Guide to Northeast Columbia SC

By Free Times

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Get Ahead: Guide to Career Advancement - Dec. 2015

HIgh School High-Tech Training, Apprenticeship Program
By Free Times

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Best Children’s Music of 2015

By Kevin Oliver

Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly
Yay! Music

Molly Ledford (of Lunch Money) and Billy Kelly collaborated on this thematic album that covers all kinds of tree topics, from Charleston’s elegant but inaccessible Angel Oak to Kelly’s silly tribute, “(It’s Just a) Dumb Ol’ Stick.” There are multiple layers here to peel, like bark off a birch tree — from Ledford’s more reflective material to Kelly’s manic side, as well as some surprisingly educational tracks, and some simple yet full arrangements. Put it all together, and it’s plenty of material to keep kids and their parents occupied for hours, with or without an actual tree to climb.

Gustafer Yellowgold
Dark Pie Concerns
Apple-Eye Productions

Gustafer Yellowgold — the child-like alter ego of musician Morgan Taylor — is best appreciated as a multimedia experience that includes wonderfully retro, animated videos of the yellow, two-dimensional, pointy-headed creature. The music itself is a quaintly Beatlesque pastiche of vaguely psychedelic elements employed in simple, endearing pop tunes that kids will grasp easily.

Tim Kubart

Recognizable as the tambourine guy in YouYube jazz sensations Postmodern Jukebox, Tim Kubart is also a first-rate entertainer of children. This album succeeds on the diverse sounds of its songs, from the Latin-flavored “Dancing In The Kitchen” to a more contemporary pop spin through “Breakfast Club.”

Billy Jonas Band
Build It Back Again

Asheville’s Billy Jonas never fails to entertain with his wonderful brand of homemade instrumentation and participatory songs.

Play Date
We All Shine
Fun Fun Records

A fun kid’s band in the tradition of Milkshake or Lunch Money, Play Date doesn’t take itself too seriously but does manage to inject some good educational content into its sometimes silly songs.

José-Luis Orozco
¡Come Bien! Eat Right!
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

The celebrated Latin American folk singer presents a useful set of songs revolving around food, traditions and healthy habits. The bilingual versions make this a great language teaching tool as well.

Lisa Loeb
Nursery Rhyme Parade

The onetime pop star is no stranger to the kid’s music scene, having recorded with Elizabeth Mitchell; this set of very familiar songs is made memorable by Loeb’s signature vocals and a light folk-pop touch that allows them to stand up to the repeated listens toddlers demand.

Various Artists
PBS Kids Rock

Proto-bluegrassers Old Crow Medicine Show and Latin rockers Ozomatli, The Weepies, Best Coast, Los Lobos, They Might Be Giants, and more traditional kids’ artist SteveSongs are featured on this fun, listenable set of brief tunes built for repeated listens.

Andrew and Polly
Odds and Ends

Like the Ledford/Kelly album Trees, this record finds an indie-folk duo presenting amiable offerings in a kid-friendly manner that parents will enjoy. Andrew and Polly also incorporate some familiar songs such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “Forever Young” that mom and dad already know.

Renee & Friends

Renee Stahl of kid’s music duo Renee & Jeremy enlisted some high-profile friends to put together this more nuanced take on music for kids. The ‘Friends’ include Lisa Loeb, Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket, Colin Hay of Men At Work, and her usual partner Jeremy Toback.

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Pigs from A to Z, Baba Yaga’s Assistant

By Free Times
Playful Pigs from A to Z
Anita Lobel (author/illustrator)
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 40 pages, $16.99
Ages: 3 to 7

It takes a true artist to make an alphabet book exceptional. In this alphabet adventure, Anita Lobel takes her playful pigs from ordinary swine to something altogether magical as they learn their letters. Lobel imbues her work with rich language and her paintings with fine details. On the page where “Sarah Pig serenaded an S,” the reader will notice a small strawberry plant on the page. Readers will be rewarded with similar surprises, page after page. A delightful gift, Playful Pigs from A to Z will engage children as they learn and grow. — Heather McCue, Richland Library Children’s Room

Baba Yaga’s Assistant
Marika McCoola (author) & Emily Carroll (illustrator)
(Candlewick Press, 136 pages, $16.99)
Ages: 7 to 12

Nothing says feel-good kid’s story like a child-eating witch, right? Yet, Marika McCoola manages to create a story where Baba Yaga is seen as almost grandmotherly.

Our heroine, Masha, finds herself adrift after losing her mother and most recently, her grandmother. Her father seems to have moved on with a new fiancé and her daughter, Danielle. Determined to find a place where she belongs, Masha answers an ad for an assistant placed by Baba Yaga.

Nothing comes easy: Masha must prove to the witch that she has what it takes. Along the way, she discovers new skills, a sense of self and a place to belong. Emily Carroll’s illustrations serve to heighten the adventure and to underscore the emotional through line in this debut graphic novel. — Heather McCue, Richland Library Children’s Room

Skink — No Surrender
Carl Hiaasen
Ember, 288 pages, $9.99 (paperback)
Ages: 12 to 18

Richard doesn’t come close to having his cousin Malley’s rebellious spirit. So when Malley runs away to avoid being sent to boarding school, it’s no surprise. What is surprising is that Richard is joined in his search to find Malley by Skink, a one-eyed former governor of Florida with a heart for justice and fearless nature.

With Skink taking the lead, he and Richard set out on a crazy mission to rescue Malley — but they’ll have to survive a lot of crazy obstacles first. Fast-paced and funny, fans of Carl Hiaasen books will enjoy every exciting twist and turn. — Christina Fuller-Gregory, Richland Library Teen Services

My Incredible Body
(Visible Body, Apple: $2.99 & Android: $9.99)
Ages: 5 to 11

This award-winning app is an educational adventure. Children can explore beautifully designed, medically accurate 3-D models of the human body to learn about the brain, heart, lungs and more. Video clips featuring quirky science facts spark curiosity and enhance learning. An in-app purchase provides access to thoughtful, age-appropriate information about the reproductive system, including the basics of anatomy and puberty. My Incredible Body is sure to delight your budding doctor or scientist. — Georgia Coleman, director of library experience, Richland Library Main

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Bites & Sights: Dining, Attractions and Nightlife in Columbia SC

Winter 2015-16
By Free Times

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The Side Line: USC Gameocks v Clemson Tigers

By Free Times

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The Side Line: USC Gameocks v The Citadel - Print Edition

By Free Times

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Holiday Guide 2015

Holiday Events and Gift Ideas
By Free Times

Holiday Gift Ideas and Events

256 to Go, p. 32
The Backpacker, p. 16
The Balance Institute, p. 17
Barberitos, p. 30
Cafe Strudel, p. 4
Camden Candlelight Tour of Homes, p. 16
Capital City Lake Murray Country Holiday Open House, p. 25
Carolina Carillon Parade, p. 27
Christmas in Cayce, p. 23
Columbia City Ballet, p. 35
Columbia Museum of Art, p. 5
Cotton Mill Exchange, p. 29
fab'rik, p. 16
Famously Hot New Year, p. 3
Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, p. 23
Five Points' A Starry Night, p. 7
Forest Acres' Sweet Seasons, p. 21
Half-Moon Outfitters, p. 6
Hawg Scooters, p. 13
His House Ministries Thrift Stores, p. 33
Holiday Lights on the River, p. 34
JP's 4 Corners Signature Southwest, p. 31
The Mad Platter, p. 31
Mast General Store, p. 2
The Oops! Company, p. 30
Red Rose Holiday Tour, p. 36
Riverbanks Zoo's Lights Before Christmas, p.10
SC State Credit Union, p. 11
Scout & Molly's, p. 16
Stella Artois, p. 18
Sustainable Holiday Celebration, p. 21
Swan Lake Fantasy of Lights, p. 25
Sylvan's, p. 9
Tio's Mexican Café, p. 28
Township Auditorium, p. 8
Uptown on Main, p. 15
USC Press, p. 12
Whole Foods, p. 14

Holiday Events
in chronological order

Vista Lights
Nov. 19. 5-9 p.m. Artistic performances, live music and dancing. Many galleries, shops and restaurants will open their doors to showcase their holiday treasures before the Vista’s tree lighting. 1301 Assembly St. 803-269-5946,

The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Nov. 20-Dec. 19. The finest trailer park in all of North Florida is gearing up for Christmas, and everyone is excited — except Darlene. Trustus Theatre, 520 Lady St., 803-254-9732,

Main Street Lights
Nov. 20. Newberry tree lighting rings in the holiday season for the city. In front of Community Hall.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Nov. 20. 8 p.m. Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs holiday favorites and more. $32-$62.50. Colonial Life Arena: 801 Lincoln St. 803-576-9200,

Palmetto Health Foundation Festival of Trees
Nov. 20-22. Auction preview Friday at 7 p.m.; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Features decorated trees, wreaths, stockings and gifts that will be up for bid during a weekend-long silent auction. The auction will also feature several children’s menorahs and dreidels. Guests will attend from across the Midlands to enjoy the holiday cheer as well as wonderful activities and entertainment. Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center: 1101 Lincoln St.

Lights Before Christmas
Nov. 20-Dec. 30. 5-9 p.m. The zoo will light up each evening with more than one million twinkling lights and countless animated images representing some of Riverbanks’ most lovable residents. 803-779-8717,

Historic Holiday Tours
Nov. 20-Jan. 3. See a variety of holiday decorations and traditions in the Robert Mills House and Hampton-Preston Mansion. Guides will provide stories of holidays past in Columbia. $8; $5 youth; free for Historic Columbia members. 803-252-1770 x 23,

Santa Signing!
Nov. 21. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Gift Shop at Robert Mills: 1616 Blanding St. 803-252-1770 x 23,

Nov. 21-Jan. 11. Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 12-5 p.m. EdVenture’s seasonal exhibition. Climb Mount EdVerest, explore an ice cave, tube down Sled Hill, a 25 ft. long slippery slope. EdVenture Children’s Museum. 211 Gervais St. 803-779-3100,

Twilight Trek: Winter Wonderland Event
Nov. 21. Get ready for a festive evening full of cheer and devoted to winter. Dinner, admission to Lights Before Christmas and snack are included. Ages 3 to adult. $30.

The Nutcracker, Carolina Ballet
Nov. 25-29. 10 a.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. Sunday. $12.50 on Wednesday; $15.50-$20.50 on Friday; $12.50-$20.50 on Sunday. Township Auditorium: 1703 Taylor St. 803-576-2350,

Saluda Shoals: Holiday Lights on the River
Nov. 25-Dec. 31. 6-10 p.m. Light displays, walking trails, carriage rides and marshmallow roasting. $15 per car; additional fees apply for some activities. Saluda Shoals Park: 5605 Bush River Rd. 803-772-3903,

Main Street Ice
Nov. 26-Jan. 18. Outdoor ice skating rink on Main Street at Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of Art.

Snowfall Nights
Nov. 27-Dec. 25. Faux snow machines will blow each Friday evening in Downtown Newberry.

Sustainable Holiday Celebration
Nov. 30. 4:30-8:30 p.m. The market features artisans and craftspeople that make our community wonderful and unique. Free food tastings and cash bar. $5 donation. 803-629-7900,

Swan Lake Fantasy of Lights
Nov. 30-Dec. 31. This Sumter tradition has been running for more than 25 years. Free nightly.

Christmas Jubilee
Dec. 1. 3 and 7 p.m. Ozark Jubilee adapts its “hillbilly humor” to a series of Christmas shenanigans. $27. Newberry Opera House, 1201 McKibben St. 803-276-6264,

Red Rose Holiday Tour
Dec. 1-17. Shopping, artisan and holiday markets, children’s Christmas activities, winter block party entertainment. Downtown Lancaster,

Cayce Tree Lighting
Dec. 3. 6 p.m. includes greetings from city officials, holiday thoughts, musical selections and a visit from Santa. Proceeds from the sale of lights for the tree are used to fund God’s Helping Hands to assist people in need. Cayce Historical Museum: 1800 12th St. 803-739-5385,

A Starry Night
Dec. 3. 4-8 p.m. Free horse carriage rides, DJ, pop-up performances from carolers, hot chocolate at the Five Points Fountain.

Midlands Clay Arts Society Holiday Sale 2015
Dec. 3-6. Opportunity to buy quality hand-crafted art pieces. Works range from sculptures and serving pieces to decorative art and jewelry. Gallery 80808, 808 Lady St., 803-361-4754,

Sweet Seasons
Dec. 4. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Community Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Richland Mall parking deck: 3400 Forest Dr. 803-782-9475,

The Lights of Cayce​
Dec. 3-31. 6 p.m. Visitors can take a ride through the Cayce City Hall complex and enjoy the magic of thousands of twinkling lights. 803-796-9020,

Carols Along the Riverwalk
Dec. 4. 6:30-8:30 p.m. The sounds of Christmas can be heard throughout the Cayce Riverwalk Park where several area church choirs and local musicians will be located within the first half-mile of the park. The Riverwalk will be lighted with luminarias, and hot apple cider will be served.​ North Avenue Entrance, Cayce Riverwalk Pavilion. 803-796-902,

The Nutcracker, Columbia Classical Ballet
Dec. 4-6. 7:30 p.m. Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. $5-$32. Koger Center: 1051 Greene St. 830-251-2222,

Jingle Arrgh the Way
Dec. 4-13. Holiday show for the whole family. Based on a story by Melinda Long, author of How I Became a Pirate. Columbia Children’s Theatre: 3400 Forest Dr. 803-691-4548,

Holiday Sales Show
Dec. 4-16. Times vary. Browse through handmade items — jewelry, stained glass, pottery, food items, handcrafted wood items and much more. Free. Douglas-Reed House: 810 Lyttleton St., Camden. 803-425-7676,

Cayce Historical Museum Christmas Traditions
Dec. 5. 6 p.m. The sights, sounds and tastes of Christmas will abound. Each room of the museum will be decorated with trees and crafts from the 18th century to present. Cayce Historical Museum: 1800 12th St. 803-739-5385,

Candlelight Tour of Homes
Dec. 5. 3-8 p.m. Tour of decorated Kershaw County homes by candlelight. $20; $15 advance. 803-300-3762,

Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade
Dec. 5. 9:45 a.m. 62nd annual parade rolls down Gervais Street in downtown Columbia with floats, marching band and live performances. Free.

Home for the Holidays Tour
Dec. 5. 1-5 p.m. Tour of uniquely decorated homes in the Shandon and Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhoods. Proceeds benefit area schools. $20.

Jingle All the Way 5K
Dec. 5. Before you wreck your body with holiday treats, do it some good. Wear your favorite holiday gear to show off some holiday cheer. Dog-friendly.

Saint Nicholas Festival
Dec. 5. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Food, crafts, choirs and a visit from the real St. Nicholas. Holy Apostles Orthodox Church: 724 Buff St.

Saturnalia Roman Festival
Dec. 5 In conjunction with the exhibition Julius Caesar: Roman Military Might and Machines, the Saturnalia Roman Festival presents Roman military reenactors, crafts, a parade, light refreshments and more. Guests are encouraged to come in Roman costume. South Carolina State Museum: 301 Gervais St. 803-898-4921,

Santa’s Gingerbread Jamboree
Dec. 5-19. Saturdays 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Holiday event for children featuring photos with Santa, gingerbread cookie decorating and more. EdVenture Children’s Museum. 211 Gervais St. 803-779-3100,

Christmas at Red Bank
Dec. 6. 6:30 p.m. For the 10th year, this concert will feature a lineup of local and regional musicians performing traditional and not-so-traditional Christmas songs. Red Bank United Methodist Church: 2909 Old Barnwell Rd.

Three Irish Tenors — Christmas From Dublin
Dec. 8. 3 and 8 p.m. The popular trio’s performance will feature holiday favorites. $40. Newberry Opera House, 1201 McKibben St. 803-276-6264,

Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker
Dec. 11. 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. An adaptation of the popular classical ballet. Features music from Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington. Jasmine Guy joins the cast as Aunt Pearl/Narrator. Township Auditorium: 1703 Taylor St. 803-576-2350,

Columbia Christmas Pageant
Dec. 11-13. First Baptist Church presents its signature Columbia Christmas Pageant, leaning on a cast and crew of 400 to spin its familiar tale. Free. First Baptist Church: 1306 Hampton St.

Singing Christmas Tree
Dec. 11-13. 7 p.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The 30-foot tree features 55,000 lights and over 150 singers, accompanied by a 30-member orchestra. Shandon Baptist Church: 5250 Forest Dr.

Holiday Motorcycle Toy Run
Dec. 12. 2:30 p.m. Motorcycle enthusiasts and friends converge on Newberry in support of the Newberry Boys Farm and other local children’s charities. Sponsored by Newberry Opera House.

208th Army Reserve Band Holiday Show
Dec. 12. 8 p.m. Led by Tim Lyden, the 208th Army Band from Concord, North Carolina boost morale with holiday big band and military march classics. Free. Newberry Opera House: 1201 McKibben St. 803-276-6264,

Harborside Festival of Lights at Lake Carolina
Dec. 12. Millions of twinkling lights, over 1,200 luminarias and dozens of decorated trees, along with other activities and entertainments. Lake Carolina Town Center: 100 Lake Carolina Blvd. 803-736-5253,

West Metro Holiday Parade of Lights
Dec. 12. 5:30 p.m. Floats, bands, animals, all lit with Christmas lights. Runs along Highway 1 and 12th Street in West Columbia. 803-794-6505,

Lake Murray Visitor Center Holiday Open House
Dec. 12-13. The Historic Lorick Plantation House (Lake Murray Visitor Center) steps back in time to Christmas season 1840. Area garden clubs and volunteers transform the center with period decorations, including live and dried plant materials. Food vendors and artists will be on hand, too. Capital City/Lake Murray Country Visitors Center: 2184 North Lake Dr. 803-781-5940,

Nutcracker Tea
Dec. 12-13. 1:30 p.m. Children’s event features a sit-down tea, cakes, cookies and appearances by the lead characters from the ballet. $25. 803-799-7605,

The Nutcracker, Columbia City Ballet
Dec. 12-20. 3 p.m. 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday (special 7:30 p.m. performance on Sunday, Dec. 20). $20-$45. Koger Center: 1051 Greene St.

Camden Community Concert Band Christmas Concert
Dec. 13. 8 p.m. This Fine Arts Center affiliate of over 50 performers who love to make music will perform holiday classics. Free. Camden High School Auditorium: 1022 Ehrenclou Dr. 803-425-7676,

Christmas with the Letterman
Dec. 13. 3 and 8 p.m. Long-running vocal group performing a Christmas set. $40. Newberry Opera House: 1201 McKibben St. 803-276-6264,

Crafty Feast
Dec. 13. Noon-6 p.m. Independent, juried craft fair specializing in experimental, nontraditional and unique handmade or repurposed crafts. $3; kids 10 and under free. Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center: 1101 Lincoln St.

South Carolina Philharmonic Holiday Pops
Dec. 13. Featuring classic, festive carols and contemporary holiday anthems, this family-friendly show will leave audience members with smiles on their faces and seasonal cheer in their hearts. $29. Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College: 7300 College St. 803-407-5011,

Chamber Choir of Kershaw County Christmas Concert
Dec. 15. 7 p.m. For more than 20 years, the Chamber Choir of Kershaw County has showcased its vocal talents during the holiday season for the community. $5. Wood Auditorium: 810 Lyttleton St. 803-425-7676,

Holiday Drop-In
Dec. 15. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Hot chocolate! Apple cider! Cookies! See the facilities, meet the practitioners and pick up holiday gift certificates. The Balance Institute, 1905 Sunset Boulevard, 803-796-4807.

A Christmas Carol
Dec. 17. 3 and 8 p.m. Production of Dickens’ famed Christmas tale. $45. Newberry Opera House: 1201 McKibben St. 803-276-6264,

Candlelight Tours and Carriage Rides
Dec. 18. 5:30-9 p.m. Purchase tickets at Robert Mills Carriage House, 1616 Blanding St. $12; $8 youth; free for Historic Columbia members; $5 for carriage rides. 803-252-1770 x 23.

Ronnie McDowell & Friends — Classic Country Christmas
Dec. 19. 7 p.m. Team of country artists offer up Christmas favorites. $25. Newberry Opera House: 1201 McKibben St. 803-276-6264,

Breakfast with Santa
Dec. 19. 8-11 a.m. Enjoy a continental breakfast while listening to seasonal music. After your meal, view the decorated halls of the Hampton-Preston Mansion, make a holiday craft to take home and take a picture with a Victorian Santa Claus. $15; $7 youth; kids 3 and under free; $12 Historic Columbia members; $5 youth members. Robert Mills Carriage House: 1616 Blanding St. 803-252-1770 x 2,

Jingle Arrgh the Way
Dec. 19. 8 p.m. Holiday show for the whole family. Based on a story by Melinda Long, author of How I Became a Pirate. $8. Wood Auditorium: 810 Lyttleton St. 803-425-7676,

Winter Fest
Dec. 19-Jan. 3. Two-week-long celebration of the winter season. Enjoy activities free with museum admission or membership. South Carolina State Museum: 301 Gervais St. 803-898-4921,

Famously Hot New Year
Dec. 31. 6:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Lauryn Hill, ColorBlind, SUSTO and Dead 27s perform at this city-sponsored downtown shindig. Free.

NYE Celebration: A Masquerade
Dec. 31. 8 p.m. Join the Dick Goodwin Big Band and a host of guest performers to welcome the New Year. Also enjoy fireworks, a small dance floor, hors d’oeuvres, decadent desserts, wine and champagne. $70. Newberry Opera House: 1201 McKibben St. 803-276-6264,

Tasting Tuesdays
Throughout December. Tuesdays 5-8 p.m. Holiday music and tastings of wine and gourmet South Carolina foods. Cotton Mill Exchange at the South Carolina State Museum: 301 Gervais St. 803-898-4921,

Governor’s Carolighting
Date TBD. Lighting of the State House Christmas tree, choir performances. Free. South Carolina State House. Main and Gervais. 803-737-0769.

Polar Express 4D Experience
Through Jan. 3. Times vary. Computer-animated version of the classic children’s book launches into 4-D. South Carolina State Museum: 301 Gervais St. 803-898-4921,

World Beer Festival
Jan. 23. What better way to wash away the holiday angst than with hundreds of beers? $50; $40 advance; $75 VIP. Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center: 1101 Lincoln St.

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Bites & Sights: Dining, Attractions and Nightlife in Columbia SC

Fall 2015
By Free Times

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Gamecocks v. UCF Knights 2015 - Print Edition

By Free Times

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Cultural Season 2015-16

Comprehensive Calendar of the Arts
By Free Times

There’s a lot going on in Columbia, and if you don’t know that then you haven’t been paying attention.

That’s where the annual Free Times Cultural Season insert comes in. Here, you’ll find listings for hundreds of upcoming arts-related events, including arts exhibitions; classical, choral and opera performances; films; theatrical productions; dance performances; literary events; and more.

If you’re already into the arts, then you already know the value of our annual calendar. If you’re new to the area or a newcomer to the arts, here’s your chance to catch up.

For further information about specific events, your best bet is to follow organizations’ websites and Facebook pages — and to check Free Times in print and online ( regularly.

Of course, schedules sometimes change, so be sure to check with the specific organization or venue as dates approach.

Venues | Music | Art | Theater
Film | Dance | Opera
Literary, Tours & Talks
Other Events & Programming
Children & Teens

Performance Venues

701 Center for Contemporary Art
701 Whaley St., 803-779-4571 must be enabled to view this email address)
Opened in the fall of 2008, the 701 Center for Contemporary Art has established itself as the go-to local space for cutting-edge, contemporary art.

Colonial Life Arena
801 Lincoln St. at Greene St.
Charge by phone: 1-855-456-2849
General Info: 803-576-9200
Opened in 2002, the 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena is the largest arena in South Carolina, hosting major concert and entertainment acts and serving as the home for USC men’s and women’s basketball.

