- Shelbi R. Ankiewicz
Top 10 activities for young adults in Columbia, South Carolina
People, especially young adults, do not have Columbia, South Carolina on their list of places to visit, but the historical city has more to offer than one might think.
Are you looking for a weekend getaway? If so, this is a list of the top 10 activities for young adults to do while visiting Columbia. They range from eateries to outdoor activities to “cute social media post” opportunities. There is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.
World’s Largest Fire Hydrant
Nearly 40-feet tall, in the heart of Columbia, stands a silver, crooked fire hydrant. This piece of art was first displayed in 2001 and created by a local artist, Sky Blue (Warren Edward Johnson). He created it to commemorate the 25-anniversary of his previous work of art — a mural in downtown Columbia called “Tunnel Vision” that was painted in 1975. The Fire Hydrant is not only something unique to visit but also the perfect spot to grab a group of friends and take a fun photo.
Soda City Market
I try to attend Soda City every time I visit Columbia. It is essentially a gigantic artisan and farmer’s market. The Soda City website said, “Soda City Market is a producer-only market — vendors must make or grow their own products (including out of season/exotic fruits and vegetables, antiques, and vintage items). Everything sold at our market is unique, handcrafted, and produced in the Southeast.”
The Market takes place every Saturday, year-round, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Each week some of the same vendors return, while others are brand new to the scene. Some things I have seen or purchased from Soda City include a mango on a stick, a bouquet of flowers, hand-painted oil containers, among many other items.
The Market is held on Columbia’s Main Street. It is free to the public, but one must pay for anything provided by the vendors. It is the perfect place for young adults to buy fresh, local produce, or to enjoy a fun activity on a cool, Saturday morning before grinding out some work.
South Carolina State Fair
Each year in October, South Carolina holds its state fair in Columbia. It usually takes place next to the Williams-Brice Stadium, which is home to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
The fair has multiple rides, old-fashioned games, and a variety of yummy food to enjoy on a date with a significant other. You can share a 12-foot-long corndog or ride on the swings together, either way, you will have the time of your life.
This year the fair started on Oct. 13 and went through Oct. 24.
West Columbia Riverwalk
Bring your dog, pack a picnic, or load up your bike, because all of those are acceptable at this location. The West Columbia Riverwalk is a beautiful trail alongside the Congaree River. As you are enjoying the nice outdoors you will pass sights such as an amphitheater, gorgeous houses, and paths leading to the river.
This is a great activity for young adults wanting to get some exercise or to take a break from classes or work. You can walk as long as you want, or as short as you want. I highly recommend walking it when it is cooler outside, so early in the morning or when fall comes around. This way you are not sweating, and the weather is still nice enough to dip your feet into the river.
Ah, the sweet smell of chocolate chip cookies at 11 p.m. is enthralling. I had heard of Insomnia Cookies through the internet, but it was not until I visited Columbia that I had the opportunity to try them. I must say, they certainly did not disappoint.
This little shop is a hole-in-the-wall located in the Five Points District of Columbia. It is open until 3 a.m. some days and is the perfect spot for young adults who cannot sleep, are craving a sweet treat late at night, or are like me and visited for the experience.
The shop serves a variety of cookies ranging from the most basic sugar cookies to their elaborate specialty ones like confetti deluxe. You can buy them individually, or by the half or full dozen. In addition to the cookie, you can also add ice cream to make it a late-night sundae.
Five Points is essentially the “downtown” area of Columbia. It is very much a young adult, up-and-coming hub. The district is full of bars, boutiques, late-night cafes and restaurants, and walkable shops such as Walgreens and Walmart.
This spot is usually buzzing with college students, so young adults and people from other schools fit right into the scene. It is the perfect way to meet new people and try some local bars that are not in your hometown.
The district is most populated on a Friday or Saturday night, so if you are looking to visit when there are not many people, I would suggest going during the early afternoon, or on a weeknight.
Columbia has several coffee shops and cafes to grab a quick drink or bite to eat. Some of my favorites include Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea. I was introduced to this shop by a friend, and the “Dreamy Cold Brew” is to die for! Plus, the shop is pet-friendly so you can bring your furry pet in for a “pup-acino.”
Another favorite of mine is a café called “Drip” located in the Five Points district. This location is very hippy, artsy, “I can be here all day” vibes. They serve both food and drinks and have a variety of vinyl to search through and vibrant neon signs to take photos in front of.
The last on the list is The Corner Blend. This shop sells acai and dragon fruit bowls, but I am obsessed with their fruit tea and popping pearls. It is a sweet drink that comes in a variety of fruit flavors (I recommend peach or mango) with pearls that share a resemblance to “boba.”
All these locations are in the heart of Columbia, they are great for something small on the go, a study session, or if you just want to enjoy some tasty food and drinks.
Local art murals
Like many cities, Columbia will catch your eye with its brightly colored murals across the city. Columbia has a rich history, so some of the murals have been standing for years. The most popular one is “Tunnel Vision,” which was painted in 1975 and portrays the inside of a tunnel looking at the sunset over a mountain range.
Aside from that one, there are various others including the Five Points mural and the Discovery mural. These are the perfect opportunities for photoshoots, whether they are taken on a Polaroid for memories or snapping a photo for Instagram.
Visiting the murals can not only be a fun activity of taking photos but also a good time of just admiring the artwork and everything that has been put into each individual painting. Some of them are signed and dated, while others remain anonymous.
Attend a USC football game
If you are a South Carolina native, then you know that Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. In the fall, multiple football games take place at Williams Brice Stadium. This is a staple for college kids, but everyone enjoys a good football game. When planning your weekend trip to Columbia make sure to buy tickets ahead of time, so you secure a spot. You will not regret cheering as loud as possible when USC beats their competing team (or cheering if the opposing team wins - whichever floats your boat!).
Try the local restaurants
This one is for all the foodies out there. Columbia is not known for much, and especially not known for its food, although I am not sure why. I have been to some great restaurants in this city.
Two infamous burger joints that have unique selections are Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar and Burger Tavern 77. You and your friends will not be hungry after leaving these places! In addition to getting a burger like peanut butter praline, one can also get desserts that are so delicious-looking you will not be able to resist.
Another spot that is perfect for brunch or a sweet treat is The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli. This little gem has mouth-watering, specialty cinnamon buns. They have a wide selection ranging from classic to strawberry cheesecake and bourbon caramel.
Do not be intrigued only by the desserts though, because their sandwiches are to die for. It is the perfect pairing, a cinnamon bun on the side of a savory sandwich. Everyone likes to eat, so these are some recommendations to try when visiting Columbia.