Around the city there is a plethora of things to see and do. We’ve rounded up the top 15 things that you definitely can’t miss on your next visit. Get ready to cross things off your bucket list.
1. Go to Soda City Market
The hot ticket around town on Saturday mornings. This farmer’s market style event is maker-only and you can grab goodies ranging from dog treats, to a new hat, to fresh produce.
2. Eat at Villa Tronco
The oldest restaurant in the state of South Carolina serves up fresh pizza, pasta, and seafood specials. Originated during WWII, this historic and delicious landmark is still serving up all original recipes.
3. Attend a festival
There’s no shortage of events around Columbia and festival season happens year-round here. Visit the Irmo Okra Strut, a yearly festival 50 years in the making that is dedicated to all things fried okra and fun. Or the Greek Festival on Main Street to indulge in gyros, keftedes, and spanakopeta and to see a dance or two. Join 45 thousand other friends at St. Pat’s in Five Points, the largest annual street festival in the Midlands and the biggest one-day St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Southeast.
4. Visit the National Park
Congaree National Park is the state’s only national park, located just 25 minutes from the downtown area. Across these 26 thousand acres you’ll find walking trails, kayak trails, and even somewhere to camp out. Take a ranger-led hike to see some of the tallest trees in the Eastern North America – bring some binoculars to seek out some wildlife!
5. Feed the giraffes at Riverbanks Zoo
Home to over 2,000 animals, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden has been praised nationwide and is the perfect spot for a Saturday stop. After you’ve seen the gorillas eat and watch the lemurs chase after each other, head to Giraffe Overlook and feed the mammals their lunchtime snack.
6. Catch a film at the Nickelodeon
For a quaint and vintage viewing experience, catch a movie on Main Street at The Nickelodeon Theatre. Featuring independent films and blockbusters alike, you’ll have a more intimate movie going adventure. Will you be around near Halloween? Do the time warp again at the annual viewing of the classic Rocky Horror Picture Show.
7. Float down the River
Columbia SC is no stranger to water adventures. The Saluda, Congaree, and the Broad River all flow through the Midlands and there is fun to be had on all. Float the Saluda River on a kayak or canoe rental, visit Carolina Outdoor Adventure for a single-day kayak trip down the Congaree, or float in an inner-tube rental from Palmetto Outdoors and slowly take in the views.
8. Catch a concert
With a variety of music venues around the region there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see your favorite artists up close and personal. Hum along to some local tunes at the Icehouse Amphitheater in Lexington or bring the kiddos to see Baby Shark Live (doo doo doo doo) at the Township Auditorium. Colonial Life Arena is no stranger to big name artists such as, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, and Taylor Swift. With a constant rotating schedule your social calendar will be booked and busy.
9. First Thursday on Main
Enjoy deals at your favorite bars and restaurants on Main Street and free admission to the Columbia Museum of Art the first Thursday of every month. Grab a beverage and listen to live music on Boyd Plaza or grab a bite from one of the food trucks and stroll along from the 1200 block to the 1700 block.
10. Camp out at Dreher Island State Park
Have some water fun on Lake Murray, catch an Instagram-worthy sunset, and camp overnight at this state park that spans over three islands. Known for its fishing spots and water activities, Dreher Island State Park also has 15 tent campsites and 97 paved campsites for RV or tent camping, the fun doesn’t have to end just because the sun went down.
Grab a foot-long corndog and your favorite fried concoction during the South Carolina State Fair’s two-week stint in Columbia. Catch a show, see the sandcastle competition, or just get your views from the top of the Ferris Wheel. It’s fun for any age.
12. Get outside
Get your steps in around town and change up the scenery at the Three Rivers Greenway. This 15.5-mile riverfront trail system flows through Columbia, Cayce, and West Columbia and follows the paths of the three different rivers (hence the name). You’ll love the breeze coming off the water and it will be the perfect place for your pup to make a friend or two.
13. Go to the game
Saturdays in the fall around Columbia are filled with one thing – college football. Tailgate around town before heading to Willy B or view the game at several sports bars around town. In the summertime take yourself out to the ball game and visit the Columbia Fireflies at Segra Park, our local minor league baseball team. Attend any Carolina games throughout the year like a well-seasoned alumnus. Don’t forget your garnet when you go to cheer on the 2022 NCAA National Championship Women’s Basketball team.
14. Hit up happy hour
The brewery scene in Columbia SC is continuously growing and these spots are the best places to catch up with old friends. Hangout on the rooftop over at Savage Craft or sit under the lights at WeCo Biergarten. Have a frosé at River Rat or grab a seasonal brew and a pretzel from Steel Hands. The opportunities are endless.
15. Try something new in Columbia SC
Here in the Heart of SC, we pride ourselves on being a diverse region with plenty to do. Hundreds of restaurants that serve up creative and delicious plates from different cultures are at every corner. Get out of your comfort zone and embark on a new adventure, whether it’s singing at karaoke or zip lining over the zoo, your next favorite activity awaits.