Summer Bucket List
Columbia Has A Lot to Offer
by Katie Gantt
We’ve put together a list of 15 Columbia’s top attractions to add to your 2020 summer bucket list. History, culture, sports, location, and food – Columbia’s got something for everyone!
South Carolina State Museum
301 Gervais St, Columbia | 803.898.4921 | scmuseum.org
Founded in 1988, the state’s largest museum is home to a myriad of rich and diverse collections containing more than 70,000 artifacts. The museum has four disciplines that serve to reflect the history of South Carolina: South Carolina Art, Natural History, Science & Technology, and Cultural History. Highlights include a giant shark display, a dinosaur, a Civil War submarine, and the African American history exhibitions. Be sure to check out the 55-foot dome planetarium, the 4D theater, and the Boeing Observatory too. Check their website for special admission rates.
Columbia Museum of Art
1515 Main St, Columbia | 803.799.2810 | columbiamuseum.org
A cultural hub of a revitalized downtown, the people at Columbia Museum of Art believe that art is meant to experienced, not just seen. The massive space features internationally renowned permanent collections, traveling shows, only-at-CMA exhibitions, events, and art that spans 5,000 years of global history in 26 galleries. Collections are organized by theme and include many Renaissance and Baroque pieces. Events include adult art classes, tours, and lectures and the gift shop boasts a reputation for fabulous finds. Hours and admission rates are listed on their website along with updates on upcoming events and exhibits.
Soda City Market
1300 – 1600 Main St, Columbia | sodacity.com
Inspired by traditional European street markets, Soda City Market is open every Saturday morning 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., year-round, rain or shine! Soda City has an average of 150 vendors per week and is a “producer-only market,” meaning vendors must either make or grow what they are selling. Find unique art, clothing, soaps, jewelry, locally grown produce, and an impressive and diverse selection of food trucks. A plus: downtown parking is free on Saturdays. Metered spots line Assembly Street and adjacent side streets. There are multiple surrounding parking garages as well.
EdVenture Children’s Museum
211 Gervais St, Columbia | 803.779.3100 | edventure.org/columbia
Fun Fact: EdVenture is the largest children’s museum in the southeast and is second only to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis which is the largest children’s museum in the world. The 92,000 square foot space offers interactive exhibits and activities to surprise and delight the minds and imaginations of children of all ages. Among many others, attractions include a Boeing 757, a mountain of tires, children’s cooking classes, and of course – Eddie – the 40 feet tall and 17.5 ton climbable 10-year-old boy and mascot of EdVenture.
South Carolina State House
1100 Gervais St, Columbia | 803.734.5049 | scstatehouse.gov
The gorgeous 130,673 square foot, Greek Revival style South Carolina State House houses the state government and the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. Visitors are welcome to take free guided and self-guided tours, even while legislature is in session. Visitors may enter the State House through the public entrance which is on the Sumter Street side of the building. The grounds are equally worthy of a walking tour or even a picnic – just make sure you bring a little extra for the pigeons and squirrels.
The Beach at Lake Murray
Lake Murray Dam, Lexington Side | 803.217.9221
What began as a source of energy for the Columbia area in 1930 has become a great source of recreation. The beach at Lake Murray is located on the Lexington side of the dam and features a swimming beach plus dozens of picnic shelters, some of which can be reserved for groups. Public restrooms are available; pets and alcoholic beverages are not allowed. Parking is $5 per car, truck, motorcycle, or passenger van.
Saluda Splash at Saluda Shoals Park
5605 Bush River Rd, Columbia | 803.772.1228 | icrc.net
Saluda Shoals Park’s 400-acres features a river observation deck, boat launches, picnic shelters, multi-use trails, and the Saluda Splash – a zero-depth water spray ground for children. Call to check for current operating hours. Wristbands are $3 per person, or guests may purchase a 15-visit Splash Pass for $40. The Splash Pass is valid at both Saluda Splash and Melvin Park Splash in Chapin.
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia | 803.779.8717 | riverbanks.org
At 170-acres, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 2,000 animals, an aquarium, and inspiring botanical gardens. In addition to the animals, guests can maximize their zoo visit with hands-on, interactive activities for the whole family including: a zipline tour; “Waterfall Junction” – a splash pad, plus some; ride the Spots & Stripes Railroad; feed and pet animals at the Farmyard; ride the Endangered Species Carousel; feed the giraffes at Giraffe Overlook, and more! Some attractions were closed at the time of press due to Covid-19 restrictions but be sure to check their website for updates on reopening.
