The days are long, and the nights are short, you know what time it is – summertime is back in the Heart of SC. And here, the living really is easy. It can be hard to narrow down how to spend those extra hours of sunshine, so we’ve got your summer bucket list covered. Ideas from outdoor activities, places to cool down, and the best summertime grub, these plans will fit for you, some friends, or those kids singing “school’s out for the summer.”

Go Floating

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Two people in floats on the river with Columbia skyline in the backgroundAdventure, relaxation, and refreshing all come together to make this attraction. Grab your friends, your snack cooler, and a tube and dip right into any of Columbia’s three main waterways. Don’t have space at home for a clunky tube? No worries, at Palmetto Outdoors in West Columbia you can rent some tubes and life jackets to make your day go swimmingly. They’ll bus you over to the drop-off point and for about two hours you’ll float down the Congaree right back to them. A Saturday in the sun is already planned for you. 

Explore Lake Murray

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If you’re looking for somewhere to get a tan and practice your backstroke, pile into someone’s car and head over to the Lake Murray shores. On the Lexington side of the Dreher Shoals Dam is a family-friendly beach that allows room for towels, chairs, and space for a few games. Pack up some lunch and prepare to spend all day here. 

See a Movie at The Nick

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Nickelodeon Theatre on Main StreetWe get it, some days you just need to sit in some AC with something cold to drink. No judgments. On days like that, spend it at The Nickelodeon, Columbia’s only art-house theater. Featuring big name movies and indie short films this quaint viewing spot will have a movie for the whole crowd. With fresh popped popcorn and an ice-cold drink, you’ll forget it’s almost 100 degrees outside. 

Visit an Old-Timey Staple

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Woman holding ice cream coneIf you’re looking for somewhere to grab a sweet treat and beat the summer heat, stop at a Cola summer staple, The Rosewood Dairy Bar. Full of nostalgia feels ordering one of their loaded sundaes or a sprinkle dipped cone will have you feeling like a kid again on summer break again. 

Plan a Picnic

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With sunsets like ours you won’t want to be cooped up inside for dinner. Dine outside with friends at any of the local parks, no matter the Cola neighborhood you’re in, you’ll enjoy the views and the company. Grab some provisions from The Gourmet Shop for all your cheese board needs or some chicken salad sliders from Mathias Sandwich Shop, or maybe some pimento cheesy goodness from The Root Cellar

Find the Best Iced Coffee

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Indah Coffee Company

You still need your caffeine fix no matter what the temperature outside, and it’s almost like an unspoken rule that summer season is also iced coffee season. So, we hope this summer you’ll help us out by telling us the best iced coffee you can find in the Columbia region. Is it from a truck at Soda City? How about a female owned shop? Local chains still reigning supreme? You be the judge. 

Concerts & Live Entertainment

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There are always those certain songs that just sound better in the summertime. Luckily, Columbia has no shortage of live music and entertainment venues across each district. Catch some jazz on the river at the West Columbia Amphitheater or your favorite indie band at The Senate in the Vista. How about a big name comedian at the Township Auditorium? Stay up to date on all the concerts happening in Columbia by checking in with our calendar of events

Shop Local

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Woman walking past shopsWith all these new plans you’ll need a new outfit to show off too, obviously. Columbia is no stranger to clothing shops that have in-trend yet affordable styles. Looking for a big label name but not the price? Secondhand shop Revente in Five Points has you covered. Another consignment shop, Sid & Nancy, is right up the street and has popular brands that never seem to go out of style. 

Check Out Our Attractions

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South Carolina State Museum

Take the slow summertime to see the popular attractions that make Columbia great. Learn about the local history at the South Carolina State Museum. Bonus, Friday nights in the summer they put on a laser show to popular songs. Visit our award-winning Riverbanks Zoo, even when the sun is at its highest this habitat is home to many cool, shady spots and fans that give off a cool mist when you walk by. Play ball at a Columbia Fireflies game, the summer is the perfect time to catch these player’s glow. Sit on the berm with a pretzel and some popcorn for just $5 a ticket. Proudly home to South Carolina’s only national park, Congaree is the best place to get your early morning steps in with a friend, a pup, or just you and a cup of coffee. 

No matter how you choose to spend your summer in the Heart of SC, we sure do hope that it’s a great one! For more trip ideas and things to do this summer check out our calendar of events.