Whether you’re single, taken, or, “it’s complicated,” you’ve probably had Valentine’s Day in the back of your mind for some time now. How could you not when stores have been rolling out the roses and heart-shaped candy since New Year’s Day? But let’s be honest—you don’t need a specific date to pull out the romantics. Fortunately for Columbia, there are unlimited options to choose from when crafting the perfect night out. And fortunately for you, we’ve done most of the work in advance + crafted a date night itinerary for a few of our downtown entertainment districts. Pick your favorite, make a reservation, and win over that special someone. You really have no excuse now.
North Main (Referred to as "Cottontown" by locals) is one of Columbia’s up-and-coming entertainment districts. Start your night at The Vino Garage with a relaxing glass of wine, or choose a craft brew. The cozy atmosphere and specialty selections will impress your date from the start. On Valentine’s Day head to The Vino Garage a little early for a special Valentine’s Day Wine and Chocolate Pairing at 4 PM. Or, start at Indah Coffee Co. where you can try a brew from the new CottonTown Brew Lab, or mingle over an artisan latte (we heart the Thai Coffee!).
Next, zip across Main Street to indulge in dinner at The War Mouth. First things first—order up a few of what are sure to be the best deviled eggs you’ve ever had. Share a rack of ribs (or keep them all for yourself), or some vegetable purloo to warm up as you sit on the patio under those dreamy café lights. Specialty cocktails and homegrown sweet tea abound on this menu.
Thanks to a recent revitalization, Main Street’s list of things to do for your date night continues to grow. Find a kinship between a Cajun-Creole dinner menu + one of the largest whiskey lists in the South at Bourbon. Add some drama and impress your date by ordering up the, “Frankly, My Dear.” Just trust us on this one. Plan ahead and cozy up to an indie film at Nickelodeon Theatre for your next stop. Sure, you just ate at Bourbon, but popcorn doesn’t really count as food… right? Bonus—you can drink wine & beer while you watch. Cheers!
If you’re “not a movie person,” take your date to Columbia’s boutique bowling alley, The Grand, for some playful fun. This is a one stop shop for mouthwatering food, drinks, and good old-fashioned fun. Pro tip: check out the taproom downstairs where you can pour your own beer and wine + play a few arcade games for some friendly competition.
Wrap it all up at Lula Drake Wine Parlour with a night cap and a decadent dessert to share... can you say Nutella-Espresso Crepe? If you're looking for something a little more all-inclusive for the big night, the fine folks of Lula Drake are hosting an All-Inclusive Valentine’s Day Dinner in the Pastor’s Study, their recently opened event space. Be sure to get tickets in advance for this unforgettable evening.
Look no further than the Rosewood area for a night with a laid-back attitude. Show off your local knowledge at Rockaway Athletic Club. With no signage to show its character, this hidden gem is not to be missed on a trip to Columbia. What better way to impress someone than with the infamous pimento cheeseburger? We can’t think of any. A bar full of friendly locals (and their stories) will take the pressure off this date in no time.
After a bite, there’s still room for the dessert, or a local craft beer. Stop by Rosewood Dairy Bar for an old-school ice cream cone, or head toward Williams-Brice Stadium where you’ll run into several breweries along the way. Hunter-Gatherer at Owens Field, River Rat, and Conquest are all sure to shake up the traditional Valentine’s Day date night. Plan ahead for a unique five-course dinner at Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company—Valentine’s at the Brewery.
With a healthy dose of diverse restaurants, The Vista was made special for a date night. Park the car and walk among the string lights on Lincoln Street to… ya know… set the mood. Pop into Casual Pint where you can try out one of the thirty rotating drafts on tap, or pick up something you’re familiar with from the fridge. Not quite a craft beer connoisseur? Cozy up to the bar and share a flight.
Move into margaritas at Coa Agaveria y Cocina, made with hand-squeezed fruit juices and fresh garnishes that will make it hard not to snap a photo. Add in menu items like crab empanadas, ahi tuna, and seared duck breast, and you've arrived at what could be the hippest little Mexican restaurant this side of the border.
After satisfying your gourmet Mexican cravings, stroll on over to Nonnah’s for a sweet treat. Order to impress with a flaming dessert, prepared table side. This long-standing, local establishment offers an atmosphere that fuses a romantic, yet homey vibe—the perfect ending for date night.
If you’re more of a planner, snag tickets to Amore Under the Stars at the South Carolina State Museum. Featuring night sky observing, a champagne bar + beer & wine, food (including desserts), and exclusive gallery tours, this event marks all the check boxes in one stop.
More than just a place for college students, Five Points has become nothing short of a foodie hot spot. Head to Publico Kitchen & Tap for a flight of margaritas (or sangria) with a taste of chips and fresh guacamole. If the weather calls for it, take it to the patio and break the ice over a game of corn hole or Jenga. When your appetite says it’s time for dinner, walk across this village neighborhood to Goat’s for an eclectic atmosphere, some fried oysters and a juicy half-pound burger.
If you’re feeling fancy, make a reservation at Saluda’s for dinner overlooking the district. Executive Chef Josh Rogerson hails from Italy and fuses his own heritage with seasonal ingredients that hail from the South. Bonus—you can make reservations online. Finish it up with a scoop, or two, from Scoopy Doo Gelato Shop, and then pat yourself on the back for a night well done.
Pizza lovers unite for a date at Za’s Brick Oven Pizza on charming Devine Street. While this local favorite has some seriously good ‘za, its menu offers everything from zucchini noodle pasta and wood-fired wings, to Italian classics like lasagna. The modern, yet rustic décor offers an ambiance that’s comfortable, yet classy. Before you dig in at Za's, follow the locals to Craft & Draft, just down the street. Part beer store, part bar, this hangout offers the chance to grab a draft brew, a can from the cooler, or a glass of wine. The friendly pups and large window seats, equipped with pillows, make for an easy, relaxed start to the night.
A short drive over the Gervais Street Bridge will take you to West Columbia. Here, it doesn’t take long to get from the middle of town to the middle of nature. Escape the bustle of the city, and take in the sunset as you walk along the Riverwalk. Just a short walk from the river, you’ll find a must-try, fine-dining experience at Terra. A taste of the legendary Lamb Mac works magic with a glass of vino from their robust wine list. This spot is pretty packed on a normal day, so go ahead and make a reservation now.
If our #ThatViewThough blog inspired you to try Al’s Upstairs, Valentine’s Day is your chance. Check out their V-Day all-inclusive menus, offered on two nights. Make sure you’re paying attention though! The prices and offerings differ for each. This one is a reservation-must.
Valentine’s Weekend Bonus Round
We know planning is kind of hard. Luckily, the good people of Columbia have provided you with a dynamite list of events throughout the region that cover Valentine’s night, and into the weekend. Check out this bonus round of celebrations. Don’t see your Valentine’s Weekend event listed? Submit to our calendar of events!