10 Reasons Living in Columbia is Awesome!

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10 Reasons Living in Columbia is Awesome | Columbia SC Moms BlogWhen I moved to Columbia from sunny south Florida eight years ago, I’m not going to lie, I sort of arrived kicking and screaming. I loved my hometown, and in my mind the South seemed like a “whomp-whomp” place to live. But you know what, I was dead wrong! Columbia is a remarkably fun and vibrant town, and I have absolutely fallen in love with this place. Here’s why:

1. Big-City Stuff to Do, with a Small-Town Feel

Anyone who says there’s nothing to do in Columbia has got their head in the sand. Every week there are concerts, art exhibitions, festivals, and markets galore, without the choking traffic or touristy crowds of cities like Charleston or Charlotte. I check the Free Times every week to keep up to date on all the best local happenings.

Finn never misses an issue of the Free Times.

2. Great, and I Do Mean GREAT Food

Charleston and Greenville get all the “food town” hype, but Columbia has come a LONG way in recent years, carving out a culinary niche for itself that is totally unique to the Midlands. Whether you’re looking for interesting, elevated dining, (The Oak Table, Terra, Motor Supply, The War Mouth), a unique lunch (Spotted Salamander, Cafe Strudel, Drip, The Gourmet Shop, Lamb’s Bread Vegan Cafe), or truly authentic international cuisine (Spice Junction, Pho Viet, Mai Thai, Blue Cactus, Boeshreen), there’s literally something for everyone. We also have incredible dining events like the Farm to Table Dinner series at City Roots Farm and the annual Gervais Street Bridge Dinner. Columbia has the potential to be the next big food town of the south, and now is the perfect time to enjoy it!

The butterscotch bread pudding at The Oak Table. Perhaps the most delicious thing you’ll ever put in your mouth.

3. World-Class Museums and Activities

Within 20 minutes of my front door, my child and I can see a Monet up close, feed a giraffe, and visit one of the top children’s museums in the country. How cool is that? The Columbia Museum of Art, Riverbanks Zoo, and EdVenture Children’s Museum are totally road trip worthy attractions, and we’ve got them right in our own backyard. We have memberships to each of these awesome attractions, (WORTH IT), so we can enjoy them any day of the week!

The “Cut” exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art.

4. Great Weather

Yeah, yeah. The summers are brutal. I hear you. But it’s January and my windows are open right now. A week ago, there was snow on the ground. Today, I’m in flip flops. Enough said. Our springs and falls are glorious, winters are short, and summer is long and lovely (albeit a bit scorching).

Flip Flops. In January. Enough said.

5. Beautiful Green Spaces

The Three Rivers Greenway is a magical place to take a stroll, wade in the water, or take out a kayak or tube for an afternoon of fun. There are miles of walking trails, rapids to brave, and endless calm stretches of river to relax on. We also have Congaree National Park, miles of gorgeous hiking trails at the Northeast Clemson Extension (across from the Village at Sandhill), Harbison State Forest, and the Peachtree Rock Preserve. Get out there!

So much beautiful green and outdoor space.

6. History

I love that you can wander the streets of Columbia and learn about the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil Rights Movement just from reading the historical markers placed all over the city. History was MADE here, and it’s super exciting for a nerd like myself to learn what happened right where I walk everyday. There are complimentary tours of our gorgeous State House most days of the week, and you can visit beautiful cemeteries that house famous politicians, generals, and soldiers from as early as the Revolutionary War.

So. Much. History.

7. Coffee Coffee Coffee

I’ll admit it: I’m a coffee snob. My husband spoils me with a freshly-roasted, freshly-ground, pour-over cup every weekend morning. To me, Starbucks is a four-letter-word. (I know. We’re insufferable.) But Columbia is a coffee-snob’s paradise. Drip has two equally fabulous locations, (Main Street for the business crowd, 5 Points for the hipster crowd), and they individually handcraft each pour-over cup especially for you. (Also, they know me so well by now, it’s a little embarrassing. Hi Shawn!) The Wired Goat roasts their own beans and also offers killer lunch options. Loveland Coffee, a wee little drive thru kiosk in Irmo, will get you your freshly-roasted fix in a hurry. Indah Coffee is an amazing option at Soda City Market. And to my great delight, Grace Coffee Co. has recently opened on the Northeast side of town!

Start em’ early.

8. Interesting Nightlife

Yes, I’m the parent of a toddler. No, I don’t hit da club on the regular. But Columbia has nightlife BEYOND the 19-year-old crowd in 5 Points that’s actually all-grown-up. For a classy speakeasy feel with an exceedingly interesting wine list, try the brand new Lula Drake on Main Street. For craft cocktails like no other, saddle up to the bar at Bourbon. For a totally-twenties night out, (flapper-dress optional), visit the Empire Supper Club. And for music, dancing, karaoke, and the best people-watching in town, Art Bar never disappoints.

The Lula Drake is date-night magic.

9. Friendly People

I’ll never get tired of the friendliness of the South. I love that strangers wave to you from their front porches in the evenings. That folks smile at you on the street. That people hold the door for each other. That you start to see that same friendly faces around the city, which gives Columbia that yummy small-town feel. Maybe it’s all the sweet tea, but the people here are just great.

Smiling faces, beautiful places. It’s true y’all.

10. Just Enough “Weird” to Keep Things Interesting

Since living in Columbia, I’ve taken belly dance lessons, attended drum circles, participated in a hula-hoop flash mob, been glitter-bombed during a 5k, learned to fire-hoop, and gotten my pregnant belly professionally painted. I’ve witnessed locals dressed like hairy demons gather around the State House Christmas tree to celebrate Krampus, attended outdoor alternative circuses, and taken traditional African dance classes. While we may lack the Hippie Mecca status of places like Asheville & Savannah, Columbia has its share of delightful weirdness to offer too!

Thanks LunaTrix Arts!

What are your favorite things about living in Columbia?

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Kimberly is a writer, speaker, wife, and new(ish) mom. She directs the teen pregnancy prevention program for Daybreak pregnancy center, and is a founder of Pearls, an organization that serves women in the sex industry and fights human trafficking in the Midlands. She studied English literature at Florida Atlantic University, and though she will always be a Florida girl at heart, she has called Columbia home for the last seven years. She and her husband Braden have been married for a fabulous decade, and they welcomed their first child, Declan Finn, into the world on June 3rd, 2015. She is a contributor for Scary Mommy, the Huffington Post, and The Mighty. You can find her wandering around the great outdoors, drinking far too much coffee at her favorite local shops, and on Facebook.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Nice article! I’m from Florida too and feel lost as to what I can do up here in Columbia. We’ll be checking out some of the places you talked about. Though I will say, Edventure is a bit of a disappointment. The kids seem to like it ok, but everything is so dingy and there’s really not much to do there. I hope they remodel and update it soon because with just a few new ideas and some nicer exhibits it could be great

  2. Thanks for the coffee shout out! We love Columbia, too! We are also very thankful that Grace Coffee is up and rocking it with our coffee!

  3. Hey – thanks for the article. I’d love a little advice on Columbia. We are considering moving there. My hubs works remote so a job isn’t an issue. We currently live in Atlanta, however this is our 3rd state and city we’ve lived in and we’ve only been here 8 months and have no attachments to ATL. My hubs office is here and we’d like to live at most 4 hours away for the occasional times he’d need to go back once a month or so. We are not sure we want to settle in Atlanta, traffic, congestion and living in a city with almost 6 million people you don’t get a community feeling here. We are looking at Nashville, Birmingham and Columbia. We love mountains and beach so I’d love to hear how good are schools we have a 8 year old boy how easy is it to make friends what is nightlife like for late 30’s to late 40’s and the job market. I would like to work at least part time I’d go nuts waiting all day for my son to get home. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Deena! Well it looks like you only have great options in front of you; I love Columbia, but Birmingham and Nashville are super cool towns with lots to do! School district wise, I would recommend Lexington Two or Richland Two. Columbia is a college town, but there’s definitely great night spots for the over-19-crowd 😉 And depending on your field, the job market is pretty decent. I have found a wonderful group of mom friends here through story times, play groups, and other mom-friendly spots. The people really ARE super friendly here! I hope you find the right spot for your family!

  4. Loved the info in your article. My husband and I are in our 50’s and looking at moving to Lexington/ Columbia area. We had a short visit in August and would love to explore more. One concern I have is I am tattooed with sleeves and I did not see many people with tattoos and was not sure how tattoo friendly the area would be. Any input would be great!

  5. We are in our fifties and may relocate for my husbands job . What kind of things are there to do for people in their 50s and are there bars /restaurants for people our age ?We live in west coast of Florida currently so the heat is not an issue the cooler temps we would welcome . Also what are some of the best neighborhoods to look at buying houses . Not starters but mid range
    Thanks

    • Yes! I would say it depends on what you are looking for in a home, whether it be downtown living, suburbs, or more open land. Also, the types of restaurants you fine enjoyable and the atmosphere. Happy to share suggestions!

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