise has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find a mix of local boutiques, independent vendors, and suburban shopping centers where you'll find anything that you might need.

Is Columbia or Boise Better for Families?


Columbia is a popular place for its kid-friendly activities. However, Boise is lacking in options for its family-friendly activities.

Columbia is a family-friendly city. 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.

Boise doesn't usually come to mind when thinking about kid-friendly destinations. You'll find parks, playgrounds, and the Discovery Center which will help keep kids entertained.

Is Columbia or Boise Better for Couples?


Most people don't think of either Columbia or Boise as a couple's destination.

Most people don't think of Columbia as a couple's destination. You'll find parks to explore and some nice restaurants that make for a good date night.

Boise is not always the best place to visit for a couple. Date night activities include dining at a nice restaurants and seeing a show at the theater.

Is Columbia or Boise Better for Students?


Columbia is a popular place for its student-friendly activities. However, Boise is not popular with students.

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

Boise is not popular with students.

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


Both Columbia and Boise offer decent public transit options.

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

Public transit is mostly limited in Boise. There are infrequent buses around town, but visitors usually have a car to get around town efficiently.

Is Columbia or Boise a more walkable city?


Boise is a moderate city for its high level of walkability. However, Columbia is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

Boise is generally not very walkable. There are a couple of walkable neighborhoods but, in general, the town isn't very walkable.

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 Boise Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Boise or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Boise?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Columbia or Boise to fill your time. In our opinion, Columbia has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Columbia than Boise. However, 1-2 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Columbia than Boise 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 Columbia.

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

One day in Columbia or Boise?

In Columbia, many people enjoy the nightlife and shopping that this welcoming destination offers. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Because of this, one day is usually enough time for a trip here.

The city of Boise offers nightlife and shopping. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Columbia or Boise?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Columbia. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Boise 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 Boise, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Columbia or Boise?

Columbia is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Columbia. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

Boise 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 Boise?

You'll find nightlife and shopping around the friendly destination of Columbia. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Boise 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 2-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America, and Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America.

Which place is cheaper, Boise 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 Boise is $146. 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 Boise in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Boise $75
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Boise $150
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Boise

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Boise? 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 Boise

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 Boise Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Boise $34

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Boise

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

  • Boise Air Terminal Airport One Way Transfer : $80

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Boise?

Prices for flights to both Boise 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 Meals for one day
    Columbia $5.03
    Boise $45

Typical Food Prices in Boise

For Boise, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:

  • Hotel
  • Cracker Barrel Lunch (for 4)

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Boise $30

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

Typical Entertainment Prices in Boise

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Boise's activities, tours, and tickets:

  • Edwards Boise Imax

Tours and Activities in Boise

For Boise, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Boise by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure Self-Guided City Game: $10
  • Boise Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $13
  • Boise Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $13
  • Boise Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • A Macabre History of Boise Walking Tour: $25
  • Hells Canyon Kirkwood Jet Boat Tour near Boise, Idaho: $218

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Boise $24

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Columbia and Boise, we can see that Boise 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 Boise would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Boise 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 Boise Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Columbia or Boise?

Boise has a larger population, and is about 26% larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Boise, 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.