Finding things for the whole family to do can be hard in the summer. But in Columbia, that’s not a problem! There are so many events, free or otherwise, that go on daily in our city. If you’re feeling like there’s nothing to do, or you can’t take one more second staying in your house, then this guide to summer is exactly what you needed. Here’s a compiled list of all the best parts of Soda City!
Free Events for the Family
Southern summers are known to be hot and make you want to stay inside in the air conditioning all day. Sitting inside all day can get boring, though. If you need to get out of the house and don’t want to spend a bunch of money, there’s plenty of free events in our city that can help you out. And the good news is that these events are all family friendly, too!
- 3rd Annual Midlands Women’s Fair – Presented by Touch of Magic Events, this free event at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center offers plenty of activities for women, including pampering, shopping, self-defense classes, health screenings, and seminars. Bring your sisters, mothers, and friends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 27 and have some fun!
- New Blends New Friends – Denean The Coffee Queen is offering a free event to debut her new Gourmet Delicious Blends, as requested by customers. New Blends New Friends is a free launch of her five new Private Label flavors for the first 50 people who register. Even though this event is free, you’ll want to bring your wallet so you can take one of these amazing flavors home. The unveiling will be at Converspace from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on July 27.
- First Thursday on Main – At each block on Main Street on the first Thursday of each month, you’ll find a different amazing destination to enjoy. The Soda Cap Connecter Route 3 will be going during the entirety of First Thursday to get you from one place to another. The festival starts at 6 p.m. on Aug 1 and Sept 5.
- Summer Movie Series: Captain Marvel – Come to Earlewood Park and bring your family to see Captain Marvel for free! The City of Columbia’s Summer Movie Series closes out with this showing at 7:45 p.m. on Aug 2.
- City of Columbia Summer Concert – This outdoor summer concert series by the City of Columbia will be closed out by R&B singer Tony Terry at Finlay Park. Bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy his amazing voice. Although the concert is free, bring your wallet because food vendors will be there. Pets, glass, and alcohol are not allowed. The concert starts at 7 p.m. on Aug 3.
- First Day Festival 2019 – Feel the burden of buying school supplies for your kids? The First Day Festival is a free event sponsored by YnotU2 that provides free backpacks and supplies for school-aged children while supplies last. Other than supplies, the festival has plenty of activities for families and starts at 2 p.m. on Aug 4. Even though the event is free, you can choose to sponsor a child for $10.
- 14th Annual South Carolina Black Pride Week – This year’s Black Pride Week will be held in our own city of Columbia. This event is to celebrate and unify South Carolina’s LGBTQ+ communities of color. Come support diversity and creativity from Aug 22 to 25 at various locations throughout the city. All performances are family friendly!
- Midlands Family Food Truck Festival –Held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, The Midlands Family Food Truck Festival will have laser tag, stage shows, face painting, shopping, and so many other activities. This event will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept 15.
- Midlands Children’s Business Fair – Held alongside the Midlands Family Food Truck Festival, The Midlands Children’s Business Fair gives kids the chance to display their business ideas and sell their very own products. In order to get a spot as a vendor, you must submit your business idea prior to the event. The fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept 15, same as the Food Truck Festival.
- Live at Boyd Plaza, The Reggae Jazz Experience – Presented by Chaye Alexander, this live music performance by electric violinist JaVonne Jones blends jazz, soul, and popular music. The Reggae Jazz Experience will be held at the new Boyd Plaza at the Columbia Museum of Art. This free concert is family friendly and begins at 5 p.m. on Sept 22. There will be food and drinks available for purchase.
Free events for the whole family are great, but sometimes adults need to go out without the kids. There are some paid events that might give you some time to yourselves, parents.
Other Exciting Events
Maybe you’re on a budget, but still willing to spend some money on fun this summer. These events give you the most for your money! Most of these are family friendly, but a couple are for legal drinking-age adults only. Get out and about in Columbia and make friends while exploring the city!
