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S(l)ip on over to Soda City for a vibrant getaway this fall.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery but still long for that Southern hospitality vibe, add Columbia—yup, our sister Carolina’s ever-charming cap city—to your vacay short list. Boasting a thriving food and spirits scene, historical and cultural attractions for days, natural wonders aplenty, tripworthy year-round fests and events (hey, SEC nation—fall football!), and so much more, Cola (aka Soda City—get it?) is a burgeoning city full of buzzy attractions—not to mention a gritty spirit and high-energy that’ll keep you entertained.
Hit The Vista for arts and culture; Five Points for quirky boutiques and craft breweries; and Cayce for legendary eats along the Congaree River (where a meal can and should be followed by a leisurely kayak ride). Essentially, there’s something for everyone. Here, we round up some top things to do in Cola this fall for a soda-lightful getaway.
Forget the PlayStation 5 and Xbox—old-school gaming is all the rage at this arcade, bar and restaurant. Avid competition-seekers can join in on monthly pinball, Skee Ball and SlugFest tournaments, while more easygoing folks will enjoy noshing on Super Smash Burgers while protecting Ms. Pac-Man from Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. transmissionarcade.com
There’s arguably no better place than Lake Murray to keep it “reel” in Cola. And since mild winters are the norm, this mammoth watery playground (stretching 55,000 acres and boasting 650 miles of shoreline!) is a draw year-round for boating, fishing, paddleboarding and sailing—not to mention hiking, cycling and bird-watching off-water. experiencecolumbiasc.com
USC Gamecocks Game
Despite the Wolfpack forever having our hearts, college football fans should def pencil in a high-energy Gamecocks game when visiting Columbia in the fall. Head to Williams-Brice Stadium at USC for a tailgate that’s an event all its own—then cheer on the Fighting Gamecocks as they “lead the way.” gamecocksonline.com
“Cocktails, sunsets and skylines’” is the MO at this Main Street eatery (sounds pretty ’Gram-worthy, huh?). Throw in scratchmade dishes by chef Frank Bradle—think beef tartare, baked mussels and chicken-fried quail—and you’ll be set for the evening. hendrixsc.com
Find NOLA in Cola at this Louisiana-inspired resto by Thomas Grimoskas, who delivers the best of Nawlins comfort food—with a side of handmade art from his wife, Mary Katherine. Beyond praiseworthy po’boys (a must-have classic!), this Bayou blessing also serves up salads, charcuterie boards and more. luziannapurchase.com
Chef/owner Kristian Niemi—also the owner of new local hot spot Bourbon—delivers “Frenchish” food at the casual yet refined Black Rooster. Standout menu items include salmon Wellington, filet mignon and Le Grilled Cheese–all best served on the rooftop with a glass of vino. Oui, oui! blackroostersc.com
Savage Craft Ale Works
An assemblage of several preserved historic structures—including the former West Columbia City Hall and Fire Station, and an old jail—this Center Street building has been serving the community for a while… only now, it’s beer they’re serving. The veteran-owned and -operated taproom specializes in unique and refined brews you won’t find anywhere else. Bottoms up! savagecraftaleworks.com
It’s all in the name: Blúm incorporates botanical flavors into the most pretty—and delicious—coffee drinks. Year-round flavors include raspberry, pistachio and lavender, and if you’re not so into the Joe, there’s teas and tea lattes to please your palate—plus pastries from local Ally & Eloise Bakeshop. blumsc.com
What’s neat? This new whiskey lounge by chef/restaurateur Kristian Niemi, boasting over 450 whiskeys—most of which are bourbon, rye or Tennessee whiskey—as well as simple yet elegant cocktails crafted by bar manager Kat Hunter, who was named Bartender of the Year by the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association. bourboncolumbia.com
The Chesnut Cottage Bed and Breakfast
A best-kept secret in the historic district, this 1850s Southern cottage features five rooms, each with its own unique character and history—plus modern amenities like Whirlpool tubs and luxury linens. Inside tip: Start off your Cola adventures with a delicious breakfast in the dining room each morning. chesnutcottage.com
Nestled in the heart of downtown—just steps from USC—this neighborhood charmer pops with history, color and campus spirit. Whether you’re a Columbia frequenter or a total stranger, your stay here is sure to be memorable. graduatehotels.com
701 Whaley Loft 201
Spacious and attractive, this homey industrial chic loft apartment in the heart of the city sits close to the action while also doubling as a quiet escape. The Airbnb offers a full kitchen and living room… plus a dose of culture—the same building also houses the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. airbnb.com/rooms/36417873
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