Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

July 24, 2020

Columbia SC Travel Diary

    I can't believe it's already been two months since I headed to Columbia, SC for Memorial Day Weekend this year! I wanted to write this blog post before it got too far into the future. Columbia is a cool little city that's so conveniently located to other notable places in the Carolinas. This most recent trip was my third time visiting the area, and I'm sure I might have other trips in the future as well! I don't feel like I know Columbia quite well enough to do a full Travel Guide (especially since I've only stayed with friends and never in any hotels there), but I did want to share the few recommendations I did have as reference for anyone who might be visiting in the future! 

    (At the time that I was in Columbia in May 2020, COVID-19 cases were still pretty low in the area. They've since increased significantly, and I probably wouldn't have gone if my trip was this month! Before making any out-of-state travel this year, make sure to check case numbers and local regulations of the place you'd like to visit. 😊)

     As I mentioned above, I've been able to visit Columbia three times! The first time I spent a weekend here when I went home with one of my college roommates, who was from a suburb of Columbia. On my second trip, I went to see my sorority sister Perrin who was doing a semester long internship in Columbia. I went to see her during the fall, and we were able to go to the South Carolina State Fair together! And on this most recent trip this spring, I stayed with my Charlottesville friend Caroline and her husband Shawn- they just moved to this area for her new job in the winter.

      Columbia is South Carolina's capital city, and it is about an hour and a half away between the cities of Charlotte, Charleston and Greenville, and there's tons more great spots in the Carolinas that are within 2-3 hours! I think Columbia often gets overlooked as a destination in SC due to other cities having more popularity, but I think it's a charming place to spend a weekend, or even just to do a day trip to or take an extended rest stop on your way to somewhere else!

Things I've Done in Columbia:
  • South Carolina State Fair: Sadly I'm quite certain this will be cancelled in 2020 (if it hasn't been already?), but for future years let me tell you that this is so much fun! It's a huge event and truly a quintessential state fair. It's got everything: rides, nightly entertainment, crafts and vendors, animals, and of course tons of fried fair food.
  • Visit USC: The University of South Carolina is located in Columbia, and it's quite a campus! It's in very close proximity to downtown, and there's many cool spots and buildings to check out. I especially recommend a visit to their Greek Village- the sorority houses are stunning and it's always fun to find the one for your organization.
  • Shopping: I'm sure you're not surprised that I'd include shopping on here! I've been to both Village at Sandhill and Trenholm Plaza, which are outdoor shopping centers with a variety of stores. I also definitely recommend a visit to the cute neighborhood Five Points (where the mural is pictured above) also has lots of cute local stores and boutiques to check out!

  • Market on Main (1320 Main Street #150): This is the fun place pictured above! Market on Main is in the heart of downtown Columbia. My friend Caroline and her husband took me there for drinks on the patio as soon as I arrived in May. The patio is gorgeous and spacious- it's about as ideal as you can get for socially distancing at an outdoor restaurant! They have a creative cocktail menu and also some delicious options for lunch and dinner.
  • The Baked Bear (631 Harden Street Suite 3): One of my favorite dessert spots that I think I've ever been to! I learned while visiting that The Baked Bear is a franchise, but I think they're mostly West Coast based as I hadn't seen one before. This ice cream shop specializes in the most delicious ice cream cookie sandwiches that you've ever had! They make their ice creams and a variety of cookies in-house, and you can pair them together with your choice of toppings to make an insanely good cookie sandwich. I wish we would get one of these in Virginia! 
  • Cantina 76 (multiple locations): A fun local Mexican restaurant in the area that puts a unique twist on some classic favorites! I'd eaten here before on a past Columbia trip, and I was excited to get takeout from here with Caroline on my recent visit. The downtown location is right across the street from Market and Main! I really liked their chips and queso especially. 
  • Liberty Taproom & Grill (multiple locations): A great local chain in the Columbia area serving a variety of American favorites done well! This is another spot Caroline and I did takeout from, and I really liked the fish and chips I ordered. 
     One restaurant that was closed on the night Caroline and I tried to go was Saluda's. It's in Five Points, and is ranked as one of the best restaurants in the state of South Carolina for fine dining! I hope to get to go there on a future trip. 

Things To Do on Future Trips:
  • Congaree National Park: Did you know there's a national park just 30 minutes from Columbia? I really wanted to visit here on my most recent trip, but it was still closed to visitors for COVID-19 back in May. National parks are such treasures so I definitely hope to hike and explore here at some point!
  • River Banks Zoo & Garden: Columbia has one of the best zoos in the Southeast! There is also a botanical garden on property that I've heard is beautiful. 
  • South Carolina State Museum: SC is one of my favorite states, so I'd love to learn more about their history and culture at this official museum in the capital city! 

     As far as lodging... I've only stayed with friends on all of my trips here. But I do know that there is a Graduate Hotel in the city, and the decor of the Columbia one looks just gorgeous! (You can check out my review of the Graduate Richmond VA here- this is such a fun brand of hotels.)

     Have you been to Columbia before? What's your favorite place in South Carolina? My favorite SC city is Greenville (by far!), but I also really enjoy Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Basically- it's a great state all around! 😉

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


  1. Your Lilly romper is sooo cute! I have a few friends who live in Columbia and they love it. I want to visit sometime. It looks so pretty. I've never been to South Carolina.

    1. Agree!
      That romper is very flattering the cut the color! What a interesting city to visit.

    2. Agree!
      That romper is very flattering the cut the color! What a interesting city to visit.


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