Columbia Music Festival Association
914 Pulaski St., 803-771-6303 must be enabled to view this email address)
Founded in 1897 as an arm of local government, CMFA is an umbrella organization offering rehearsal and performance space at its ArtSpace in the Vista and support services to a wide variety of local arts groups.

Conundrum Music Hall
626 Meeting St., .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
A haven for lovers of extreme and unusual music, Conundrum is a small, acoustically enhanced room presenting everything from avant-garde jazz and contemporary classical to progressive metal and performance art.

Cottingham Theater
Located on the Columbia College campus in North Columbia, this 375-seat auditorium presents theater and dance performances.

Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County
810 Lyttleton St., Camden, 803-425-7676
Presents community-oriented theater, music, dance and exhibitions, as well as the annual Carolina Downhome Blues Festival.

Harbison Theatre
7300 College St., Irmo
Info: 803-407-5003, Tickets: 803-407-5011
The 400-seat Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College presents a high-quality and eclectic array of performing arts events that diversify Midlands Tech’s offerings and strengthen its relationship with the local community. Also serves as a rental facility for local arts organizations.

Koger Center
1051 Greene St.,
Info: 803-777-7500, Tickets: 803-251-2222
The Koger Center is operated by USC and has served as Columbia’s primary facility for the performing arts since 1989. Seats just over 2,000.

Newberry Opera House
1201 McKibben St., Newberry
Originally built in 1881, the 409-seat Newberry Opera House was named Outstanding Theater by the League of Historic American Theaters in 2008. Presents classical groups, dance ensembles, folk music, beach bands, big bands, bluegrass and more.

Sumter Opera House
21 North Main St., Sumter, 803-436-2616
First built in the late 19th century and reopened in 1987, the 550-seat Sumter Opera House maintains an active schedule of cultural events, many of which feature Columbia-based artists and writers.

Tapp’s Arts Center
1644 Main St., .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
With studio spaces and regular exhibitions, the Tapp’s Arts Center is primarily a haven for the visual arts, but it also hosts theatrical performances, film screenings, readings and musical performances.

Aundrai Holloman is director of the 85-year-old Township Auditorium, which hosts concerts, plays, comedians and more.

Township Auditorium
1703 Taylor St., Ticket Info: 803-576-2350
Charge by phone: 803-783-2222
First opened in 1930, the 3,000-plus-seat Township Auditorium has hosted such artists as Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Pink Floyd and The Clash. Reopened in 2010 after a $12 million facelift, now hosts everything from rock shows to comedians, gospel plays, hair shows and big bands. Tickets also available at

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College Guide 2015

By Free Times

City Map & Neighborhoods
You're Here … Now What?
Music & Nightlife
21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
Alcohol & Drugs

Welcome to Columbia, South Carolina, home to the University of South Carolina as well as numerous smaller schools — Midlands Tech, Benedict College, Columbia College, Allen University, Columbia International and more.

Let’s talk about what you’re getting into here.

Columbia is not:

• an ivy-draped collegiate enclave dotted with quaint academic pubs and cathedral-like libraries

Columbia is:

• a thriving capital city packed with powerful and interesting people

• a city in the midst of a residential and retail explosion, much of it fueled by private student housing developments

• an up-and-coming cultural hub full of artists, museums and events

• a party town

• a Gamecock town

• a major Southern metro area with a crime rate to match

And here you are, right in the middle of it — about to embark on perhaps the biggest challenge of your life so far: college. You might be living away from your parents for the first time and setting your own hours, while trying to make friends, have fun and have time left over to go to class and study.

The Horseshoe at USC. Photo by John Carlos

You’ll get to learn the city’s foibles soon enough.

Like the trains that sometimes shudder to a halt while blocking major roads. Or the streets that change names four or five times as they traverse the city. Or the occasional soul-crushing humidity.

But you’ll also learn why, more and more, people who graduate from Columbia’s high schools and universities are deciding to stick around. It’s a good city, and it’s getting better. Whether it’s the growing tech sector or the thriving arts community, Columbia is becoming somewhere people want to live after graduation.

We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the city and some of the challenges of college. How do you stay safe without denying yourself the pleasures of Five Points and Vista nightlife? How do you decide where to live, eat and play? We’ve also given you some general pointers on making it through college — financial tips, dealing with drugs and alcohol and more.

Our bias is clear: We love Columbia, despite its flaws, and we want you to love it, too. That’s why we encourage you to step beyond the boundaries of campus or your student housing complex. Pick up a copy of Free Times each week and see what’s going on in the world around you. Go hear some live music. Visit an ethnic restaurant. Check out the river.
So, here it is: the admittedly subjective (but very well researched) Free Times 2015 College Guide. — Eva Moore

Several current and former Free Times writers contributed to this guide. Let us know what you think: Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Best of Columbia 2015

By Free Times
Welcome to the Free Times Best of Columbia edition — the original and definitive readers’ poll in the Capital City, first launched in 1989.

From Best New Restaurant and Best Neighborhood to Best Concert and Best Local Tweeter, Free Times readers have voted by the thousands to choose this year’s winners. As always, we appreciate you taking the time to participate.

Though only one winner can be named in any category, there were many worthy contenders. This year, we’ve included not only our Runners-Up but also Honorable Mentions.

As much as we respect the will of the people, writers are an opinionated bunch, so we’ve also included Writers’ Picks in a few categories where one of our editorial staffers has an opinion that differs from that of the voters.

And the winners are … — Dan Cook

Local Media
Politics & City Life
Arts & Culture
Food & Beverage
Clubs & Bars
Goods & Services
Health, Wellness & Cosmetic

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Public Notices

By Free Times

PREGNANT? THINKING OF ADOPTION? Talk with caring agency specializing in matching Birthmothers with Families Nationwide. LIVING EXPENSES PAID. Call 24/7 Abby’s One True Gift Adoptions. 866-413-6293.


ADVERTISE YOUR AUCTION in 107 S.C. newspapers for only $375. Your 25-word classified ad will reach more than 2.3 million readers. Call Alanna Ritchie at the S.C. Newspaper Network, 1-888-727-7377.

Legal Notice

Summons and Notice of Filing of a Complaint — State of South Carolina, County of Richland, Court of Common Pleas
Tax Ease Florida REO, LLC v. Kenneth Lee Adams, et al.
Civil Action No. 2015-CP-40-07359
TO: Kenneth Lee Adams; Janice Lavern Rhodes; James Edward Adams; Deborah Kay Adams a/k/a Deborah Adams Felder; The Heirs-at-Law of Gregory Alan Adams, Sr.; Ronna Griffin Adams a/k/a Tya Adams a/k/a Ty Adams; Lizzetta Regina Adams; and Gregory Alan Adams, Jr.; Cavalry SPV I, LLC; Econ-O-Bug of Greater Columbia, Inc. a/k/a Econ-O-Bug Termite & Pest Control; Regional Finance Corporation of South Carolina a/k/a Regional Finance Corporation; Richard Roe, representing all persons who may be in the Armed Forces of the United States who have, claim, or may claim any interest in the real estate known as 213 Swandale Drive, Columbia, SC 29203; and John Doe, representing all unknown persons or entities having or claiming to have any right, title, or interest in or to, or lien upon, the real estate known as 213 Swandale Drive, Columbia, SC 29203, including minors or those under a legal disability, or the heirs, devisees, personal representatives, administrators, successors, and assigns of those unknown parties or the above-named Defendants: YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this action, a copy of which is hereby served on you, and to serve a copy of your Answer to the Complaint on the undersigned counsel for Plaintiff at 1320 Main Street, Meridian Building 17th Floor, Columbia, South Carolina, 29201, within thirty (30) days after service of this Complaint, exclusive of the day of service, and if you fail to answer the Complaint within the thirty days, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. YOU WILL ALSO TAKE NOTICE that Plaintiff will move for an order of reference or that the Court may issue a general order of reference in this action to a Master in Equity or Special Referee pursuant to Rule 53 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. YOU WILL ALSO TAKE NOTICE that a Complaint was filed on December 10, 2015 in the Richland County Clerk of Court’s Office seeking to quiet title to the above-described property. TO: Minor(s) over fourteen years of age, and/or minor(s) under fourteen years of age and the person with whom the minor(s) resides, and/or persons imprisoned (including Gregory Alan Adams, Jr.) or under some legal disability:
YOU ARE FURTHER SUMMONED AND NOTIFIED to apply for the appointment of a guardian ad litem within thirty (30) days after the service of this Summons and Notice upon you. If you fail to do so, application for such appointment will be made by Plaintiff.
Notice of Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem Nisi and Attorney. PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that on December 17, 2015, the Plaintiff in the above-titled action filed in the Office of the Clerk of Court for Richland County an Order Appointing as Guardian ad Litem Nisi and Attorney Kelley Woody, Esq., with an address of PO Box 6432, Columbia, SC 29260, 803-787-9678. This appointment becomes absolute thirty (30) days after the last publication of this notice unless you or someone on your behalf shall, on or before the last mentioned date, procure to be appointed for you a Guardian ad litem to represent your interests in this action. This action pertains to any interest you may claim in real property located at 213 Swandale Drive, Columbia, SC 29203 (Parcel No. 14304-01-02).
Matthew A. Abee, Esq.
1320 Main Street / 17th Floor
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 799-2000
Counsel for Plaintiff

SUMMONS STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF RICHLAND IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS C/A NO. 15-CP-40-6861 Dan Johnson, Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Plaintiff, VS.
Nine Hundred and 00/100ths ($900.00) Dollars US Currency, Fifty Eight and 23/100ths (58.23) Grams Marijuana, and Ronnie Werts, An Interested Party, Defendants. TO: TO THE DEFENDANTS ABOVE NAMED: RONNIE WERTS, INV. DAYLE BLACKMON, AND THE RICHLAND COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, PERSONS KNOWN TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DEFENDANT PROPERTY: YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this proceeding, copy of which is herewith served upon you, and to serve a copy of your Answer to the said Complaint on the undersigned at 2229 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201 within thirty (30) days after the service hereof, exclusive of the date of such service, and if you fail to answer the Complaint within the time aforesaid, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the original Complaint in this action was filed in the Office of the Richland County Clerk of Court on November 12, 2015. David W. Farrell
2229 Bull Street Columbia, South Carolina 29201 (803) 256-7011 ATTORNEY FOR THE PLAINTIFF Columbia, South Carolina

SUMMONS STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF RICHLAND IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS C/A NO. 15-CP-40-6864 Dan Johnson, Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Plaintiff, VS.
Six Hundred Forty Five and 00/100ths ($645.00) Dollars US Currency, One and 05/100ths (1.05) Grams Marijuana, and Jerez Johnson, An Interested Party,
Defendants. TO: TO THE DEFENDANTS ABOVE NAMED: JEREZ JOHNSON, INV. DAYLE BLACKMON, AND THE RICHLAND COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, PERSONS KNOWN TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DEFENDANT PROPERTY: YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this proceeding, copy of which is herewith served upon you, and to serve a copy of your Answer to the said Complaint on the undersigned at 2229 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201 within thirty (30) days after the service hereof, exclusive of the date of such service, and if you fail to answer the Complaint within the time aforesaid, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the original Complaint in this action was filed in the Office of the Richland County Clerk of
Court on November 12, 2015. David W. Farrell 2229 Bull Street Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 256-7011 ATTORNEY FOR THE PLAINTIFF Columbia, South Carolina

SUMMONS STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF RICHLAND IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS C/A NO. 15-CP-40-6868 Dan Johnson, Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Plaintiff,
VS. Seven Hundred Twenty and 00/100ths ($720.00) Dollars US Currency, Three and 88/100ths (3.88) Grams Marijuana, and Eric Bethel, An Interested Party, An Interested Party, Defendants. TO: TO THE DEFENDANTS ABOVE NAMED: ERIC BETHEL, INV. DAYLE BLACKMON, AND THE RICHLAND COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, PERSONS KNOWN TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DEFENDANT PROPERTY: YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this proceeding, copy of which is herewith served upon you, and to serve a copy of your Answer to the said Complaint on the undersigned at 2229 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201 within thirty (30) days after the service hereof, exclusive of the date of such service, and if you fail to answer the Complaint within the time aforesaid, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the original Complaint in this action was filed in the Office of the Richland County Clerk of Court on November 12, 2015. David W. Farrell
2229 Bull Street Columbia, South Carolina 29201 (803) 256-7011 ATTORNEY FOR THE PLAINTIFF Columbia, South Carolina

SUMMONS STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF RICHLAND IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS C/A NO. 15-CP-40-7045 Dan Johnson, Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Plaintiff, VS.
One Thousand Five Hundred Fifty One and 00/100ths ($1,551.00) Dollars US Currency, Forty Two and 71/100ths (42.71) Grams Marijuana, and Marquis Russell, An Interested Party, Defendants. TO: TO THE DEFENDANTS ABOVE NAMED: MARQUIS RUSSELL, INV. DAYLE BLACKMON, AND THE RICHLAND COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, PERSONS KNOWN TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DEFENDANT PROPERTY: YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this proceeding, copy of which is herewith served upon you, and to serve a copy of your Answer to the said Complaint on the undersigned at 2229 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201 within thirty (30) days after the service hereof, exclusive of the date of such service, and if you fail to answer the Complaint within the time aforesaid, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the original Complaint in this action was filed in the Office of the Richland County Clerk of Court on November 20, 2015. David W. Farrell 2229 Bull Street Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 256-7011 ATTORNEY FOR THE PLAINTIFF Columbia, South Carolina

SUMMONS STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF RICHLAND IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS C/A NO. 15-CP-40-7048 Dan Johnson, Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Plaintiff, VS.
One Thousand Forty Two and 00/100ths ($1,042.00) Dollars US Currency, Seven and 05/100ths (7.05) Grams Cocaine, and Byron Johnson, An Interested Party, Defendants.
TO: TO THE DEFENDANTS ABOVE NAMED: BYRON JOHNSON, INV. DAYLE BLACKMON, AND THE RICHLAND COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, PERSONS KNOWN TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DEFENDANT PROPERTY: YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this proceeding, copy of which is herewith served upon you, and to serve a copy of your Answer to the said Complaint on the undersigned at 2229 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201 within thirty (30) days afte
r the service hereof, exclusive of the date of such service, and if you fail to answer the Complaint within the time aforesaid, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the original Complaint in this action was filed in the Office of the Richland County Clerk of Court on November 20, 2015. David W. Farrell
2229 Bull Street Columbia, South Carolina 29201 (803) 256-7011 ATTORNEY FOR THE PLAINTIFF Columbia, South Carolina

SUMMONS STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF RICHLAND IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS C/A NO. 15-CP-40-7187 Dan Johnson, Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Plaintiff, VS.
Five Hundred Eighty Five and 00/100ths ($585.00) Dollars US Currency, Twenty Seven and 64/100ths (27.64) Grams Marijuana, and Eddwan Taylor, An Interested Party, Defendants. TO: TO THE DEFENDANTS ABOVE NAMED: EDDWAN TAYLOR, INV. DAYLE BLACKMON, AND THE RICHLAND COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, PERSONS KNOWN TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DEFENDANT PROPERTY: YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this proceeding, copy of which is herewith served upon you, and to serve a copy of your Answer to the said Complaint on the undersigned at 2229 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201 within thirty (30) days after the service hereof, exclusive of the date of such service, and if you fail to answer the Complaint within the time aforesaid, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the original Complaint in this action was filed in the Office of the Richland County Clerk of Court on December 1, 2015. David W. Farrell 2229 Bull Street Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 256-7011 ATTORNEY FOR THE PLAINTIFF Columbia, South Carolina

SUMMONS STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF RICHLAND IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS C/A NO. 15-CP-40-7190 Dan Johnson, Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Plaintiff,
VS. Five Hundred Eighty Dive and 00/100ths ($585.00) Dollars US Currency, Seven Hundred Five and 00/100ths ($705.00) Dollars US Currency, Two Hundred Sixty Two and 00/100ths ($262.00) Dollars US Currency, Five Hundred Forty Nine and 05/100ths (549.05) Grams Marijuana, and Zabian Ashley and Michael Thomas aka Antwan Thomas, Interested Parties,
Defendants. TO: TO THE DEFENDANTS ABOVE NAMED: MICHAEL THOMAS aka ANTWAN THOMAS, INV. DAYLE BLACKMON, AND THE RICHLAND COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, PERSONS KNOWN TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DEFENDANT PROPERTY: YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this proceeding, copy of which is herewith served upon you, and to serve a copy of your Answer to the said Complaint on the undersigned at 2229 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201 within thirty (30) days after the service hereof, exclusive of the date of such service, and if you fail to answer the Complaint within the time aforesaid, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the original Complaint in this action was filed in the Office of the Richland County Clerk of Court on December 1, 2015. David W. Farrell 2229 Bull Street Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 256-7011 ATTORNEY FOR THE PLAINTIFF Columbia, South Carolina

This is Legal Notice is pursuant to South Carolina Code Section 16-23-55. The following handguns were turned in to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department as found property and their owners are unknown. If one of these unclaimed weapons belongs to you, please contact the Evidence and Property Section of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, 5623 Two Notch Road, Columbia, SC 29223, 803-576-3000. You will by law be required to provide proof of ownership. It must be legal for you to possess a firearm based on a criminal background check and under state or federal law. You must respond to this ad by May 10, 2016 to claim your handgun. The weapons are as follows: Remington UMC 380 caliber serial number PA10616, Taurus Revolver 38 caliber serial number KG52969, Colt Revolver 45 caliber SA4579, Navy Arms Revolver 36 caliber serial number 024471, HiPoint Semiauto 45 caliber serial number 335333, Springfield Arms XDM 40 caliber serial number MG237560, Unknown make M1935A 32 caliber serial number 9985A, 22 Caliber Revolver model RG10 ser# 151390, Unknown make revolver serial number A13587.


HIGH RISK DRIVER? Stop paying too much for SR-22 or similar High-Risk Car Insurance! Call our FREE hotline today for CHEAPER coverage! CALL 844-288-8190.

HOMELESS WORK PROGRAM Help the homeless get work. If you need someone to work, call for info. 803-800-4563 or 803-477-2668. Also accepting unneeded items, junk cars. In search of a house or building for church soup kitchen. Marvin Mann Homeless Director, Cola SC.

Xarelto users have you had complications due to internal bleeding (after January 2012)? If so, you MAY be due financial compensation. If you don’t have an attorney, CALL Injuryfone today! 1-800-457-3949

Reader Notice

APPLYING FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS? Call our nationwide firm 1-800-404-5928. Win or pay nothing (Exp. Incl.) Bill Gordon & Associates. Member TX/NM Bar, 1420 N Street NW #102, Washington DC 20005

ELIMINATE CELLULITE and Inches in weeks! All natural. Odor free. Works for men or women. Free month supply on select packages. Order now! 844-244-7149 (M-F 9am-8pm central)

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Annual Manual 2016: Health & Fitness

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

South Carolina still has a long way to go in regard to becoming a healthier state.

The Palmetto State ranked 42nd in the United Health Foundation’s 2015 health rankings, which was unchanged from 2014. The state finished 43rd in the 2013 rankings.

The rankings do reveal some positives. For instance, cardiovascular deaths in South Carolina have decreased by 41 percent since 1990. And infant mortality has decreased by 34 percent in the past 20 years.

But the foundation also notes that South Carolina still has a “high prevalence of smoking” — 21.5 percent compared to 17.4 percent nationally, according to the Kaiser Foundation — and there is “low immunization coverage among adolescents.”

The good news is there are multiple resources out there for those who want to be in better health. From classes to health food stores to a plethora of gyms and workout facilities and more, Midlands residents have plenty of opportunities to start living healthier lives.

How much exercise do you need? In general, the federal Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. You could get it walking around your neighborhood or a park, or you could go to a gym.

Anytime Fitness
Want to work out at 2 a.m.? Go for it. Multiple Midlands locations.

Carolina CrossFit
1825 Laurel St., 803-814-0318
“Routine is the enemy to exceptional fitness.” Go for CrossFit training, and you will end up stronger, faster and healthier.

Cayce Fitness & Tennis Center
1120 Fort Congaree Trail, 803-227-3030
The main draw here: beautiful tennis courts and lessons at low prices. But it’s also a full-on fitness center.

CrossFit Iron Mary’s
711 East Main St., Lexington 803-414-9601
Offers broad, general and inclusive fitness training. Motto: “Our specialty is not specializing.”

CrossFit Rivalry
4046 Fernandina Rd., 803-729-5256
Curious about CrossFit? Schedule a free 45-minute sessions where you’ll get a tour of the facilities and staff will coach you through a warmup and workout.

932 Knox Abbott Dr. (Cayce), 803-960-3797
From bodysculpting to kickboxing, working on your own or with a personal trainer or a small group, The FIXX is committed to encouraging, supporting and challenging you in reaching your fitness goals.

Gyrotonic Columbia
3400 Forest Dr., 803-730-6092
Featuring dancer and choreographer Miriam Barbosa, Gyrotonic Columbia specializes in core strength building, rehabilitation and injury prevention and balancing the body.

Hampton Hill Athletic Club
5910 Garners Ferry Rd., 803-667-9060
One of Columbia’s most popular fitness centers, Hampton Hill offers a wide variety of fitness and nutrition programs and also operates a salon and day spa.

MUV Fitness
Multiple Midlands Locations
The five Gold’s Gym locations in South Carolina became MUV Fitness locations in December 2015. They are still full-service gyms, even offering InBody Composition Analysis to help create a customized exercise and diet plan based on your individual body makeup.

Pilates Bodies by Victoria
1633 Main St., 730-3929
Want increased strength and mobility without bulking up? Pilates might be for you.

Pilates of Forest Acres
1572 Sunnyside Dr., 803-800-6726
Offers a holistic approach combining fitness with awareness.

Pilates Studio of Columbia
2864 Devine St., 803-920-1006
Offers a safe, intelligent alternative to the stress caused by years of incorrect forms of exercise or damaging work-related wear and tear. Also has an Irmo location.

Planet Fitness | photo by john Carlos

Planet Fitness
National franchise known for its low prices and Judgment-Free Zone motto. Locations on Garners Ferry and Two Notch roads, and in Dutch Square.

Pure Barre Columbia
2123-A Greene St., 803-254-0078
Fuses elements of ballet, pilates and weights in a 55-minute session focused on thighs, butt, abs and back of the arms.

Warrior Fitness
Warrior Fitness strives to tap into your commitment and passion, giving you a structured workout regardless of what level you’re at. Locations in Northeast Columbia and Camden.

YMCA of Columbia
1420 Sumter St., 803-799-9187
Work downtown? You can work out at the Y. Also has Lexington, Irmo and Lake Carolina locations.

Ask any professional nutritionist: While you can certainly drop some pounds in the short term with a restrictive fad diet, the only thing that’s going to make you healthier in the long term is to change your eating habits.

So, what’s the solution? Maybe some mindful eating? Maybe hiring a nutritionist? Or maybe just spending more time looking for whole foods grown by local farmers.

14 Carrot
5300 Sunset Blvd., Lexington, 803-359-2920,
A locally run, comprehensive natural foods store in Lexington, with an ever-rotating selection of meats and seafood, including local shrimp. Lots of focus on raw foods, including raw milk; nicely stocked deli; packaged foods, beauty and health products, cleaning products and more.

City Roots
1005 Airport Blvd., 803-254-2302
In the heart of lower Rosewood, City Roots is a working urban farm, with classes, volunteer opportunities, parties and other events. Visit the chickens, feel the warm compost, check out the tilapia pond and the two greenhouses, pick some strawberries — it’s all educational, and the produce is delicious.

Cottle Farms
2533 Trotter Rd., Hopkins, 803-695-1714
During the spring months — April, May and part of June — Cottle lets you pick your own strawberries by the quart or gallon. The berries are also available at roadside stands throughout the region. To find other pick-your-own operations, visit

Doko Farm
2101 Cedar Creek Rd., Blythewood, 803-873-7739,
A family farm in Cedar Creek dating to 1839, Doko is run by Joe and Amanda Jones. The couple raises pygmy goats, hogs and heritage fowl; they make honey; and they offer volunteer opportunities. Visit the website for news on farm tours and other events.