- SouthEast Crab Feast – All you can eat crab? Sign me up! The SouthEast Crab Feast at Saluda Shoals Park is the perfect family event for seafood lovers. This event always sells out early so make sure to get your tickets quickly! A regular ticket is $30 and includes all you can eat blue crab, but there are specialty platter tickets that go for more. Children’s tickets are $10. The Crab Feasts start at 1 and 4 p.m. on July 27.
- Brew at the Zoo – Come to the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden for the Brew at the Zoo event presented by Food Lion. Sample beers, view the animals, buy food, and enjoy live entertainment! This 21 and up safari will start at 7 p.m. on Aug 2. Tickets are available for Riverbanks members and the general public.
- Soda City Comic Con 2019 – This weekend-long Comic Convention at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center offers vendors, panels, contests, and so much more. Guests are encouraged to come dressed as your favorite comic book or movie character. The Soda City Comic Con starts at 10 a.m. on Aug 10 and 11 a.m. on Aug 11. There are multiple ticket options. Tickets for children under 12 start at $5 and tickets for adults start at $15.
- 2019 SC Fatherhood and Male Achievement Conference – The SC Fatherhood and Male Achievement Conference is important because 40% of children in our state are raised without a father. This conference, presented by Global Partners for Fathers & Families, empowers the men and boys in our community through showing positive male role models. Fathers, men, boys, and any other community members are welcome at this one-day conference at Richland School District 2 Innovation Center that starts at 8 a.m. on Aug 10. Tickets range from $12 to $35.
- Yoga with Baby Goats – You’ve seen this trend, and now it’s your time to try it! Baby goats will be at Fit Columbia from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Aug 11. Tickets are $25.
- Low Country Boil in the Metro – This all you can eat seafood boil held by Seafood at Benedict Football Stadium will leave you too full to move. Along with the seafood, there will be events for kids, as well as a hotdog and hamburger station for kids under 13 who don’t like seafood. Tickets for the Low Country Boil start at $25 and the event will start at 1 p.m. on Aug 17.
- Cola Kicks Expo – The Cola Kicks Expo is a great opportunity to buy, sell, and trade sneakers and other streetwear to attendees and other vendors. This expo hosted by the store Colakicks can help you build your new brand or get a bigger following for your already established clothing line. Held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, the expo starts at 11 a.m. on Aug 17. Tickets start at $10.
- Gamecock Sports Preview – The University of South Carolina sports fans will love this exclusive preview of the upcoming season. This Sports Preview will include a BBQ dinner and drinks. Wear your garnet and black to the Pastides Alumni Center at 6 p.m. on Aug 22 and be ready to discuss the 2019-2020 athletic season. Ticket prices start at $40 for members and $60 for nonmembers.
- 2nd Annual Taco Crawl – What’s better than tacos? The 2nd Annual Taco Crawl is a 21 and up event featuring tacos, exclusive drinks, entertainment, and more. Held at The Vista, this event starts at 12 p.m. (11 a.m. for VIPs) on Aug 24. Tickets start at $20 for general admission.
- 6th Annual Cupcakes & Cocktails Evening Social – This Cupcakes & Cocktails Evening Social is put on by Extravagant Design Events. You won’t be able to contain your excitement when you see the more than 3,000 cupcakes on display in one room! This event also features the 2019 Cupcake Battle. This social will be held on Aug 31 at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Ticket prices start at $25.
- Women’s Empowerment 2019 – Presented by The Big DM, the 5th Annual Women’s Empowerment event is a day full of seminars, vendors, performances, and much more that uplift and empower women. This event will be held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sept 21. Tickets are $20.
Even though they cost some money, conventions and food festivals like these build a stronger community in our city.
Places You Can Go Weekly
Events scheduled for one day are great, but what is there to do the other days of the week? When it comes to daily activities, Columbia’s got you covered. From markets to museums and everything in between, there’s plenty for you and your family to do during the week.
- Soda City Market – Every Saturday, The Soda City Market takes up Columbia’s Main Street. With an average of 150 vendors each week, you’ll be sure to find something whether that be food, art, or clothes. Come down to Main Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, year-round.
- Sandhill Farmers Market _ You can head to the Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center from 2 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday in the summer for the Sandhill Farmers Market. Support local farmers by buying their produce, meat, cheese, baked goods, and much more. There’s even a booth where you can ask a professional your lawn and garden questions.
