The Purple Martin Hideaway on Lake Murray offers many fun things to do and places to explore. One nearby town that’s worth seeing is South Carolina’s own state capital, Columbia. Of course, you should see the South Carolina State House or the University of South Carolina’s campus while you’re there, but there are a few places in Columbia only locals know to stop by that will make your trip all the more memorable.
Columbia is surrounded by three rivers – the Saluda, the Broad, and the Congaree. As a result, there are many hidden river-walks in the area waiting for you to explore! One of the best is the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park, located at 312 Laurel St, Columbia, SC 29201. It’s easy to get to this park from our home in Chapin, as you can take I-26 into Columbia straight onto Huger Street, then turn right onto Laurel. This park is located at the Columbia hydroelectric plant and has a 2.5-mile long trail for walking, running, and biking. The trail begins at the plant and becomes more scenic as you walk along it, with benches to sit on and plenty of trees offering shade. If you make it to the end of the trail, you will be rewarded with a view of the dam as well as a beach area to relax and enjoy the river. You can also visit Granby Park just a little further down the road for a quieter option, or cross the Gervais Street Bridge from Huger Street to enjoy the other side of the Congaree at the West Columbia Riverwalk.
While you’re at the river, don’t forget about tubing! This is a fun activity that you can do inexpensively with the family. You can either purchase tubes and get in the water at any point (ie. one of the river-walks listed above), or, if you’d like to support a local business, visit Palmetto Outdoor’s website to see pricing on tubing and kayak rentals. Palmetto Outdoors also offers shuttle options to pick you up at different stopping points along the Congaree! Tubing down the river is a great way to explore the heart of Columbia like a true local.
With southern roots and a diverse population, it’s no surprise that Columbia has grown into a necessary stop for South Carolina food-lovers. One local restaurant that is quickly becoming a staple of the city is the Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli, which serves – you guessed it! – giant house-made cinnamon rolls with various toppings. The options at CRD go much further than cinnamon rolls; they serve breakfast and lunch sandwiches, gourmet hot dogs, soups made from scratch, and more. With many ingredients sourced from local farms and artwork by USC students on sale, this little deli, which opened just two years ago, already holds a special place in the state’s capital. If you are looking for a taste of the South, try another beloved Columbia restaurant, Mr. Friendly’s. Mr. Friendly’s is a “New Southern Cafe” that serves innovative Southern cuisine with a twist for lunch or dinner. There are a wide variety of foods available in Columbia, with Il Giorgione on Devine Street serving authentic Italian food and Publico Kitchen and Tap in Five Points serving tacos and other Mexican food with an Asian twist. The choices for great food in Columbia certainly don’t stop here, but these suggestions should be enough to get you thinking outside of the box about areas to try for dining in Columbia.
With well-known tourist destinations and hidden gems alike, Columbia, SC offers plenty of fun for the family. Check out this city when you stay with us at the Purple Martin Hideaway!