(Main Branch) 1431 Assembly St. Columbia | 803.799.9084 | richlandlibrary.com
Richland Library system boasts 13 convenient locations throughout Richland county, with each branch offering its own unique, modern library experience to patrons. One visit and it is clear to see why the organization was awarded the National Medal in 2017 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In addition to staggering selections of books and eBooks, they also offer state-of-the-art technology, a variety of literary and cultural programs, events for children, and more. At the time of press, their locations were still closed due to Covid-19 restrictions but be sure to check their website for updates on reopening.
1601 Richland St., Columbia | 803.252.7742 | historiccolumbia.org
Take an afternoon to tour one of Historic Columbia’s various historic properties and beautiful gardens. A non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Columbia and Richland County’s historic and cultural heritage, Historic Columbia describes themselves as “a museum under many roofs.” Their dedication to historic preservation is obvious as you stroll the gleaming hallways through the four historic house museums in the heart of the Robert Mills Historic District: Robert Mills House & Gardens, Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens, Mann-Simmons Site, and Woodrow Wilson Family Home. Check their website for current hours, Covid-19 restrictions, and upcoming events.
If there is one thing that the citizens of Columbia can likely all agree on, it’s that the city’s restaurant scene is on fire! With the revitalization of downtown came an influx of new and exciting restaurants to add to the long list of existing favorites and cornerstones of the industry. Flip over to our Dining Out feature to read more about this issue’s highlighted restaurant, Gervais and Vine, a long-standing favorite with a new team of owners. Our restaurant guide in the back of the magazine lists dozens of local dining options for you to consider for your next night out. We need to get out of our homes and taste someone else’s cooking for a change and restaurants need our support now more than ever. It’s a win-win.
1640 Freed Dr., Columbia | 803.726.4487 | milb.com/columbia
The Columbia Fireflies, a Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the New York Mets, made Columbia their home in 2016. The Fireflies experience has something to offer every member of the family: great baseball; concession stand favorites; cold beer; a kids zone featuring an obstacle course, jump houses, slide, and more; and a smoke-free facility. The park features 16 luxury suites and a 7,000 Club Lounge for guests who are seeking added comfort during their experience. Check their website for an updated schedule and information on tickets, parking, and more.
201 Naples Ave, Cayce | caycesc.gov/riverwalk.php
With more than 20 miles of Riverwalk and trails, the Cayce Riverwalk is a great spot to spend a “daycation,” just 5 minutes from the South Carolina State House. Spanning 12 miles, it overlooks the beautiful Congaree River and is a popular destination for walking, jogging, bicycling, bird-watching, picnicking, and more. Its bridges, boardwalks, overlooks and lighted, central path accommodate all levels of physical abilities. Visitors enjoy free parking, restroom facilities with wall tiles hand-painted by local students, and public art installations by local artisans. The main entrance is at 201 Naples Avenue, just a few blocks south of Knox Abbott Drive and is open daily from dawn until dusk.
Perhaps now more than ever, our neighbors could use a helping hand. Columbia is home to a plethora of outstanding organizations and businesses that need the support of our citizens at this unique and challenging time in our nation’s, state’s, and city’s history. Whether you are personally called to help the homeless, have a soft spot for single mothers, endangered pets, hungry children, or want to support local, struggling businesses – seek out opportunities to give your time or financial support, if possible. We may never know the lasting impact that a small act of kindness may have on the life or lives of others. Something as mundane as leaving an extra gratuity for your server or delivery person could make the difference in an electric bill being paid on time.
Columbia is centrally located and therefore gives its residents the luxury of being within a few hours drive of some outstanding road trip destinations. Pack up the car and be at some of the country’s most renowned beaches in hours: Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach, Edisto, Hilton Head, Kiawah Island, the list goes on. Or head to Charleston for a dining scene that’s out of this world with centuries of history to boot (and those aforementioned beaches). Charlotte is even closer, with a quick shoot up I-77, and if you’re really committed don’t forget about Atlanta, our neighbor to the south. Either metropolis offers sports, dining, shopping, cultural destinations, and more. Skip the flights this summer and hit the highways instead.
Which of these summer bucket list to-do items will you check off the list this summer? Make this summer one to remember, as if we could ever forget.