We know Columbia is known for its sunshine-filled days and warm summer nights, but we’re looking forward to enjoying the cooler temps that come with fall. Read on for a roundup of ways to enjoy the brisk autumn weather in this capital city.
Take a hike
While the mountains are a popular travel spot this time of year, Columbia has some pretty good hiking #views, guaranteed to get you some Instagram likes. Start the morning with your wintry layers and end the day with sunshine and a sense of accomplishment at these hiking spots – just to name a few.
Nestled on the banks of the Broad River, Harbison State Forest offers more than 20 miles of trails – perfect for a hike, bike or run. Try the Learning Trail for a quick outdoor adventure with the kiddos that centers around the Education Center. Looking for a bit of a challenge? The Midlands Mountain Trail takes you on a climb before descending to the river bottom. Or, try the Spider Woman II trail for some difficult mountain biking with steep climbs and a natural rock garden.
As part of the Cayce Riverwalk, the Timmerman Trail is a 3.5-mile paved trail that runs through the woods with breathtaking views of the Congaree Creek + a few bridges and boardwalks for photo opportunities. While it’s only fifteen minutes from downtown Columbia, don’t be surprised by the wildlife you will see along the way. Bonus—it comes with free parking and easy access for wheelchairs and strollers, making it great for a family outing.
Just 30 minutes outside of downtown Columbia you’ll find South Carolina’s only national park, Congaree National Park. With old-growth trees and a charming boardwalk, it’s a magical forest that surrounds the Congaree River. Hop on the boardwalk for an easy hike with benches for resting. Contrary to its name, the Kingsnake Trail is known for its bird watching because of the diverse vegetation and proximity to Cedar Creek.
Let’s dine outdoors, shall we?
More than half of our year consists of sunny days. With cooler temps, you can enjoy sitting outdoors at most of Columbia’s restaurants. Here’s a few to get you started, or you can check out our outdoor dining blog for a larger list – we couldn’t possibly name them all!
Donned with a fire pit, the patio of Tazza Kitchen was made for fall nights and crisp brunch mornings that turn into afternoons. For brunch we suggest the breakfast pizza paired with a White Mimosa. Dinner? Brick Oven Crab Cakes for the win. Whatever you do, order up the brussels sprouts as an app – just trust us.
Just like you have been patiently awaiting the cooler temps, so have the pups. Take your pal to Jake’s in Five Points for a hang out with other dogs delighting in the frisk of the air. Operating in the Jake’s kitchen, Ripper’s is whipping up farm-to-table bar staples like an Adluh Sweet Potato Waffle and classic Po’ boy sandwiches.
Delicious ribs, dynamite cocktails, and charming twinkly lights abound on the patio at The War Mouth. This spot is often showcasing comedians, storytellers, and live music – the perfect excuse to pop a squat in their outdoor oasis.
Take in a local brew
With at least a dozen breweries (and counting), you could say craft beer is pretty important to the people of Columbia. Each with their own vibe, they all boast outdoor areas and seasonal beers that will get you in the wintry spirit.
The beer garden at Cottontown Brew Lab has quickly become known for its neighborhood feel, welcoming visitors from all over. Snag a picnic table or play a round of cornhole as you watch your team play on the big screen. Most locals know the name for their TropiCarolina, but we want to try the Winter Warmer for a seasonal favorite.
The rooftop + yard at Hunter-Gatherer at the Curtiss-Wright Hangar caters to an eclectic set, often hosting families, dogs, yo-pros, and tailgating crews. With an open-sky view, the rooftop can’t be beat. While you’re there, don’t be surprised if you catch an airplane or two taking off from the Jim Hamilton – L.B. Owens Airport. Bonus—they serve pizzas, salads, and bar snacks that pair perfectly with your Golden Ale, so you can stay there long enough to see the sun set.
Tucked near Williams-Brice Stadium you’ll find Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company, noticeable by its large block letter sign and inviting pergola. While we suggest setting up camp on their charming patio (café lights included), their taproom boasts being pet-friendly throughout, so your furry friends can join in as you get your next brew. Try on their fall release, the Dunkelweizen, for size or grab a palmetto tree shaped flight board and pick your favorite.
What better way to feel the effect of cooler temps than becoming one with nature (+ s’mores) for a camping experience in Columbia SC? Whether you’re looking to pitch a tent deep in the forest, or looking for a cozy lakeside villa, we’ve got you covered.
While handling the wilderness on your own can be exciting, Sesquicentennial State Park is here to make your camping life a little easier & safer. Each site utilizes packed sand for tents and has individual water and electrical hookups. If the tent isn’t your thing, there are several sites that accommodate RV’s up to 35 feet. Plus, the campground is just a short walk to restroom facilities with hot showers – count us in for those amenities. Book your reservation here.
At Dreher Island State Park, sit back and take in scenic views of Lake Murray. While the water may be a little chilly this time of year, it’s still just as picture-worthy. Most of the paved sites are ready for RVs and tents, while some of them are for tent campers only so make sure you do your research before heading to the park. If you want the views, but aren’t quite ready for the full nature experience, try out one of the five lakeside villas, equipped with wi-fi, a screened porch and an outside grill, among other amenities. Book your campsite reservations here, and your villa reservations here.
If hiking at Congaree National Park isn’t enough for you cool-weathered adventure types, plan an overnight visit at one of their camping sites. With two designated campgrounds and a backcountry camping option, the CNP experience is a little more hard-core than the rest. Longleaf and Bluff Campgrounds are accessible by walking with your equipment, however, they are not too far from the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Camping in the backcountry will allow you to experience the wilderness the most and is accessible by foot, canoe or kayak. While we like adventure in Columbia SC, we also like to keep things safe—all three options require reservations.
Looking for more fun in Columbia SC? Check out our things to do page.