The Palmetto sculpture honors those that died in the war against Mexico.

Best Activities in Columbia, South Carolina

In Columbia, South Carolina, the pace slows, and the palmettos exude warmth like the locals. Don’t be surprised if you are called mam or sir, especially by someone younger, good manners are the southern way.

In late February, the temperature begins to warm, and trees start to leaf-out and bloom. Purple and yellow pansies brighten the landscape and scent the air indicating that spring is approaching.

After visiting the city several times over the past five years, I listed my favorite things to do and some must-sees in Columbia. For lodging, recently we have stayed at the Hilton Columbia Center in The Vista. We like the location and the Ruth’s Chris Steak House near the lobby.

Things to do in Columbia, South Carolina

Attend a University of South Carolina Football Game at William Brice Stadium

“First you smell it, then you step in it.” This was a local’s response when I asked for directions to Clemson, South Carolina’s arch-rival.

Most Columbians are dedicated Gamecock fans and the school colors, garnet and black, unite the city.

If you tailgate with the students don’t plan on food. However, if you know someone in Cocks Corner, you can party in style with live bands and feast on shrimp, brisket, homemade desserts, and more.

During the game, feel the electricity and pageantry as you watch the USC marching band, Mighty Sound of the Southeast, cover the field and parade to the beat. Listen to them play buoyant fight songs. You are experiencing college football, southern style.

Hold your white towel after a touchdown and twirl it in unison with the crowd to “Sandstorm” while chanting USC! USC!

The University of South Carolina Campus

The Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina

The Horseshoes is the common area at the University of South Carolina.

Tour the University of South Carolina campus and walk the Horseshoe where historic buildings line the permitter and students study or play frisbee in the common area.

Get decked out for the game. Stop in the Russell House and grab a coffee then enter the University of South Carolina Bookstore and shop their extensive selection of Gamecock merchandise including hats, jackets, sweats and more.

Columbia, South Carolina

Gamecocks Hootie and the Blowfish shot their first album cover at Longstreet Theatre.

Check out the Longstreet Theatre where Hootie and the Blowfish, former Gamecocks, shot their first album cover. Darius Rucker is an avid fan, and he had promised free concerts on campus providing the University of South Carolina football team won at least six season games. Last Spring he played at the Colonial Life Arena on April 5.

The South Carolina State House

South Carolina State House in Columbia

The South Carolina State House holds the Governor’s office and the House and Senate.

Throw yourself back in history and tour the State House and the grounds and see the civil war statues and the South Carolina State Flag designed in flowers.

Columbia, South Carolina

The South Carolina State Flag’s white palmetto and crescent are displayed in a bed of blue and yellow pansies.

South Carolina Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum

Explore South Carolina’s military history that starts in the colonies and continues to today.


Transport yourself to the South by biting into a Carolina vinegar and mustard sauced pulled pork topped with coleslaw and pickles sandwiched in a fresh roll. Lean over your plate as you crunch the pickles and coleslaw and the sauce drips from the tender pork. It seems like you can’t go wrong with pulled pork anywhere in the Carolinas, but Palmetto Pig tops my list.

Columbia, South Carolina

Grill Marks serves delicious burgers and shakes.

Stop in Grill Marks for a juicy burger on a freshly baked bun, and a milkshake laden with homemade ice cream. If you choose to add alcohol ask for a“Shaketail.”

The Vista

Peruse The Vista’s boutiques, bars, and restaurants. For upscale dining, though attire is mostly casual, try Cola, a former RC Cola plant that still looks like a brick warehouse until you step inside and think that you had entered an adrenalized New York restaurant.

Another choice is Blue Marlin that has consistently served excellent steaks and seafood. After dinner, stop in the Cupcake Down South on Lincoln Street and choose from their 50 selections of decadent cupcakes, like Southern Red Velvet with cream cheese icing, that they bake daily in three sizes.

Five Points

Try Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe that is attached to Claussen’s Inn. It’s a casual atmosphere with upscale food without New York prices.

Claussen's Inn

Claussen’s Inn was a former bakery that was transformed into a hotel.

Claussen’s Inn was a former bakery repurposed for lodging. Inside, the hallway on the second floor overlooks the lobby from a balcony, like an outdoor motel. In our second-floor room, a spiral staircase led from the living room up to the bedroom.

Columbia South Carolina

Claussen’s spiral staircase in the living room leads to an upstairs bedroom.

However, I felt like I was in “I Love Lucy” when trains chugged by and engineers blared their horns after midnight. I waited for my bed to jump around the room. With that said, I still enjoyed the hotel’s ambiance, and I sadly learned that it’s for sale.

Stop in a Five Points’ restaurant for a beer and a bite and mix with college students. If you wait until St. Patrick’s Day, Five Points throws one of the best celebrations in the country.


Cantina 76

Cantina 76 on Main Street in Columbia, South Carolina offers outdoor dining.

Dine outside at one of the sidewalk cafes. One of my favorites is the Mexican inspired restaurant Cantina 76.

Artistic Steel Drums on Main Street in Columbia

Repurposed material created art and functional steel drums.

Have a seat and play a tune on the transformed artistic steel drums on Main Street that were created with propane tanks and tractor seats.

Stop in the Sheraton’s rooftop bar for a drink and watch one of South Carolina’s renowned sunsets.

Where to stay

Hilton Columbia Center
The Hilton Garden Inn
Columbia Marriott
Sheraton Columbia Downtown

Visit Columbia, South Carolina and experience the warmth.

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Brian Billick signs an autograph. (photo by dorothyadele)

On Super Bowl weekend in New Orleans, we scouted for celebrity-football players.   While walking to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, we slowly strolled through the Hilton Hotel where the Ravens stayed. We spotted Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald, Cris Carter, Ted Bruschi, Keyshawn Johnson, Kurt Warner and Brendon Ayanbadejo.

I am a Ravens fan, but I did not recognize many of these football stars. Most of the retired players that we saw are currently NFL sports analysts.  Following is a list of some of their career highlights:

Wide receiver Jerry Rice was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.  According to his biography he “is widely considered to be the greatest wide receiver in the history of the National Football League (NFL).”

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald plays for the Arizona Cardinals and was chosen six times for the Pro Bowl.

Wide receiver Cris Carter was inducted into the 2013 Hall of Fame and played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins.

Linebacker Ted Bruschi played for the New England Patriots and was a three-time-Super-Bowl champion.

Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson  played for the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Panthers.  His Buccaneers team won Super Bowl XXXVII.

Quarterback Kurt Warner played for the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and St. Louis Rams. He was the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP.

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo plays for the Baltimore Ravens and played for the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins.

Baltimore Ravens head coach from 1999 – 2007, Brian Billick, was at Radio Row at River Walk.  He led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2000, and he is currently a sports analyst.

We also spotted the infamous New Orleans Saints’ fan “Da Pope,” or Lionel Alphonso Sr.  who held a beer in his hand as he posed with fans.  He  was  inducted in 1999  into the Canton Ohio Hall of Fame “Visa Hall of Fans” as the fan of the year. Garbed in his flowing robe and mitre, he was a sight!

Encountering  these sports celebrities  greatly enhanced the Super Bowl experience for us!

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