Courtesy of MSN
Home of the University of South Carolina.
One of the main reasons we love Columbia, S.C. so dearly is its picture-perfect Southern hospitality. It's a city embedded with the very DNA of American history, and you can still see the effects of the Civil War imprinted across the exteriors of many historical buildings. Here, expect complete strangers to help you out, and visiting town for a college football game can be a charming experience. With a burgeoning population of more than 700,000, tree-lined neighborhood streets and a new arts "hot spot," Columbia is a cool mix of antebellum and contemporary life.
Where to eat/drink
Pawley’s Front Porch is a popular spot to grab a great burger in a town where southern food reigns supreme. But that’s not to say we’re going to deter you from consuming some serious South Carolina barbeque. There’s always debate when it comes to the best BBQ joints in any city, but the top three are sure to satisfy your craving. Maurice’s BBQ Piggie Pick is an award-winning spot where customers’ affection for the sweet tea almost rivals that of the pit-cooked barbeque pork, but local loyalties are also split between Little Pigs Barbeque and Rease’s Southern Shine BBQ.
Yesterday’s Restaurant and Tavern has earned a top rating as one of the best spots in the United States, and after perusing the menu of this 30-year- old establishment, you’ll see why. The “Top Ten” list of things to try is composed of mouth-watering dishes like fried steak, meat loaf, and something called Lowcountry shrimp and grits, “spiced just right.” We’re just glad they know how much spice we need in our southern cookin’.
Game day tips
Take a tip from the locals and steer toward Shop Street for tailgate central. Plan to park in this area and join the festivities throughout the day before the game begins. Once inside the stadium, experience the grand entrance that starts off all college football games here. As "Also Sprach Zarathustra, Opus 30," the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, works the crowd into a frenzy, you might begin to feel movement under your feet. During this entrance, the saying goes, "If it ain't swaying, we ain't playing."
What to do
Courtesy of City Data
Columbia is stationed where three rivers converge so water-based recreation is a fun way to pass the time here. Take a drive down to Riverfront Park, open dawn to dusk, and stroll the relaxing 2.9-mile nature walk by water. About 30 minutes away, experience the grandeur of the Congaree National Park for hiking or opt to rent a canoe and paddle nearby Lake Murray. “The Vista” is the area’s newest arts and entertainment district, featuring premium shopping, more than 60 bars and restaurants and art galleries aplenty. It’s part of a broader initiative to revitalize the c ity c enter and turn up the “hot” factor of South Carolina’s progressive capitol. If history is your thing, Columbia is dripping in it, particularly exemplified in the abundance of historical homes clustered around the downtown area. Arrange a tour with the Historic Columbia Foundation or opt to plan your own self-guided adventure referencing the f oundation’s website for details about each property. You also don’t want to miss State House where you can still spot places in the façade that show evidence of cannon balls hits during the Civil War.