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November 18, 2021 4 minute READ

Comfortable Fall Colors at Winter's Doorstep

tags Local Flavor
locations Columbia

Famously hot Columbia is just right for fall color enjoyment. The steamy temperatures of summer are a distant memory and snowflakes are nowhere to be found on the itinerary. While the fall colors may not be as readily evident, there are beautiful places to get fully immersed in autumn’s glory.

For a nature getaway, make the short drive to the Congaree National Park, which is only about 20 miles from the capital city. The park is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its quiet boardwalks and opportunities to paddle still swamp waters connect you to the ancient trees that have born witness to native hunting parties, Spanish explorers, runaway enslaved people, loggers, and conservationists. The park’s more than 26,000 acres are filled with wildlife, including barred owls, armadillos, turkeys, and bobcats. Fall is a great time to visit the park because there are fewer of the peskiest pests hanging around. You might also want to mark your calendars to return in the late spring when the synchronous fireflies are lighting up the night. if you want to see them for yourself, you’ll need to register for the lottery.   

South Carolina FootballFall is full of traditions surrounding the gridiron. Parking lots surrounding Williams-Brice Stadium on fall weekends are filled with a smorgasbord of culinary comestibles to delight any appetite – barbecue to gumbo, burgers to bratwursts and wings to Whoopie Pies. Everyone has their favorite way to prepare for kickoff. Inside the stadium is a whole different experience for the senses! Anticipation rises with every bar of 2001: A Space Odyssey as more than 77,000 amped fans await Cocky’s arrival when the South Carolina Gamecocks take the field. 

South Carolina has one of the best gameday experiences in the nation, and there are two more opportunities this season to experience it for yourself – November 20, when the Tigers from Auburn come to town, and November 27, when their biggest in-state rival, Clemson, pays a visit. For tickets and gameday information, follow this LINK.  

The holidays are drawing closer and closer, and we all know what that means… lots of food and family! Not to worry, Columbia’s Soda City Market is filled with fresh food, crafts that would make great gifts, and a heart for home. It bills itself as Columbia’s Main Event, so it just makes sense that you’ll find it on Main Street every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Parking is free in parking garages and on the street, so plan to make a day of it at the market and later diving into shops and restaurants along Main Street. 

Artwork on Main StreetAnother “main event” on Main Street is its interactive art display. At the corner of Main and Hampton Streets, you can see two works – one installed in 1906 and another in 2000. The Sylvan Clock is one of two in the Downtown area and was installed by Sylvan Brothers Jewelers. It was made by Seth Thomas Clocks, a clockmaker founded in 1813, and still keeps accurate time.

NEVERBUST has an almost nefarious history. This huge chain between two historic buildings was conceived and installed in secret. The artist feared that it wouldn’t be approved by the city, but the building owners liked it. Early on a Sunday morning, it appeared. Imagine seeing it for the first time on your early morning walk! As it turns out, there was a hearing held concerning the work, but the Landmark Commission loved it. Blue Sky, the artist, said he chose the two buildings because “One building looked like it was leaning a little bit.” You can find information about other public art installations HERE

Drake's Duck inWe’ll never let you go hungry, so of course, we have a couple of recommendations for where to grab a bite. For a little something quick, head over to Drake’s Duck In. Don’t let the big advertisers of chicken sandwiches and the like sway you. You’re going to love the sandwiches and fried chicken here. It’s family-owned and has been in business since 1907, when it got its start feeding workers at local textile mills. We highly recommend the chicken tenders and the fries. It’s a great place to pick up your meal for the tailgate before the game, too.  

For supper, stop in at the Hampton Street Vineyard located in the historic Sylvan building. The menu features several courses of French-inspired dishes. You’ll love the food, and you’ll be overwhelmed with the restaurant’s worldly wine list. It also has an impressive collection of local beers and ciders. Don’t worry if you can’t decide what goes best with your meal; their wait staff can make a recommendation for an appropriate pairing.  

There is much more to discover in Downtown Columbia and the surrounding area. Experience Columbia SC can help with more things to do, places to eat, and where to stay.  

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