Kevin & Laurel Archie
Laurel is a Chicago transplant to Columbia. A painter and crafter, she spends most of her time in her home studio with her dog, Vincent. Kevin is a Columbia native working as a designer for local marketing firm, Riggs Partners. He also spends a lot of time riding his bike through town, looking for photos to capture on film. The two creatives met in Columbia seven years ago and have enjoyed seeing the Columbia music and art scene grow. They can't wait for what's in store next!
The Gourmet Shop. (thegourmetshop.net/)
True to its name, this cute little cafe offers gourmet food (breakfast and lunch) in one end, right alongside a bakery, a wine store, and a kitchen supplies shop for everything from professional-grade kitchen knives to rare Italian truffle oils. Go for brunch, where the breakfast bowl is a tried and true favorite, combining local Adluh grits, eggs, cheese and bacon or turkey. And afterwards grab some pesto pasta salad and charcuterie to make your own picnic basket for the park or riverwalk.
Cafe Strudel. (cafestrudel.com)
This place has grown so popular in recent years that they moved down the street to a bigger building with a great back porch. Sunday brunch draws the biggest crowd, but they serve breakfast and dinner throughout the week as well. A few favorites are the hangover hashbrowns, sunrise burrito, and the duck fat fries — they have some great vegetarian options as well. The coffee bar is self-serve where you can pick your own quirky mug. Cocktails like the bacon bloody mary or sparkling salty dog shouldn't be missed.
Immaculate Consumption. (immaculate-consumption.com)
Very local scene near the heart of downtown, this place draws both USC students on campus and 9-5 business folks from the nearby Statehouse and Main Street. Great sandwiches, salads, and house-roasted coffee.
Fifth Avenue Deli // 2910 Rosewood Dr
20 plus delicious and unique sandwich options. Veggie sammies, soup and salad too!
El Burrito // 934 Harden St
A must in the Columbia area for fresh and simple burritos, tacos and salads. Salsas made in house every day, the verde and XXX are addictive. Friendly staff in a cute blue storefront. Don't miss the brightly tiled bar or the hot pink wallpapered ladies room!
Hunter Gatherer. (huntergathererbrewery.com)
Our go-to for date night or in town friends. Both a brewery and eatery, this place has some fantastic microbrews and delicious food including lamb gyros, mussels with chorizo, personal pizzas, and mac & cheese with a goldfish cracker crust. Don't miss the specials on the board as they rarely disappoint (inventive, delicious, and different every night.
116 Espresso and Wine Bar. (116state.com)
This charming place on State street is small and intimate with a European feel. The food is somewhat spanish influenced with tapas options as well as larger plates. Specials are always changing. The main chef is creative and conscious of including local fare in his menu.
Possibly the most anticipated restaurant in Columbia, this place has seemingly had a packed house nearly every night since its doors first opened in 2013. Created by restaurant genius, Kristian Niemi, Bourbon combines southern creole foods with an impressive bar and signature cocktails. The decor, branding, service, and location all add to this phenomenal brand. Head here before or after a movie at The Nick.
Mai Thai. (maithais.com)
Arguably the best thai food in Columbia, this hole in the wall place is slightly off the beaten path in West Columbia. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but open the doors and you'll see and smell the hidden gem that lies inside. Fantastic food, service and prices. The drunken noodle and the amazing are two favorites!
The Whig. (thewhig.org)
The Whig was the first bar Laurel visited in Columbia, and it set the best tone for her. Artists, students, and entrepreneurs alike can enjoy this eclectic scene that is like none other. The Whig claims to be the greatest dive bar in America, and we would have to agree. Located directly across from the Statehouse, down a set of stairs, inside an old bank (complete with the original vault that now houses a sofa and chairs) this bar is a great place to grab a drink with friends or a late-night bite to eat — don't miss out on the Gouda Mac & Cheese.
A great spot to people watch, hear a new band, have an unexpected conversation, or just get your dance moves on. There's usually a DJ on Friday nights and dancing starts late. Saturday often has a cover for live bands.