Earth Fare
3312-B Devine St., 803-799-0048
This natural grocery sources organic foods from all over the world. It has a great selection, with a stellar meat and seafood counter, tons of produce, wines and cheeses, a huge deli, books, vitamins and supplements, beauty products and more.

The Fresh Market
4840 Forest Dr., 803-782-9100
Long before Whole Foods moved in, The Fresh Market was offering top-notch produce, meats and seafood. In addition to those staples, the market also serves up fresh flowers, bulk dry goods, a wide range of cheeses and — on the not-so-healthy side, because you’ve got to have fun once in awhile — a wide array of candy.

Old McCaskill’s Farm
377 Cantey Lane (Rembert), 803-432-9537
Tours, sheep shearing, canning kitchen with jams, jellies, pickles and relishes. Animals are antibiotic- and medication-free.

Rosewood Market
2803 Rosewood Dr., 803-765-1083
This gem of a neighborhood market was local and sustainable before anyone else knew or cared what that meant. Though small in size, Rosewood Market packs a punch in offerings: fresh, local foods; natural beauty products; vitamins and herbs; plus, catering and takeout options.

Soda City Market
1400-1500 block of Main Street, 803-250-5801,
Launched by former pig farmer and state Agriculture Commissioner candidate Emile DeFelice, this market is serious about keeping it local. From flowers to bakery items to local produce, the offerings are carefully edited and always fresh. Lots of breakfast offerings. Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

State Farmers Market
3483 Charleston Hwy., West Columbia, 803-737-4664
Opened in 2010 (it used to be across from Williams-Brice Stadium), the State Farmers Market isn’t just for wholesale operations — there’s also a restaurant and a market pavilion in the Corbett Building. Open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

Whole Foods
702 Cross Hill Road, 803-509-6700
The big daddy of the natural foods store world, Whole Foods opened its first Columbia store in 2012. Fantastic deli, cheese counter and seafood, plus a huge selection of fresh produce.

Weight Loss

Carolina Bariatric Medical Clinic
2311 Sunset Blvd., 803-796-3820
Offers individualized programs emphasizing the nutritional content of different foods (including proteins, carbohydrates, and fats), the amount of food eaten, the time food is eaten and the amount of exercise done by a person.

Columbia Hypnosis
1103 Belleview Street, Suite 107, 888-757-3639,
If you’ve tried everything else, why not try hypnosis? Hypnosis is used in conjunction with tools and encouragement to improve your eating habits and get you more physically active.

Jenny Craig
4600 Forest Dr., 803-787-3553
1230 Bower Pkwy, 803-732-9100
Need someone (besides your spouse) to nudge you along? You can talk to your Jenny Craig consultant up to five times a week.

Metabolic Medical Center
2100 N. Beltline Blvd., 803-758-5858
Programs are tailored to meet specific weight-loss needs based on family history, lab results, personal goals and lifestyle.

Medi-Weightloss Clinic - Irmo
1 Wellness Blvd., 803-454-6300
Physician-supervised weight loss program designed by experts in medicine, public health, nutrition, fitness, motivation and education.

Physicians Weight Loss Center
7001 St. Andrews Rd., 803-732-0505
9610 Two Notch Rd., 803-419-2080
Offers six different programs designed to fit your particular situation.

South Carolina Obesity Surgery Center
146 North Hospital Dr., Ste. 430, West Columbia, 803-791-2828
Have things gotten to the point that surgery would be advisable? Talk to your doctor.

Watermark Hypnosis
1705 Richland St., 803-750-2000
You want to make a change? Whether it’s weight loss, depression or smoking, Watermark can be part of a change to a healthier lifestyle.

Weight Watchers
1410 Colonial Life Blvd. West, 803-731-7953,
Weight Watchers is flexible and peer-powered; it’s been around for a long time because it’s worked for a lot of people.

Mental & Spiritual Health

Amsa Yoga
140 Pelham Dr., 803-738-5305
Offers basic yoga, deep stretch yoga, dynamic flow yoga and gentle yoga, among others, as well as meditation and mindfulness training.

The Balance Institute
1905 Sunset Blvd., 803-796-4807
Offers not only yoga, but also massage therapy and aikido martial arts. Personal training available, too.

City Yoga
2121 College St., 803-799-5400
Coming from the Tantric Yoga tradition, City Yoga nonetheless welcomes all styles of practice in its effort to create a community of spiritual awakening, emotional growth, intellectual refinement and physical unfolding. Offers a wide range of classes, including prenatal yoga and playful yoga sessions for kids.

Columbia Area Mental Health Center
2715 Colonial Dr., 803-898-4800
Services range from psychiatric medical assessments to community housing and rehabilitation services.

Columbia Tai Chi Center
2761 Rosewood Dr., 803-873-2100
Tai Chi is a type of martial art that offers many of the same stress management, health and fitness benefits as yoga, meditation and pilates.

Masala on Main
1604 Main St., 803-799-6422
Yoga Masala boasts that it gives you “the space to create your own blend of strength and softness, of guts and grace, of the mental and the physical.” Sounds cool to us. There is also a location on Bluff Road.

Mental Health America of S.C.
1823 Gadsden St., 803-779-5363
Offers depression screenings and suicide prevention resources. Also engages in community outreach and advocacy.

S.C. Dept. of Mental Health
As the agency charged with looking out for the mental health of the state’s residents, DMH offers numerous services and informational resources.

Yoga and Wellness Center of Columbia
2730 Millwood Ave., 803-765-2159
Focuses on Kundalini yoga and meditation, with an emphasis on energy, breathing and moving meditative exercises.

More Health Resources

Not Insured Yet?
Perhaps you’ve heard of this thing called the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Under the law, you’re supposed to have health insurance — and that insurance will cover a lot of preventative services. If you haven’t signed up yet, visit to review your options. Jan. 31 is the deadline to enroll for a plan in 2016.

Financial Health
Research shows your financial health affects your mental health, too — all those bills really can affect your state of mind. So part of getting healthy is getting your financial picture under control, too.

The South Carolina Association of CPAs partners with Junior Achievement to present financial literacy programs to K-12 students throughout the state; learn more about the association at Are you a college student? The University of South Carolina’s Student Success Center offers help in budgeting, identity theft, protecting your credit and more. Visit For all ages — and tailored to categories from teens to retirees — The American Institute of CPAs operates a free financial literacy site at

Health Classes
If you’re looking for a holistic way to get healthy in the New Year — as opposed to just heading to the gym once and then giving up — you might want to check out the health management classes at Lexington Medical Center. There are individualized support groups for people with asthma, respiratory problems or other specific health issues. Call 791-2869 for more information.

Smoking Cessation Classes
If you want to quit smoking, one place to start is by calling CareCall at 803-296-2273 to get information about Palmetto Health’s smoking cessation program. You can find more local resources at and

Over 50?
The Lourie Center presents speakers, classes, support services and other programs for adults over the age of 50. Learn more at

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Annual Manual 2016: Food & Drink

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

High-end dining is booming in the Midlands, from the stately Oak Table to the hip little Thai bistro Baan Sawan. And at the less fancy end of the spectrum, it was a banner year for ethnic restaurants, hip bakeries, cool coffee shops, sweet breweries, and ever more markets.

To help you find exactly what you’re looking for, we’ve split our food and drink listings into five categories: The Classics, without which this guide would be incomplete; the Classy joints with the upscale menus and hot chefs; the Cool places to challenge your palate; the Caffeine purveyors who can provide your daily fix; and the Craft Beer brewpubs and breweries.

Keep in mind, this list is an introduction to the local dining scene — not a comprehensive overview of it. For that, check out

Price Key
¢ avg. entrée < $10
$ avg. entrée = $10-15
$$ avg. entrée > $15

These are the Columbia restaurants where your parents ate when they were in college, the ones with tattered photos on the wall of former local celebrities, the ones that serve as the culinary underpinning of the city. Mostly Southern, mostly hearty, these places will get you fed right.

Downtown: 919-B Sumter St., 803-771-7771
Sandwiches like the T-Bird, the Godfather and the Rebel Rouser have become mainstays for any self-respecting college student or budget-conscious diner. Delivers until the wee hours. ¢.

Big T Barbecue
Gadsden: 2520 Congaree Rd., 803-353-0488
Garners Ferry/Southeast: 7535 Garners Ferry Rd., 803-776-7132
Northeast: 1061 Sparkleberry Ln., 788-4295
Big T’s turns out some of the best barbecue in town. Pit-cooked pulled pork is the standout, served with hot or mild, slightly sweet mustard-based sauce. The sides are first-rate. Friendly people, generous portions. $.

Carolina Café and Catering Company
USC/South Main: 925 Sumter St., 803-799-6676
Looking to rub elbows with a legislator or lobbyist? A favorite with the State House set, not to mention USC students, Carolina Café is a conveniently located spot for a muffin, cookie or bagel (they make 14 different kinds). Serves breakfast and lunch all day, seven days a week. ¢.

D’s Wings
West Columbia/Cayce: 920 Axtell Dr. (Parkland Plaza), 803-791-4486
Delectable ribs — seriously, they’re special — plus burgers, sandwiches, chicken fingers and more. Dinner options include marinated ribeye, fried shrimp and more. Also offers tailgating specials featuring wings, ribs, sandwiches, fruit and cheese. ¢.

Dano’s Pizza
Shandon/Rosewood: 3008 Rosewood Dr., 803-254-3266
New York-style and gourmet pizzas sold by the pie or slice include the Spicy Buffalo Chicken, the Barbecue Chicken, the Meat Lovers and the Deluxe. Dinner menu also offers veal parmesan, manicotti and stuffed shells. Great place to drink a beer and watch the game. ¢.-$

Drake’s Duck-In
Downtown: 1544 Main St., 803-799-9290
Known for its cheeseburgers, chicken filet sandwiches and other very affordable eats, Drake’s Duck-In offers some of the best, fastest fast-food-that’s-not-fast-food you’ll find anywhere in town. ¢.

Edna’s Drive-In
North Columbia: 3609 River Dr., 803-252-6696
A modest kiosk that’s been dishing out some of the city’s best and cheapest hamburgers and hot dogs to generations of Columbians. A genuine local institution. ¢.

Egg Roll Chen
Garners Ferry/Southeast:
715 Crowson Rd., 803-787-6820
A longtime Columbia favorite, packed at the dinner hour with everyone from lawyers to construction workers, Eggroll Chen makes fresh Chinese favorites to order: Spicy Taiwan Beef, Hot & Nutty Chicken, perfect lo mein and the famous Mamasan’s Beef Noodle Soup. ¢.

Groucho’s | photo by john carlos

Garden Bistro
Vista: 1303 Assembly St., 803-933-9085
Healthy downtown lunch option with an eclectic assortment of soup, salads, wraps and specialty sandwiches. ¢.

Blythewood: 730 University Village Dr., 803-754-4509
Five Points: 611 Harden St., 803-799-5708
Forest Acres: 4717 Forest Dr., 803-790-0801
Harbison/Irmo: 800 Lake Murray Blvd., 803-749-4515
Lexington: 117 1/2 East Main St., 803-356-8800
West Columbia/Cayce: 2265 Sunset Blvd., 803-796-7826
Open since 1941, Groucho’s is beloved by students, businesspeople and generations of Columbia residents. The Apollo and the STP Dipper sandwiches are locally famous for good reason. ¢.

Five Points: 700 Harden St., 803-252-2222
Part of a small, Charlotte-based chain, Harper’s exceeds chain standards. While the menu has burgers, sandwiches and beef, Harper’s also offers fresh seafood, creative salads and more. $.

J Peters
Forest Acres: 2005 N Beltline Blvd., 803-738-3760
A South Carolina-grown chain bar and grill specializing in fine steaks — but don’t miss the she crab soup or the many other menu items. $.

The Kingsman
West Columbia/Cayce: 936 Axtell Dr. (Parkland Shopping Center), 803-796-8622
This longtime Cayce favorite offers an extensive menu featuring everything from fried appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and wings to salads, lasagna and even liver and onions. Serves liquor. Busy lunch, lots of atmosphere. ¢.

Liberty Tap Room & Grill
Vista: 828 Gervais St., 803-461-4677
Cool Vista bar and grill offers burgers, salads, sandwiches and steaks — and a beloved brunch. $.

Little Pigs
Northeast: 4927 Alpine Rd., 803-788-8238
Amazing spread of barbecue buffet offerings including yams, corn, baked beans, fried okra, onion rings, hush puppies, green beans and more. Three sauced varieties of barbecue, plus a plain pig for pickin’. ¢.

Maurice’s Piggie Park
Downtown: 800 Elmwood Ave., 803-256-4377
Harbison/Irmo: 1141 Lake Murray Blvd., 803-732-5555
Lexington: 766 W. Main St., 803-359-8789
Lexington: 1010 S. Lake Dr., 803-356-1909
Northeast: 252 O’Neil Ct., 803-865-0608
Northeast: 9563 Two Notch Rd., 803-462-0882
Shandon/Rosewood: 4411 Devine St., 803-782-9547
St. Andrews/Dutch Square: 622 St. Andrews Rd., 803-772-6999
West Columbia/Cayce: 1600 Charleston Hwy., 803-796-0220
West Columbia/Cayce: 2450 Augusta Rd., 803-796-4777
This Midlands barbecue institution pit-cooks its juicy pork, ribs, beef and chicken over hickory coals, and its Carolina Gold mustard-based sauce is legendary. Once a magnet for controversy under the late Maurice Bessinger, now a younger generation has taken over — and it’s focused strictly on the barbecue. ¢.

Michael’s Cafe and Catering
Downtown: 1620 Main St., 803-726-2233
Located in a renovated Main Street building, Michael’s serves up excellent versions of deli favorites and downhome classics: pimento cheese, chicken pot pie, salads, sandwiches and more. $

VISTA: 923 Gervais St., 803-779-9599
Long considered Columbia’s best place for dessert (seriously, it wins Free Times’ Best of Columbia dessert category year after year), Nonnah’s also serves regular food, hitting that sweet spot of Southern-ladies-who-lunch fare with sandwiches, crepes and salads. $$.

Original Pancake House
Forest Acres: 4840 Forest Dr. (Trenholm Plaza), 803-782-6742
Pancakes as you like them. Offering a full menu including cinnamon-glazed apple pancakes, freshly squeezed juices, homemade fruit syrups and more. And if you’re not in the mood for pancakes, try the meat-lovers omelet. The weekend lines are long for a reason. ¢.

Palmetto Pig
Downtown: 530 Devine St., 803-733-2556
For your downtown barbecue fix, here’s an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring pulled pork barbecue, hash, green beans, slaw and crispy fried chicken. $.

Pizza Joint
Forest Acres: 3246 Forest Dr., 803-454-1743
This popular Forest Acres spot has pizza, obviously, but it also serves up calzones, strombolis and sandwiches, along with a wide selection of beer with which to wash down that yummy Italian goodness. ¢-$

Pizza Man
Shandon/Rosewood: 341 S. Woodrow St., 803-252-6931
A comfortable, dimly lit bar with good, cheap pizza and a cast of regulars. Serves a wide variety of toppings on wafer-thin crusts, as well as appetizers, subs, hamburgers, salads and chicken wings. ¢.

Rockaway Athletic Club
Shandon/Rosewood: 2719 Rosewood Dr., 803-256-1075
So famous it doesn’t even have a sign. For years, locals have been flocking to Rockaway’s, as it’s usually known, for its unbeatable pimento cheeseburgers and solid bar food. ¢-$.

Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs | file photo

Salty Nut Café
Five Points: 2000-A Greene St., 803-256-4611
Huge tasty burgers, comfy indoor and outdoor seating, and peanut shells on the floor. ¢-$.

Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs
Downtown: 825 S. Main St., 803-254-6914
Lexington: 5175 Sunset Blvd., 803-356-9956,
St. Andrews/Dutch Square: 1935 Broad River Rd., 803-772-1020
St. Andrews/Dutch Square: 612 St. Andrews Rd., 803-772-8617
Proving that chili and coleslaw and onions and mustard can elevate the simple grilled wiener to something approaching haute cuisine, this local chain has been many a Columbian’s introduction to the sublime world of a well-prepared slaw dog. Sandy’s also sells ice cream, though if you still have room after the main event, you’re doing something wrong. ¢.

Northeast: 6729 Two Notch Rd., 803-788-6254
Delicious Philly cheesesteaks, plus old-school Northeastern cuisine from Italian subs and lasagnas to pizzas. ¢-$

Five Points: 2030 Devine St., 803-799-0196
A Columbia landmark since 1978, people flock here not just for a glimpse of a cowboy in a bathtub but also to throw back some suds while filling up on the heartiest fare in town, including meatloaf, broiled salmon, shrimp and grits and awesome country fried steak. Just about everything comes with veggies, too, unless you’re ordering late-night, when the sides scale back to slaw and fries and cold draught beer. ¢.

Columbia offers some pretty fine dining — and it’s not all filet mignon and tiny asparagus spears, either. If you’re looking to impress a client or date, or just to treat yourself to a classy dinner out, these are the Midlands’ best choices.

@116 State
West Columbia/Cayce: 116 State St., 803-791-5663
Combine a coffee shop atmosphere with great wine and food, and you have @116 on State Street. Fresh-baked pastries and homemade soups accompany meat and seafood main courses, pizzas and empanadas. A Sunday brunch features omelets, sweet potato pancakes and more. Also has Spanish wines, great sangria, martinis and a White Russian drinks menu. $.

Baan Sawan
Five Points/Shandon: 2135 Devine St., 803-252-8992
Baan Sawan serves expertly prepared Thai standards like pad thai and curries, but also offers dishes you won’t find elsewhere — the Thai-spiced pulled pork shoulder that shows up on the specials board from time to time — and inventive seafood creations. It’s pricy Thai food, but well worth it. Classy setting and staff, and a quirky, loving approach to beer and wine. $-$$.

Blue Marlin
Vista: 1200 Lincoln St., 803-799-3838
Specializing in creative seafood dishes with a decidedly Lowcountry flair, Blue Marlin also serves hand-cut steaks and prime rib. Shrimp and grits is a top seller, with the grits coming from right across the street at Adluh Flour. $.

Downtown: 1214 Main St., 803-403-1404
Serves high-end Cajun-Creole and Southern cuisine in a cozy renovated Main Street space, with daily chef-driven specials. Amazing assortment of whiskeys. $$.

Cellar On Greene
Five Points: 2001-D Greene St., 803-343-3303
Part wine shop, part tapas bar, the Cellar on Greene is the place to go for wines by the half and full-glass or bottle and an ever-changing menu of Continental, Mediterranean and bistro-style dishes. Sparkling wine by the glass is half price on Tuesdays — possibly the best deal in town. $-$$.

Downtown: 1215 Assembly St., 803-451-0051
An American bistro with diverse influences, Cola’s has a classy bar, big windows that open to the fresh air, and tasty Continental-Southern fare. $$.

Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse
Downtown: 1508 Main St., 803-728-0887
Visit the enormous salad bar, then partake in the never-ending parade of sizzling grilled meats being carried around the dining room. Some 30 cuts available, including filet mignon, chicken wing, pork sausage, lamb shoulder and beef picanha — a special Brazilian cut. $$.

DiPrato’s Delicatessen
Five Points/Shandon: 342 Pickens St., 803-779-0606
A stone’s throw from Maxcy Gregg Park, DiPrato’s brings a New York attitude to its gourmet deli selections, including signature sandwiches and salads, plus dinner entrées that include crab cakes and salmon. ¢-$.

Gervais & Vine
Vista: 620-A Gervais St., 803-799-8463
True Mediterranean wine and tapas bar with more than 40 wines by the glass and a wide selection of appetizers. Dishes fuse Greek, Italian and Spanish cuisine. ¢-$.

Hampton Street Vineyard
Downtown: 1201 Hampton St., 803-252-0850
Innovative American cuisine with seasonal menu changes, featuring fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, lamb, duck, veal and accommodating and professional service all taking place in an urban cool space below the sidewalk in the historic Sylvan Building. ¢-$$.

Miyo’s | file photo

M Grille, M Kitchen, M Vista and Miyo’s
Forest Acres: 3250 Forest Dr., 803-743-9996
Harbison/Irmo: 340 Columbiana Dr., 803-764-1285
Harbison/Irmo: 1220 E-2 Bower Pkwy., 803-781-7788
Lexington: 5594 Sunset Blvd., 803-957-9888
Northeast: 715 Fashion Dr., Ste. 1, Village at Sandhill, 803-788-8878
Vista: 531 Lady St., 803-708-8881
Vista: 701-C Lady St., 803-255-8884
Michelle Wang’s restaurants are different from each other, but they all offer healthy Asian food. Choose from standard Chinese stir fry dishes, including vegetarian options, or reasonably priced grilled items like salmon or flank steak, which come with a healthful salad plus a choice of white rice, brown rice or steamed noodles. Sushi, too. ¢-$$.

Motor Supply Co. Bistro
Vista: 920 Gervais St., 803-256-6687
An early pioneer of dining in the Vista 20 years ago, Motor Supply’s eclectic menu reflects a classic bistro mentality and changes every day and every night. Upbeat, cosmopolitan atmosphere and excellent food with a focus on fresh, local produce and artisanal techniques. Especially popular for Sunday brunch. $-$$.

Mr. Friendly’s | photo by john carlos

Mr. Friendly’s
Five Points: 2001-A Greene St., 803-254-7828
This popular little bistro, tucked into the side of Claussen’s Inn, serves “good, old fashioned, New Southern Cuisine.” In addition to its daily menu, Mr. Friendly’s offers innovative nightly specials. $-$$.

The Oak Table
Downtown: 1221 Main St., 803-563-5066
A fantastic view of the State House, not to mention excellent high-end fine dining fare, from deep-fried whole lobster to refined steaks, crispy-roasted mushrooms and much more. Sundays feature a great brunch. $-$$.

Ristorante Divino
Vista: 803 Gervais St., 803-799-4550
You’ll find classic Northern Italian dishes here, as well as innovative specials incorporating seafood, Southern ingredients and more. $$.

Rosso Trattoria Italia
Forest Acres: 4840 Forest Dr., 803-787-3949
Great seafood highlights the Italian-Mediterranean menu, but don’t miss out on the wood-fired traditional pizzas. Risottos, grilled meats and fabulous salads abound. $-$$.

Five Points: 751 Saluda Ave., 803-799-9500
This fine-dining establishment with a great view of Five Points offers cutting-edge culinary styles that blend Italian, French and Lowcountry influences. Serves seafood, beef, chicken and vegetarian entrees. $$.

Solstice Kitchen
Northeast: 841 Sparkleberry Ln., 803-788-6966
This Northeast eatery presents an upscale dining experience with South Carolina seafood and hand-cut steaks. Constantly rotating specials. Extensive wine list and elegant yet cozy atmosphere. $-$$.

West Columbia/Cayce: 100 State St., 803-791-3443
This upscale Vista West spot is home to serious food artistry. Chef Mike Davis mixes Southern ingredients and European techniques, producing an array of creative, delicious fare. And if you can’t afford to put high culinary art on your plate, the brick oven pizzas are a true and delicious bargain. Fantastic bar, too. $$.

Tombo Grille
Forest Acres: 4517 Forest Dr., 803-782-9665
Features fine wine, great appetizers, pasta, nightly specials and unique entrees: crispy roasted duckling, flatiron steak, carpaccio of beef tenderloin, steamed Prince Edward Island mussels and more. Menu changes to reflect seasonal offerings. $.

Looking for something besides a meat-and-three? These hip restaurants and food trucks keep Columbia’s dining pool fresh.

2 Fat 2 Fly Wings
Truck: 803-622-6063
So tasty that the Oprah network gave these guys their own TV show. Creamy macaroni and cheese stuffed inside a chicken wing?! It’s true. Or jambalaya? Or an inside-out chicken parmigiana? For locations and hours, follow the truck on Twitter at @2fat2flywings or check the calendar at ¢.

