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

Should you visit Columbia or Galveston?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Galveston? 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 friendly, welcoming, and suburban city. Visitors also love the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Galveston

Galveston is a charming, coastal, and historic town. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. And you can't forget about the beaches, shopping, and museums.

Columbia and Galveston: 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
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Columbia or Galveston?

Travelers will generally find more things to do in Galveston than Columbia. While Columbia is larger than Galveston, Galveston has more sights and attractions for tourists. Galveston is more touristy than Columbia and is popular for its long history that is centered around the shipping industry and hurricanes. Also, Galveston is famous for Pleasure Pier. Columbia is well known for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Galveston?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Columbia
Galveston

Galveston 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.

Galveston offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. With its long history and Victorian homes, there are a number of museums around town. A favorite mansion is the 1892 Bishop's Palace. There's also the Galveston Railroad Museum and the Galveston Arts Center.

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 Galveston? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Columbia
Galveston

Galveston 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 Galveston. There's a great mix of seafood and Texas favorites. Seafood-lovers will enjoy the oysters, crab cakes, and po boys while land-lovers will like the brisket, Tex Mex, and Texas chili.

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 Galveston Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Galveston

Galveston 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.

Galveston offers plenty to do in the evening. There's a bit of a party town vibe in the evenings. Head to Pleasure Pier for rides and entertainment. The town also has taverns, lounges, and bars that you can check out.

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 Columbia or Galveston Better for Beaches?

Columbia
Galveston

Galveston is a popular place for the beache. However, Columbia is not a beach destination.

Galveston is a good option for a beach vacation. There are miles of beaches that spread out from town. Some of the best include Babe's Beach, Stewart Beach, and Crystal Beach. Because of the proximity to the Mississippi River, the water can be a bit murky, but the beaches are still fun.

Columbia is not a beach destination.


Is Columbia or Galveston Better for its Old Town?

Columbia
Galveston

Galveston is a popular place for its old town. However, Columbia does not have a historic old town.

Many people head to Galveston to see the old town. The East End Historic District is filled with historic mansions with beautiful porches. It's possible to take a tour or you could explore independently.

Columbia does not have a historic old town.

Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Galveston?

Columbia
Galveston

Both Columbia and Galveston are notable 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.

Galveston has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are plenty of places to pick up souvenirs like shell jewelry or t-shirts. There are also more eclectic shops as well as shopping centers and malls.

Is Columbia or Galveston Better for Families?

Columbia
Galveston

Galveston is a well-known place for its family-friendly activities. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Galveston is a very kid-friendly town. Head to Pier 21 where you'll find museums, harbor tours, and other kid-friendly activities. The city also offers a number of pirate-themed activities that kids enjoy as well as spooky ghost tours. For a bit of a thrill you can check out the rides at Galveston Pleasure Pier. And, of course, there are the beaches.

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.


Is Columbia or Galveston Better for Couples?

Columbia
Galveston

Galveston is a well-known place for its romantic activities. However, Columbia is not a good city for couples.

Galveston is a very popular place to visit for couples. The Historic District is the perfect place to enjoy a nice meal and soak up the charm. The area's beaches and parks also offer a bit of romance and there are plenty of outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, or swimming.

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 Galveston Better for Students?

Columbia
Galveston

Columbia is very good for its student-friendly activities. However, Galveston is not popular with students.

It's common for students to visit Columbia. The University of South Carolina, and other nearby colleges all bring in a decent student population.

Galveston is not popular with students.

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

Columbia
Galveston

Both Columbia and Galveston offer respectable 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 Galveston. While there are buses and trolley buses, a car is the best way to get around with the greatest flexibility and convenience.


Is Columbia or Galveston a more walkable city?

Columbia
Galveston

Galveston is a popular place for its high level of walkability. However, Columbia is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

Galveston is a somewhat walkable place. There are some walkable areas such as the Historic District.

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 Galveston Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Galveston or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Galveston?

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

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

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

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


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

One day in Columbia or Galveston?