Local brewery with great beer and outside tables near the USC stadium. Food trucks and small plates for snacking.
Really great beer garden out back for live music or just hanging out for happy hour. Thursday night is Yappy Hour, when the place is overrun with cute, furry friends. Farm to table food, and lots of great beers on tap.
Delaney's/ Speakeasy. (delaneysspeakeasy.com)
These two places share ownership and are next-door to each other, but have totally different vibes. Delaney's is more of an Irish pub with live music and a college crowd. Outdoor tables are nice for happy hour. Speakeasy is more of an after-dinner stop with a 1920's feel, great bar-tending and comfy couches to sip a martini on. Thursdays and Saturdays they have great live jazz, usually with no cover.
Local coffee shop that is a great space to work, chat, or just grab coffee. This is no Starbucks, mind you, it's much better. They only do pour-over coffee, guaranteeing each cup is made individually for you with the most artful precision. The 5 Points location was the first and has a long bar, booths, and an additional room with great records for sale. The downtown location on main is in the heart of downtown Columbia with a great outside patio. The honey habenero latte is fantastic.
Cool Beans. (coolbeanscoffeecompany.net)
A great coffee and workspace on campus, you'll find this place open late with the constant buzz of university chatter. The coffee shop is in the upstairs of an old house and has a lot of character in all of its different rooms. Free wifi is available and new artwork adorns the gallery walls frequently. The hummus or black bean wraps are both tasty food options.
Sweet Cream. (sweetcreamcompany.com)
Gourmet ice cream in downtown Main Street. Artisan flavors such as sesame seed & honey are constantly changing. They use local ingredients and organic dairy. A great stop at the Soda City Market or after checking out the Columbia Museum of Art.
Family owned hamburger/ice cream spot that is always packed because of it's great service and food. The chocolate dipped cones are a great treat in the summer. Find it under the giant cone!
Old Mill Antique Mall (oldmillantiquemall.com)
West Columbia is full of great thrifting everywhere, but this two-story mecca is especially great for exploring and finding hidden gems. Stop here after brunch at Cafe Strudel.
Local shops-a-plenty in this area for gifting or just a new pair of earrings at the local HandPicked jewelry store.
Our favorite spot to expand our record collection. My husband seeks out new or special edition vinyl, while I scrounge through the plentiful dollar bins. They also sell CD's and select movies.
Things to Do
The Riverwalk. (scgreatoutdoors.com/park-westcolumbiariverwalk.html)
A beautiful spot with great views of downtown for running right under the famous Gervais Street Bridge. The Riverwalk runs for several miles alongside the Congaree River. In the summer you may see people kayaking or floating down the water. You can bring a picnic, bike, dog, or just your camera for a little stroll. In the Spring the amphitheater hosts live music Saturday nights.
The Nickelodeon. (nickelodeon.org)
"The Nick" is South Carolina's only non-profit, art house theater. A local stomping ground since the 80's, they are always playing noteworthy films. They recently added a second floor to offer more variety and screenings. If you're here in April, check out Indie Grits, a film festival for the Southeast with art, food, and live music.
Soda City Market -1500 Block of Main Street
Saturday mornings, Main Street hosts a parade of local artisans, food trucks, and vendors selling everything from flowers to rocking chairs. Find great locally sourced goods, gifts, and food.
Music Farm. (musicfarm.com)
This Charleston music venue opened a Columbia location last year and the large space hosts both local musicians and bigger, national shows as well.
New Brookland Tavern. (newbrooklandtavern.com)
Somewhat of a dive bar / music venue, a lot of new local and not-so-local bands pass through here. Great prices for cover and drinks. Pool tables and back porch area.
Congaree National Park. (nps.gov/cong/index.htm)
An old-growth forest with plenty of hiking trails, canoeing, camping spots, and bird watching. A lush forest with some of the tallest trees on the East Coast. See some of Columbia's nature life out here. Also a great place for photographers or painters to get some inspiration!
Great place for boating, camping, and hiking — best enjoyed with a boat.