You may not expect it, but Columbia SC has a thriving arts & culture scene that is sure to impress. From diverse public art and local galleries to nationally renowned exhibitions, the capital city has something for the art enthusiast and novice alike. Keep reading to plan your art-filled weekend in the heart of SC.
There’s no better place for an art lover to stay than at Hotel Trundle. Located in the Main Street district, the vibrant décor of this boutique hotel is unlike any other. If the warm atmosphere isn’t enough to get you excited for the weekend ahead, the welcome drink they serve you at check-in certainly will.
After you savor the last of your bev and unwind a bit, it’s time to officially kick-off the weekend. Hop back in the car because you’re going on a public art tour. Use this guide to map out your route, which will take you to see some of Columbia’s most notable sculptures and murals. Get out of your car and snap some pictures for the ‘gram or feel free to just drive by and admire.
As you make your way toward North Main on your public art exploration, be sure to stop at A Peace of Soul Vegan Kitchen for some lunch. Whether you’re vegan or not, one bite of their fried “chicken” or mac-n-“cheese” and you’ll be just as obsessed as the rest of us.
Once you’ve wrapped up your public art tour and gotten cleaned up for the evening, you’ll want to make one last stop for the day before dinner and drinks. Near the University of South Carolina, you’ll find the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. This 2,500 sq. ft. art gallery hosts regional, national and international exhibitions free to the public, and encourages interaction between visual and performing art, and literary and media arts.
After you’ve marveled at CCA’s most recent exhibit, make your way to Art Bar in The Vista to kick back with pre-dinner drinks. At this vibrant spot where local art and robots grace the walls, you may just catch a performance from a local or regional act.
Next, head on over to Terra in West Columbia for dinner. Not only can you expect to be served the freshest ingredients (you’ll see where they’ve been sourced from on your menu), but you can also expect these classic Southern dishes with a twist to be absolutely unforgettable. You’d be remiss in not trying the Lamb-Stuffed Mac and Cheese Gratin and one of their seasonal cocktails. As you enjoy your mouth-watering meal, take a moment to take in the newly renovated space and the art on display.
There’s no better place to start your day than at Soda City Market on Main Street. Stretching three blocks, you can take in all the tastes and cultures of Columbia at this producer-only market. Here, you’ll find some of the region’s most talented artists showing off their work. The best part? You can take it home with you!
As you make your way down the market, buying more things than you have hands to carry, be sure to take a break to fuel up with a snack and a cup of Joe. There are plenty of food truck options to choose from, but if nothing catches your eye, we recommend stopping into Indah Coffee in the historic Arcade Building for a hot drink and locally-made scone. If you have time, check out Blue Sky Art Gallery, the working studio to Columbia native and talented artist, Blue Sky.
Straight from Soda City Market, walk to the Columbia Museum of Art – A 21st century museum that boasts one of the largest international collections in the Southeast. Take delight in exhibitions ranging from Jackson Pollock to Van Gogh and the one-of-a-kind traveling exhibits that find their way to this renowned museum. When you visit, you can have peace of mind knowing that CMA is committed to your safety with limited capacities and elevated disinfecting efforts throughout the building. Pro Tip: Reserve your tickets online in advance to ensure your visit is as seamless as possible.
If you have time before lunch starts calling your name, make a stop at Richland Library Main on Assembly Street. This branch of the Richland Library houses an impressive display of artwork, including a permanent collection of South Carolina art with works by Jean McWhorter and Philip Simmons and a mural of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” Not to brag, but this is the first and only place the author has allowed his work to be used for public art.
Ready for some lunch? Market on Main is your spot. Part specialty market, part gourmet kitchen, Market on Main is one of Main Street’s latest additions and it has quickly become a local favorite. Take bliss in the M.O.M burger with a side of truffle frites and a specialty cocktail to cheers and sip. The newly renovated spacious outdoor patio looks out onto the bustling downtown with public art in view. When you’re done eating, peruse the market for gourmet cheeses, wines, and pantry essentials to take the flavor home with you.
The evening calls for good music and even better food. Right across the river in West Columbia you’ll find Chayz Lounge, Columbia’s best-kept secret. This sophisticated and warm lounge is the perfect place to kick back, raise a glass, and experience performances by talents from all over. Enjoy a local or national act while you nibble on the small plate/tapas style dishes. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a slice of Bourbon Street pecan pie or honey butter croissants for dessert.
It’s been a long fun-filled weekend, but it’s not quite over. Kick your day off with a caffeine pick-me-up at Drip in Five Points. You’ll love the pour-over method they use to enhance the flavors of the coffee and the vibe from the funky paintings that call the walls of this coffee shop home.
If you want to get some last-minute art in and stretch your legs a bit before you hit the road, head on over to the Cayce Riverwalk with 12 miles of accessible pathways. Take in the views of the Congaree River and downtown one last time, and be sure to keep an eye out for the public art installation along the path. If you look closely, you’ll find hidden animals that were carved by Wade Geddings out of naturally fallen trees.
We hope you’re inspired to see capital city’s art scene for yourself! Check out One Columbia for Arts and History for the latest info on all things art & culture, and learn more about Columbia SC’s offerings and plan your trip using our free Insider’s Guide.