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

Should you visit Columbia or Chattanooga?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Chattanooga? 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. Other popular activities here include museums, nightlife, and shopping.

Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a thriving, bustling, and outdoorsy city. And you can't forget about the hiking, shopping, and museums.

Columbia and Chattanooga: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Columbia or Chattanooga?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Chattanooga than Columbia, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Chattanooga is more touristy than Columbia and is known for it's hikes, railways, and nearby natural areas. It is also home to Rock City. Columbia is popular for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Chattanooga?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Columbia
Chattanooga

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

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 Chattanooga. It's a thriving city and there are a number of museums to explore. The Hunter Museum of American Art is great for art enthusiasts. There's also the Creative Discovery Museum, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, and the 6th Cavalry Museum, as well as several smaller museums that you can visit.


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

Columbia
Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a popular place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Columbia is not a good city for its restaurants.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Chattanooga. There are a growing number of restaurants that range from local dives to fine dining. Fried food is common, but you'll also find Mexican and classic hamburgers. Popular dishes that are local to the area include catfish, southern barbecue, and hush puppies.

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 Chattanooga Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Chattanooga

Both Columbia and Chattanooga 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 Chattanooga. You'll find plenty of bars and clubs around town. There are also a number of comedy and improv clubs that are fun to check out.

Is Columbia or Chattanooga Better for Hiking?

Columbia
Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a well-known place for the nearby hiking options. However, Columbia is not a hiking destination.

Chattanooga is a popular spot for hiking. It's proximity to the mountains means that you don't have to go far to find good hiking. Within a half hour of town there are more than 50 trailheads. Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain are both hiking destinations. Several trails have swimming spots and many pass through nice forests or head to impressive viewpoints.

Columbia is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Chattanooga?

Columbia
Chattanooga

Both Columbia and Chattanooga 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.

Chattanooga has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Head downtown for local shops or to the larger malls if you want mainstream stores. Many visitors enjoy antiquing while they're in town, but there are also farmer's markets and thrift stores.

Is Columbia or Chattanooga Better for Families?

Columbia
Chattanooga

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Columbia or Chattanooga.

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.

Chattanooga is a family-friendly city. Many people enjoy a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium, which has a touch tank and a butterfly exhibit, among other things. Near downtown, Coolidge Park is a great place for kids to get their energy out. There's also the popular Lookout Mountain Incline Railway as well as many hiking trails in the area.

Is Columbia or Chattanooga Better for Couples?

Columbia
Chattanooga

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

Chattanooga makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Many couples enjoy staying at a local inn and then dining in a nice restaurant or visiting a winery. There's an eclectic art district to explore as well as horse drawn carriages and plenty of nearby hiking trails.

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 Chattanooga Better for Students?

Columbia
Chattanooga

Columbia is a popular place for students. However, Chattanooga is not popular with students.

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

Chattanooga is not popular with students.

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

Columbia
Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a well-known place for its public transit. However, Columbia is not a good city for times when you don't have a car.

Public transit in Chattanooga can get you to some places easily. The city has a convenient and free electric shuttle service. It travels through the downtown and has stops at many points of interest such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Tennessee Aquarium.

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 Chattanooga a more walkable city?

Columbia
Chattanooga

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

Chattanooga is a very walkable city. The city has put a lot of effort into improving its walkability. In particular, the downtown is nice to explore on foot.

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 Chattanooga Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Chattanooga or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Chattanooga?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Columbia and Chattanooga. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Chattanooga than in Columbia. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Columbia, and 2-3 days is enough time in Chattanooga.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Chattanooga 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 Chattanooga.


  • How many days in Columbia or Chattanooga? Ideal Length of Stay
    Columbia 1-2 
    Chattanooga 2-3

One day in Columbia or Chattanooga?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and shopping when visiting the friendly city of Columbia. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

The city of Chattanooga offers food and shopping. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. 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 Chattanooga?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the welcoming destination of Columbia. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Chattanooga 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. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Chattanooga, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Columbia or Chattanooga?

The suburban city of Columbia offers museums and nightlife. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Chattanooga 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 Chattanooga?

Many people enjoy the nightlife and shopping when visiting Columbia. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Chattanooga is a great place to explore. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. 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.