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 town of Galveston offers food 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 Galveston?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the friendly 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.

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


Five days in Columbia or Galveston?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and shopping when visiting the welcoming 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.

Galveston 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 Galveston?

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.

Galveston 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 town offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, The Best Historical Tours in United States of America, and The Best 10-Day Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Galveston 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 Galveston is $183. 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 Galveston in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Galveston $81
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Galveston $162
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Galveston

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Galveston? 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 Galveston


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 Galveston Hotel Prices.

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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Galveston

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

  • Private Departure Transfer from Galveston Port to HOU Airport: $169
  • Galveston to Houston George Bush Airport (IAH) Private Transfer: $194
  • Galveston Port to George Bush Airport Private Departure Transfer: $194

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Galveston?

Prices for flights to both Galveston 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
    Galveston $52

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Galveston

For Galveston, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Taste of the Strand Food Tour on Galveston Island: $105

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Galveston $15

Tours and Activities in Galveston

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Galveston.

  • Strand Street Ghost Tour App - Location Aware/built in EMF Reader: $6.75
  • Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast Museum Ticket: $12
  • Al's Authentic Paranormal Tour: $15
  • Galveston Island Ghost Tour: $16
  • Tour Galveston's 1895 Moody Mansion: $18
  • Historic Galveston Ghost Tour: $20
  • Historic Galveston Red Light District Tour: $20
  • Galveston Cemetery Tour with Ghost Hunting Equipment: $20
  • Galveston's Flower Winery Tour at the Florvino Winery: $20
  • Great! Galveston Red Light District Tour: $20
  • Galveston Dark of the Moon Ghost Tour with Red Light District: $20
  • Historical Tour of Galveston by Air-Conditioned Bus: $20

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Galveston $37

Sample the Local Flavors in Galveston

Also in Galveston, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Galveston Island Brewing Brewery Tour with Beer Tasting : $10
  • Historical Walking Tour and Pub Crawl: $20
  • Galveston Haunted Pub Crawl Walking Tour: $30


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


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Galveston?

Columbia has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Galveston. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Galveston, 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 Galveston?

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 Galveston in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Galveston. The family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Columbia this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Galveston for the beaches, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences.

Columbia is around the same temperature as Galveston in the summer. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 82°F (28°C) in July, and Galveston fluctuates around 84°F (29°C).

Columbia receives a lot of rain in the summer. Columbia usually gets more rain in July than Galveston. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Galveston receives 3 inches (77 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Galveston 84°F (29°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Galveston in the Autumn?

Both Galveston and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Columbia for the shopping scene. Also, many visitors come to Galveston in the autumn for the shopping scene and the small town atmosphere.

In the autumn, Columbia is cooler than Galveston. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Columbia in October average around 64°F (18°C), and Galveston averages at about 71°F (22°C).

In October, Columbia usually receives more rain than Galveston. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Galveston receives 2.3 inches (59 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Galveston 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Galveston in the Winter?

Both Galveston and Columbia during the winter are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Columbia in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, most visitors come to Galveston for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

In January, Columbia is generally much colder than Galveston. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 45°F (7°C), and Galveston fluctuates around 52°F (11°C).

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


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Galveston 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Galveston in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Galveston. Furthermore, the spring months attract visitors to Galveston because of the beaches and the small town charm.

Columbia is cooler than Galveston in the spring. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 64°F (18°C) in April, and Galveston fluctuates around 70°F (21°C).

In April, Columbia usually receives more rain than Galveston. Columbia gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Galveston receives 2.4 inches (60 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Galveston 70°F (21°C)

Typical Weather for Galveston and Columbia

Columbia Galveston
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 52°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2 inches (50 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.9 inches (49 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 70°F (21°C) 2.4 inches (60 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 76°F (25°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 81°F (27°C) 4.3 inches (108 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 84°F (29°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 83°F (29°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 80°F (27°C) 5.6 inches (141 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 71°F (22°C) 2.3 inches (59 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 55°F (13°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)