Al Amir
Downtown: 1734 Main St., 803-401-5882
Al-Amir has a reputation for authentic and well-prepared Middle Eastern cuisine. Signature dishes include hummus, falafel, lamb kabob, mujadara and shawarma. The flatbreads are exceptional. ¢-$.

Blue Cactus | file photo

Ariana’s Greek Restaurant
West Columbia/Cayce: 1720 Sunset Blvd., 803-796-4430
A Greek restaurant with international flair. Along with the gyros, souvlaki, pastichio and moussaka on the menu, you’ll also find Indian samosas and a lamb pilaf that’s considered the national dish of Afghanistan. $.

Downtown: 650 Lincoln St., 803-834-5424
Southwestern grill and cantina located in a convenient spot for USC students and faculty. Not only can you choose sirloin steak or chicken for your tacos and burritos, you can also get lean ground turkey or organic tofu.

The Belgian Waffle Truck
Truck: 803-606-6780
Serves authentic Liege waffles — a dense, browned version of the Belgian classic — with toppings both sweet and savory. Try the Ouf-Ti Waffle, which features goat cheese, lettuce, duck and chicken confit and an onion confiture. ¢-$.

Blue Cactus
Five Points: 2002 Greene St., 803-929-0782
This unassuming, family-run little eatery boasts a serious culinary reputation, specializing in homestyle Korean food mixed with Southwestern and other influences to create a sizzling menu that is especially vegetarian-friendly. ¢.

Northeast: 2630 Decker Blvd., 803-699-2300
Mediterranean, Libyan and American dishes make up the menu at this cafe and bakery — burgers, wings, falafel sandwiches, gyros, baba ghanoush, shakshouka (eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce) — and some Libyan favorites, including pastries. ¢.

Bone-In Artisan BBQ Truck
Truck: 803-957-1818
Smoked meats on homemade focaccia; cilantro-lime coleslaw; grilled pimento cheese sandwiches on jalapeño cornbread — this is barbecue done fancy and right. For locations and hours, follow the truck on Twitter (artisanbbqtruck) or visit Featured on the Cooking Channel show Eat Street. ¢-$.

El Burrito
Five Points: 934 Harden St., 803-765-2188
El Burrito serves healthy, super-fresh, taqueria-style food to college students, hipsters and other Five Points dwellers. Beans and rice, chicken, beef, soup, salads and more. Attention to healthy food and local produce. Vegan- and vegetarian-friendly. Cold beer, comfy porch. ¢.

Café Strudel
West Columbia/Cayce: 300 State St., 803-794-6634
Casual, Bohemian-style restaurant offers soups, salads, sandwiches, grill items and coffees. Also hosts a legendary Sunday brunch. ¢.

Vista: 1332 Assembly St., 803-254-5400
Beloved by devoted regulars for the outstanding food, service and atmosphere, Camon serves splendid sushi, tempura and other Japanese favorites. $.

Crust Bakehouse
Shandon/Rosewood: 2701-B Rosewood Dr.
In the mornings, Crust offers cookies, scones and other sweet pastries; a little later in the day, the delectable breads start coming out of the oven: focaccias, ciabattas, sourdough, levains and more. And yes, they have no telephone. ¢.

Vista: 1213 Lincoln St., 803-212-4949
This Charleston import does one thing and one thing only: cupcakes. Of course, it also does them supremely well. From red velvet to mandarin orange chocolate to salted caramel chocolate chip to about anything sweet you can think of, Cupcake has your sweet tooth covered and then some. ¢.

Cupcake | photo by john carlos

Fast Eddie’s Calzones
Five Points: 817 Harden St., 803-764-3669
Has over 60 calzones to choose from, including diablo, dragon and cheesecake varieties. Delivers until 4 a.m., which means you’ll have something to soak up the alcohol any day of the week. ¢.

Five Points: 2017 Devine St., 803-256-3325
Rising from the figurative ashes of Goatfeathers is Goat’s, a swanky bar for sophisticated people. Eat the Philly cheesesteak. $.

Good Life Café
Downtown: 1614 Main St., 803-726-2310
Originally a vegan raw food bar with a tasty and ever-rotating array of mock foods: tacos, tostadas, wraps, sandwiches, tarts and more, Good Life has added some cooked vegan dishes to its menu. Also has a large selection of fresh squeezed juices and herbal tonics, and a great bar. ¢-$.

Harambe Ethiopian Restaurant
Five Points: 2006 Senate St., 803-764-5510
Wonderful stews, veggies and curries are served atop injera, a sourdough flatbread made from teff, a North African grain. A warm and inviting restaurant with a large bar. $.

Northeast: 6634 Two Notch Rd., 803-699-9922
Order from the Korean barbecue menu and your server will dump some hot coals in the hole in the middle of your table and let you go to town. Specializing in authentic Korean dishes such as gal bi (short ribs in a house sauce) and hwe dup bob (mixed raw fish and spicy sauce atop rice), ¢-$$.

La Isla Bonita
Northeast: 1701 Percival Rd., 803-596-6244
Quaint restaurant that serves traditional Puerto-Rican cuisine. Dishes include mofongo, Cuban sandwiches, empanadas and a pastry of the day.

KiKi’s Chicken and Waffles
Northeast: 110 Columbia Northeast Dr., 803-834-7948
There’s a reason both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have been to Kiki’s. Besides the soul food classic for which they’re named, they also serve up shrimp and grits and other classics — or a red velvet waffle if you’re feeling fancy. ¢.

The Kraken Gastropub
Shandon/Rosewood: 2910 Rosewood Dr., 803-955-7408
What’s a gastropub? Well, that just means the food is as good as the excellent beer. Serves brunch on Sundays. $.

Lamb’s Bread Vegan Café
North Main: 2338 Main St., 803-253-7889
One of Columbia’s only restaurants catering to vegans and vegetarians alike. Entire menu is vegan and uses locally grown and organic produce. Mock meats, sandwiches, vegetable dishes and fresh fruit juices available. ¢.

Menkoi Ramen House
Vista: 1004 Gervais St., 803-708-1569
Traditional ramen, served fast. We’re told the beef and vegetable curry — a mild, brown-gravy concoction served over rice — is highly authentic as well, at least if you’re trying to recreate the late-night world of a Japanese businessman on a bender. ¢.

Pawleys Front Porch
Five Points: 827 Harden St., 803-771-8001
Fancy a fried egg, apple-cured ham, pineapple or a pair of onion rings stuffed between a half-pound patty and a ciabatta bun? Crowds have been lining up outside Pawleys Front Porch ever since its fantastic burgers were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives back in 2010. $.

Pho Viet
Northeast: 2300 Decker Blvd., 803-699-5959
Five Points: 2011 Devine St., 803-779-4077
Though it specializes in pho — the fragrant Vietnamese beef soup served with assorted beef cuts, fresh herbs, bean sprouts and other accompaniments — Pho Viet also serves spring rolls, chicken and seafood soups, rice bowls and noodle bowls topped with such Vietnamese favorites as grilled pork and shrimp. ¢.

Publico Kitchen and Tap
Five Points: 2013 Greene St., 803-661-9043
A long row of craft beer taps sets the stage for the fun, fresh flavors of Publico. Featuring tacos inspired by ethnic foods from banh mi to Hawaiian poke to pad Thai, Publico serves up tasty modern Mexican-inspired fare. $.

Menkoi Ramen House | file photo

Real Mexico
St. Andrews-Dutch Square: 2421 Bush River Rd., 803-750-8990
Authentic Mexican food, from tortas to carne asada to fajitas to chimichangas to fish tacos. Full bar with margarita specials. $.

Rise Gourmet Goods and Bakeshop
Five Points: 926 Harden St., 803-851-1248
Neighborhood bakery meets upscale sandwich shop, with a tasty array of baked goods. Offers gourmet tailgating boxes and much more. $.

Scoopy Doo
Five Points: 725 Saluda Ave., 803-765-6999
Housemade gelato and sorbetto incorporating some excellent local ingredients, including coffee from Drip, which is right next door. ¢.

Silver Spoon Bake Shop
Shandon/Rosewood: 2507 Devine St., 803-673-6374
Housemade pastries, cakes, pies and delicious cookies, plus a coffee bar. Custom cakes and pies for special events, too. ¢.

Sun Ming
St. Andrews/Dutch Square: 7509 St. Andrews Rd., 803-732-4488
For the most authentic Chinese dining in the Midlands, order off the traditional Chinese menu, which features such dishes as chicken feet with black mushrooms or spicy chicken ding. On the other hand, also offers plenty of orange chicken and beef-and-broccoli to satisfy all your Chinese-American desires. $.

True BBQ
West Columbia/Cayce: 1237 D Ave., 803-791-9950
Serves pork ribs and classic chopped pork barbecue, smoked on site (in the parking lot out front, in fact); hash and rice; barbecue chicken; barbecue sandwiches; and the usual slew of sides and desserts. Choose between Pretty Lady, Sexy Lady or vinegar-based sauce. ¢.

The Whig
Downtown: 1200 Main St., 803-931-8852
Hip underground bar across from the State House serves sweet potato fries, burgers and a mean grilled cheese sandwich. Also home of the infamous Taco Tuesdays, when beef or bean tacos are 75 cents apiece and the crowds are massive. ¢.

Wing City
Garners Ferry/Southeast: 905A Bluff Rd.
The gentlemen behind famous local food truck 2 Fat 2 Fly have a brick-and-mortar location, where they’re serving their stuffed chicken wings, plus Southern sides, burgers and more. $.


Cool Beans and College Grounds Cafe
USC/South Main: 1217 College St., 803-779-4277
These two connected businesses — one’s a coffeehouse, one a deli — both serve fantastic, easy fare, with plenty of cozy places to sit with your laptop or a chess board.

Drip Coffee
Downtown: 1441 Main St., 803-799-0067
Five Points: 729 Saluda Ave., 803-661-9545
Long live the independent coffee shop! Specializing in the pourover — a method that’s said to produce the clearest-tasting, most perfect coffee around — this coffee shop also sells wine, as well as breakfast and lunch sandwiches that perfectly combine sweet and salty. $

Immaculate Consumption
USC/South Main: 933 Main St., 803-799-9053
A cult favorite, this coffee shop is a cozy little haven near USC and the State House — and the food is great.

Wired Goat Café
Vista: 709 Gervais St., 803-851-0990
Chapin: 908 Chapin Rd., 803-201-5348
Tasty coffee; cool atmosphere. Features some funky drinks like the Canadian. Baked goods include scones and muffins. ¢.

Craft Beer
Conquest Brewing Co.
Rosewood: 947 S. Stadium Rd., Bay 1
Columbia’s first production brewery features a cozy taproom.

Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale House
Downtown: 900 Main St., 803-748-0540
H-G’s been brewing beer for on-premises consumption since 1995, and has a full-scale brewery in the works. The ESB is a classic. Tasty food, too.

Old Mill Brewpub
Lexington: 711 E. Main St., 803-785-2337
Craft beer made on site at a former cotton mill.

River Rat Brewery | photo by john carlos

River Rat Brewery
Rosewood: 1231 Shop Rd., 803-724-5712
Swank brewery features a big taproom, and lots of outdoor seating on a nice grassy lot. East Coast-style brews, of which the Broad River Red is a favorite.

Swamp Cabbage Brewing Co.
Rosewood: 921 Brookwood Dr., 803-252-0250
Columbia’s third production brewery boasts a strong catalog of beers, starting with its extra-special bitter. Run by two brothers.

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Annual Manual 2016: Arts & Culture

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

There’s a lot happening in Columbia’s arts scene.

The city has the best art museum in the state, a nationally respected film festival, two orchestras, cutting-edge theater and music, a slew of dance companies, and a deep well of choral talent. From local writers and painters to world-class touring Broadway productions, this mid-sized city is brimming with opportunities for anyone with an open mind and an inclination toward the arts.

For further information about specific events, your best bet is to follow organizations’ web sites and Facebook pages, get on their email lists — and, of course, to check the pages of Free Times weekly and bookmark

701 Center for Contemporary Art
701 Whaley St., 803-779-4571, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Presents high-quality contemporary art, with selected artists taking part in on-site residencies. Organizes annual Columbia Open Studios event, too.

About Face, 803-799-2810
Artists’ group dedicated to portraiture and figural drawing. Meets at the Columbia Museum of Art.

American Guild of Organists - Greater Columbia Chapter
Professional association serving the organ and choral music fields. Organizes several concerts per year.

Anastasia and Friends Gallery
1534 Main St., .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Presents diverse and eclectic exhibitions in the front of the Free Times office; a hot spot during the monthly First Thursday art crawls.

Árpád Darázs Singers
Performs a varied repertoire of classical and contemporary works including sacred, secular, accompanied and a cappella.

Artista Vista
Held the last weekend in April, Artista Vista is a free, three-day gallery crawl during which galleries and studios open their doors late on Thursday night. Galleries open again on Friday and Saturday and often feature artist demonstrations.

Big Apple
1000 Hampton St., .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Built as the House of Peace Synagogue in 1915, it became an African-American dance hall in 1936, where the Big Apple dance craze started. Now popular for events and receptions.

Broadway in Columbia
Think you can’t see live, Broadway-quality productions in this mid-sized Southern town? Actually, you can.

Carolina Ballet
914 Pulaski St., 803-771-6303
A civic company for pre-professional dancers, Carolina Ballet alumni can be found in top companies throughout the country. Stages annual Nutcracker production at the Township Auditorium.

Cayce Historical Museum
1800 12th St., 803-739-5385
Interprets the architectural, social and cultural heritage of Old Saxe-Gotha, Granby, Cayce and West Columbia areas with exhibits depicting periods of Colonial trade, Indians, agricultural development and transportation.

Chapin Theatre Company
107 Columbia Ave., 803-345-6181
Founded in the late 1970s, the Chapin Theatre Company is a staple of Lexington County’s cultural life. Performances at Harbison Theatre.

City Art Gallery
1224 Lincoln St., 803-252-3613
A beautiful, expansive gallery hosting locally and regionally oriented exhibitions. Also offers classes and art supplies.

Colonial Life Arena
801 Lincoln St. at Greene St.
Charge by phone: 1-866-472-8499
General Info: 576-9200
Opened in 2003, this 18,000-seat venue is the largest arena in South Carolina, hosting major concert and entertainment acts and serving as the home for USC men’s and women’s basketball.

Columbia Arts Academy
3630 Rosewood Dr., 803-667-4447
Lessons for guitar, piano, voice, drums, bass, ukulele, mandolin and violin. Plus, rock band classes!

Columbia Baroque
Local ensemble specializes in the performance of 17th and 18th century European Baroque chamber music on period instruments.

Columbia Children’s Theatre
3400 Forest Dr. (second level of Richland Mall), 803-691-4548
Theater for families and young audiences. Performances at Richland Mall.

USC McKissick
McKissick Museum photo by john carlos

Columbia Choral Society
Founded in 1930 as the Shandon Choral Society, the Columbia Choral Society performs choral masterworks and often collaborates with other local arts organizations.

Columbia City Ballet
1128 Taylor St., 803-799-7605
Consistently voted Best Dance Company in Free Times’ annual Best of Columbia readers’ poll, the City Ballet is increasingly a regional company, too, with performances in Savannah, Charleston and more.

Columbia City Jazz Dance Company, 803-252-0252
Pre-professional jazz dance company. Also brings in guest artists for master classes.

Columbia Classical Ballet
2418 Devine St., 803-252-9112
This company had its studio wiped out by the October flood, but it’s working to get back on its feet. Known for its multinational dancers, high-quality choreography and its annual LifeChance performance, which attracts top-tier guest artists.

Columbia College Goodall Gallery
1301 Columbia College Dr., 803-786-3088
Visual arts gallery at Columbia College.

Columbia Community Concert Band
So, you played trumpet in high school or college? Get your chops up, and maybe you can join the band — again.

Columbia Marionette Theater
401 Laurel St., 803-252-7366
Presents children’s productions ranging from traditional fairy tales to educational shows. Located near Riverfront Park.

Columbia Museum of Art
Main and Hampton streets, 803-799-2810
The museum’s traveling exhibitions span the full range of art history, while its permanent collection emphasizes European fine and decorative arts. Also hosts the popular Arts & Draughts series, classical and jazz concerts, art classes and more.

Columbia Music Festival Association
914 Pulaski St., 803-771-6303, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Founded in 1897 as an arm of local government, CMFA is an umbrella organization offering rehearsal and performance space at its ArtSpace in the Vista.

Columbia Writers Alliance
Hosts workshops and presents prose, poetry and spoken word events.

Cottingham Theater
A 375-seat auditorium on the Columbia College campus in North Columbia.

Crooked Creek Art League
A group for artists that meets on the third Monday of each month. Features speakers of varied artistic backgrounds.

Dr. Sketchy’s Columbia
Formed in Brooklyn, Dr. Sketchy’s is an “anti-art” alternative art school where artists draw glamorous underground performers in an atmosphere of boozy conviviality. Want to draw? Just show up. Meets at Frame of Mind in West Columbia.

Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County
810 Lyttleton St., Camden, 803-425-7676
Presents community-oriented theater, music, dance and exhibitions, as well as the annual Carolina Downhome Blues Festival.

First Thursdays on Main
Eclectic monthly arts series on Main Street, with events at the Tapp’s Arts Center, Anastasia & Friends (in front of the Free Times office), Nest, Michael’s, the Arcade Mall and more.

Florence Civic Center
3300 W Radio Dr.,
It pays to keep an eye on the calendar of this 10,000-seat arena, which brings in a diverse range of concerts and events and is just an hour and fifteen minutes from Columbia.

Freeway Music
Music lessons taught by hardworking local musicians. Also presents recitals, showcases and other music-related events.

Gallery 80808 and Vista Studios
808 Lady St., 803-252-6134
Offers studio space to a select number of artists and presents exhibitions throughout the year.

Gallery West
West Columbia: 134 State St.,803-207-9265
From prints and paintings to contemporary crafts and jewelry, Gallery West presents both emerging and established artists in a comfortable space.

Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
7300 College St. (Irmo), 803-407-5003
Presents high-quality touring productions of theater, dance, opera and comedy, and serves as a rental facility for local arts organizations.

Historic Columbia Foundation
Manages historic homes, including the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, and organizes historic tours and the annual Jubilee Festival.

if ART Gallery
1223 Lincoln St., 803-238-2351
High-quality contemporary art shows in the heart of the Vista.

Jasper Magazine
Covers the Columbia arts scene, produces a literary journal and organizes arts-related events.

Koger Center
1051 Greene St., 803-777-7500
The Koger Center is operated by USC and has served as Columbia’s primary facility for the performing arts since 1989. Seats just over 2,000.

Artista Vista
Artista Vista | photo by kevin kyzer

Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra
Think there’s no culture when you get outside downtown? Think again. Led by artistic director Einar Anderson, this community orchestra plays a mix of classical, light classical and pops.

Lexington County Choral Society
Presents a varied and challenging repertoire reflecting numerous musical traditions.

Lexington County Museum
231 Fox St. (Lexington), 803-359-8369
Founded in 1970, the museum complex encompasses seven acres and features 36 historic structures focusing on the early history of Lexington County, from 1770 until the Civil War.

Lexington School of Music
Lexington: 226 Barr Road, 803-996-0623
If you live in Lexington County and you want music lessons for your child — or yourself — you can’t go wrong here.

McKissick Museum (USC)
USC Horseshoe, 803-777-7251
Offers exhibits relating to the cultural, political and natural history of South Carolina and the southeastern United States.

McMaster Gallery (USC)
1615 Senate St., 777-7480
Tucked away inside USC’s Department of Art, McMaster Gallery features student and faculty exhibitions along with contemporary traveling shows.

Metropolitan Opera Live in HD Series
All broadcasts at Sandhill Stadium 16 (450 Town Center Place, Village at Sandhill) and Columbiana Grande Stadium 14 (Bower Parkway).

Mind Gravy
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Poetry readings and music performances held Wednesdays at Coconuts on Main Street.

New Life Productions
Presents social- and religious-themed plays and films and hosts workshops.

Newberry Opera House
1201 McKibben St. (Newberry), 803-276-6264
Originally built in 1881, the beautiful 400-seat Newberry Opera House was named Outstanding Theater by the League of Historic American Theaters in 2008. Presents folk, rock, big band, bluegrass, theater, dance and sometimes even hip-hop.

NiA Company
This group of mainly minority actors, directors and producers presents everything from storytelling and children’s shows to more edgy contemporary shows at various local venues.

Nickelodeon Theatre
1607 Main St., 803-254-8234
Specializing in independent films, the Nickelodeon also presents the popular annual Indie Grits Festival as well as media education programs.

On Stage Productions
680 Cherokee Lane,
Community theater in West Columbia.

One Columbia
1219 Taylor St., 803-254-5008
City-led arts promotion organization. Maintains local arts calendar and organizes public-art projects.

Opera at USC
Offers a comprehensive program for students, covering every facet of opera production, both onstage and behind the scenes. Presents two fully staged operas per year.

Over the Mantel Gallery
3142 Carlisle St., 803-719-1713
Highlights paintings by Julia Seabrook Moore, whose artwork focuses on abstracted Southern scenes. Also hosts exhibitions by other local and regional artists.

Palmetto Center for the Arts
Richland School District Two Auditorium, 7500 Brookfield Rd., 699-2800 ext. 2832
Various fine arts performances by artistically gifted high school students.

Palmetto LUNA
Promotes Hispanic/Latino culture in South Carolina through poetry, the visual arts and more.

Palmetto Mastersingers
Founded in 1981, The Palmetto Mastersingers is a men’s choral group that has performed at The White House, Carnegie Hall and the National Cathedral.

Palmetto Opera
Promotes opera in the Midlands through its Opera Thursdays program, which presents opera selections at local restaurants, and through occasional full-scale productions.

Ponder Art Gallery (Benedict College)
1600 Harden St., 803-705-4605
Features works by African-American artists.

POV Film Series
Film club screening films and presenting events at the Tapp’s Arts Center.

The Power Company
Local contemporary dance company.

Redbird School of Irish Music
Offers lessons in Irish fiddle, guitar, bodhran, tin whistle and more. Promotes Irish music concerts and workshops.

Richland Library
Offers numerous literary and other public programs for children and adults throughout the year. See website for details. Books and other media available in physical and digital formats.

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 732-2273
Home to the Palmetto Artist Series.

The Sandlapper Singers
Professional choral group specializing in American music.

Sapphire Moon Dance Company
Columbia-based contemporary dance company led by Angela Gallo, assistant professor of dance at Coker College.

Shandon Presbyterian Church
607 Woodrow St., 803-771-4408
Home base for the multidisciplinary Arts at Shandon series.

The Skipp Pearson Foundation
Organizes concerts and events honoring the music and influence of iconic local jazz saxophonist Skipp Pearson.

Soda City Cirque
Sword swallowing! Bellydancing! Burlesque! No, these are not lost arts: Soda City Cirque brings the best in touring alternative circus acts to Columbia.

Soda City Standup
Collective of local comedians; performances are held at various locations. Open mic night every Monday at New Brookland Tavern.

South Carolina Center for the Book
1430 Senate St.,
Lunchtime author talks held at the South Carolina State Library’s Center for the Book.

South Carolina Philharmonic
Information: 803-771-7937
Box office: 803-254-7445
When the music director of your city’s orchestra is a 30-something guy who likes to talk sports and drink beer, you’re pretty lucky. Yes, Morihiko Nakahara rocks — and he also does a great job leading the orchestra on both a repertoire and performance level.

South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum
301 Gervais St., 803-737-8095
Showcases Civil War memorabilia and more, with artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War to World War II. Located in the former mill that also houses the S.C. State Museum.

South Carolina Military Museum
1225 Bluff Road, 803-299-1126
Pays homage to the role of South Carolina’s citizen soldiers and the state’s martial tradition from its colonial founding in 1670 to present-day operations.

