Day trippin’: A girl’s guide to Columbia, SC

Whether you’re looking for rest and relaxation, to experience art and world-class cuisine, plentiful shopping, or to stay up — and out — past your usual bedtime, you’ll find all that and more just 94 miles south of Charlotte. Affectionately known as “Cola,” Columbia is full to the brim with southern charm, wonder, and adventure.

It’s also the perfect destination for a girl’s weekend escape.

Planning your next girl’s trip to Columbia is easy with Experience Columbia SC, a travel resource to help you explore the best of the city. As someone who’s used the resource successfully, I’ve also compiled a list of my favorite stops to help you make your next trip to the heart of SC memorable.

Next time you’re in South Carolina’s capital city, consider visiting the following places:


Graduate Columbia

There are plenty of accommodations vying for your attention but The Graduate, a boutique hotel, really stands out. I enjoyed the bright, art-deco design and college-themed decor throughout the hotel. Its common rooms, the Trophy Room –the hotel’s bar — and the original owner’s library are the perfect backdrops to capture your stay. And I love a good photo-op. 

What I love: It’s the details for me! Seriously , the room keys look like student IDs and there’s a notepad and old-fashioned Number 2 pencil on the nightstand. The hotel is also centrally located, making it easy to get around town.

If you prefer a more traditional hotel experience, the Aloft , Hyatt Place, and the Hampton Inn are all solid options.

Treat yourself

Posh Nail Salon
It’s true what they say: a lady needs options. With the Experience Columbia search tool, I was able to match myself and my homegirl with the perfect pampering experience: pedicures. Posh Nail Spa has two locations in the city, so getting an herbal manicure or a classic full set is convenient. 

What I love: Variety is the spice of life! I was impressed by the large selection of nail polish colors the salon carries. They’re also super accommodating. We went to the wrong location, but they still fit us in!

For deeper relaxation, a massage at Master’s Touch Massage Therapy studio is a great way to get it. Find additional salon and spa services here.

Food & Drink 

Coffee & Breakfast on the Go
Piecewise Coffee Company
I never thought I’d have the best bagel of my life at a small coffee shop in Columbia, S.C., but it happened. Piecewise Coffee Co. is the place to be on an early morning before heading to Soda City Market. This all-ages gathering spot serves aromatic and robust coffee, flavorful chai tea lattes, baked goods and a whole lot of good community energy. 

What I love: The patio is a great place to hangout, catch some rays and people-watch. The “You can always sit with us” sign in the dining room is also a sweet touch.

Coa Agaveria Y Cocina
Dress up or dress down. This ambient Mexican kitchen is relaxed. They have a come-as-you-are atmosphere, food and cocktails are top-notch — and the chips, salsa and queso never stop flowing. Pace yourself or you’ll need to ask for a to-go box with your order. Get on the list — it’s worth the wait.

What I love: One word: margaritas. And it’s plural so you know it’s real.

Kiki’s Chicken & Waffles
Drake might wonder if she does, but Kiki clearly loves me! From the fresh-fried salmon patties to the generous portion of wings that accompany the Chicken & Pancakes breakfast, the food at Kiki’s Chicken & Waffles is unpretentious — it’s what mama ‘nem are probably cooking this weekend. 

What I love: I’m not sure if the rainy weather worked in our favor, but Saturday brunch was seamless. If you’re looking for a place that isn’t crowded and has fast service, this is the place for you.

Life is grand at Goat’s! The dimly lit bar is the perfect place to unwind or turn up. Goat’s offers an extensive wine selection and serves craft cocktails. One of the things they are most known for is their dessert selection. Whether you’re dining in or ordering to-go, this little gem is a fitting cap to any day in Columbia.

What I love: My friend and I were tired so we each ordered slices of cheesecake to-go and they kept it fast and friendly.

Shop til’ you drop

Sunrise Artisan Bath & Body
This stop just makes scents! See what I did there? Sunrise Artisan Bath & Body is for the girls who spend hours in the shower and are dedicated to their bath and skincare routines. You can find everything from bath bombs and soaps to body butters and lotions all in this natural haven. 

What I love: Not only are the products handmade in an in-house apothecary, they’re also vegan.


Soda City Market
One of the most exciting experiences of my trip to Columbia was Soda City Market which spans the Main Street district and is a hub for food, entertainment and shopping.

Once you’ve grabbed your initial coffee and bagel from Piecewise Coffee Co., head to the market to walk it off — and then eat some more. This market is booming with local vendors selling everything from flowers and home goods to kitchenware and fresh farm eggs. I could go back to Columbia every Saturday just for the Soda City Market.

What I love: The food trucks, hands down! Who knew Columbia had so much flavor?

Columbia Museum of Art
Imagine a place where masterpieces by Andy Warhol, Sandro Botticelli, Dale Chihuly and Claude Monet are all housed under one roof. This is it. The Columbia Museum of Art provides a rich, cultural encounter through both traveling exhibits and 68 permanent collections. A visit to the museum is a perfect daytime activity.

Go on, girls! There’s no better time than the present to Experience Columbia.

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