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

Should you visit Tampa or Columbia?

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

Should I visit Tampa or Columbia? 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.

Tampa

Tampa is a laid-back, easy-going, and low-key city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. And you can't forget about the food and beaches.

Columbia

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

Tampa and Columbia: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples


Is there more to do in Tampa or Columbia?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Tampa than Columbia, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Tampa is more popular for its food, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and big city activities, while Columbia is known for its museums, nightlife, and shopping. Tampa is more touristy than Columbia and is popular for its amusement parks, wildlife parks, and popularity as a cruise ship port. It is also home to Busch Gardens. Columbia is popular for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Tampa different from Columbia?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Tampa
Columbia

Columbia is a popular place for its museums and history. However, Tampa does not have museums and landmarks.

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.

Tampa does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Tampa
Columbia

Tampa 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 Tampa. There are a surprising number of great local restaurants around town as well as a good food truck scene. Some favorite dishes include fresh caught seafood, Grouper sandwiches, and Cuban sandwiches.

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 Tampa or Columbia Better for Nightlife?

Tampa
Columbia

Columbia is a popular place for its evening party scene. However, Tampa is lacking in options for nightlife.

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.

Tampa is generally a quiet destination but there are options around. The city has some good nightclubs, sports bars, and other spots where locals enjoy spending the evening.

Is Tampa or Columbia Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Tampa
Columbia

Tampa is a moderate city for its diving and snorkeling. However, Columbia is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Snorkeling is an option in Tampa. While the water isn't always the clearest, there are some nice snorkeling and diving spots in the area. Options include Shell Key and Egmont Key, Crystal River, and Fort De Soto.

Columbia is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.


Is Tampa or Columbia Better for Beaches?

Tampa
Columbia

Tampa is a well-known place for the beache. However, Columbia is not a beach destination.

Tampa is considered a top beach destination. Popular beaches near Tampa include Ben T. Davis Beach, Fred Howard Park, and Indian Rocks Beach.

Columbia is not a beach destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Tampa or Columbia?

Tampa
Columbia

Columbia is a popular place for its shopping areas. However, Tampa is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Columbia has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. 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.

Tampa is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Tampa or Columbia Better for Families?

Tampa
Columbia

Tampa 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.

Tampa is a very kid-friendly city. The city has a number of kid-oriented attractions including Busch Gardens Amusement Park, several kid-friendly museums, and a number of animal centers, aquariums, and wildlife rescue facilities.

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 Tampa or Columbia Better for Couples?

Tampa
Columbia

Neither Tampa or Columbia is generally regarded as a top spot for a couple to visit.

Tampa is not always the best place to visit for a couple. The area does have great restaurants and some fun places to explore, but the downtown area has room for improvement and much of the city is suburban.

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

Is Tampa or Columbia Better for Students?

Tampa
Columbia

Columbia is a popular place for its student-friendly activities. However, Tampa 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.

Tampa is not popular with students.

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

Tampa
Columbia

Columbia is a decent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Tampa is lacking in options for its public transit.

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.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Tampa. There is the street car that runs from downtown Tampa to Ybor City and stops at 11 stations.


Is Tampa or Columbia a more walkable city?

Tampa
Columbia

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

Tampa is generally not very walkable. While there are some neighborhoods that are considered walkable, you really need a car if you hope to explore Tampa in depth.

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 Tampa Worth Visiting? and Is Columbia Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Columbia or Tampa?

How long in Tampa or Columbia?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Tampa or Columbia to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Tampa than Columbia because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Tampa, and 1-2 days is enough time in Columbia.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Columbia than Tampa 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 Tampa or Columbia? Ideal Length of Stay
    Tampa 2-3 
    Columbia 1-2

One day in Tampa or Columbia?

The city of Tampa offers food. Most people come for the beaches. 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.

In Columbia, many people enjoy the nightlife and shopping that this suburban 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.

A weekend in Tampa or Columbia?

Tampa 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. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Tampa, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

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.


Five days in Tampa or Columbia?

Tampa 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.

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.

A week in Tampa or Columbia?

Tampa is a great place to explore. It's also a great beach destination, 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.

You'll find nightlife and shopping around the suburban 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in United States of America, The Best 2-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, and Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Columbia or Tampa?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Tampa is $179, 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 Tampa and Columbia in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Tampa $85
    Columbia -
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Tampa $170
    Columbia $0.00
Compare Hotels in Tampa and Columbia

Looking for a hotel in Tampa 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 Tampa


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: Tampa Hotel Prices and Columbia Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Tampa $69
    Columbia -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Tampa

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

  • Private transfer: From Tampa to airport and vice versa : $18
  • Private Arrival Transfer - from Tampa Airport (TPA): $36
  • Tampa Airport to Tampa Bay Cruise Port Private Arrival Transfer: $50
  • Tampa hotels to Tampa Bay Cruise Port-Departure Private Transfer : $50
  • Tampa Airport (TPA) to Lakeland / Winter Haven - Arrival Private Transfer: $54
  • Private Transfer to/from Tampa Airport (TPA): $69
  • Departure Private Transfer: Tampa City to Tampa Airport TPA in Business Car: $72
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Tampa Airport TPA to Tampa City in Business Car: $72
  • Private transfer Arrival or Departure - Tampa International Airport (TPA): $79
  • One Way Airport Transfer Service: $84
  • Private One Way Transfer From Tampa to Tampa Airport : $91
  • Tampa Airport (TPA) to Tampa Bay Cruise Port - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $101

Is it cheaper to fly into Tampa or Columbia?

