Image of the Historic Robert Mills House via Akhenaton06
Today’s Columbia, SC, city guide comes from one of the city’s resident girls about town, Kim Jamieson. After finishing graduate school at the University of South Carolina, Kim landed a position at a Columbia-area PR firm, bought a house and planted roots in the state’s capital city. Now the director of communications at the Columbia CVB, Kim has her pulse on all things Columbia. From organizing floating trips down the river to picking the best place for dinner, dessert or drinks, Kim knows how to have fun in Columbia. Thanks, Kim, for this fabulous tour! — Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump . . .
Truly the heart of South Carolina, Columbia is an unassuming, charming Southern city with so much to offer visitors and locals alike. From the art scene to the world-class attractions, like EdVenture Children’s Museum, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and the Columbia Museum of Art, this entire region is a hotbed of entertainment. Off the beaten path you’ll find South Carolina’s only nonprofit theater house, the Nickelodeon, as well as Columbia’s first brewpub, Hunter Gatherer. A short drive from the city center will take guests to the pristine waters of Lake Murray, the perfect place to spend lazy summer days. Whether shopping above ground along Devine Street or going below ground to enjoy a concert at The White Mule, once you get out and explore Columbia, you won’t question why this city is known to be “Famously Hot.”
Congaree Vista/West Vista
Hilton Columbia Center — Located in the heart of the Congaree Vista, this hotel is a favorite of musical guests and notable celebrities visiting the city.
Hampton Inn Columbia Downtown Historic District — Just steps from numerous restaurants, bakeries and area nightlife!
Motor Supply Company Bistro — With a strong appreciation for the “eat local, buy local” movement, the chefs at this art gallery/restaurant work to incorporate produce from local farmers’ markets into their daily menu.
Nonnah’s — Voted “Best of Columbia” for nine years in a row, this bakery café doesn’t disappoint with favorites like Chocolate Temptation, Oreo Cookie Cheesecake, Raspberry Tarts and Chocolate Raspberry Fantasy.
Blue Marlin Steaks & Seafood — Bringing the coast to Columbia, this seafood establishment is a favorite among locals with some of the best shrimp and (Adluh) grits in the region.
Terra — With spectacular views of downtown Columbia, this is fine dining at its best. Terra’s Southern fare menu includes items like grilled swordfish, duck confit, coq au vin and steak frites.
Cafe Strudel — Featured in Southern Living for their famous hangover hash browns, this quirky house-turned-restaurant offers a variety of delicious options but specializes in . . . breakfast, lunch and dinner!
116 Espresso and Wine Bar — As the newest West Vista eatery, this hole in the wall churns out some unexpectedly tasty and gourmet dishes likes mussels romesco, chorizo and potato croquettes, goat cheese dip and coffee-spiced palomilla.
River Runner Outdoor Center — Summer days on one of Columbia’s three rivers (Congaree, Broad and Saluda) call for a stop at this outdoor shop to get equipped with the necessary water essentials.
Palmetto Candy & Tobacco — Step back in time and grab some nostalgic sweet treats at this old-time country store.
Cupcake — Perfect for a quick birthday treat or large event, these cupcakes, in regular, mini and pop version, are sure to hit anyone’s sweet spot.
Five Points/Devine Street
Inn at USC — Located on the University of South Carolina campus, this upscale property is a business traveler’s perfect retreat and a visiting parent’s dream.
The Inn at Claussen’s — This boutique hotel in the heart of historic Five Points is full of character and charm with specialty loft suites — perfect for a girl’s weekend.
Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe — Offering everything from catfish, shrimp and oyster po boy’s, blackened chicken and grits, City Roots (local farm) salads and peanut butter silk pie to the homemade moon pies (served only on Moon Pie Monday’s), you can’t go wrong choosing this local favorite for an outing with friends.
Saluda’s — Venture upstairs for an exceptional dining experience where classic Southern dishes are served with a twist.
The Gourmet Shop — While waiting for a table, peruse this quaint shop that’s part store (with specialty cheeses, wines and olive oils) and part restaurant before indulging in their self-proclaimed best chicken salad in town!
Momo’s Bistro on Devine — Bouillabaisse, stuffed quail, lobster quesadilla, fried oysters, duck confit mac-n-cheese . . . do I even have to continue?
