February 12, 2018

A Few Hours for Fun in Columbia, S.C.

Travel , Just For Fun , The Buckley Experience

“What should we do with a few hours in Columbia?”

South Carolina’s capital city, just 35 miles from The Buckley School, is the city that many of those attending our Executive Seminar will fly in and out of on their way to see us in Camden. Often, our guests have a Friday afternoon to spend there before flying home.

The great news is that Columbia offers plenty of ways to enjoy a few hours. Columbia also happens to be home to several of our faculty who are eager to make recommendations. Here are a few of their picks.

For the active visitor

If you want to move your body before you board the plane:

Go for a walk or run—at Riverfront Park (pictured above) and check out the old canal system; around the University of South Carolina campus and the statehouse grounds; or cross the river and amble along the Cayce River Walk. (Buckley coach Elise Partin, btw, is the mayor of Cayce.)

Bowl a few framesThe Grand is a new boutique bowling alley on Columbia’s Main Street.

Explore the swamp—If you’ve got the time (and it’s not mosquito season), visit Congaree National Park to see some of the country’s oldest trees from the boardwalk or a canoe. For a brief time every summer, the fireflies here flash in sync--a big deal locally (see mascot of minor league, team below).

You'll find fireflies are all the rage--at the Congaree National Swamp and the beautiful new ballpark adjacent to downtown.

For the sports fan

It’s never a bad idea to scan the schedule at Gamecocks Online to see if the University of South Carolina has an event on the calendar.

During baseball season, we also recommend checking out the Columbia Fireflies; the minor league team plays in a beautiful new ballpark downtown.

You might just see Olympians and national champions in action--so check the schedule to see which Gamecock teams are playing.

For a late lunch

The Oak Table will be serving, with a great view of the S.C. state house.

Motor Supply in The Vista warehouse district serves lunch made with locally grown ingredients.

The Gourmet Shop is a long-time Columbia favorite, located in the Five Points village adjacent to the University of South Carolina campus.

Get a burger basket, fried chicken and soft-serve cones any time at the fuss-free Rosewood Dairy Bar.

Or detour before you get to the center of the city for lunch at Tazza Kitchen, in a shopping area at the corner of Forest Drive and Trenholm Road.

A historic hangar now hosts Columbia's most interesting brewery (left), find regional beers on tap at Craft and Draft (center), and Rosewood Dairy Bar (right) is an oldy but goody.

Finding beer, wine & other beverages

The most interesting place to get a locally brewed beer has to be the Hunter Gatherer brewery at the Curtiss Wright Hangar. One catch--it doesn't open until 5:00.

For something earlier in the afternoon, try Craft and Draft in Columbia's Shandon neighborhood or the Columbia Craft tasting room in The Vista.

After 4:00, you might try Lula Drake on Main Street for an interesting glass of wine.

If you’re near Five Points, you can get coffee, tea or something stronger at Drip; wine or beer (to go with that late lunch) at The Gourmet Shop; or drop by Goat's (a.k.a. Goatfeathers), for adult beverages at a Columbia institution.

Our founder Reid Buckley was a Gourmet Shop regular (left), and faculty member Jenny Maxwell outside The Nickelodeon (right)

Art, History & Other Attractions

For art, consider The Columbia Museum of Art on Main Street for the latest exhibit.

If you have time for a movie, we're big fans of The Nickelodeon, also on Main Street.

For local and state history, go to the S.C. State Museum on Gervais Street or consult the Historic Columbia website to find out how you can visit the city’s historic houses. The website for 63 provides a walking tour of Columbia’s Civil Rights history.

If you’re near the University of South Carolina campus, you might walk through the Thomas Cooper Library to the Special Collections wing in the back, where you’ll find an ever-changing exhibit of items from the vaults which house, among other things, papers and items from F. Scott Fitzgerald, rare Audubon prints, and the typewriter used by Joseph Heller to type Catch-22.

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden requires a little more time: It covers 170 acres on both sides of the Saluda River. Columbia's most popular attraction for visitors, it's rated as one of the nation's top zoos.

For more ideas, the Columbia SC website provides a thorough guide to the city, ColaToday is a great source for what's going around town--or ask a Buckley coach for suggestions.

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