Fun Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Columbia With Family and Friends


Valentine’s Day … it’s a day that some of us love, and it’s a day that some of us love to hate. While just mentioning this holiday can bring about complicated emotions and reactions, it really doesn’t have to be a dreaded holiday. 

This day is all about love, and, unfortunately, the word “love” usually brings to mind the idea of romance, soul mates, twin flames, and all things red and pink. While celebrating these things can be fun and special, love can be many things: friendship, familial love, maternal love, and self-love (because loving yourself is just as important, if not more important, than romantic love). 

Below are just a few ideas for how you can celebrate the many different types of love in your life around Columbia, but, of course, these are ideas for not only Valentine’s Day but any day of the year!

Celebrate With Friends

1. Somewhere to Eat: Coa Agaveria y Cocina

Coa is a trendy restaurant with wonderful Mexican dishes and a posh vibe. You and your friends will fall in love with the tacos, and you’ll make plans to return for more of their amazing margaritas!

2. Something to Do: Studio Cellar

Studio Cellar is a great place to go with friends for a fun night out! You’ll have the chance to strut your creative side as you paint a beautiful picture while being guided by one of the amazing instructors on hand. You can even book Studio Cellar for private events.

3. Cost-Friendly Idea: Girls’ Night In! 

Wine! Cheese! Olives! More cheese! Giggles and girl-talk over delicious snacks is a great way to bond with your friends. As they say, food brings everyone together. Aren’t quite sure where to start? There are plenty of guides online that will walk you through games you can play cocktails you can make, how to build a beautiful charcuterie board, and more!

Pairing wine and a charcuterie board with a great film (I’m partial to scary movies, but a good romance will work, too) is a great way to make your evening with friends even better.

Celebrate With Your Partner

1. Somewhere to Eat: Cola’s and Kaminsky’s

Cola’s is quite possibly my favorite restaurant in Columbia. With a menu that is filled with delicious, upscale Southern dishes, you’re sure to have your mouth watering, just by looking at the menu! A perfect place for a date, the ambiance is sophisticated and chic with low, romantic lighting and quality customer service. 

While Cola’s is my favorite place to grab dinner, Kaminsky’s is my favorite place to grab dessert. A romantic, candlelight kiss is sure to happen after enjoying a glass of one of their delicious wines and a slice of one of their yummy cakes.

2. Something to Do: The Grand on Main

A little competition is a fun way to bond with your partner, and this Main Street bowling alley is also home to a restaurant and dessert bar. Challenge your partner to a friendly game, and grab a drink or meal, after you win!

3. Cost-Friendly Idea: Picnic at the Park

I do enjoy our local restaurants, however, the simplicity of a quiet picnic with the one you love, is just as sweet. Pack your comfiest blanket, your favorite finger foods and drinks, and enjoy each other’s company, while taking in the beautiful, natural sights that Columbia has to offer. 

One of my favorite places for a romantic picnic is the Riverfront Park & Canal, which is home to a large green space that overlooks the river. Another gorgeous place is the Saluda Riverwalk. If you walk along the path to the right of the main bridge, you’ll find a large rock that leads into the flowing river. It’s the perfect place to hide away from the world together.

Celebrate With Your Children

1. Somewhere to Eat: Esther’s Soul Food + Kitchen and LICK Ice Cream

At Esther’s, parents will love the variety of comforting Southern food and the chic vibe of the restaurant, while children will ask for more of their amazing macaroni and cheese. Follow your meal with a stop at LICK Ice Cream for one of their fun and creative ice cream treats! While you’re there, be sure to try one of their signature milkshakes. The Guilty Pleasure (a red velvet and buttercream-base treat) is my absolute favorite!

2. Something to Do: Flight Adventure Park (for older children and teens) and Valentine’s Day Crafts (for babies and toddlers)

Older children and teens will love to jump and laugh with you, as you hop along the trampolines and obstacle courses at Flight Adventure Park. You’ll both get moving and make so many memories, along the way. 

If you have little ones at home, there are many sweet activities that you can do with them. I enjoy art activities with my one-year-old and recently came across a list of eight Valentine’s Art Projects to DIY with Your Baby, including sponge-painting and heart-shaped prints. 

3. Cost-Friendly Idea: Make a Special Dinner Together

Including children in the cooking process is one way to encourage independence and confidence in them, while also bringing you closer to each other. Some of us mamas are lucky to have children that are open to eating absolutely anything, while some of us have little ones that have more opinions about what they’d like to eat for dinner. Luckily, there are many kid-friendly recipes that parents and children of all ages will love!

Celebrate Yourself

1. Somewhere to Eat: 929 Kitchen & Bar and The Donut Guy

929 Kitchen and Bar is a delicious Korean restaurant located on Gervais Street, with great service and equally great food. Everything on the menu is really, really tasty. Seriously.

I stumbled upon The Donut Guy while out and about with my son not too long ago, and what was supposed to be a one-donut purchase quickly turned into a half-dozen purchase. Their eclectic menu filled with sugary treats and coffee would definitely be a gift to yourself.

2. Something to Do: SOAK Day Spa

Mama, you’ve likely been working very hard. Your back is tight, you haven’t had a manicure or pedicure in a while, or you just haven’t felt relaxed in a while. You should treat yourself with one of SOAK Day Spa’s magical massages, facials, or manicures/pedicures, because, Mama, you so deserve it!

3. Cost-Friendly Idea: Journaling and Reading

Putting words on paper (or my laptop screen) and reading the thoughts of others often puts my mind at ease. I feel a sense of peace and mindfulness, and I am able to reflect on my own inner-thoughts and life, as well. The power of words is immensely strong, and you can show yourself a bit of love by listening to them and sharing them. 

There are so many ways you can celebrate and share the love in your life. Whether you decide to go out on the town or stay home. Love is always to be found.

How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day? What ideas would you add to the list?

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Adding twists and turns to the rollercoaster that is life, Jocelyn is a wife who recently became a new mother to a now six-month-old baby boy. Not long ago, she earned her Master's Degree in Library and Information Science and worked full-time as a children's librarian. Now, she is transitioning to stay-at-home life where she's excited to see what happens next on her journey through motherhood and in life. Although she is no longer working as a librarian, you can trust that she still has a few favorite books to recommend! Jocelyn has also volunteered with Girls Rock Columbia as both a workshop leader and briefly as a board member, and she is also a twice-published author in the library world, in addition to recently being featured on the cover of Library Journal with some of her former colleagues for their work promoting racial equity. Jocelyn loves photography, horror movies (honestly, the scarier, the better!), spicy food (the spicier, the better!), barre classes, spa days, and cuddling with her baby.


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