Dine on chicken and waffles, go hiking, explore an international food corridor and cap your day off with legendary barbecue and a movie - not a bad day, right? It's all there in Northeast Columbia. Home to residential areas, a destination shopping center, and the Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center, this is a dynamic and ever changing community.
Village at Sandhill: From enjoying a concert at the town center to enjoying dinner and a movie, The Village at Sandhill is not your grandma’s mall. With more than 140 stores, including national powerhouses like Belk and Sephora, mixed in with locally based merchants, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon. You can even call this your home, as the Village at Sandhill also features residences, office space and recreational facilities.
Sesquicentennial State Park: Featuring 1,400 acres of pines, camping sites, and trails, “Sesqui,” as the locals call it, is a getaway in the heart of the neighborhood. With campsites (RVs and tent camping), as well as boat launches and canoe/kayak and paddle boat rentals, there’s no excuse for boredom here. Families with kids will want to check out the Sesqui Nature Packs (backpacks filled with games and activities to help children explore the park). And don’t forget to look up - there are plenty of bird watching opportunities year-round.
Sandhill Farmers Market: Located across from the Village at Sandhill, this farmers market is open each Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m. Managed by the Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center, it’s a great place to learn about and purchase the region’s best produce, as well as items like cheese, honey, plants, and baked goods. Make yourself a picnic and, while you’re at it, stop by the master gardener booth for the inside scoop.
Solstice Kitchen: With a rotating, seasonal menu, Solstice offers an upscale but approachable dining experience. Start with steamed PEI Mussels and move on to an entree of Bronzed Red Trout or Solstice Coq Au Vin, served with a side of ham hock steward collard greens or green apple kale slaw. If you’re a cocktail drinker, try the Columbia Donkey, their version of the Moscow Mule, or a glass of wine from their extensive menu.
Little Pigs: Columbia is known for three kinds of barbecue sauce: mustard, tomato, and vinegar-and-pepper. Try all three at Little Pigs, which has been serving up Midlands ‘cue since 1963. The buffet features “all you care to eat” brisket, ribs, pork chops, chicken, and wings - and that’s just some of the meat. Sides include tomato pie, hash, and mac and cheese. You can also order takeout, including a plate of two meats and three sides for less than ten dollars.
Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles: The Midlands first dedicated chicken-and-waffle destination, Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles has been serving homemade soul food for more than five years. It's owned by Tyrone Cyrus and Kitwanda “Kiki” Smith, recently named a South Carolina Chef Ambassador of the Year. This is your go-to spot for wings piled high atop French Toast, or red velvet waffles. For lunch or dinner, try fish and waffles or the fried shrimp platter.
Decker Boulevard: This two mile stretch of highway is a portal into some of the best international foods that the state has to offer. Case in point - three Korean restaurants alone (Korea Garden, Arirang, Kimchi, and O-Bok.) Here you’ll also find Vietnamese (Pho Viet), three Mexican restaurants (El Salto Restaurant, Taqueria Guadalajara, Odaly’s Bakery), a Jamaican and a Mediterranean restaurant. Decker Boulevard is also home to several markets, including Riviera’s Food Panaderia, Carneceria (try their homemade breads and pastries), and an Asian market (Oriental International Market, located inside Mama J’s Caribbean Restaurant).
Children’s Garden: Inspire the next generation of gardeners with a walk through twelve themed gardens at this two-acre green paradise. Located on the campus of the Clemson University/Sandhill Campus, the Children’s Garden mission is to use gardening as a tool to bring families in touch with nature and each other. Kids and adults will enjoy scavenger hunts, walking amidst butterflies and storybook characters, and the Garden’s Oak trees. Beware - you might just pick up a green thumb!