South Carolina Shakespeare Company
Led by Linda Khoury, this theater group performs works mostly — but not always — by Shakespeare.

South Carolina State Museum
301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921
Housed in the historic Columbia Mill building (built in 1893), the S.C. State Museum opened a popular planetarium, observatory and 4D theater in 2014. Focusing primarily on South Carolina’s cultural history, natural history, science, technology and art, the museum also brings in non-S.C.-related blockbuster exhibitions.

Southern Exposure New Music Series
Winner of a national award for innovative programming, these free concerts offer the best of contemporary classical music. Stop scratching your head and just go see a concert — they’re awesome, and free. Held in USC’s School of Music Recital Hall.

Sterling Chamber Players, 803-252-2001
Plays the classics: Bach, Brahms, Beethoven. All concerts held at 300 Senate St.

Studios in the Arcade
Main Street, 803-360-6794
Want to discover a place only locals know about? Check out the L-shaped Arcade Mall, with entrances on Main and Lady streets. Several artists have studios there.

Sumter Opera House
21 North Main St. (Sumter), 803-436-2616
Hosts movies, concerts, musicals and more.

Tapp’s Arts Center
1644 Main St., 803-988-0013
A haven for the visual arts, with studio spaces and regular exhibitions, Tapp’s also hosts film screenings, concerts, comedy shows and more.

Theatre South Carolina
High-quality productions from the University of South Carolina’s theater company.

Town Theatre
1012 Sumter St., 803-799-2510
The oldest continuously operating community theater building in the country; presents family-friendly musicals and other productions.

First Thursday Anastasia
Anastasia and Friends Gallery | photo by thomas hammond

Township Auditorium
1703 Taylor St.,
Ticket Info: 576-2350
Tickets: 1-800-745-3000
First opened in 1930, the 3,000-plus-seat Township Auditorium has hosted Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Pink Floyd and The Clash. Books everything from gospel plays and comedians to major rock, pop, R&B and country acts.

Trenholm Artists Guild
Members include amateur and professional artists who work in watercolor, oil, acrylics, pastel, sculpture, fiber and photography. Presents speakers on various studio art topics.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
1100 Sumter St., 803-771-7300
Known for its strong musical offerings, Trinity Episcopal’s chapel offers beautiful acoustics for its numerous concerts, which include organ, chamber and choral music.

Trustus Theatre
520 Lady St., 803-254-9732
Columbia’s only professional theater company, Trustus produces a wide range of works from cutting-edge contemporary to popular musicals.

Unbound Dance Company
Edgy, athletic young contemporary jazz dance company often seen at the city’s hippest and/or biggest events. Hell, its dancers even did a Zombie Crawl at the State Fair in 2013.

Unitarian Coffeehouse
2701 Heyward St., 802-200-2824
Presents acoustic music including folk, blues, Celtic, bluegrass, jazz and international music.

The Upton Trio
Camden-based string trio performing original works by Mary Lee Taylor-Kinosian, a violinist and composer who is also concertmaster of the South Carolina Philharmonic.

U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum
4442 Jackson Blvd., 751-7419
Acquires and exhibits Fort Jackson-related artifacts dating to the fort’s founding in 1917. Base access is limited, so call ahead.

USC Dance Company
Presents both classical and contemporary works. Led by Susan Anderson, 2011 South Carolina Professor of the Year.

USC School of Music
The USC School of Music is a steady source of high-quality music programming in the city. Most events are held at the USC School of Music Recital Hall (second floor of the music school on Assembly Street), the Koger Center and the Johnson Performance Hall in USC’s business school. Performance updates are posted online throughout the season.

USC Symphony Orchestra
777-7500, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Led by Donald Portnoy, the USC Symphony Orchestra is a high-caliber student orchestra performing traditional classical repertoire, often with highly acclaimed guest soloists. Concerts at the Koger Center.

Village Square Theatre
105 Caughman Rd., Lexington, 803-359-1436,
Community theater from the Lexington County Arts Association.

Vista Nights
On the third Thursday of each month, shops and galleries in the Vista extend their hours for an art crawl.

Workshop Theatre, 803-799-6551 (box office)
Longstanding community theater presents musicals, comedies, mysteries and more at 701 Whaley in Olympia.

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Annual Manual 2016: Music and Nightlife

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

Going out has gotten pretty good in the Midlands. Craving great craft beer? Newer places like Craft and Draft join old favorites like Flying Saucer and several other brew-centric bars to keep aficionados sated. Get your dance on at Social, The Woody or various other clubs appealing to varied tastes. Or would you rather check out some live music? The Music Farm, New Brookland Tavern and other local venues ensure that you’ll have options seemingly every night of the week. No matter your preference, if you’re of the legal drinking age, there’s a lot to do with your nights in the Midlands.

Even if you know the local scene, keep in mind that things are always changing — clubs open, close, change formats or managers, etc. So it’s a good idea to take a fresh look around every now and then and make sure you haven’t missed out on a new place you might love.

Bourbon Columbia
Bourbon | photo by thomas hammond

Downtown / North Main
1214 Main St., 803-403-1404
Matches higher-end Cajun-Creole cuisine with a creative cocktail list and deep bar. Pro tip: Try the monstrously tasty Ya-Ya Hurricane, which overflows with rye and peach white whiskey, passion fruit and pomegranate; only two per customer per visit — for good reason.

Cantina 76
1301 Main St., 803-764-1769
Like its sister location on Devine Street, this taqueria offers good tacos and good drink specials, especially at happy hour. Draws the urban professionals looking for something less gritty than The Whig.

Le Café Jazz
930 Laurel St., 803-400-1879
You want jazz? Stop by this jazz club in Finlay Park on Friday or Saturday night.

The Oak Table
1221 Main St., 803-563-5066
Come for the modern American cuisine (which is delicious), or just come for the deep bar and fantastic signature cocktails.

Sheraton Rooftop Lounge
1400 Main St., 803-988-1400
With a fine panoramic view of the city, the Sheraton’s hip Rooftop Lounge offers a classy clientele, fine libations and desserts.

Sheraton Vault Martini Bar
1400 Main St., 803-988-1400
Nestled within the bank’s original safe, the Vault Martini Bar is a popular hotspot for those who insist upon their martinis shaken, not stirred, and with a twist of sophistication.

The Whig
1200 Main St., 803-931-8852,
The cozy subterranean vibe is great. So are the cheap-taco Tuesdays and well curated $3 pint night on Wednesdays. Still has that rad jukebox.

Vino Garage
2327 Main St., 803-834-3392
This Earlewood wine and beer shop also hosts a lot of tastings of hard-to-come-by wines and beers.

South Main / USC
900 Main St., 803-748-0540
More than the token local brewpub, H-G offers awesome bartenders, scrumptious entrées and an excellent beer and liquor selection.

Five Points / Shandon
The Attic
638 Harden St. 803-521-0046
Located above Pinch on Harden St. Five Points’ only rooftop bar with over 25 craft beers.

Bar None
620 Harden St., 803-254-3354
Open from happy hour until sunrise, Bar None is the last refuge of the late-night lush and the service industry worker. Try the smoked wings, when they’re available.

The Bird Dog
715 Harden St., 803-799-0611
The drinks are served in mason jars. There are mounted deer heads and paintings of hunting dogs. It’s a Southern bar, through and through, and people seem to like it.

801 Harden St., 803-771-6360
Outdoor patio offers an ideal Five Points people-watching spot.

Cantina 76
2901 Devine St., 803-708-6004
Draws everyone from singles at the bar to couples and families, all of whom come for the Tex-Mex cuisine — and some of whom also go for the excellent margaritas, made in all shapes, flavors and sizes with top-shelf tequilas.

Carolina Pour House
800 Harden St., 803-932-3033
Next to the always overflowing Group Therapy, The Pour House has a good drink selection at prices that won’t send you to the poor house.

749 Saluda Ave., 803-748-8694
Its retractable exterior wall opens to reveal the Five Points fountain plaza, thus making CJ’s a great spot for taking in this colorful corner of Columbia.

The Cotton Gin
632 Harden St., 803-569-6966
In the space once occupied by Red Hot Tomatoes, this bar’s mission is “celebrating the Roaring ‘20s in style.”

Cover 3
711 Harden St., 803-533-7030
The Cover 3 is a defensive scheme in football with three deep coverage zones covered by two cornerbacks and one safety. It’s also a bar in Five Points.

Craft and Draft
2706 Devine St., 803-764-2575
Craft beer is booming, and Craft and Draft is on it. Grab a six-pack, pick up a growler or take a seat at the bar.

741 Saluda Ave., 803-779-2345
Of course this Irish pub has Guinness, but it also has quite an assortment of classy imports and plenty of good ol’ Irish grub. Personable staff, live music and a vibrant atmosphere round out the package.

Group Therapy
2107 Greene St., 803-256-1203
Columbia’s quintessential college bar, with cheap drinks, loud music and an outdoor oasis to escape the crowd. Group wrote the book on college partying in Columbia.

2865 Devine St., 803-708-4705
Henry’s champions the traditional neighborhood bar — and, equally importantly, brings terrific bar food. Comfortable and classy.

The Hookah Spot
617 Harden St., 803-661-8337
Grab a couch, sidle up to a hookah and get your smoke on.

The Horseshoe Bar
724 Harden St.,
Space formerly known as Grandma’s/Kildare’s has been reborn ... kinda. They still serve everyone’s favorite fishbowls.

2112 Devine St., 803-252-5253
Friendly Five Points institution with craft beer, live music, televised sports, multiple bar stations, spacious patio, and locally sourced food.

Latitude 22
636 Harden St.
Upscale nautical theme with daily drink specials and breezy good times.

Moosehead Saloon
2020 Devine St., 803-708-4984
A rock ‘n’ roll country bar. Kind of like Coyote Ugly. Kind of.

Nicky’s Pizzeria
2123 Greene St., 803-748-9661
Need a slice to fuel another late night in Five Points? Drop by Nicky’s. Grab a beer while you’re there.

2722 Devine St., 803-771-6575
An out-of-the-way place with respect to Five Points, Nightcaps has a pool table, a big-screen television, comfy lounge chairs and a good late-night atmosphere. A popular haven for those not ready to let the night end.

2000B Greene St.,
Tucked behind the Salty Nut, Pavlov’s is a long-time stomping ground of college revelers and serves as hallowed ground for many in the fraternity and sorority circles.

Hunter-Gatherer | photo by john carlos

Pawleys Front Porch
827 Harden St., 803-771-8001
Primarily known for its behemoth and fantastic specialty burgers, but it also caters to a late-night crowd on weekends. Especially good for game days, as it shows football games on its huge screen on its even huger deck.

640 Harden St., 803-708-6838
Pinch offers Vista atmosphere at Five Points prices. On-tap beers are rotated frequently, and frequently feature high-class offerings.

Publick House
2307 Devine St., 803-256-2207
Exceptional beer selection, challenging trivia, hip music selection, über-friendly staff, good burgers and the best raw fries around.

Publico Kitchen & Tap
2013 Greene St., 803-661-9043
A diverse array of gourmet tacos highlights the food menu at this intentionally hip new hangout that also boasts an expansive tap selection.

Salty Nut Cafe
2000 Greene St., 803-256-4611
Varied menu includes everything from hearty salads to tasty cheeseburgers. Comfortable setting … so comfortable, in fact, that you can throw your peanut shells on the floor.

711 Saluda Ave., 803-255-0869
Home to live jazz several nights of the week, Delaney’s classy, hip younger sibling also boasts a fine liquor selection, great beers and a top-notch staff, as well as fine cigars and comfy leather couches. Also hosts the Science Café series.

The Thirsty Parrot
734 Harden St., 803-708-4768
Like Jimmy Buffett? You’ll most likely dig this place, which offers fine burgers and spirits in an easygoing atmosphere.

Village Idiot
2009 Devine St., 803-252-8646
Columbia’s quintessential college-town pizza joint in a pub atmosphere. Enjoy delicious fare, cold beer, wallet-friendly weekly specials and a heaping helping of revelry. Serving New York-style pizza since 1990.

Yesterdays Restaurant and Tavern
2030 Devine St., 803-799-0196
Good food, above-average beer and liquor selection. Bar in the back has its own entrance on Devine Street. A veritable Columbia landmark since 1978.

Rosewood / Olympia
Cock N Bull Pub
326 S. Edisto Ave., 803-251-4474
As British as you’ll get in Rosewood. Popular and laid-back, this neighborhood favorite has a small but stellar beer menu, and lots of soccer on TV.

Foxfield Bar & Grille
406 Howard St., 803-728-0420
Cozy Rosewood neighborhood spot offers a reliable selection of beers and spirits at affordable prices, plus frequent live music.

The Kraken Gastropub
2910 Rosewood Dr., 803-955-7408
The Kraken has a great draft beer selection and signature beer-based cocktails along with a swanky menu and cozy-cool vibe.

Rockaway Athletic Club
2719 Rosewood Dr., 803-256-1075
Exquisite burgers, low-key atmosphere and a nice, amply stocked bar. Plus, lots of sports on TV and a corner nook with arcade games.

TLC Sports Bar and Grill
936 S. Stadium Rd., 803-251-3087
Built to withstand even the toughest of game days, this ultimate Gamecock bar, located within a stone’s throw of Williams-Brice, offers enough food, drink and fun to satisfy even the most orange-blooded Clemson fan.

The Vista

Art Bar
1211 Park St.,803- 929-0198,
Art Bar’s been around for more than 21 years now, but it still hasn’t grown up: It’s still the same eclectic, non-corporate nightspot it’s always been. Cool but never pretentious.

721A Lady St., 803-251-4447
Blue, a tapas bar and cocktail lounge, features Columbia’s only ice bar. Cozy late-night spot as well.

Capital Club
1002 Gervais St., 803-256-6464
The oldest gay bar in the state is a private club that’s also welcoming to people of other stripes.

Carolina Ale House
708 Lady St., 803-227-7150
Southeastern grille-and-grog chain offers good eats, a good beer selection and plenty of televised sports. Features the Vista’s hottest rooftop bar and plenty of fun drink specials.

Music Farm | photo by thomas hammond

Empire Supper Club
920 Lady St., 803-638-4942
Party like it’s 1928 and you’re not about to lose all your money in the stock crash. Restaurant and bar features staff decked out in their best flapper-and-gangster gear, and period-appropriate entertainment.

Flying Saucer
931 Senate St., 803-933-9997
If you love beer, you’ve been to Flying Saucer. (You’re probably already a Beer Knurd, too.) If you love beer but haven’t been to Flying Saucer, you’re missing out on a hundreds-deep beer list stocked with beers you’ve never heard of, and beers you’ve only heard about in legend.

Gervais & Vine
620A Gervais St., 803-799-8463
Gervais & Vine offers a sophisticated yet approachable atmosphere for its exquisite Southern fusion tapas. Its extensive wine selection separates it from most of Columbia’s metropolitan haunts, and the diversity and daring of the menu make it hard to dislike.

Hickory Tavern
907 Senate St., 803-765-9280
Burgers, wings, sandwiches and other basic sports bar fare, along with some seafood favorites, all matched with an expansive beer selection and available to enjoy on a lovely deck.

1004 Gervais St., 803-834-4434
Promises “a celebration of soul in an exquisite atmosphere,” with smooth drinks and soothing music.

930 Gervais St., 803-550-9979
Popular Charleston dessert bar arrives in Columbia complete with multiple sweet martinis, alcoholic milkshakes and coffee drinks — all available late into the night.

1001 Washington St., 803-254-4464
If this converted fire station reminds you of Five Points, it’s probably because its owners cut their teeth working for places like Group Therapy and Jungle Jim’s. These Gamecock fans host regular acoustic performances in addition to karaoke and open mic contests.

Liberty Tap Room
828 Gervais St., 803-461-4677
Whether you’re after a nice meal or just a tasty drink, you’ll find much to enjoy here consider the much-acclaimed menu and massive beer list, which offers 75 tap and bottle varieties to choose from.

Music Farm
1022 State St.,
Charleston’s famed music venue has a sister venue in Columbia, bringing the city a sorely needed large-scale rock club, a home for a diverse array of trendy touring acts.

930 Gervais St., 803-779-9599
Best known for its desserts, Nonnah’s is a good place to stop for coffee and drinks after dinner or a show.

The Oyster Bar
1123 Park St., 803-799-4484
Serves fresh Gulf oysters — steamed or raw — in a dressed-down atmosphere. Best of all: They shuck, you eat. Also serves up steamed shrimp and scallops.

936 Gervais St., 803-661-7741
Pearlz specializes in all oysters, but its hip ambience and signature martinis also make it a hotspot for Columbia’s young, urban professional crowd. Plus, its upstairs lounge is a hotbed for local jazz.

PT’s 1109
1109 Assembly St., 803-253-8900
You could live your whole life in Columbia and not know this gay bar exists, and, frankly, its regulars probably wouldn’t mind all that much. Conversely, this haunt is a treasure to the folks who frequent it.

807 Gervais St., 803-931-0700
Don’t miss this hip sushi bar just because it’s down an alley. Its signature cocktails feature muddled mint leaves, cucumbers, blueberries and more. Four flat-screen TVs. too.

918 Gervais St., 803-603-4313
A hot Vista night spot, Social gets weird on the weekends, hosting paint parties, ice parties, inflatable wonderland parties, foam parties and all manner of events at which to get turnt — soundtracking it with some nationally respected EDM talents.

Thirsty Fellow
621 Gadsden St., 803-799-1311
Super-popular spot serving up eclectic, delicious pizzas (and much more) and offering a full bar.

Tin Roof
1022 Senate St., 803-771-1558
A favorite bar for everyone from USC students to young professionals. Its calling cards: live music, good food and a laid-back atmosphere. Open for lunch, happy hour, dinner and into the night.

700-C Gervais St., 803-312-9911
Tsunami’s elegant, contemporary atmosphere and ample seating area complement its extensive sake, wine and beer selection.

Uncle Fester’s
522 Devine St., 803-748-9897
While most of the Soda City’s bars are closing up shop on Sunday morning, this watering hole between Palmetto Pig and Todd & Moore keeps the party going. Always packed with a diverse clientele.

Uncle Louie’s
1125 Park St., 803-933-9833
Its no-frills, no-nonsense attitude has endeared this unassuming watering hole to a loyal legion of regulars, but there’s always room for more.

Wet Willie’s
800 Gervais St., 803-779-5650
How can you not love a bar that specializes in frozen daiquiris with names ranging from Strawberry and Mango to White Russian, Weak Willie and Shock Treatment?

Wild Wing Café
729 Lady St., 803-252-9464
Sure, Wild Wing Café has sandwiches, salads and soup, but the obvious draw is its 33 flavors of wings. If you can’t decide on one, get the sampler platter. Also boasts a ton of TVs, a party atmosphere and a steady stream of regional rock bands.

The Woody
808 Lady St., 803-779-9663
Named after popular Columbia disc jockey Woody Windham, The Woody is a popular Vista spot for shag, salsa and line dancing, as well as a welcoming spot for partiers who aren’t in their 20s.

World of Beer
902F Gervais St., 803-509-6020
World of Beer offers more than 500 beers, stocking something for aficionados and neophytes alike. Wine and cigars, too, plus live music on the weekends. The suds bring the masses in, but the living-room atmosphere keeps ‘em coming back.

West Columbia / Vista West
@116 Espresso & Wine Bar
116 State St., 803-791-5663
A coffee shop that serves gourmet food and booze? Be still our beating hearts! Dig those specialty cocktails; also serves an extensive assortment of wines. Small, but cozy. A good date spot.

Bill’s Music Shop & Pickin’ Parlor
710 Meeting St., 796-6477
Instrument store hosts weekly bluegrass jams, biweekly Opry-style country jams and occasional concerts featuring top-flight bluegrass and old-timey musicians.

Liberty on the Lake | photo by john carlos

530 12th St., 803-791-4617
A friendly Triangle City neighborhood bar. Free pool on Saturdays.

Calloway’s Bar & Grill
2410 Augusta Rd., 803-926-1199
Pool tables, big-screen TVs and food: What more do you want from a sports bar?

New Brookland Tavern
122 State St., 803-791-4413
New Brookland Tavern is Columbia’s most storied rock club, but it’s a damn fine bar, too, offering a fine array of specials and a bar stocked with much more than Pabst Blue Ribbon served up by friendly staff.

Platinum West
1995 Old Dunbar Rd., 803-794-6277
Exactly like Platinum Plus, but in West Columbia (i.e., the ladies have no shirts on.)

Rooster’s Den
1215 Augusta Rd., 803-794-8200
A members-only bar in Triangle City.

The Skyline Club
100 Lee St., 803-822-8608
Where do you go in Columbia if you want to do the Boot-Scootin’ Boogie? This line-dancing bar near the airport, that’s where.

State Street Pub
136 State St., 803-796-2006
An across-the-bridge institution, State Street Pub wins its crowd with pool, cheap beer, sports and plenty of charm. Loads of beers on tap. You’ll need to be a member, but you should be.

Forest Acres / Dentsville
Ale House Lounge
12 Tommy Circle, 803-771-0161
An off-the-beaten-path hole-in-the-wall not without its charms.

Comedy House
2768 Decker Blvd., 803-798-9898
Regional and national comedy acts stopping by regularly. Offers a full menu with steak, shrimp, chicken, burgers, sandwiches and appetizers.

The Mouse Trap
2711 Middleburg Dr., 803-799-2120
One of this town’s hidden gems, the bar is located beneath an office building in Middleburg Park. Country cooking, lots of regulars, sports on a big screen and occasional evening entertainment.

Pizza Joint
3246 Forest Dr., 803-454-1743
Come for the pizza, stay for the impressive beer selection — especially enjoyable during the $3 slice and pint night each Tuesday.

Rosso Trattoria Italia
4840 Forest Dr., 803-787-3949
More known for its food, yes, but its bar — and sexy atmosphere — make it a great place for a casual — or serious — drinks date.

Irmo / Harbison / Dutch Fork

British Bulldog Pub
1220 E10 Bowers Pkwy., 803-227-8918
A British pub in the middle of Irmo’s urban sprawl? Rad. A dinner menu of traditional U.K. cuisine is augmented with specials on Guinness and Irish whiskeys, but the Bulldog doesn’t forget us Yanks, offering basketball (and soccer, too) on big-screen televisions and multiple, cold domestics.

Carolina Ale House
277 Columbiana Dr., 803-407-6996
Southeastern chain grille-and-grog offers good eats, a good beer selection and plenty of televised sports.

Copper River Grill
1230 B8 Bower Parkway, 803-749-4647
Copper River Grill is a destination drinking spot for the entire Irmo/St. Andrews area. A super-large bar area means you’ll always have someplace to sit, but it still gets crowded the later the night progresses.

Halftime Sports Cantina
5122 Bush River Rd., 803-213-1300
This cantina offers plenty of sports, plenty of beer and plenty of pretty standard bar food.

5195 Fernandina Rd., 803-407-9464
Founded in 1983, Hooters is known for its wings and its scantily clad waitresses. Also serves salads, soups, burgers, seafood and sandwiches. But let’s be honest: You’re probably going for the wings and the waitresses.

1290 Bower Pkwy., 803-407-3873
Like its sister Vista location, Tsunami’s elegant, contemporary atmosphere and ample seating area complement its extensive sake, wine and beer selection.

Wild Wing Café
1150 Bower Pkwy., 803-749-9464
Sure, Wild Wing Café has sandwiches, salads and soup, but the obvious draw is its 33 flavors of wings. If you can’t decide on one, get the sampler platter. Also boasts a ton of TVs, a party atmosphere and a steady stream of regional rock bands.

Lexington / Lake Murray
Carolina Wings & Rib House
105 Northpoint Dr., 803-356-6244
What can we say about this Columbia institution? They carry a good selection of bottled beers, and the assortment of buffalo wing flavors is enticing, too.

