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  • UofSC Visit Guide Series The Localist

Visit Guide Series: The Localist

From the best local food joints to beautiful sunset views, there's always an adventure waiting for you in our city. We've complied a list of some of our favorite spots for you to check out when you visit Columbia, South Carolina.

You can’t visit the University of South Carolina without visiting the city that we call home. Our city is made for exploration. From delicious food to invigorating activities in a city that inspires, Columbia, South Carolina has something for everyone.

While we could make an entire list of noteworthy places to visit when you come to Columbia, we’ve made it a little easier for you. Here’s a list of the best places to visit to make you feel like a local.


Cupcake DownSouth

If you have a hankering for something sweet, Cupcake DownSouth is the place to go. At this local bakery, the menu of unique cupcakes rotates daily. That means you can enjoy a different cupcake each time you visit. As an added bonus, there are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options to choose from!

Teapot Chinese Restaurant

Another local favorite is Teapot Chinese Restaurant. There are so many hot and mild options to try, and you can get it delivered! Now you can enjoy some great Chinese food from almost anywhere in Cola!

Campus Spot

Horizon Parking Garage at Sunset

A student favorite is to watch the sunset at the top of the Horizon Parking Garage. Students bring their cameras, food and friends to enjoy the amazing view of the Carolina sky light up with beautiful reds, oranges and pinks. The famous “cotton candy” skies are a must see!


The Nickelodeon

For any movie buff with a flair for local joints, The Nickelodeon is the place to go. This theatre was founded in 1971 by two students at UofSC, and it serves as a place to watch films and have critical discussions. The Nick also hosts the annual Indie Grits Film Festival, which has been named by Moviemaker Magazine as one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World!”

Rent a Columbia Blue Bike

Looking for a fast, fun way to see more of our city? With Blue Bike, you can rent a bike for a specific amount of time to explore our campus and the surrounding city. Just think, you can catch beautiful sights while getting a great workout!

See the Purple Martins on the Spirit of Lake Murray

One of the most relaxing ways to enjoy Lake Murray is by eating dinner on the Spirit of Lake Murray. The 80-foot yacht cruises up to 134 passengers across the lake for a unique dining experience. On the boat, you also have a great view of the thousands of purple martins that fly over the lake at sundown from July to August.


The Gourmet Shop

The Gourmet Shop is a local favorite. Serving as both a restaurant and store, you can get your fill of fine cheeses, coffee, chocolate, cookware and gifts, all in one place. We highly recommend grabbing a bite and then perusing the shop!


LaRoque is a go-to for Charleston-inspired style. Filled with bright colors and bold cuts, this boutique holds plenty of preppy styles to get you ready for a road trip, brunch or a day at the office.

Papa Jazz Record Shoppe

If you’re a music lover, you NEED to take a trip to Papa Jazz on Greene Street. Students love going through the stacks of vinyl records, CDs and DVDs. There is so much to explore, you could easily spend hours browsing the shop. And if you can’t make it in-person, you can purchase music and take a virtual tour of the store on its website!


If you’re a sucker for antiques, Refind is the place to go. This antique store is a fun way to spend an afternoon finding unique décor with your friends. You’ll definitely have one of the most stylish dorm rooms!

Miss Cocky

Wondering what to wear on Gameday? Miss Cocky has you covered. This boutique has tons of options for whatever suits your style. Whether casual or fancy, you’ll be ready to strut your stuff at Williams-Brice Stadium.


Graduate Columbia Hotel

You have to book the perfect place to stay when you visit Columbia – the Graduate Columbia Hotel is just that! Just steps from the Horseshoe, this hotel is in the heart of the city. It is filled with southern charm offering unique, cozy rooms and amenities such as wi-fi. Be sure to check out the cute little café right within the hotel.  

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