Make no mistake about it, Columbia SC is a basketball town. Home to a national champion women’s basketball team, led by a Hall of Fame Coach with a statue of Lady Gamecock legend, hometown hero and WNBA star Aja Wilson perched outside Colonia Life Arena (CLA), women certainly run the court in this city. On the men’s side, the Benedict Tigers are on a roll and the matchup between Benedict and neighboring Allen University in the final game of the regular season is always a treat.
No matter what school or team you’re cheering for here you’ll find that game days become full-fledged weekends for locals and visitors alike. From a variety of food options to plenty of things to see and do around town, sports fans of all ages can look forward to exploring this capital city with a college town vibe beyond the main event.
Bites + Brews
There are many ways to fill up your hoop itinerary with local eats, outdoor adventure and entertainment. Drop in at one of Columbia’s breweries near CLA and enjoy a local beer, find a diverse collection of restaurants and bars or take a stroll and experience Columbia through museums, historical sites and public art. Thirsty Fellow Pizzeria and Pub is always a convenient spot being located just steps away from the arena. Get there early for a spot on their porch to enjoy a local beer or gorgonzola chips while you people watch as the mass crown descends upon the arena. Check out the new outdoor seating at Columbia Craft Brewing Company and enjoy a pregame beer flight, or take in the sights and sounds at Savage Craft Ale Works located in West Columbia just across the river. Trying our distinctive barbecue is a must for first-timers – pork smoked low and slow topped with our signature mustard-based sauce. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Check out a guide to some of our favorites here. And, with a dip or dish on the menu at almost every restaurant in town, pimento cheese is kind of a big deal around here.
If you are here for a longer stay and craving some outdoor activities, note that the Saluda and Broad Rivers in Columbia merge right downtown to form the Congaree. Spend an afternoon kayaking or tubing down or walking along these waterways, or escape the bustling city and get lost in your thoughts amidst fresh air, cool waters and old growth hardwood forest at Congaree National Park. Spend your Saturday morning shopping the stalls at Soda City Market, our downtown farmers market that stretches right down Main Street. Art lovers will enjoy the Columbia Museum of Art and public art like sculptures, statues and murals that dapple the region. Traveling with the kiddos? Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and EdVenture will keep them occupied for hours.
Whether you’re a fan who never misses a game, a returning alum looking to relive their college days or traveling to support the visiting team, we can’t wait to welcome you to Columbia, SC.