Goodfellas Grill & Bar
7608 U.S. 378, 803-951-4663
Want to hang out in a laid-back bar in Lexington? Here it is.

Keg Cowboy
108 E. Main St., 803-957-2337
A retail store, yes, but one with its own craft beer tavern — with some seriously adventurous stuff — and its own outdoor beer garden. Lovely.

Krafty Draft
269 Charter Oak Rd., 803-996-0345
Nibble on tortilla chips, hummus or a rotisserie chicken salad while sampling a wide assortment of beers.

Liberty on the Lake
1602 Marina Rd., 803-667-9715
Offers all the accoutrements of Liberty’s downtown drinkery with the added scenery of Lake Murray. Forty-eight beers on tap.

Main Street Steakhouse and Bar
131 E. Main St., 803-808-5886
This steakhouse and hangout replaced the little Greek restaurant that previously held this space. Like its predecessor, it frequently hosts live music.

Old Mill Brew Pub
711 E. Main St., 803-785-2337
Maybe you grew up and moved away from campus and downtown Columbia. But maybe you still miss the occasional pint of Hunter-Gatherer’s fine home-crafted brew. Head to this upstart brewpub in downtown Lexington, which, like H-G, brews its own suds and hosts occasional live music, too.

Rusty Anchor
1925 Johnson Marina Rd., 803-749-1555
Sliding glass doors opened most of the year offer a great view of Lake Murray. And live entertainment on The Quarterdeck outside jazzes up the summer months.

6226 Bush River Rd., 803-661-6138
On the eastern shores of Lake Murray by the confluence of Bush River Road, North Lake Drive and Lake Murray Boulevard, Schooners is a simple unassuming bar and grill, offering daily specials, cheap wings, televisions and live music.

Tipsy Toad Tavern
103 Beaufort St., 803-932-4470
A godsend to the culturally deprived lake area, the Tipsy Toad features a good beer selection and Vista-style atmosphere.

Wings ‘n’ Ale
154 Ellis Ave., 803-359-4475
Specializing in wings, beer and pool, Wings ‘n’ Ale has an ample supply of all three. If you’re looking for a place where the odds of getting a table are better than making a masse shot, this is it. Classic and modern rock flows as freely as the brew. Not your khaki and button-down crowd.

St. Andrews

Hemingway’s Saloon
7467 St. Andrews Rd., 803-749-6020
A sports bar, a great restaurant and a nice little music club all rolled into one.

McCary’s Sports Bar
851 Bush River Rd., 803-551-5680
Typically places high in the annual Best of Columbia poll, and for good reason: good selection, good atmosphere.

Platinum Plus
362 Jacob Rd., 803-731-0555
Good (or bad): The girls at Platinum Plus take their clothes off. Better (or worse): Platinum Plus serves booze.

Wings & Ale
125-C Outlet Pointe Blvd., 803-750-1700
Family atmosphere, live entertainment and wings. Features jukebox, pool tables, sporting events on large-projection TV and many other big-screen TVs. Live entertainment steers toward the classic rock crowd. Never a cover charge.

Northeast Columbia
Baker’s Sports Pub & Grill
7167 Two Notch Road, 803-419-2381
Outdoor deck, 16 high-definition TVs, and low prices and domestic and imported beer. Yes, it’s all about the sports.

7711 Two Notch Rd., 803-419-3456
Founded in 1983, Hooters is known for its wings and its scantily clad waitresses. Also serves salads, soups, burgers, seafood and sandwiches. But let’s be honest: You’re probably going for the wings and the waitresses.

10005 Two Notch Rd., 803-736-5775
This state-of-the-art sports bar offers an attractive selection of viewing and dining possibilities. And if you hate sports, there’s always karaoke.

Quaker Steak & Lube
941 Spears Creek Ct., 803-563-5501
Wings, steaks, brews and a long list of specialty cocktails including the Need for Speed and the Blazin’ Bloody Mary.

1101 Broad St., 803-425-4850
Taqueria and tequila lounge, and the place to catch live jazz in Camden.

301 Rice Meadow Way, 803-736-8228
Serenity now! A country-ish restaurant by day and lounge by night.

Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar
841-4 Sparkleberry Lane, 803-788-6966
Solstice offers an excellent menu, and it’s a great place to relax with a fancy cocktail.

224 10 O’Neil Ct., 803-736-7474
Love karaoke? You’ll love Tsubaki, where the karaoke is as authentically Japanese as next-door Inakaya’s sushi.

Venue on Broad
1020 Broad St., Camden, 803-713-8333
This laid-back venue is the place to catch live music in Kershaw County, offering everything from singer-songwriters to popular local and regional rock acts.

Wild Wing Café
480 Town Center Place, Suite 2, 803-865-3365
Sure, Wild Wing Café has sandwiches, salads and soup, but the obvious draw is its 33 flavors of wings. Also boasts a ton of TVs and bands on the weekend.

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Annual Manual 2016: Festivals and Events in Columbia SC

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

Columbia is home to lots of annual festivals and events. Pick up Free Times each week and visit for updates.


Columbia Craft Beer Week
A week-long celebration of craft beer sponsored by KW Beverage. Special events at breweries, bars, restaurants and retail spots.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events at USC
2017 dates TBA. The University of South Carolina generally starts its festivities the week before and keeps on going well into the next week with talks, musical presentations, more.

Restaurant Week Columbia
2017 dates TBA. Restaurants offer deals, you show up and enjoy.

World Beer Festival
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
2017 date TBA. Sponsored by All About Beer magazine, the World Beer Festival is one of the premier beer events in the country, presenting hundreds of local, national and international beers.

Monster Jam
Colonial Life Arena
Feb. 5-6. Giant trucks will smash stuff. People will cheer.

Junior League Clean Sweep
South Carolina State Fairgrounds,
Feb. 6. Held since 1998, this fundraiser is basically a massive yard sale.

Mardi Gras Columbia
City Roots,
Feb 6. A plethora of local and regional bands boogie down on the farm to crowds strewn with beads. Plenty of food and beer available for consumption.

Black History Parade & Festival
Martin Luther King Park,
Feb. 6-7. A celebration of history, achievement and community.

University of South Carolina Band Clinic
Koger Center,
Feb. 11-14. Numerous University of South Carolina ensembles offer free concerts during this high school clinic.

R. Kelly
Colonial Life Arena,
Feb. 12. The controversial, sex-obsessed R&B singer returns to Columbia.

Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic
Colonial Life Arena,
Feb. 19. 25 of Disney’s most beloved animated characters take the stage to entertain the kiddies.

Deckle Edge Literary Festival
Feb. 19-21. First-year festival will feature signings, readings, writers’ workshops and more.

Auntie Karen Legends Of …
Koger Center,
Feb 19. Signature fundraiser concert for The Auntie Karen Foundation. Features AJ Jarreau performing with the South Carolina Philharmonic.

Winter Jam 2016
Colonial Life Arena,
Feb. 26. An early look at some future stars from the Christian music industry.

Palladium Society Chili Cook-Off
Music Farm Columbia,
Feb. 27. Features a variety of chili recipes, judging by local celebrities and chefs, live music.

Harambee Festival
Benedict College,
Feb. 27. Features the award-winning Benedict College Gospel Choir and other musical performers amid a slew of other offerings: food, dance, art, educational programs and much more.


Run Hard Columbia Marathon
March 5. Long-running race returns for another long haul.

Blue Man Group
Koger Center,
March 11. The famously face-painted performance artists stop in Columbia.

Carolina Classic: Home & Garden Show
SC State Fairgrounds,
March 11-13. Need ideas to help you spruce up your own home? Check out many home building, remodeling and gardening/landscaping exhibits.

St. Pat’s in Five Points | photo by jonathan sharpe

Legends of Southern Hip-Hop
Township Auditorium,
March 12. Juvenile, Bun B lead a lineup that lives up to the title.

Moody Blues
Township Auditorium,
March 16. The revered rock band rolls through Columbia.

Peter Pan
Koger Center,
March 18-19. Takes on the tale of flying boy who wouldn’t grow up. Performed by Columbia City Ballet.

Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic
South Carolina State Fairgrounds
March 18-20. Premier hunting and fishing outdoor show. Vendors, samples, demonstrations, more.

St. Pat’s in Five Points
Five Points,
March 19. Columbia’s biggest party also includes the Get to the Green Race and the St. Pat’s Parade, not to mention a robust schedule of musicians and other performers.

Lexington Bridal Expo
Lexington Doubletree
March 20. Table settings! Dresses! Flowers! Just try not to get married after attending this event.

Soda City Suds Week
March 18-26. Independently run week of events aimed at promoting the range of breweries and beer-focused businesses in Columbia.

Harlem Globetrotters
Colonial Life Arena,
March 25. The famed basketball tricksters perform — I mean play — for your viewing pleasure.

Koger Center,
March 30-31. A Dublin street artist meets a beautiful young woman, igniting his creativity, in this acclaimed musical.

Tartan Day South
Historic Columbia Speedway
March 31-April 3. A celebration of all things Celtic.


Carolina Cup
Springdale Race Course,
April 2. Hobnob and imbibe in your Sunday best. Oh yeah, there’s a horse race, too!

Runaway Runway
Columbia Museum of Art
April 2. One man’s trash is another’s haute couture, as this recycled fashion show proves.

Bark to the Park
Finlay Park,
April 9. One-mile dog walk and activities for canines. Oh, and people, too: food, entertainment, vendors, more.

Lake Carolina Oyster Roast
Lake House at Lake Carolina
April 9. Bring your own gloves and shucking knife to dig into the oyster-filled buckets.

River Rocks Music Festival
Riverfront Park,
April 9. Paddling opportunities on the Columbia Canal, environmental education, family-friendly activities, food, beverages and live music presented by the Congaree Riverkeeper.

Columbia Fireflies
April 14. It’s the first home game for Columbia’s new minor league baseball team at Spirit Communications Park, and it’s going to be one heck of a party.

Disney on Ice: Frozen
Colonial Life Arena,
April 14-17. Characters from the computer-animated Disney hit perform — on ice skates!

Indie Grits Festival
April 14-17. So much more than just a film festival. The Nickelodeon Theatre-sponsored event moves much of its live music and multimedia displays to the riverfront this year. And for the first time, the festival is free to attend.

Olympia Fest
April 15. History, gravel quarry tours, family activities, arts, crafts, live music, more. Historic Quarry Crusher Run ( held in conjunction with the festival.

The Color Run
Finlay Park,
April 16. Part of a global series of 5ks, the premise here is simple: You run, you get doused with vivid paints (actually natural-dyed cornstarch), and you have a ton of fun.

Columbia International Festival
South Carolina State Fairgrounds
April 16-17. Long-running annual international food and culture festival offers bazaars, ethnic foods, national exhibitions, a fashion show, cultural performances and culminates in a parade of nations.

The Big Nosh
Tree of Life Congregation,
April 17. Festival celebrating Jewish-American cuisine.

Celtic Woman
Koger Center,
April 19. The popular group performs Irish standards, classical favorites and contemporary pop songs.

Pearl Jam
Colonial Life Arena,
April 21. On a tour that will also take them to Bonnaroo and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the legendary grunge band stops in Columbia.

Mardi Gras Columbia | photo by jonathan sharpe

Artista Vista
The Vista,
April 21-23. Columbia’s oldest and most celebrated gallery crawl.

42nd Street
Koger Center,
April 26-27. Song-and-dance tale of starry-eyed young dancer Peggy Sawyer

Sparkleberry Country Fair
Clemson Extension, Northeast Columbia
April 29-May 1. Like the South Carolina State Fair, except way smaller: Amusement rides, food, crafts, vendors, etc. Plus, in true country style, lots of tractors.

USMC Ultimate Challenge Mud Run
The Leatherneck
April 30. A daunting 6.2-mile, all-terrain obstacle course packed with boot camp-style traps, including mud holes, walls and trenches.

Augusta Baker’s Dozen
Richland County Public Library
TBA. Annual storytelling festival brings to life the world of storytelling and children’s literature.

Lower Richland Sweet Potato Festival
TBA. Parade, dancers, step team, drum line and more.

Eau Claire Fest
Eau Claire Town Center
TBA. The Eau Claire festival celebrates the North Columbia neighborhood with a marketplace, music and food.


Rosewood Crawfish Festival
Rosewood Drive
May 7. Stuff yourself with Cajun and Creole cuisine in addition to samples from Rosewood restaurants. It’s a feast for the ears as well, with four stages historically dominated by popular ’90s alt-rockers and up-and-coming locals.

Aiken Bluegrass Festival
May 13-13. Aiken’s 12th salute to pickn’ ‘n’ grinnin’.

Black Expo
Colonial Life Arena,
May 21. Exhibitors and vendors, seminars, workshops, youth activities, a health fair and local and national entertainment.

SC Cornbread Festival
Spirit Communications Park
May 23. Cornbread? Cornbread.

Jackson Browne
Township Auditorium,
May. 29. The legendary songwriter performs a solo acoustic show. Rescheduled from January.

Lexington Wine Walk
TBA. Held on the 100 block of East Main Street in Lexington, the Lexington Wine Walk offers wine tastings, hors d’ouevres and live music. Fundraiser for the Lexington Beautification Foundation.


Home Fun Run 5K
Held at Lake Carolina.

Southern Guitar Festival & Competition
June 11-12. Present concerts, masterclasses, lectures and an international competition, with divisions for elementary/middle school, high school, and college/professional levels.

Southeastern Piano Festival
June 12-19. Presents some of the nation’s most talented up-and-coming pianists.

Columbia Fashion Week
June 21-25. Who says Columbia doesn’t have style? Go get dazzled at a few displays on the runway and attend special events like the annual Beautiful People Party.

Carolina Celebration of Liberty
First Baptist Church of Columbia
June 26. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Patriotic celebration and salute to the armed forces.

Conductors Institute
Koger Center,
TBA. Aspiring conductors come to town from all over the country and beyond to hone their craft. Conducting sessions are open to the public.

South Carolina Black Pride
TBA. Like the annual Pride festival, but black-oriented.

Tour of Homes
June 4-19. Showcases five communities and more than 50 homes spanning every price range.


Lake Murray Independence Day Celebration
Lake Murray,
July 2. Boat parade and fireworks extravaganza.

Summer Carolina Bridal Showcase
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
July 17. More table settings! More dresses! More flowers! More brides!

Lexington County Peach Festival
TBA. Mmm . . . peaches!

Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival
City Roots,
TBA. Organized by Sustainable Midlands. Mmm … tomatoes!

Torchlight Tattoo
Fort Jackson Hilton Field
TBA. Fwsssssh! Booooooom! Awe-inspiring fireworks display and patriotic celebration.


Brew at the Zoo
Riverbanks Zoo,
Aug. 5. Beer and baboons! Meander through the Zoo or hang out in the plaza while sampling domestics and microbrews.

Janet Jackson
Colonial Life Arena,
Aug. 12. The world-renowned pop star brings her Unbreakable World Tour to Columbia.

South Carolina Peanut Party
Aug. 12. The town of Pelion celebrates the peanut and all its edible varieties — Peanut butter! Boiled peanuts! Peanut brittle! Uh … spicy peanut sauce!

Main Street Latin Festival
Main Street, downtown Columbia
TBA. Endorsed by the City of Columbia and supported by South Carolina Hispanic Outreach, this festival showcase the culture and vitality of Columbia’s Latin community with a wide variety of Hispanic food, art, dance and music.


Fall Carolina Bridal Showcase
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
Sept. 18. Even more table settings! Even more dresses! Even more flowers!

Irmo Okra Strut
Sept. 23-24. Music, food, games and a freaking okra parade. Praise be to Irmo.

Columbia Greek Festival
Sumter Street at Calhoun Street, downtown Columbia,
TBA. The Greek Festival is Columbia at its best — multicultural, culinary diversity and family friendly fun. Plus: baklava!

Congaree Swamp Fest
Congaree National Park
TBA. Celebrates the rich heritage of Lower Richland County. Wide array of entertainment, food vendors, guided park tours, more.

Fall Festival and Pickin’ Party
South Carolina State Museum
TBA. Annual event for barbecue, live music and artist demonstrations put on by the SC State Museum.

Jubilee Festival of Heritage
Mann-Simons Cottage,
TBA. Features hands-on demonstrations from skilled artists and craftsmen and vendors with African-influenced and traditional merchandise. Music ranges from African drumming to R&B, jazz and gospel.

Palmetto Capital City Classic
Charlie W. Johnson Stadium
TBA. The Palmetto Classic pits the Benedict College Tigers against another historically black college or university in an annual clash on the gridiron.

SC Pride 2016
Main Street, downtown Columbia
TBA. The South Carolina Pride Movement is a statewide organization dedicated to celebrating, advocating, educating and supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities of South Carolina; the festival offers music, art, parties, parades and more.


Newberry Oktoberfest
Historic Downtown Newberry
Oct. 1. Annual event celebrating German tradition.

Five Points Fountain
Oct. 2. Annual music festival celebrating the life of legendary Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.

South Carolina State Fair
South Carolina State Fairgrounds
Oct. 12-23. Rides and deep-fried goodness and — occasionally — pretty decent bands.

Boo at the Zoo
Riverbanks Zoo,
Oct. 21-30. Lions and tigers … and ghosts! And candy!

USMC Ultimate Challenge Mud Run
The Leatherneck
TBA. Didn’t get enough at the first Mud Run? Do it again!

Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ
Woodrow Wilson Family Home
TBA. Bid on a variety of items, vacation packages, artwork and shopping deals as you enjoy live music, specialty drink and food.

TBA. The closest thing to a meat-themed bacchanal you’re probably ever going to experience in the Midlands of South Carolina. Bacon-wrapped alligator? Wow. Just wow.

Italian Festival
Main Street, downtown Columbia
TBA. Mamma mia! Italian food, Italian-American music, family-friendly Italian-American entertainment and an Italian fresh market. Plus: a bocce tournament!

Carolina Downhome Blues Festival
Downtown Camden,
TBA. Blues music from all over the world in bars all over downtown Camden.

Dracula: Ballet with a Bite
Koger Center,
TBA. The Count’s come all the way from Transylvania to show you how much he wants to suck your blood.

Great American Whiskey Fair
Grand Hall at 701 Whaley
TBA. Distilling luminaries, small producers, bartenders and enthusiasts will gather to celebrate all things whiskey — from cask to glass.

Jam Room Music Festival
Main Street, downtown Columbia
TBA. It’s amazing what happens when the people booking a music festival actually know something about music. Presents local, regional and national rock acts.

Korean Fall Festival
1412 Richland St.,
TBA. Bulgogi! Dukbogi! Kimchi! Hosted by the Korean Community Presbyterian Church, this festival highlights Korean food (yum!), as well as dance and other cultural aspects.

Oktoberfest Columbia
Incarnation Lutheran Church
TBA. Celebrate German heritage with German food, German beer and German music. Proceeds benefit Harvest Hope Food Bank, the Midlands Foundation for Foster Children and the Incarnation Lutheran Church Foundation.

Palmetto Peanut Boil
Publick House,
TBA. If you don’t like boiled peanuts, you’re living in the wrong state.


Pecan Festival
Downtown Florence
Nov. 5. Amusement rides, antique tractor show, car show and competition, cook-off, vocal competition, corn hole competition and more. Yay pecans!

Vista Lights
The Vista,
Nov. 17. Carriage rides, Christmas tree lighting, holiday music and more create the atmosphere for this annual open house for Vista businesses and galleries.

Riverbanks Zoo Lights Before Christmas
Riverbanks Zoo,
Nov. 19-Dec. 30. With nearly 1 million twinkling lights assembled into an array of dazzling images, Lights Before Christmas is a longstanding hallmark of Columbia’s Christmas season.

South Carolina State Fair | photo by kevin kyzer

Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakeoff
Beth Shalom Synagogue
TBA. A veritable smorgasbord of Jewish food awaits.

Colonial Cup
Springdale Race Course
TBA. The small town of Camden is full of historic sites and antique shops; it’s also a nationally known hub for horse training and home to the Springdale Race Course.

Columbia Blues Festival
Martin Luther King Jr. Park
TBA. This festival brings marquee bluesmen and women to Soda City. Past performers include Etta Baker, Jorma Kaukonen, The Lee Boys, Otis Taylor and Johnny Winter.

Five Points Chili Cook-Off
Five Points,
TBA. Immensely popular Five Points food event. Recipes include vegetarian, traditional, wild things, exotic and hot stuff. Good eatin’. Live music, too.

Governor’s Carolighting
South Carolina State House
TBA. If you celebrate the season and can put away partisan politics for one night, you might dig watching the governor light the State House Christmas tree. Typically held the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Governor’s Cup
State House,
TBA. Popular road-race event that features 8K and half-marathon events. Be sure to stretch.

Historic Camden Revolutionary War Days
Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site
TBA. Marching, muskets, and shots fired! But as opposed to that first Revolutionary War, no one gets hurt.

Holiday Lights on the River
Saluda Shoals Park,
TBA. A dazzling, twinkling, massive drive-through light display along the Saluda River.

Main Street Ice
Boyd Plaza, downtown Columbia
TBA. Outdoor ice-skating on a smallish rink with all of your friends. Who says Columbia can’t enjoy winter?

South Carolina Oyster Festival
Robert Mills House
TBA. Mmm ... oysters! Columbia’s largest outdoor oyster roast features thousands of pounds of steamed oysters for sale by the bucket. Also features music, kids’ activities, arts and crafts vendors, and more.


Famously Hot New Year
Main Street, downtown Columbia
Dec. 31. Annual block party rocks in the New Year with beer, food vendors, an area for kids’ rides and a great fireworks show. Did we mention music? Hip-hop great Lauryn Hill headlined last year.

Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade
Gervais Street, downtown Columbia
TBA. Columbia’s annual and official holiday parade.

Columbia Christmas Pageant
First Baptist Church,
TBA. This annual Christmas pageant is a huge deal: It’s televised statewide.

Crafty Feast
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
TBA. Avoid the mall! Buy handmade goodies from local and regional artisans for all your friends and family this year! That’s an order!

Devine Night Out
Devine Street,
TBA. More than 40 stores on Devine Street will welcome guests, encouraging them to be merry and spend heartily.

Junior League of Columbia Holiday Market
South Carolina State Fairgrounds
TBA. Popular four-day holiday market. In addition to all the stuff you can buy, the market features special events such as Ladies Night Out and PJs with Santa. Raises funds and awareness for local community needs.

A Starry Night
Five Points,
TBA. Santa! Hot chocolate! Christmas-y music and fun! Joy to Five Points!


Arts and Draughts
Columbia Museum of Art
Drink beer. See art. Hear music. Repeat quarterly.

Dollar Sunday at Historic Columbia
The Gift Shop at Robert Mills
Richland and Lexington County residents are invited to take a guided tour of historic house museums.

First Thursday on Main
Main Street, downtown Columbia
Eclectic monthly arts series. A loose collaboration between the merchants and galleries on Main Street.

Five After Five
Five Points,
Weekly outdoor concert series during warmer months.

Rhythm on the River
West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheatre,
Weekly outdoor concert series during warmer months.

Rooftop Rhythms
Richland Mall
TBA. Free outdoor concert series hosted four times a year.

Vista Nights
Art crawl held on the third Thursday of every month.

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Annual Manual 2016:  Jobs, Economy and Demographics in Columbia SC

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

Surely you know that the Columbia area is home to the University of South Carolina, Fort Jackson, SCANA and several major hospitals. But there are other big players in the region, too — insurers, banks, manufacturing plants and more — plus some up-and-coming industries.

Add in the fact that Columbia is the seat of state government — as well as county and city government — and what you have is a well-diversified economy that tends to weather economic ups and downs better than many other mid-sized cities. For its part, Lexington County consistently maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

Columbia is also making a play for knowledge-economy workers, particularly in such sectors as insurance technology; hydrogen and fuel cells; and nuclear energy.

Here’s a look at some of the companies and institutions that drive the economy of Richland, Lexington and Kershaw counties, as well as some of the key demographic characteristics of the region.

