COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA
There is plenty to do in South Carolina's capital city. Below is enough to keep you in town for several days. Though it is over and done with, it is interesting to know that this area was positioned to be the best location on the East Coast to see the August 2017 total eclipse.
What to Do
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden 500 Wildlife Parkway, (803) 779-8717. Daily 9am-5pm. One of the best and most-visited zoos in the U.S., Riverbanks offers some exciting behind-the-scenes tours--including feeding the giraffes and an up-close encounter with the koalas. I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a friendly Galapagos tortoise that in 1928 was the very last one taken from those islands. Don’t-misses include the Aquarium Reptile Complex (ARC), the Birdhouse, African Plains, Siamang Island where the apes hang out, and the polar bear and sea lion exhibits with underwater viewing. Tropical rainstorms occur several times daily in the Birdhouse, and a milking demo is scheduled in the children’s barn. Animal feedings include fish, sea lions, and penguins, and visitors can themselves feed the giraffes, the birds, and the goats. Among the featured local animals are rattlesnakes from the pine flatwoods, water snakes from the cypress swamps, and long gars from Lake Murray. Kiddie rides include ponies, a train, and an endangered species carousel. The zoo also has a rock climbing wall and a zip line. Special events are scheduled throughout each day.
Next door, a 70-acre botanical garden is situated on a Civil War skirmish site and includes a Bog Garden, a Walled Garden, and an Old Rose Garden. A tram provides transportation back and forth from the zoo to the garden.
|Galapagos tortoise at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, South Carolina|
Where to Eat
Liberty Tap Room & Grill 828 Gervais St., (803) 461-4677. Complimentary valet parking. This popular and expansive property has a prime position overlooking beautiful Lake Murray--a popular recreational area. Diners can choose from an array of beer taps and cocktails. I figured it would be hard to go wrong with a Mint Julep and was so right. My large group passed the wait time for our meals with visits to the deck to snap selfies and watch the sun set. The eclectic menu offers something for everyone--she crab soup, a huge iceberg lettuce wedge salad, pizza, tacos, sandwiches, burgers, fish ‘n’ chips, and my own prime choice--bbq baby back ribs with collard greens and mac & cheese. Dessert items include a bananas Foster cheesecake and sweet little petite fours.
|bar in Liberty Tap Room & Grill in Columbia, South Carolina|
|iceberg lettuce wedge salad at Liberty Tap Room & Grill in Columbia, South Carolina|
|bbq ribs and collard greens at Liberty Tap Room & Grill in Columbia, South Carolina|
|tray of petite fours at Liberty Tap Room & Grill in Columbia, South Carolina|
|sunset over Lake Murray at Liberty Tap Room & Grill in Columbia, South Carolina|
Motor Supply Company Bistro 920 Gervais St., (803) 256-6687. This full-service restaurant posts a new handwritten menu every day so as to take advantage of the seasonal ingredients from local sources that change regularly. On the day I dined here, we started with a tasty and colorful Sherry peach cobbler cocktail in a Mason jar topped with a striking chartreuse green “Yoko Ono pom.” Menu choices included a strawberry-fennel salad with toasted pecans, feta, and cornbread croutons; and wild-caught local white shrimp with house bacon and Adluh grits. I zeroed in on a tasty, and filling, Southern Cuban sandwich stuffed with local smoked pork shoulder, country ham, housemade pickles, yellow mustard, and Swiss cheese on Cuban sweet bread. Seating is available both in a comfortable interior dining room and on an atmospheric back porch.
|colorful interior of Motor Supply Company Bistro in Columbia, South Carolina|
|Yoko Ono pom cocktail at Motor Supply Company Bistro in Columbia, South Carolina|
|scallop with pea sauce at Motor Supply Company Bistro in Columbia, South Carolina|
Where to Stay
Inn at USC Wyndham Garden 1619 Pendleton St., (803) 779-7779. Complimentary breakfast & afternoon snack; lobby bar. Fitness center. Parking $10/night. Located on the University of South Carolina campus, this convenient lodging is situated within a historical home. The lobby, library, and three 1910 suites are part of the original Cain-Matthews-Tompkins-Black House. Minimal changes have been done to the house so it is virtually as it was in 1912. The contemporary lodging section is attractive and comfortable. An inn shuttle takes guests around town from 7 a.m. to
10 p.m., and a guest laundry is available.
|library off lobby at Inn at USC Wyndham Garden in Columbia, South Carolina|
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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers