It’s winter. The holidays are over. (Whomp whomp.) And you’re feeling stuck in the house, covered in milk, with a head full of dry shampoo and the crazed gleam of cabin-fever in your eye.
But no more!
Columbia is chock-full of fun things to do with a baby, and I should know; I’ve spent lots of time discovering all kinds of things to do with my son around town to make our days fun, adventurous, and full of wonder. So throw on a bra and a sweater, put that unwashed hair in topknot, and get on out there for a breath of fresh air and maybe even some adult conversation:
1. Story Time at the Library
We used to go to a story time, especially for young babies, at the Richland Library every single week. It’s educational, musical, indoors, and FREE. Plus, I’ve made some incredible mommy-friends just from sitting around in a circle together with our babies on our laps. Live in Lexington County? There are plenty of story times for you too!
A Riverbanks Zoo membership should be a required baby shower gift for every mom in the Midlands. Between the fresh air, great animal exhibits, incredible gardens and walking trails, and the absolutely MAGICAL interactive children’s garden, Waterfall Junction, there is no better bang for your buck for a mom of young kiddos. Even though the days are chillier, lots of exhibits are indoors, and hey, it’s South Carolina, which means that if it’s 25 degrees today, it’ll probably be 65 tomorrow.
Every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Columbia’s Main Street is taken over by incredible food, live music, and local everything at Soda City. It’s also a baby extravaganza. This was our very first “fun” outing when baby was only three weeks old, and it’s become a weekend ritual ever since. So bundle up, grab some brunch from a food truck, and settle in on the patio at Drip for a much-needed mug of warm caffeine and top-notch people and pooch watching.
The Columbia Museum of Art is a delightfully peaceful and beautiful place to explore with your little. Got bigger kids? Grab a free activity backpack for them to take through the museum to make the art more interactive or sign up for Gladys’ Gang. Gladys’ Gang is designed for children ages 2-5 and their caregivers. There are two sessions each month, divided into toddler and preschool audiences (siblings are welcome at both!). Each month enjoy a story, gallery time, and an age-appropriate studio activity that emphasizes the process of art-making rather than the final product. It’s free!
The Columbia Marionette Theatre is a completely magical outing for kids of all ages, (even my one year old will sit right through an entire 45 minute show), with $7 performances every Saturday and the 3rd Monday of every month. Monday shows include an interactive backstage tour!
EdVenture provides hours upon hours of interactive, educational, multi-sensory fun for toddlers on up. And it’s indoors! Spring for a membership and enjoy free admission to their sister locations in Myrtle Beach and Hartsville – road trip!
7. Drip on Main
Drip crafts hands-down the best coffee in Columbia, and it’s my personal favorite spot for a mommy-date. They have a lovely shaded patio area that’s very baby-friendly where I’ve spent countless hours enjoying some grown up conversation while the babies snoozed or tottered around, and of course heated indoor space as well.
What could be better on a crisp winter day than handcrafted organic ice cream in the most unique array of flavors you’ll find anywhere? OK, if you’re too chilly for ice cream, they also serve locally roasted coffee and handcrafted hot cocoa. Sweet Cream Co. is the best, and super family-friendly; the sweet couple who owns the place love it when babies come into the shop. Tell Jessica and Joe I sent you!
9. Grab a Friend and Take the Babies to Lunch
My baby-friendly restaurant recommendations have several things in common: great food (obvi), quick, friendly service from people who don’t seem to hate children, a laid-back atmosphere, and (usually) the option for outdoor seating (ideal for grumpy infants and messy eaters.) Through tireless repeat testing, (you’re welcome), we’ve come up with a short list of our local favorites: Cafe Strudel, Spotted Salamander (get there early to snag an epically delish cronut before they sell out), Rosewood Market, Harambe (eat-with-your-hands Ethiopian cuisine), Zoe’s Kitchen, and the aforementioned Drip on Main.