How to utilize Columbia’s Amtrak Station and our city’s railroad history

Explore affordable and hands-free spring getaways with Columbia’s Amtrak Station and five train trips you can take.

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Photo by @julio3094

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We know trains can cause headaches around town, but they don’t have to. If you want a spring getaway, but don’t want to get in the car, we might have another option: Columbia’s Amtrak Station.

Whether you’re traveling locally or out of state, take advantage of SC’s rail system. It’s an alternative way to get around, and Columbia’s Amtrak station is located at 850 Pulaski St. — just a couple of blocks away from Colonial Life Arena.

A quick history of local trains

Columbia’s current Amtrak station was built in 1991. The former Seaboard Air-Line Railway station, built of red brick in 1904, still stands in the Vista. It was abandoned and then restored and made into the Blue Marlin when the City of Columbia removed the rails and the Seaboard Air Line Railway trestle along Lincoln Street.

Exterior of Union Station, now California Dreaming

California Dreaming on S. Main St. of Columbia, formerly Union Station | Photo provided by California Dreaming

Fun fact: The 1904 station was actually the third passenger depot built in Columbia. Going back a little further — before California Dreaming was filled with the smells of honey-butter croissants, its building was a functioning railway station.

In 1899, the Southern Railroad + the Atlantic Coast Line agreed to construct a station on Columbia’s South Main Street. Union Station opened to the public in 1902.

Before that — 800 Gervais St., originally constructed around 1850 and currently serving as an event venue, was the South Carolina Railroad Depot. It was not only the inaugural passenger-freight rail hub in Columbia but also the first such facility outside of Charleston.

Train trips

There are several destinations to choose from that leave from Columbia on the Amtrak line including:

Columbia to Camden, SC | 40 minutes | From $7

Columbia to Orlando, FL | 8.5 hours | From $109

Columbia to Raleigh, NC | 4.5 hours | From $58

Columbia to Savannah, GA | ~2.5 hours | From $46

Columbia to Washington D.C. | ~11 hours | From $131

Never ridden a passenger train before, and don’t know where to start? Follow this planning guide to discover Amtrak.

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