Gay Columbia: Some like it hot

Located right smack in the middle of South Carolina, Columbia is emerging as a new hub for art, shopping and culture in the south. Columbia's location, central to other cities, the mountains and the beach, plus its mild weather make it an ideal southern vacation spot.

Columbia seems to have a knack for taking for taking dilapidated districts revitalizing them into hip urban centers. This planning makes for diverse, pedestrian friendly neighborhoods that combine living, shopping, dining and culture. The University of South Carolina main campus is located in Columbia, providing a constant influx of open minded and diverse people in the town.

The town loves its college sports, and who wouldn't support a team whose mascot is the cock? The Five Points neighborhood adjacent to USC, has shops, bars and restaurants catering to the younger crowd. Columbia is also home to a vibrant art scene, with lots of galleries and art-centric events throughout the year, especially around the Vista and downtown's Main Street.

For a Bible belt city, Columbia tends to be welcoming and supportive of gay culture. Gay nightlife tends to revolve around whatever bar is the newest and hippest, though there are also some well established men's clubs in town, mostly in the Vista.

The LGBT community has been an active, visible presence in Columbia for over 20 years. The first Pride march in Columbia was held in 1989, and it is now a popular city-sponsored event with tons of community support. Columbia combines a hip art scene with a booming college town, all set against a backdrop of historic southern flair.

Restaurants to check out