Which place is cheaper, Chattanooga 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 Chattanooga is $182. 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 Chattanooga in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Chattanooga $92
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Chattanooga $184
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Chattanooga

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Chattanooga? 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 Chattanooga


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 Chattanooga Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Chattanooga $35

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Chattanooga

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Chattanooga:


  • Chattanooga Zoo (for 2)
    $16

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Chattanooga?

Prices for flights to both Chattanooga 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
    Chattanooga $59

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chattanooga

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Chattanooga.

  • MLK Walking Art History & Food Tour: $65
  • ChattaBrunch Food Tour: $94
  • Historic Southside Food Tour in Chattanooga: $99
  • Downtown Chattanooga Food Tour: $119

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Chattanooga $52

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

Tours and Activities in Chattanooga

Here are a few actual costs in Chattanooga for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure Self-Guided City Game: $10
  • National Medal of Honor Heritage Museum Admission Ticket in Chattanooga: $14
  • Guided Ghost Walking Tour: $23
  • Chattanooga Guided Walking Tour: $23
  • Original Local Award-Winning Walking Ghost Tour: $25
  • Murder & Mayhem Haunted History Walking Tour: $25
  • Ghost & Booze Tour of Chattanooga - 21+ Over: $25
  • A Spooky and Family-Friendly Walking Tour: $25
  • ChattaBOOga Ghost Walk Tour in Chattanooga: $25
  • Family-Friendly Ghost Tour in Chattanooga: $25
  • Ghosts of the Misty Mountains Walking Tour: $26
  • Walking Tour of Chattanooga : $26

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


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


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Chattanooga?

Chattanooga has a larger population, and is about 34% larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Chattanooga, 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 Chattanooga?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Columbia or Chattanooga in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Chattanooga. The summer months attract visitors to Columbia because of the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, the hiking and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Chattanooga this time of year.

In the summer, Columbia is around the same temperature as Chattanooga. Typically, the summer temperatures in Columbia in July average around 82°F (28°C), and Chattanooga averages at about 81°F (27°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Chattanooga this time of the year. In Columbia, it's very sunny this time of the year. Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Chattanooga during summer. Columbia gets 293 hours of sunny skies, while Chattanooga receives 265 hours of full sun in the summer.

Chattanooga receives a lot of rain in the summer. Columbia gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Columbia usually receives less rain than Chattanooga. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Chattanooga receives 5.2 inches (131 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Chattanooga 81°F (27°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Chattanooga in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Chattanooga. The shopping scene are the main draw to Columbia this time of year. Additionally, many travelers come to Chattanooga for the hiking trails and the shopping scene.

In October, Columbia is generally around the same temperature as Chattanooga. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 64°F (18°C), and Chattanooga fluctuates around 63°F (17°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Chattanooga. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia this time of the year. In the autumn, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Chattanooga. Columbia gets 230 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chattanooga receives 211 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Chattanooga. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Chattanooga receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Chattanooga 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Chattanooga in the Winter?

Both Chattanooga and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Columbia for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Chattanooga in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Chattanooga can get quite cold in the winter. Columbia is much warmer than Chattanooga in the winter. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 45°F (7°C) in January, and Chattanooga fluctuates around 40°F (5°C).

Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Chattanooga during winter. Columbia gets 171 hours of sunny skies, while Chattanooga receives 145 hours of full sun in the winter.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Chattanooga. In January, Columbia usually receives less rain than Chattanooga. Columbia gets 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain, while Chattanooga receives 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Chattanooga 40°F (5°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Chattanooga in the Spring?

Both Chattanooga and Columbia during the spring are popular places to visit.

In the spring, Columbia is around the same temperature as Chattanooga. Typically, the spring temperatures in Columbia in April average around 64°F (18°C), and Chattanooga averages at about 62°F (17°C).

In Chattanooga, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Columbia. In the spring, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Chattanooga. Columbia gets 273 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chattanooga receives 243 hours of full sun.

Chattanooga gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Columbia usually gets less rain in April than Chattanooga. Columbia gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Chattanooga receives 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Chattanooga 62°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for Chattanooga and Columbia

Columbia Chattanooga
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 40°F (5°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 44°F (7°C) 5.2 inches (132 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 53°F (12°C) 5.6 inches (143 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 62°F (17°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 70°F (21°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 78°F (25°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 81°F (27°C) 5.2 inches (131 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 80°F (27°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 74°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 53°F (12°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 44°F (7°C) 5.2 inches (133 mm)