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As we welcome our out-of-town guests -- friends and family alike -- to Columbia, we know we won't be able to spend all of our time with you. Since we can't play "tour guide" that way, here are a few places around town that we like and we hope you will take the opportunity to visit during your stay.
This is where Carl and I will be getting married! If you're interested in historical buildings or churches, this is a wonderful place to get a full dose of facts. The church has been around since the late 1800's and has exquisite stained glass and awe-inspiring gothic ceilings. The church offers tours on weekdays, so if you're interested just visit the website to contact them and schedule one.
This area of Downtown Columbia is a collection of privately owned shops, restaurants and bars (with the sole exception of Starbucks, which was actually a very big controversy!). This is the place to go to find one-of-a-kind anything, as well as THE place to go at night for our college-aged guests (who are over 21).
The Vista is an area of Downtown Columbia known for its fine dining and sophisticated nightlife. This is a great place to find a spot to park and just walk. There is always something going on: outdoor summer concerts at Jillian's, live jazz on the weekends at Blue Martini, or take a ride on the mechanical bull at Saddle Ridge! Some of the nicer bars and restaurants enforce dress codes -- let's just say no jeans and t-shirts. There are also some WONDERFUL restaurants that I highly recommend -- for those of you with thicker wallets.
The South Carolina State capitol building and grounds are right across the street from Trinity Cathedral. The grounds are a beautiful place for a stroll, and I HIGHLY suggest taking the opportunity to check out some of the memorials on the grounds. It's also a beautiful place to take pictures, and can actually be entertaining. Did you know that there are 6 bronze stars on the west and southwest walls of the State House where the Union army's cannonballs hit during the Civil War? See if you can find them all!
Riverbanks is a great place to spend the day with a group of family and friends! The zoo offers tons of animals and shows throughout the day and offers opportunities to get up-close and personal with some of the coolest creatures around. The gardens are beautiful and a must-see for anyone with the slightest green thumb! You can also take a break down by the Broad River, as the zoo has picnic tables and paths winding through the woods to the water. It's a great way to cool off after wandering the zoo all morning.
If you are bringing children under the age of 13 with you, this is THE place to go! It's 73,000 square feet of fun and learning, not to mention you will get to meet the BIGGEST kid you've ever seen. Eddie, the crown jewel of EdVenture and the main theme throughout the museum, is a 40-foot tall kid (made of plastic) and the first thing you see as you walk in. The best part about him is that both children AND adults can go inside of Eddie and learn about humans' internal anatomy (via tubes and slides and what not!). Don't miss this one if you can help it!
Anything you could possibly want to know about the state of South Carolina can be found here. There are also science, art and historical exhibits that go outside the boundaries of the state. There are some really great exhibits, many that are interactive (to get the kids more interested). This is a wonderful place to go on a "too hot to do anything else" day.
Right in Columbia's Five Points area, Mr. Friendly's is best described as "new-age southern gourmet." Ricky REALLY knows his food, and his menu at Mr. Friendlys proves his point leaving no question about his cooking abilities. Expect an exstensive wine list, too! Mr. Friendly's is the six-time recipient of Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence (which really says a lot!!). A word of warning: unless you go to lunch in the afternoon or to dinner after 8pm, you will want to get reservations. Actually, better make reservations for ANY dinner time. This place is extremely popular due to it's outstanding food, wine and service, and Columbia residents KNOW it!
For those of you directly involved in the wedding ceremony, this is where we will be dining following the rehearsal at the church on June 8. The owner, Ricky (who also owns Mr. Friendly's in Five Points) is an OUTSTANDING chef! Whatever you eat here will send your palate into a heavenly place it wishes it could stay forever. Ricky is also a wine connoisseur and likes to offer his guests the best wines for the food you are eating and for the lowest prices. Even if you aren't going to be attending the rehearsal dinner, consider taking a 20 minute drive out of Columbia to give this place a try!
One of our favorite restaurants in Columbia (and where we had our first "date"), Goatfeathers is intimate, relaxed, and has delicious food! This restaurant offers 180 different wines, mouth-watering appetizers and entrees, and some of the best desserts in Columbia. They also have a wide variety of hot teas and "spiked" coffees. Whether you go to have dinner, to have after-dinner dessert and coffee, or to partake in some spirits, this is one place you should not miss!
Located in The Vista, Jillian's is a restaurant/bar that provides live music in the evenings. They have a few big screen televisions that are always showing sports, a gaming room with everything from video games to ping pong tables, and the "Groove Shack" (an outdoor bar area right next to the volleyball court). I highly suggest their spinach dip and their burgers. Yum!