- Columbia Museum of Art – After recent reconstruction, the Columbia Museum of Art welcomes art lovers into their better building. Along with this new look, there are also new exhibits you can view, including Latinidad: Latin American Art from the Collection, Wow Pop Bliss: Jimmy Kuehnle’s Inflatable Art, Mimi Kato: Ordinary Sagas, Places of Freedom, and Van Gogh and His Inspirations. Hours are generally 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets are free for children 6 and under!
- South Carolina State Museum – If you’re more into science than art, then the South Carolina State Museum is your kind of place. They have exciting exhibits like Fly Me to the Moon 4D, and Apollo 50: Journey to the Moon. The museum is generally open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, but some days vary. Tickets for children are $6.95 and $8.95 for adults.
- McKissick Museum – The McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina aims to preserve and research Southern culture through its exhibits. Some of these include: Thank You! Love, McKissick, Abstract Art from the Permanent Collection, and Piece by Piece: Quilts from the Permanent Collection. Open daily, except Sunday, and you can visit for free!
- South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum – The best way to learn is to look at the past. The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum offers that look through their many exhibits about South Carolina soldiers throughout all wars. They currently have a special 100th Anniversary of WW1 Exhibit. Children under 9 get in for free.
- Riverbanks Zoo & Garden – The Riverbanks Zoo & Garden has a prehistoric safari right now through Oct 31 called Dinosaurs Around the World. If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, you can always visit their other animals, fish, and gardens for an exciting day! They’re open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission starts at $16.95.
- Trustus Theatre – What better way to spend a day than by going to a musical or play? At the Trustus Theatre, you can do just that. They put on many shows during the year, so check here for the list of shows this summer.
- Columbia Fireflies – Baseball lovers can go to Columbia Fireflies baseball games at Segra Park. Some games have special features like fireworks, free giveaways, and half priced drinks. You can check their game schedule here. Tickets start at $5.
After doing all of these things, you’ve seen it all in Soda City, right? Wrong! There’s still plenty of comforting Southern food to indulge in.
Classic Southern Food
There’s no place like the South when it comes to food. We’re known for our comfort food and soul food down here, so you need to know the best places to get just that. Check out these highly rated Southern cooking restaurants when you’re hanging around in the city.
- Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles –At Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles, nothing is better than fried chicken over warm Belgian waffles. Except maybe their famous red velvet waffle with cream cheese frosting! You can get their amazing homemade soul food all day on Mondays, and for lunch on Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- The Southern Belly BBQ – This spot offers creative twists on classic barbecue while maintaining quality. Not only are the sandwiches and sauces unique, The Southern Belly BBQ also serves locally brewed beers. Stop by any of their three locations in Columbia to get the full experience.
- Lizard’s Thicket – Looking for comfort food? The Lizard’s Thicket can provide. You can get amazing breakfast, lunch, and dinner for great prices at this family owned Southern cooking spot, open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
- The Pot Smoker BBQ – This barbecue place all started with a secret sauce and a ceramic smoker. The Pot Smoker BBQ’s menu is full of delicious smoked meats and classic Southern sides. Stop by at any time between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday to get a taste of this barbecue made with love.
- Capital City Kitchen & Grill – This traditional Southern soul food place will leave you full and happy. At Capital City Kitchen & Grill, you can have fried chicken, biscuits, cornbread, and so much more homemade goodness. They’re open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
- Big Bull’s Bang’n BBQ and Southern Comfort Food – Big Bull’s Bang’n BBQ and Southern Comfort Food mixes old school and new school items in a Southern style with its delicious barbecue and signature sauces. There’s plenty you’ll want to try on their huge menu, and you could also order their homemade Bang’n Tea or Sippin Lemonade.
Once you’re full, you’ll be ready to go home and take a nap in the air conditioning!
Wishing You an Exciting Summer
At Solomon Law Group, we know how the summer can be. We hope this guide gives you the opportunity to get out and about in Soda City with your family, friends, and loved ones. Just sure to stay safe and hydrated in the South Carolina heat!