Drip Coffee — Be it for breakfast, lunch or brunch, stop by this cozy coffee house and enjoy a uniquely crafted cup of joe, artisan sandwich, glass of wine or pastry.
Publick House — Inside or out, enjoy a pint in this relaxing, chill atmosphere.
Insomnia Cookies — Late-night craving? Look no further than these warm, melt-in-your-mouth cookies. You’ll eat three before you know it!
LaRoque Original — Columbia’s very own fashion designer specializes in custom dress pieces for women and men; perfect for weddings, cocktail parties or tailgating.
Brittons — Need to see a man about a tie? Perry and Lucky are the men to visit when looking for the right accessory. You’ll leave with a new garment and new friends.
Cellar on Greene — In addition to an awesome menu (including pine nut-free pesto for my fellow allergy-ridden friends), they host a wine tasting twice a month and have specialty menu items every night of the week.
Main Street — Columbia
Sheraton Columbia Downtown Hotel — Hip and classy, this modern hotel has guests singing their praises.
Courtyard Columbia Downtown at USC — Centrally located, this renovated hotel is near downtown Columbia, the University of South Carolina, shops and eats.
Hampton Street Vineyard — This charming restaurant offers spectacular food and wine menus. Perfect for a first, oh, I don’t know, date. Just saying!
The Whig — Right at the corner of Main and Gervias Street, you’ll see a sign pointing down to this underground hot spot, a favorite among college students and businessmen alike. Get there early for Taco Tuesday, or you might have to stand and eat.
Immaculate Consumption — This eclectic eatery serves as the perfect backdrop for no-frills food items that will leave you stuffed but wanting more. It’s just that good.
Uptown on Main — You’re sure to find a unique gift with a touch of flare at this cute store located on the corner of Main and Gervais Street.
Mast General Store — This old-time mercantile is a great place to find . . . everything. From camping gear and barrels of candy to rain jackets, cooking gadgets, mugs and rocking chairs, this is a shopper’s paradise.
Granger Owings Classic Clothiers — Dressing men and women to the nines since forever!
Main Street — Lexington
Hilton Garden Inn Columbia/Harbison — Check in here and you’ll be able to enjoy everything Harbison Boulevard has to offer, including movie theaters, shops, restaurants, family entertainment and much more.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lexington Highway 378 — Just a stone’s throw from the interstate, this property is a short drive from the heart of Lexington.
Flight Deck Restaurant — With a menu covering everything from nachos and Greek gyros to stuffed flounder, fried mushrooms, pimento cheeseburgers and homemade chicken parmesan, there’s literally something for every picky eater in your family.
Cotton Grille — Located in Lexington’s historic Old Mill, this is fine dining at its best. Enjoy some of the best low-country dishes while overlooking the lake.
The Famer’s Shed — Truly field to food, this eatery boasts fresh fruits and veggies in all of their dishes.
Main Street Cafe Bar & Grille — Traditional Greek food served in a traditional bar setting makes for delicious eats.
The Willows Gifts & Home Accessories — Stop by this adorable gift shop for knickknacks, keepsakes, home accents and more.
Harmon’s Tree Farm — More than just a place where you can get your Christmas tree, this working farm has everything from a pumpkin patch and corn mazes in the fall to a miniature golf course and a 500-foot slip and slide.
Ernest “Chicken Man” Lee — The elusive and wildly popular artist, Ernest is most known for his colorful chicken art pieces. Located on the corner of Harden Street and Gervais, and sometimes on the other side of town, Ernest sells his pieces out of his camper.
Anne Postic, The Shop Tart — Need to know where to go for a good pedicure? What place has the best appetizers and drink specials, or what to wear to the annual museum gala? Look no further than The Shop Tart herself! Anne Postic keeps the ladies, and the men, of Columbia in touch with all things frilly, pretty, fun, entertaining and current.
Larry Hembree, Executive Director of the Nickelodeon — In the dictionary beside the word “personality” is a picture of Larry Hembree. Passionate about Columbia’s only nonprofit theatre house, Larry is synonymous with movies, theatre and film in Columbia.
Patricia Pastides, wife of Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina — Author of Greek Revival, a cookbook focusing on healthy eating, Patricia Pastides is a first lady on a mission to create initiatives that aid in promoting healthy eating and lifestyle choices.
Morihiko Nakahara, music director for the South Carolina Philharmonic — “Cool” is the best word to describe this energetic and lively director of South Carolina’s Philharmonic.