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

Should you visit Gainesville or Columbia?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Gainesville or Columbia, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Gainesville

Gainesville is a vibrant, high energy, and active city. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Columbia

Columbia is a suburban, friendly, and welcoming city. It's also known for nightlife, shopping, and museums.

Gainesville and Columbia: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Gainesville or Columbia?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Gainesville. Although Gainesville and Columbia are about the same size, Gainesville has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Gainesville is famous for being the home of the University of Florida It is also well known for the Florida Museum of Natural History. Columbia is famous for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Gainesville different from Columbia?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Gainesville
Columbia

Gainesville 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.

Gainesville offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. There's a surprising number of museums around town such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, and the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. Also fascinating is the Historic Haile Homestead, the Butterfly Rainforest, and the city's planetarium.

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 Gainesville or Columbia? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Gainesville
Columbia

Gainesville 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 Gainesville. Casual eateries are popular around town, particularly with the student population. There are grills, diners, and bistros that serve local dishes at affordable prices.

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 Gainesville or Columbia Better for Nightlife?

Gainesville
Columbia

Gainesville 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.

Gainesville offers plenty to do in the evening. The nightlife centers around the student population. The two main party areas are Midtown and Downtown. Midtown is between Northwest 17th Street and Northwest 18th Street and it's convenient for students who live on campus. The area has a great stretch of bars and clubs. The Downtown area has many of the city's top clubs, and it's popular with upperclassmen and students who live off campus.

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 Gainesville or Columbia?

Gainesville
Columbia

Both Gainesville and Columbia are nice shopping destinations.

Gainesville is a great destination for shopping. You'll find all of the standard shopping options around town such as malls, shopping centers, and retail outlets. Two popular areas are the Neighborhoods at Butler and Celebration Pointe.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Columbia. 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.


Is Gainesville or Columbia Better for Families?

Gainesville
Columbia

Gainesville and Columbia are both nice destinations for the whole family.

Gainesville is a family-friendly place to visit. You'll find outdoor activities, nature parks, and a couple of museums that will appeal to all ages. Highlights for families include A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center, the Adventure Outpost, and Alfred A. Ring Park.

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 Gainesville or Columbia Better for Couples?

Gainesville
Columbia

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

Gainesville makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples can enjoy wine tasting and fine dining or enjoying the city's many outdoor activities. Go on a picnic or explore one of the museums in Downtown Gainesville.

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 Gainesville or Columbia Better for Students?

Gainesville
Columbia

Gainesville 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.

Gainesville is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. As the location of the University of Florida, you'll find many students around town. This keeps the energy high with plenty of evening activities and affordable entertainment options.

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


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

Gainesville
Columbia

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

Gainesville has a few public transit options. There's a decent bus system that's free to students and employees of the university.

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 Gainesville or Columbia a more walkable city?

Gainesville
Columbia

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

Gainesville is a somewhat walkable place. Biking is actually a popular way to get around town and some areas are pedestrian-friendly.

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 Gainesville Worth Visiting? and Is Columbia Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Columbia or Gainesville?

How long in Gainesville or Columbia?

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

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

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

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


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

One day in Gainesville or Columbia?

The city of Gainesville 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.

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.


A weekend in Gainesville or Columbia?

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

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.

Five days in Gainesville or Columbia?

Gainesville 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.

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.

A week in Gainesville or Columbia?

Gainesville 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.

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.


Which place is cheaper, Columbia or Gainesville?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Gainesville is $221, while the average daily cost in Columbia is $0.00. 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 Gainesville and Columbia in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Gainesville $119
    Columbia -
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Gainesville $238
    Columbia $0.00
Compare Hotels in Gainesville and Columbia

Looking for a hotel in Gainesville or Columbia? 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 Gainesville


Hotels in Columbia


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: Gainesville Hotel Prices and Columbia Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Gainesville $40
    Columbia -

Is it cheaper to fly into Gainesville or Columbia?

Prices for flights to both Columbia and Gainesville 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
    Gainesville $70
    Columbia $5.03
Typical Food Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of dining costs in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Diner Breakfast for Two
    $17
  • Lunch at Chop Stix (for 2)
    $24

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Gainesville $44
    Columbia -
Typical Entertainment Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Manatee Tour for Two
    $98
  • Tour Guide Tip
    $5.00

Tours and Activities in Gainesville

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

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Gainesville by Operation City Quest: $10
  • Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History Ticket: $15
  • Private Snorkeling Tour in Florida Springs: $250

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
    Gainesville $49
    Columbia $88


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


Which is Bigger, Gainesville or Columbia?

Gainesville has a larger population, and is about 8% larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Gainesville and Columbia, 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 Gainesville or Columbia?

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 Gainesville or Columbia in the Summer?

Both Columbia and Gainesville are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Gainesville in the summer for the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Columbia for the family-friendly experiences during these months.

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

It rains a lot this time of the year in Columbia. It's quite rainy in Gainesville. In July, Gainesville usually receives more rain than Columbia. Gainesville gets 6.8 inches (174 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


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

Should I visit Gainesville or Columbia in the Autumn?

Both Columbia and Gainesville during the autumn are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Gainesville for the shopping scene during these months. Furthermore, the autumn months attract visitors to Columbia because of the shopping scene.

In October, Gainesville is generally a little warmer than Columbia. Daily temperatures in Gainesville average around 71°F (22°C), and Columbia fluctuates around 64°F (18°C).

Gainesville usually gets less rain in October than Columbia. Gainesville gets 2 inches (51 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, June to November in Gainesville is the hurricane season.


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

Should I visit Gainesville or Columbia in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Gainesville and Columbia. The winter months attract visitors to Gainesville because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Columbia this time of year.

Gainesville is much warmer than Columbia in the winter. The daily temperature in Gainesville averages around 54°F (12°C) in January, and Columbia fluctuates around 45°F (7°C).

In January, Gainesville usually receives less rain than Columbia. Gainesville gets 2.9 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Gainesville 54°F (12°C) 
    Columbia 45°F (7°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Columbia in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Gainesville as well as Columbia.

In the spring, Gainesville is a little warmer than Columbia. Typically, the spring temperatures in Gainesville in April average around 69°F (20°C), and Columbia averages at about 64°F (18°C).

Gainesville usually gets less rain in April than Columbia. Gainesville gets 2 inches (50 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, the hurricane season in Gainesville is June to November.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Gainesville 69°F (20°C) 
    Columbia 64°F (18°C)

Typical Weather for Columbia and Gainesville

Gainesville Columbia
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 54°F (12°C) 2.9 inches (75 mm) 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Feb 57°F (14°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm) 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm)
Mar 63°F (17°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm)
Apr 69°F (20°C) 2 inches (50 mm) 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
May 75°F (24°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Jun 80°F (26°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm) 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm) 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 8.3 inches (211 mm) 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm)
Sep 78°F (26°C) 5.5 inches (139 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Oct 71°F (22°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Nov 63°F (17°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm)
Dec 56°F (14°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)