While Columbia’s winter weather is typically quite lovely (can you say 75 degree days in December?), there are always a few weeks when all the hot cocoa + blankets are necessary. With three rivers, a national park, Lake Murray, an abundance of neighborhood parks and walking/hiking trails galore, there’s no shortage of outdoor fun in this city. But some days, there aren't enough warm coats in the world to get you to hang outside... and we feel you. Relax and enjoy some good old-fashioned kindness from the company you came with + the company you’re sure to meet with these seven indoor activities in Columbia SC.
Judging by the buzz, there’s a chance you’ve already heard about this new gem on Main Street. If you haven’t, think a seven-lane, boutique bowling alley equipped with lush couches for you and your squad + the ability to put bumpers up for those individuals that need a little moral support. Pro tip: Reserve a lane online before you go. After beating your boo or bestie in a few rounds of bowling, try something a little more low-key like Jenga, checkers or shuffle board.
Or, head downstairs to the self-serving taproom. Yes, you heard that right. Grab a wristband, and sample some (or all) of the local beers on tap before making your decision. Bonus: there’s wine on tap, too. Charging by the ounce, your wristband will do the paying, while you do the drinking. As if all that wasn’t enough—the food is next-level delicious, too. Check out the menu here.
Just a skip down from The Grand sits Nickelodeon Theatre. This old-fashioned, arthouse movie theatre, affectionately called 'The Nick' by locals, maintains its classic Hollywood glamour with updated amenities and contemporary art. An epicenter for indie films, big picture hits and special events (hey, Indie Grits), this local favorite is shaking up the traditional catch-a-flick experience. With two small theatres, you get a more intimate experience with better prices. Indulge in a glass of vino, a beer, or a soda + some popcorn and candy to make this experience extra special.
Also on bustling Main Street, the Columbia Museum of Art often serves as the headquarters for the creative set. While away a few hours perusing the rotating national exhibits and community gallery. Past exhibits have included artists from Andy Warhol to Salvador Dali. Be sure to check the museum's events calendar before you go if you want to catch a gallery tour for some behind-the-scenes intel. Selfie with the Chihuly chandelier or it didn’t happen.
Steeped in history and character, the South Carolina State Museum is located in an old textile mill, cozied up next to the river, and on the edge of The Vista. It’s hard to be bored with four floors of interactive exhibits that are dedicated to the history of South Carolina, art, science and technology. Soak up the learning in the Boeing Observatory or Planetarium, then sit back and enjoy a 4-D short movie that’s sure to throw in a dash of excitement. Before you go, make a pit stop at Cotton Mill Exchange—a gift store that holds everything from home décor, to jewelry, to gourmet food.
If you have a few kiddos on your hands, pop across the parking lot from the South Carolina State Museum and take your tribe to EdVenture, the largest children’s museum in the Southeast. Here you’ll run into Eddie, “the world’s largest 10-year-old boy.” Eddie serves as a 40-ft. tall educational jungle gym for the little ones. Among other exhibits, the kiddos can learn how to cook with a real chef, practice as a newscaster or meteorologist, and take control of the captain’s seat in a flight simulator. Now, go home and put the kiddos (and yourself!) to rest. Trust us, you will all be tuckered out by the end of this trip.
You’ll find all kinds of characters at Trustus Theatre in The Vista. This award-winning professional theatre has a laid-back attitude with a show lineup that looms large, ranging from comedy to thought-provoking productions. Cozy up in this intimate setting with complimentary popcorn and a bar. Make a mental note to check their upcoming shows and plan a date night, a night with your besties, or an artsy night to yourself.
Beer tour anyone? While many of the stops on Columbia’s beer scene are known for their patios, sometimes it’s best to stay closer to the bar. Try a beer tour in The Vista, by checking out Twisted Spur Brewing where you can see the beer being brewed behind the bar. Next up, head to Casual Pint for a competitive game of Battleship or Connect 4. Finish up this district with new kid on the block, Columbia Craft Brewing Co. Its insides are donned with local artwork, and its beer glasses are totally Insta-worthy. Check out a whole list of beer stops in our Bites + Brews guide—guaranteed to make a cold January weekend a little warmer.
Cover photo by: Brooke Merry.