Prices for flights to both Columbia and Tampa 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
    Tampa $53
    Columbia $5.03

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Tampa

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

  • Ybor City Food Tour On Sundays: $89

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Tampa $20
    Columbia -

Tours and Activities in Tampa

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

  • Ybor City Immigrant influence Smart Phone guided App (GPS) walking tour: $6.50
  • Tampa Riverwalk: A Smartphone Audio Walking Tour: $7.29
  • Tampa Riverwalk Private Smartphone Audio Walking Tour: $8.99
  • Tampa Food & Drink Tour - Hop On Hop Off: $11
  • Henry B. Plant Museum Entry Ticket: $12
  • Tampa Terrors Ghost Tour By US Ghost Adventures: $24
  • Tampa Terrors Ghost Tour: $26
  • Discover Tampa with Local Stories from a Virtual Tour: $30
  • Sunset and Night Cruises Tour: $30
  • Shared Ybor City Historic Walking Tour: $30
  • The Official Downtown Tampa Ghost Tour: $30
  • 1.5-hour Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise from Tampa: $31

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
    Tampa $26
    Columbia $88

Sample the Local Flavors in Tampa

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Tampa:

  • Tampa Terrors: Boos & Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $30
  • Tampa Bar Crawl on a 2023 Street Legal Golf Cart: $40
  • Haunted Pub Crawl: $40
  • Ybor City Private Brewery Tour by Custom Golf Cart: $180
  • Tampa's Top Dive Bar Tour Experience by Golf Cart: $234


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


Which is Bigger, Tampa or Columbia?

Tampa has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Tampa 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 Tampa or Columbia?

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 Tampa or Columbia in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Tampa as well as Columbia. The summer months attract visitors to Tampa because of the beaches, snorkeling, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Columbia this time of year.

In July, Tampa is generally around the same temperature as Columbia. Daily temperatures in Tampa average around 82°F (28°C), and Columbia fluctuates around 82°F (28°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Tampa this time of the year. In the summer, Tampa often gets less sunshine than Columbia. Tampa gets 265 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia receives 293 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Columbia. Tampa receives a lot of rain in the summer. Tampa usually gets more rain in July than Columbia. Tampa gets 8.4 inches (214 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Tampa 82°F (28°C) 
    Columbia 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Tampa or Columbia in the Autumn?

Both Columbia and Tampa are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The city's sights and attractions are the main draw to Tampa this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Columbia for the shopping scene.

Tampa is a little warmer than Columbia in the autumn. The daily temperature in Tampa averages around 75°F (24°C) in October, and Columbia fluctuates around 64°F (18°C).

It's quite sunny in Columbia. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Tampa. Tampa usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia during autumn. Tampa gets 234 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia receives 230 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Tampa usually receives less rain than Columbia. Tampa gets 2.6 inches (65 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Tampa 75°F (24°C) 
    Columbia 64°F (18°C)

Should I visit Tampa or Columbia in the Winter?

Both Columbia and Tampa during the winter are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Tampa for the cuisine. Furthermore, many visitors come to Columbia in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Tampa is much warmer than Columbia. Typically, the winter temperatures in Tampa in January average around 60°F (15°C), and Columbia averages at about 45°F (7°C).

It's quite sunny in Tampa. In the winter, Tampa often gets more sunshine than Columbia. Tampa gets 200 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia receives 171 hours of full sun.

Tampa usually gets less rain in January than Columbia. Tampa gets 2.3 inches (59 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Tampa 60°F (15°C) 
    Columbia 45°F (7°C)

Should I visit Tampa or Columbia in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Tampa and Columbia. Many visitors come to Tampa in the spring for the beaches and the activities around the city.

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

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia this time of the year. In Tampa, it's very sunny this time of the year. Tampa usually receives more sunshine than Columbia during spring. Tampa gets 299 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia receives 273 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Tampa usually receives less rain than Columbia. Tampa gets 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Tampa 71°F (22°C) 
    Columbia 64°F (18°C)

Typical Weather for Columbia and Tampa

Tampa Columbia
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 60°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (59 mm) 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Feb 61°F (16°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm)
Mar 67°F (19°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm) 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm)
Apr 71°F (22°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm) 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
May 77°F (25°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Jun 81°F (27°C) 6.5 inches (165 mm) 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 8.4 inches (214 mm) 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm)
Aug 82°F (28°C) 8 inches (203 mm) 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm)
Sep 81°F (27°C) 6.3 inches (161 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Oct 75°F (24°C) 2.6 inches (65 mm) 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Nov 68°F (20°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm)
Dec 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)