Major Regional Employers

Allied Barton
Sector/industry: Private security services
Location: 140 Stoneridge Dr.
Type: Branch
Offers armed and unarmed security services to all types of businesses and institutions. Fulfillment Center
Sector/industry: Distribution
Location: 4400 12th St. Extension (West Columbia)
Type: Branch
Order something from Amazon? Somebody is busting their ass running around a warehouse in Lexington County right now trying to get it out to you. At least until the company gets those robots and drones up and running.

Amick Farms
Sector/industry: Poultry processing
Location: Batesburg-Leesville
Type: Headquarters
Founded in 1941 with one chicken house and 500 baby chicks, Amick Farms now runs state-of-the-art processing facilities in Batesburg, S.C, and Hurlock, Md.

Sector/industry: Cellular and other communications
Location: 1201 Main St.
Type: Branch
Columbia boasts just about 1 percent of AT&T’s global workforce of 266,590. Headquartered in Dallas, AT&T’s business ranges from smartphones to next-generation TV services and communications solutions for multinationals.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Sector/industry: Finance and insurance
Location: I-20 at Alpine Rd. (Richland County)
Type: Headquarters
Founded in 1946 by the General Assembly as the South Carolina Hospital Service Plan, BlueCross BlueShield of SC is the only South Carolina-owned and operated health insurance carrier. Today, the company’s reach extends far beyond the state, with numerous subsidiary businesses offering non-health insurance products and services outside the state.

City of Columbia
Sector/industry: Municipal government
Employees: 2,157
Location: 1737 Main St.
Type: Headquarters
From business licenses to parking tickets, water bills to trash pick-up and park maintenance to police protection, it takes a lot of people to keep the streets — and the sewers under them — functioning properly.

Colonial Life
Sector/industry: Life insurance
Location: 1200 Colonial Life Blvd.
Type: Headquarters
Established in 1939, Colonial Life specializes in supplemental insurance products such as accident, disability, life, hospital confinement, cancer and critical illness coverage.

Computer Sciences Corporation
Sector/industry: Data processing, hosting and related services
Location: 10301 Wilson Blvd. (Blythewood)
Type: Branch
CSC is a global technology corporation offering business solutions in a wide range of industries; its Blythewood center is home to the Insurance Innovation Center.

Dorn VA Medical Center
Sector/industry: Health care
Location: 6439 Garners Ferry Rd.
Type: Headquarters
Operates a 216-bed facility encompassing acute medical, surgical, psychiatric and long-term care. Provides primary, secondary and some tertiary care. In 2013, the medical center served 75,813 patients.

First Citizens Bank
Sector/industry: Commercial banking
Location: 1230 Main St.
Type: Headquarters
Headquartered in Columbia, First Citizens is a subsidiary of First Citizens Bancorporation, Inc., a bank holding company with more than $8 billion in assets. Founded in 1913, it serves customers in South Carolina and Georgia with a wide range of banking services for individuals and businesses, including brokerage and investment services. Hey, they have a café on Main Street, too.

Fort Jackson
Sector/industry: Military
Location: Exit 12 off I-77
Founded in 1917, Fort Jackson encompasses more than 52,000 acres and is the U.S. Army’s main production center for basic combat training, training half of all Army recruits. On an annual basis, the Fort sends 36,000 soldiers through basic training and 8,000 through advanced individual training. Also home to the Drill Sergeant School, the U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute, the Armed Forces Army Chaplaincy Center and School and the National Center for Credibility Assessment.

International Paper
Sector/industry: Paper mill
Location: 4001 McCords Ferry Rd. (Eastover)
Type: Branch
International Paper’s Eastover mill is one of the most technologically advanced pulp and paper mills in the world and the lowest-cost producer of uncoated freesheet in North America.

Sector/industry: Polymers and fibers
Location: 643 Highway 1 South (Lugoff)
Type: Branch
You can’t really even imagine all the things Invista makes. They work with fibers, resins, fabrics, polymers and chemicals, and their products end up in everything from carpet to clothing to industrial products and, uh, spandex.

KershawHealth Medical Center
Sector/industry: Health care
Location: 1315 Roberts St. (Camden)
Type: Headquarters
Provides a broad range of health, wellness and medical services at locations all across the Kershaw County area.

Lexington County
Sector/industry: Municipal government
Location: 206 East Main St. (Lexington)
Type: Headquarters
Even the notoriously anti-tax residents of Lexington County will pony up for the basics like trash collection, water service and probate courts. Roads? Not so much.

Lexington County School District 1
Sector/industry: Education
Location: 6340 Platt Springs Road (Lexington)
Serves more than 24,000 students with more than 3,550 employees (not including substitutes) and 30 schools.

Lexington County School District 2
Sector/industry: Education
Location: 715 Ninth St. (West Columbia)
Serves the east-central portion of the county, including the cities of West Columbia and Cayce, with enrollment of more than 8,800 students.

Lexington County School District 5
Sector/industry: Education
Location: 1020 Dutch Fork Road (Irmo)
1020 Dutch Fork Rd, Irmo, SC 29063
Received a top review in 2015 from education evaluation group AdvancED renewing the district’s five-year accreditation with the internationally recognized organization. Has three attendance areas — Chapin, Dutch Fork, and Irmo — and covers a land area of approximately 196 square miles.

Lexington Medical Center
Sector/industry: Health care
Location: 2720 Sunset Blvd. (West Columbia)
Type: Headquarters
Lexington Medical Center is a major medical complex with 414 beds anchoring a comprehensive network of more than 600 affiliated physicians, six community medical and urgent care centers, an occupational health center, the largest extended care facility in the Carolinas and an Alzheimer’s care center. Consistently ranks high for medical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Sector/industry: Tire manufacturing
Location: Lexington (two locations)
Type: Branch
Michelin is big in the Southeast, but it’s particularly big in South Carolina. Michelin North America is headquartered in Greenville, and that’s good for our region, too.

Midlands Technical College
Sector/industry: Higher education
Location: 316 S. Beltline
Type: Headquarters
Midlands Technical College is a multi-campus public institution offering nearly 100 career-oriented programs and a growing number of online classes. Primarily serves the region of Richland, Lexington and Fairfield counties.

Palmetto GBA
Sector/industry: Heath care, technology
Location: 17 Technology Circle (Columbia)
Type: Headquarters
Helps businesses reduce costs through streamlining technology, training, finance and customer service. Services include call centers, transaction processing, professional education and training, clinical decision management and more. Has particular expertise in Medicaid and Medicare transaction processing.

Palmetto Health
Sector/industry: Health care
Location: 5 Richland Medical Park
Type: Headquarters
Palmetto Health is the region’s largest health care institution, operating an 1,138-bed system and providing care for 70 percent of Richland County residents and 55 percent of residents in the Richland-Lexington area. Among its facilities are Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Richland, Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, which includes Healing Waters, a spa, plastic surgery and wellness center.

Providence Hospitals
Sector/industry: Health care
Location: 2435 Forest Dr.
Type: Headquarters
Why is it called Providence Hospitals instead of Providence Hospital? Because there are, in fact, a bunch of Providence facilities: Providence Hospital, the SC Heart & Vascular Center, Providence Orthopedic Hospital and Providence Orthopaedic and the Moore Center for Orthopedics. Highly rated for its heart procedures, orthopedic surgery and more.

Russell & Jeffcoat Realtors, Inc.
Sector/industry: Real estate
Location: 1022 Calhoun St.
Type: Headquarters
Founded in 1965, Russell & Jeffcoat has become one of the largest residential real estate firms in the Southeast.

S.C. Dept. of Corrections
Sector/industry: Government/Public safety
Location: 1735 Haviland Circle
Type: District Office
Oversees roughly 22,000 inmates and operates 26 institutions. We wonder what that number would be if they let the nonviolent, low-level drug offenders out.

S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control
Sector/industry: Public health
Location: 2600 Bull St.
Type: Headquarters
From air quality to pandemic flu, hospital-acquired infections to oozing landfills, these are the folks charged with looking out for your health. Given this agency’s far-reaching mandate, the propensity of some corporations to flout the rules and the reluctance of some politicians to make them do so, DHEC needs all the help it can get.

S.C. Dept. of Mental Health
Sector/industry: Social services
Location: 2414 Bull St.
Type: Headquarters
Develops mental health services that build upon critical local supports: family, friends, faith communities, health care providers and other community services that offer employment, learning, leisure pursuits and other human or clinical supports.

S.C. Dept. of Transportation
Sector/industry: Government/Transportation
Location: 955 Park St.
Type: Headquarters
When it’s not busy trying to wrangle funds from the General Assembly, the S.C. Dept. of Transportation fixes the state’s roads and bridges, which are in dire need of it.

SCANA Corporation
Sector/industry: Utility
Location: 220 Operation Way (Cayce)
Type: Headquarters
Among other things, SCANA generates and sells electricity to nearly 700,000 customers in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. It also kicks in a fair amount of property tax for local governments: Lexington County collected $33.9 million in property taxes from SCANA in 2014 and Richland County pulled in $33.2 million.

United Parcel Service
Sector/industry: Distribution and logistics
Location: 1782 Old Dunbar Road (West Columbia)
Type: Branch
You want to get something from one place to another? That’s what these people do — rather efficiently, too. There’s a reason they’re near the airport.

University of South Carolina
Sector/industry: Educational services
Location: Downtown Columbia
Type: Flagship university
What’s the impact of USC on the economy of the Midlands? Here’s the cheat sheet: There are 3,158 university employees and 40,695 alumni living in Richland County. Spending by USC and its alumni pumps more than $1 billion into the regional economy each year. Go to for more numbers.

V.C. Summer Nuclear Station
Sector/industry: Nuclear utility
Location: Jenkinsville (Fairfield County)
Type: Branch (of SCANA)
The nuclear industry is in a deep freeze in a lot of places, but not in South Carolina: The state already gets 51 percent of its power from nuclear plants, and two new Westinghouse AP1000 units are in the works at V.C. Summer. The financial picture is challenging with energy prices so low, but SCANA remains committed to this project to diversify its energy portfolio.

Verizon Communications
Sector/industry: Cellular and other wireless communications
Location: 565 Spears Church Rd. (Elgin)
Type: Branch
The Elgin location is a 24-hour call center. Can you hear me now?

Wells Fargo
Sector/industry: Banking
Location: 1441 Main St.
Type: Branch
Wells Fargo behaved more responsibly than a lot of other banks did back before the 2008 financial meltdown, and therefore was in a position to gobble up Wachovia at the height of the crisis. Prides itself on being committed to the communities it operates in, supporting such areas as housing, education and the arts.

Westinghouse Electric
Sector/industry: Engineering services
Location: 5801 Bluff Rd. (Hopkins)
Type: Branch
Designer of the AP1000 nuclear plant being built at V.C. Summer, Westinghouse provides fuel, services, technology, plant design and equipment for the commercial nuclear electric power industry.

Where We Work

BlueCross BlueShield of SC — 9,256
Palmetto Health — 9,066
Fort Jackson — 7,000*
Lexington Medical Center — 6,000
University of South Carolina — 5,685**
S.C. Dept. of Corrections — 5,483
(statewide, includes temporary workers)
S.C. Dept. of Transportation — 4,318
S.C. Dept. of Mental Health — 4,045***
Richland School District One — 4,036
Lexington School District One — 3,695
Richland School District Two — 3,660
SCANA — 3,640
(includes Lexington, Richland and Fairfield counties)
S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control — 3,500
Lexington School District Five — 2,523
AT&T — 2,506
City of Columbia — 2,290
Providence Hospitals — 2,234
Michelin — 1,960
Richland County — 1,861
Palmetto GBA — 1,525

Methodology varies.
*Includes approximately 3,500 active duty soldiers and 3,500 civilians.
**Does not include part-time employees.
*** Does not include contract or temporary workers.

Source: Individual companies and organizations and Central SC Alliance.

An Educated City
In Columbia, 39.5 percent of us hold a bachelor’s degree or higher — significantly higher than the national average of 28.8 percent. Statewide, the figure is 25.1 percent.

No, It’s Not Hard to Find a Guy
It’s an oft-heard complaint that it’s hard for single, heterosexual women to find a guy in Columbia. But actually there are more men than women in the city. Just 48.5 percent of city residents are female; statewide, 51.4 percent are female.

A Young City
The median age in Columbia is 28.5. Nationwide, it’s 37.2.

(Not) Living the American Dream
Homeownership rates in Columbia are low: Only 46.8 percent of us own our own homes, compared to 69.1 percent statewide.

Columbia in Black & White
Columbia’s population is made up of 51.7 percent whites and 42.2 percent blacks. In recent years, the percentage of whites in the city has been gradually increasing. Just over 4 percent of the city’s residents are Hispanic or Latino.

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Annual Manual 2016:  Government in Columbia SC

By Free Times
South Carolina State House | photo by Jonathan Sharpe
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

Columbia is a political city. As the state capital, it’s where lawmakers from all over the state gather. As an early primary state, it’s where presidential campaign fortunes are decided. And it’s a hotbed of local politics, too. And all this happens in a city that, compared with other major Southern cities, is not all that big.

All this means it’s easy to make your voice heard, to get right up close with decision-makers and tell them what you want.

Whether you’re new to the area or just looking to become more active in your community, here are some things you need to know about the voting process, your government representatives, what local government does for you and how you can influence it.


If there’s one thing South Carolinians like to do, it’s vote. We elect not just city council members and state legislators, but also county sheriffs and coroners, soil and water commissioners, the comptroller general, the secretary of state — just about everything but the town dogcatcher. South Carolina also holds the first primary in the South, giving it an outsized role in picking the next president.

To get in on the fun, you must be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years old and a legal resident of South Carolina. Also, you must be registered to vote 30 days prior to an election. If you are not a South Carolina resident and want to vote in presidential elections, you must contact your resident state and request an absentee ballot.

A state law that took effect in 2013 requires voters to show photo ID. However, you can still vote without photo ID if you can show a “reasonable impediment” prevents you from getting an ID. Still, best to bring your driver’s license or other ID to the polls.

If you move to a different home and don’t get your voter registration changed in time for the election, go to your new precinct anyway: You can vote a failsafe ballot that doesn’t include the local offices affected by your move.

To check your South Carolina voter registration information online, visit

For more information, contact your local voter registration office.

Richland County
2020 Hampton St., 803-576-2240

Lexington County
605 West Main St., Suite 105,
Lexington 803-785-8361

Federal Government

U.S. Senators
South Carolina has the distinction of being the only state with two unmarried senators. Both were re-elected in 2014.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R)
803-933-0112, 202- 224-5972

Sen. Tim Scott (R)
803-771-6112, 202- 224-6121

U.S. House Members (Midlands area)
If you live in the Midlands, you’re represented by one of three House members, whose districts weave in and around various towns and neighborhoods: long-serving Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House and the highest ranking black member of Congress; Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, best known for yelling “You lie!” during Obama’s first State of the Union address; or tea party Rep. Mick Mulvaney. All three are up for re-election in 2016.

Dist. 2: Joe Wilson (R)

Dist. 5: Mick Mulvaney (R)
803-327-1114 (Rock Hill)

Rep. James Clyburn | photo by Thomas Hammond

Dist. 6: James Clyburn (D)

State Government
The state’s bicameral legislature is dominated by Republicans, but lawmakers of both parties are seriously entrenched. Every member of the House is up for re-election this year, including House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, a Columbia Democrat. And with powerful Democratic Sen. Joel Lourie stepping down, there’ll be a big battle for his seat.

The state’s website,, offers links to state agencies, services such as driver’s license renewal and fishing license applications, the latest environmental advisories and more.

Gov. Nikki Haley
Gov. Nikki Haley
The first female and first Indian-American governor of South Carolina, as well as the nation’s youngest governor, Republican Nikki Haley is anti-union and pro-big business. She was re-elected in 2014.

State Legislature

The Midlands’ state senators and representatives run pretty moderate, often teaming up across party lines to give attention to local issues.

State Senators (Midlands area)
John Courson, R-Richland, 803-212-6250
Ronnie Cromer, R-Lexington, 803-212-6330
Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, 803-212-6048
Joel Lourie, D-Richland, 803-212-6116
John Scott, D-Richland, 803-212-6048
Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, 803-212-6140
Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, 803-212-6056

State Representatives (Midlands area)
Todd Atwater, R-Lexington, 803-212-6924
Jimmy Bales, D-Richland, 803-734-3058
Nathan Ballentine, R-Lexington, 803-734-2969
Beth Bernstein, D-Richland, 803-212-6940
Kenny Bingham, R-Lexington, 803-734-3138
Kirkman Finlay III, R-Richland, 803-212-6943
Chris Hart, D-Richland, 803-734-3061
Leon Howard, D-Richland, 803-734-3046
Chip Huggins, R-Lexington, 803-734-2971
Joe McEachern, D-Richland, 803-212-6875
Mia McLeod, D-Richland, 803-212-6794
Joe Neal, D-Richland, 803-734-2804
Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, 803-212-6897
Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, 803-734-9441
James Smith, D-Richland, 803-734-2997
Kit Spires, R-Lexington, 803-734-3010
Mac Toole, R-Lexington, 803-734-2973

City of Columbia

Columbia’s government wields more symbolic power than actual power: with just 130,000 residents in the actual city limits, the city is small — less than half the size of Richland County. But as the capital city, it sets important standards for the region and state. Its website is your starting point for navigating the city bureaucracy, whether the issue is water service, trash pickup or crime.

Not sure whether you live in the City of Columbia, unincorporated Richland County or Forest Acres? The color of your recycling bin or rollcart might help: Columbia’s are blue, the county’s are red and Forest Acres’ are green.

City Council

Steve Benjamin won election to a second term in 2013, but he lost an even more important election a month later when city voters rejected a change to a strong-mayor form of government. So, for better or for worse, Columbia’s day-to-day operations continue to be handled by a city manager hired by City Council. More recently, Benjamin lost his majority voting bloc on Council, which means 2016 could be an interesting year.

Meanwhile, Benjamin continues his efforts to revitalize downtown Columbia and draw more people to the city, often through flashy events and proposals, such as the city-sponsored New Year’s Eve concert on Main Street and a new minor-league baseball stadium opening in April 2016.

Four of the city’s seven council members are elected from geographic districts, two of which are majority-black. Two more members and the mayor are elected citywide.

Mayor Steve Benjamin, 803-545-3075, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
At-large: Tameika Isaac Devine, 803-254-8868, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
At-large: Howard Duvall, 803-238-6875, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
District 1: Sam Davis, 803-754-0525, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
District 2: Ed McDowell, 803-545-3061, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
District 3: Moe Baddourah, 803-545-4424, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
District 4: Leona Plaugh, 803-782-1947, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Richland County

To find out about property tax assessments, marriage licenses, voter registration or registering a new car, the county website is a good place to start.

County Council
Who makes all those important decisions about land use, zoning and property taxes? Richland County Council, that’s who.

Joyce Dickerson (D): 803-750-0154, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Julie Ann Dixon (D): 803-576-2050, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Norman Jackson (D): 803-223-4974, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Damon Jeter (D): 803-254-0358, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Torrey Rush (D): 803-576-2050, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Paul Livingston (D): 803-765-1192, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Bill Malinowski (R): 803-932-7919, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Jim Manning (D): 803-787-2896, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Greg Pearce (R): 803-783-8792, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Seth Rose (D): 803-361-2360, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Kelvin Washington (D): 803-404-1530, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Lexington County
One-stop site for info on property tax, marriage licenses, vehicle registration and more.

County Council
Larry Brigham, Jr. (R): 803-465-6263, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
M. Kent Collins (R): 803-808-0905, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Todd Cullum (R): 803-794-6930, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Johnny Jeffcoat (R): 803-509-3089, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Bobby “Gravedigger” Keisler (R): 803-359-6033, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Jim Kinard Jr. (R): 803-568-2573, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Debbie Summers (R): 803-518-6858, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Ned Tolar (R): 803-465-6974, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phillip Yarborough (R): 803-465-6729, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Other Local Municipalities

This once sleepy Lexington County city has a hip young mayor and big plans.

Forest Acres
A tree-lined community between Columbia and Fort Jackson to the east.

The self-described gateway to Lake Murray.

Lexington (Town)
As with Lexington County, the town of Lexington is growing rapidly.

West Columbia
Experiencing a nice little renaissance along the State Street corridor bordering the Congaree River.

Laws to Know About

Texting while driving is illegal statewide.

You can’t smoke in local bars and restaurants, nor in other businesses. The entire University of South Carolina campus is smoke-free, too. A handful of bars have become private clubs to get around this rule, but they’re the exception to the rule.

Booze and Nightlife
Nightlife in Columbia gets a bit of a boost from city law, which allows bars to stay open past 2 a.m. if they have a special permit. But there’s one South Carolina law that still holds a grip statewide: all bars must stop serving at 2 a.m. on Sunday. Meanwhile, young college students take note: A city curfew makes Five Points and surrounding areas off-limits to anyone under 17 between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

South Carolina’s legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08 percent, though the limit is lower for CDL drivers and those under age 21. Following a 2014 law, second-time DUI offenders —and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol level over 0.15 — have to have their cars equipped with an ignition interlock device, a sort of breathalyzer that links in to the car’s ignition system.

Code Enforcement
Columbia has a crew of code enforcement inspectors who can ticket you for such things as letting your lawn grow higher than 1 foot tall, failing to pull your garbage cans up toward your house after 7:30 p.m. on trash day, putting a couch on your porch or letting your window screens hang askew. So, uh, watch out for that.

Municipal Services

Garbage and Recycling
The City of Columbia provides blue recycling rollcarts to homes and empties them curbside weekly. The city collects plastics 1 through 7 (look for the number on the bottom); aluminum; steel food cans and lids; glass (clear, brown and green); newspaper; magazines; cardboard and paperboard; and cartons. The city also recycles electronics at its solid waste headquarters (2910 Colonial Drive): People can drop off virtually anything that plugs in, as well as cell phones and household batteries, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every weekday except Wednesday.

Richland County also offers curbside recycling via red bins the county provides.

The county and city both provide roll carts for trash and empty them weekly; they also collect yard waste on a separate day of the week, which is taken to composting facilities. For more on recycling or garbage pickup, call the city at 545-3800 or the county at 929-6000. The city also provides an app to notify you of trash and recycling pickup.

Lexington County contracts with companies for solid waste disposal and recycling. Call 755-3325 for more information.

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Annual Manual 2016:  Outdoors and Recreation in Columbia SC

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

When you think of modern Columbia, you might think of its ever-expanding skyline, its lively music and bar scene or the looming presence of state government. But the city also has a robust slate of opportunities for outdoor recreation. With a 50,000-acre lake, three rivers, a plethora of golf courses and some of the finest collegiate athletics facilities in America, there’s plenty to get out and do in Columbia.

Check First for Flood Damage: The October flood and continued high river levels have affected some of the area’s riverwalks and parkways. As of Jan. 15, for example, Riverfront Park in Columbia was still closed. To make sure the area you want to visit is open, check with the appropriate municipality’s parks and rec department: Columbia 803-545-3100; West Columbia 803-791-1880; Cayce 803-550-9520.

Adult Activity Center
Northeast: 7494 Parklane Rd., 803-462-9995
Includes a fitness center staffed by a certified trainer and offering weights, treadmill, elliptical trainer and more. Offers classes year-round. Also offers banquet facilities for lease. Open to adults only.

Adventure Carolina
Cayce: 1107 State St., 803-796-4505
Cayce-based outfitter leads paddling trips on Columbia’s rivers. Check the calendar on their website for details.

Ballentine Community Center
Irmo: 1009 Bickley Rd., 803-781-2031
Located on a 20.5-acre parcel, the Ballentine Community Center offers a recreation building with meeting rooms, a kitchen, a crafts room, a fitness room, basketball courts, soccer fields, playground and a walking trail. Maximum capacity is 125.

Carolina Stadium
Granby: 431 Williams St.,
The 9,000-seat baseball stadium is a bang-up place to watch the University of South Carolina baseball team, a traditionally strong program that won national championships in 2010 and 2011.

Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center
Cayce: 1120 Fort Congaree Trail, 803-227-3030
A massive and well-kept modern tennis complex hosting tournaments and offering year-round lessons. Also has a gym.

The Club at Rawls Creek
Irmo: 2121 Lake Murray Blvd., 781-0114
Built in the 1970s and renovated in 2006 with an ultra-dwarf Bermuda grass called MiniVerde, which makes the greens fast. In addition to the course, there’s the Creekside Bar and Grille and facilities for weddings, parties and events.

Cobblestone Park
Blythewood: 1298 University Parkway, 803-714-2620
This 27-hole course offers affordable membership plans and limited daily fee play. Features panoramic views, rolling hills, and beautiful oaks and pines that take it over the top. Also debuted a 28,000-square-foot clubhouse for 2015.

Congaree National Park
Hopkins: 100 National Park Rd., 803-776-4396,
This 26,000-acre park boasts the largest old-growth floodplain forest on the continent. Yes, you read that right. It’s also an International Biosphere Reserve, a Globally Important Bird Area and a National Natural Landmark. Activities include hiking, boating, camping, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, nature walks and more. Located near Hopkins, 20 miles southeast of Columbia (S.C. 48 from Bluff Rd. or Exit 5 off I-77).

Congaree Riverwalk
West Columbia
This section of the Three Rivers Greenway — running along the west side of Congaree River and under the Gervais Street and Blossom Street bridges — offers some fantastic views and is a popular place for people to jog and walk dogs. Amenities include picnic tables, a riverside amphitheater, and a canoe launch bay. The south end of this park connects to the Cayce Riverwalk.

Congaree Riverwalk | photo by daniel coston

Crooked Creek Park
Chapin: 1098 Old Lexington Hwy., 803-345-6181,
This 53,000-square-foot community center features a full gym, racquetball courts, tennis courts, athletics fields, picnic areas and, oh yeah, walking trails.

Dreher Island State Recreation Area
Prosperity: 3677 State Park Rd., exit 91 off I-26, 803-364-4152
Located 30 miles northwest of Columbia in Prosperity, the Dreher Island recreation area consists of three islands encompassing 12 miles of shoreline on Lake Murray. Especially popular for fishing and boating (Lake Murray is a top destination for striped and largemouth bass), Dreher Island also offers lakefront camping, cabin and villa rentals, water skiing and picnicking. Also a quiet, peaceful place for spring walks.

Drew Wellness Center
Downtown: 2101 Walker Solomon Way, 803-545-3200
Year-round swim lessons in a competition-sized pool, plus a gym, walking track and basketball court.

Earlewood Park
North Columbia: 1113 Parkside Dr., 803-545-3100
Located near the train trestle on North Main Street near Eau Claire and stretching up into the Earlewood neighborhood, Earlewood Park offers a dog park and a state-of-the-art disc golf course. Great for walking, hiking.

Frank’s Fly Arts, 803-673-0238
Michael Frank offers a world-class fly-fishing guide service along a five-mile stretch of Columbia’s three rivers from above the zoo to near Williams-Brice Stadium. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can fish for rainbow trout, striped bass, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in a five-mile stretch of river. Pros and newbies alike are welcome.

Get Your Gear On
St. Andrews: 208 Candi Ln., 803-799-0999
This paddling outfitter is conveniently located near the Saluda’s Millrace Rapid. And it has river access, a coveted privilege since Riverbanks Zoo fenced out the public from its riverfront acreage. Strives to keep the outdoors affordable by offering high-quality consignment gear as well as new gear.

Golden Hills Golf & Country Club
Lexington: 100 Scotland Dr., 803-957-3355
Located in the heart of the Town of Lexington, Golden Hills is an 18-hole championship course designed by golf architect Ron Garl. Considered challenging yet playable for all levels, the course is among the highest-rated in the Midlands.

Harbison State Forest
Harbison/Irmo: Broad River Rd. (off I-26 ext 101), 803-896-8890
If you didn’t know it was there, you’d never expect to find 2,177 acres of forest along the sprawling mess that is Broad River Road. But there it is — one of the largest public green spaces inside the city limits of a metropolitan area in the eastern United States. Features more than 16 miles of roads and trails (popular for biking) and a canoe landing.

Irmo PLEX Indoor Sports
Harbison/Irmo: 1019 Broad Stone Rd., 803-732-1900
The PLEX provides indoor soccer and sports recreation in a first-class facility with quality programs. Among other sports, the PLEX provides public ice skating, hockey and figure skating.

Jordan Memorial Boat Ramp
Rosewood: 611 Rosewood Dr., 803-741-7272
This public boat ramp is located at the west end of Rosewood Drive where experienced boaters can enjoy free, safe and easy access to fishing and boating on the Congaree River. Many canoes and kayaks put in here for a float down to the Cayce landing about four miles away.

Saluda Shoals Park | photo by john carlos

Lake Murray
Located a few miles northwest of downtown Columbia, Lake Murray is a 50,000-acre lake offering boating, fishing and other recreational activities. lists public access points, as well as marinas and landing spots. Good striped bass fishing during the season.

Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission
West Columbia: 485 Brooks Ave., 803-356-5111,
Operates roughly 35 sports and recreation centers, including the Lexington County Tennis Complex, the Midlands Sports Complex (baseball, tennis), the West Columbia Soccer Complex, the Gilbert-Summit Sports Complex (football, baseball, softball, soccer and basketball) and many more.

Owens Field Disc Golf Course
Rosewood: 1351 Jim Hamilton Blvd., 803-545-3100,
Maybe you go to Owens Field for soccer, maybe you head there to skate or play basketball. Surrounding the fields and skate park, though, is also a popular disc golf course.

Owens Field Skate Park
Rosewood: 1351 Jim Hamilton Blvd., 803-545-3100,
An all-concrete park built at Owens Field and designed by the legendary Wally Hollyday, it has one small bowl, a large bowl and a kidney bowl, plus fun boxes and a street course. The skate park is 16,000 square feet. Opened in 2010.

Palmetto Outdoor Center
West Columbia: 731 Meeting St., 803-404-8254,
Guided paddling tours and rentals by folks who love their rivers.

Palmetto Trail
Conceived in 1994 as a statewide series of linked trails — one of only 16 in the country — the Palmetto Trail features 350 miles of completed paths thus far. The Palmetto Conservation Foundation opened two outdoor centers in 2008 to provide trail maps and to serve as start-off points for organized hikes.

Phoenix Adventure
West Columbia: 220 Orchard Hill Dr., 803-260-3669
From day trips down the river to overnight or multi-day wilderness excursions, Phoenix Adventure wants to get you outdoors.

Richland County Recreation Commission
Northeast: 7494 Parklane Rd., 803-741-7272
Operates the Adult Activity Center, the Caughman Road Tennis Center in Hopkins and numerous other county parks and recreational facilities.

Riverfront Park
Downtown: Laurel at Huger St.,
Part of the Three Rivers Greenway, Riverfront Park is a popular jogging and walking trail encompassing 167 acres just west of Huger Street by the Historic Columbia Canal.

River Runner Outdoor Center
Vista: 905 Gervais St., 803-771-0353
Offers canoe and kayak rentals and sales, as well as guided river trips.

Saluda Shoals Park
Harbison/Irmo: 5605 Bush River Rd.,
803-731-5208, 803-213-2050 (weekend)
Situated on 270 acres downstream from the Lake Murray Dam, Saluda Shoals features a popular water park, a 5,000-square-foot river center, an environmental education center, canoe trips, nature hikes, biking trails, fishing spots, picnic shelters, summer camps, health and wellness programs, meeting facilities and more.

Sesquicentennial Park | photo by john carlos

Sandhills PLEX Indoor Sports & HiWire Trampoline Park
Northeast: 741 Fashion Dr., (Village at Sandhill), 803-360-7300
If you have kids, you already know about HiWire. From the popular trampoline park to indoor soccer and more, PLEX offers fun, athletic activities for kids and families. Also has an Irmo location.

Sesquicentennial State Park
Northeast: 9564 Two Notch Rd., 803-788-2706
This 1,419-acre park features a 30-acre lake surrounded by trails, picnic areas and campsites. Also offers boating, fishing, swimming, meeting facilities and trails. Hosts walks, talks, children’s programs and more.

Seven Oaks Park
St. Andrews: 200 Leisure Ln., 803-772-3336
Built in 1973 and located in the St. Andrews area, Seven Oaks Park is a full-service recreation complex offering fitness, athletics and cultural arts programs. Features a dance studio, art gallery, picnic areas, tennis courts, walking trails and more.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources
Check agency website for essential info on hunting and fishing in South Carolina and purchasing licenses online. Offers educational workshops on hunting and fishing, some specifically for youths. Organizes the annual Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic, held in March on the State Fairgrounds.

Spirit Communications Park
As of April, Columbia will have a brand-new baseball stadium and minor league team, the Columbia Fireflies. The multi-use venue will seat 9,000 for baseball games, but will also host concerts and other events.

Sunnyside Park
Cayce: 1411 Sunnyside Dr., 803-359-9961
Lexington County park hosting baseball, football and soccer games; also has a playground and canteens.

Three Rivers Greenway, 803-765-2200
Columbia has come a long way on its riverfront development in the past few years, with more segments of the Three Rivers Greenway coming online all the time. Popular for walking, biking and jogging.

Williams-Brice Stadium
Rosewood/Olympia: 1125 George Rogers Blvd., 803-777-4271
Williams-Brice Stadium is party central during football season, with fans spilling into both Five Points and the Vista after games. Since being built in 1934 by the Works Progress Administration — you know, that leftist agency started by FDR — Williams-Brice has served not only as the site of lots of drunken football revelry, but also a U2 concert and an appearance by then-candidate Barack Obama and Oprah.

The Windermere Club
Blythewood: 1101 Longtown Road East, 803-786-6088
Founded in 1987 at Lake Windemere, the Windermere Club features an 18-hole course designed by Pete Dye, whose philosophy is to make each hole as unique and memorable as possible.

YMCA of Columbia
Downtown: 1420 Sumter St., 803-799-9187
This is the central hub for the YMCA’s five regional branches, which serve Richland, Kershaw, Lancaster, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties. From swimming to soccer, kids to older adults, the YMCA offers a wide range of classes and programs.

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Annual Manual 2016:  Shopping in Columbia SC

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

Gifts & Galleries

302 Artisans
Vista: 302 Senate St., 302artisans.strobcom
The motto here is “keep it local,” and the focus is on South Carolina foods — honey, barbecue sauce, etc. But you’ll also find books, handmade soaps, jewelry and more. Plus, they host fun events like steampunk-themed tea parties.

Downtown: 1217 Bull St., 803-728-0282,
Offers creative gifts in various media including glass, textiles, wood, photography, pottery and more. Especially known for its jewelry, including a wide array of pearls.

Bella Vista Art & Framing
West Columbia: 324 State St., 803-791-6060,
Custom framing with an emphasis on artistic design. And reasonable prices.

Carol Saunders Gallery
Vista: 922 Gervais St., 803-256-3046
From fine jewelry to holiday ornaments and unique glassware, Carol Saunders is an excellent spot for gifts and art viewing. In the gallery space there’s always an interesting artist’s work hanging.

City Art
Vista: 1224 Lincoln St., 803-252-3613,
With two floors full of art hung in a beautiful open space, the inspirational City Art sets itself apart from other Vista galleries not only with its size but also with its wide selection of art supplies.

Classy Cruet Olive Oils and Vinegars
Lexington: 109-W Old Chapin Rd., 803-785-7887,
Carries more than 50 varieties of premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars, as well as pastas, sauces, gourmet chocolates and more. And shoppers get tips on recipes and health benefits.

CMA Shop
Downtown: 1515 Main St., 803-343-2159,
From coffee-table-worthy tomes to jewelry, stationery, toys and puzzles, the shop at the Columbia Museum of Art has some of the most unique gifts in the city. Curated with a stylish eye.

Cotton Mill Exchange at the S.C. State Museum
Vista: 301 Gervais St., 803-898-4967,
Features a huge selection of South Carolina-themed items in a 4,000-square-foot space. From ties to holiday ornaments to gourmet food and jewelry, it’s one of the best places in town to find South Carolina-themed gifts.

The Crescent Olive
Devine Street: 2901-C Devine St., 803-771-7774,
Who knew olive oil could be so interesting? The Crescent Olive, obviously. Offers premium olive oils and aged vinegars, as well as honey, premium pastas and more.

Edible Arrangements
Five Points: 605 Harden St., 803-251-2544,
Sure, you could send flowers, but who would eat those? Chocolate-dipped fruit and fresh fruit arrangements are not only visually attractive, but also completely delicious.

Elite Framing
Five Points: 2119 College St., 803-834-6285,
Need a painting or print framed? Leave it to the experts.

Finleaf Gallery
Devine Street: 2323 Devine St., 803-254-8327,
Located in a historic Shandon home, Finleaf offers fine loose-leaf teas, original artwork and unique hand-selected gifts from throughout the world. It really is one of Columbia’s best-kept secrets, but now you know.

if ART Gallery
Vista: 1223 Lincoln St., 803-238-2351,
If ART has its finger on the pulse of contemporary art, showing work by artists from South Carolina and beyond.

Clark Ellefson of Lewis + Clark | photo by John Carlos

Lewis + Clark
Vista: 1001 Huger St., 803-765-2405,
A true Columbia original, Lewis + Clark makes postmodern art lamps made of paper, steel, glass and wood. If you want a truly unique lamp, this is the place to go.

Mad Platter
Shandon: 3101 Millwood Ave., 771-8080,
Creative arts studio offers pottery glazing, glass fusing and wood-plaque painting projects. Hang out and make art at themed weekly events, including Thirsty Thursday, Diva Night, College Night and Military Night.

One-Eared Cow Glass
Vista: 1001 Huger St., 803-254-2444,
Since 1991, One-Eared Cow has been Columbia’s hand-blown glass studio and gallery. Offers colorful vases, bowls, birdfeeders, chandeliers and even sinks — all made by the artists who own the shop.

Portfolio Art Gallery
Five Points: 2007 Devine St., 803-256-2434,
A Five Points landmark, Portfolio offers handmade jewelry and crafts, and art by local artists at a variety of price points, which makes it great for gift shopping.

Southern Pottery
Shandon: 3105 Devine St., 803-251-3001,
Southern Pottery displays pottery from artists throughout the region in a quirky Devine Street house, where owner Donna Green is always willing to give you a piece’s backstory. Also offers classes inside a converted carriage house.

Tapp’s Arts Center
Downtown: 1644 Main St., 803-988-0013,
In addition to offering studio spaces for artists, Tapp’s hosts a wide variety of performances, exhibitions and film screenings, including comedy and experimental music. Participates in monthly First Thursday on Main series.

Clothing & Accessories

2G’s Clothing
Five Points: 723 Saluda Ave., 803-254-2016,
Carries quality women’s vintage and overstock clothes and accessories. If you want to make over your tired wardrobe, the price is right.

Army Navy Surplus
Downtown: 1621 Main St., 803-252-1350
Sure, you can find fatigues, camo, uniforms, boots and knives here, but it’s worth checking out for the unexpected finds, too. Get there while you can: The building has been sold to the Agape Senior center across the street.

Five Points: 707 Saluda Ave., 803-256-0629,
Whether you want to dress up or dress down (i.e., cool), Bohemian specializes in contemporary tastes. Stocks stylish women’s clothing, shoes and jewelry.

Devine Street: 2818 Devine St., 803-771-2700,
A fine clothing store for men and women, Brittons get to know its customers. Shop there enough, and they’ll do the shopping for you. Really: You’ll get a call when something is perfect for you.

Cho on Main Salon & Boutique
Lexington: 127 E. Main St., 803-356-1111,
Style tips extend beyond hair and nail color. With a small boutique offering trendy clothing and shoes, Cho on Main stocks brands like Velvet and Sweet Pea and also the manicurists’ favorite, Essie nail polish.

Circa 1332
Downtown: 1332 Main St., 803-252-6714
Do you read Four Pins, The Sartorialist or any men’s fashion blog? Have you heard of Pitti Uomo? If you have, this is a place you want to shop. It’s for men who take care in putting together their alphet.

Forest Acres: 4825 Forest Dr.,
From the stunning dresses of Jason Wu, Oscar de la Renta and Miu Miu to the coveted shoes of Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo, Coplon’s is Columbia’s high-end women’s clothing shop that also sells handbags, jewelry and cosmetics.

Copper Penny
Five Points: 610 Harden St., 803-376-4411
Charleston had it first, but this stylish Southern boutique has a place in Columbia. Perhaps best known for its shoes, also carries a variety of designer women’s wear, jewelry and accessories.

Dems Fine Jewelers
Irmo: 1068 Lake Murray Blvd.,
Founded in 1969, Dems Fine Jewelers relocated to the Irmo area in 2004. Prides itself on having a casual, friendly atmosphere and offering quality, fashionable jewelry, watches and gifts.

Double Takes
Vista: 1211 Lincoln St., 803-771-2335,
Owned by William Starrett, artistic director of the Columbia City Ballet, Double Takes offers new, vintage and recycled clothing. Customers can consign clothes for cash or store credit.

Frame of Mind
West Columbia: 140 State St., 803-988-1065,
Stocks unique, high-end glasses and sunglasses. Known for his role in the arts scene, owner Mark Plessinger created the First Thursday on Main Street art-crawl series and continues to organize arts events in his West Columbia location.

Gallery West
West Columbia: 134 State St., 803-207-9265,
Offers a tastefully curated selection of art, crafts, stoneware and glassware, soaps, jewelry and more. Hosts small-scale exhibitions and occasional book signings, too.

Gentleman’s Closet
Five Points: 717 Saluda Ave., 803-256-3868
Need a vintage suit, a cool shirt or some dress shoes, but you don’t have a fortune to spend on it? Dig around in this place; you’ll likely leave happy.

Good for the Sole
Five Points: 631 Harden St., 803-254-9488,
You need shoes, but you don’t want to drive to a mall. So don’t. Just go here and step into a pair of shoes from top contemporary designers.

Granger Owings
Downtown: 1333 Main St., 803-252-6714,
Caters to the Main Street business crowd with fine clothing and top-notch customer service. With brands like Agave, Barbour, Cole Haan and Southern Proper, Granger Owings offers both business attire and casual clothing for men and women. And on-site tailoring.

Devine Street: 2822 Devine St., 803-251-2946,
Need something for a graduate, family member or significant other? Or yourself? With four locations in the Midlands — including the Northeast, Irmo and Lexington — HandPicked sells beautiful and stylish jewelry, handbags, wallets and scarves, plus a great selection of sterling silver (which can be engraved) and more. Additional locations in Irmo, Lexington and the Village at Sandhill.

Heathcliff’s Jewelers
Vista: 1000 Gervais St., 803-256-8362
No website, no advertising. It’s simple: “We just sell jewelry.”

Julia Neal Fashions
Chapin: 910 Chapin Rd., 803-345-3320
Fashion and jewelry; offers a high-end boutique feel without the sky-high prices.

Just the Thing
Devine Street: 2732 Devine St., 803-771-9969
Add drama and flair to your outfit. From jewelry and handbags to accessories and clothing, Just the Thing has plenty of fashion-savvy pieces to complete outfits at several price points.

Loose Lucy’s
Five Points: 709 Saluda Ave., 252-1390
Loose Lucy’s got its start in 1990 selling tie-dye shirts in the parking lot at Grateful Dead shows. Almost a quarter-century later, it’s Columbia’s established venue for hippie and bohemian clothing and merchandise of all kinds. Cool clothes at super-low prices.

M Boutique
Cross Hill Market: 702 Cross Hill Rd., Suite 400A, 803-765-2243
M Boutique sells contemporary women’s clothing from brands like Joe’s Jeans, Charlie Jade, French Connection and BCBG Generation. The personalized customer service makes it easy to work on individual style.

Men’s Wearhouse
Five Points: 701 Harden St., 803-799-6254
It’s a one-stop shop for suits, dress shirts, ties, shoes and tuxedos — but offers plenty of casual clothing, too. If you need to look presentable for a wedding, this place will hook you up.

Miss Cocky
Vista: 621 Gadsden St., 803-748-4771
Gamecock fashion and accessories mostly for her — but you can find something for him, too.

The OOPS! Co.
Five Points: 601 Harden St., 803-252-8734,
You don’t have to drive to outlet malls for reduced-price, name-brand clothing.

Five Points: 743 Saluda Ave., 803-252-7100,
From dresses, blouses and sweaters to jewelry, handbags and shoes, Petal knows that a great outfit can make you bloom. And hey, it’s almost spring.

Devine Street: 2738 Devine St., 803-254-5051,
Located in the upscale Devine Street area, Pout stocks the latest luxury beauty products and offers a wide array of skin services.

Five Points: 737 Saluda Ave., 803-256-3076,
Revente is Columbia’s designer consignment shop for the knockout look. And with labels like Chanel, Christian Dior, Tory Burch, Louis Vuitton, Prada and much more, regulars know that visiting frequently is key to scoring big at Revente.

Savoy Menswear
Vista: 721 Lady St., 803-765-0313
Are you a man with contemporary and discerning tastes — or do you shop for one? Start here.

Sid & Nancy
Five Points: 733 Saluda Ave., 803-779-6454
You need to know Sid & Nancy. A buy-trade-sell store, Sid Nancy carries affordable clothes, jewelry, accessories and more. Recycle vintage clothing for cash, and buy something to make it new again.

STEEL Garden
Five Points: 619 Harden St., 803-764-5802
Offers fashion-forward handpicked women’s clothing brands from the U.S., U.K. and Australia in a friendly atmosphere, as well as jewelry, accessories and home goods.

Downtown: 1500 Main St., 803-779-2250,
Sylvan’s is a Columbia institution for special-occasion jewelry gifts, diamonds, estate pieces, watches and more. Sells the likes of Rolex, John Hardy, Mikimoto, Sweet Charleston Designs and more. Though it carries all the high-end brands, Sylvan’s offers some more accessible options, too.

Unforgettable Jewelry
Devine Street: 2511 Devine St., 803-779-3636,
From diamonds and pearls to semi-precious jewelry, Unforgettable Jewelry is a young, hip jewelry store that offers classes each month on selecting diamonds.

Urban Outfitters
Vista: 912 Gervais St., 803-254-5381,
Known for its hip, on-trend clothing for women and men, Urban Outfitters also keeps it fresh with music and tech products and accessories.

Five Points: 631 Harden St., 803-764-0654
With stores in Charleston and Greenville, as well as North Carolina locations, this women’s clothing and accessory boutique knows how to dress a fashionable Southern woman.

Wildflower Boutique
Five Points: 721 Saluda Ave., 803-799-1616
Women’s clothing with an emphasis on boho chic.

Five Points: 713 Saluda Ave., 803-931-3247,
With well-priced handbags, jewelry and shoes — along with its South Carolina-themed sweatshirts and the boutique’s signature fun and colorful dresses — Wish is an especially popular spot among Gamecock undergrads.

Home & Garden

Beds and Such
West Columbia: 2265 Augusta Rd., 803-708-8572
Family owned furniture and furnishing store offering Simply Amish beds and much more.

Birdhouse Rooms & Garden
Shandon: 3019 Millwood Ave., 803-351-6075
Sells an eclectic array of furniture, lighting fixtures, gardening supplies, antiques and various home-related consignment items.

Bohemian Home
Devine Street: 2720 Devine St., 803-779-4966,
If you want your couch to look like a Ford Excursion, don’t shop here. But if you have taste, Bohemian Home carries an impressive selection of contemporary home furnishings and accessories, including stylish contemporary lines. Also carries gifts and jewelry.

Bricker and Beam

Bricker and Beam
West Columbia: 130-B Sunset Blvd.,
Custom furniture maker combining contemporary, clean-lined design with traditional craftsmanship.

Capital Kitchen and Bath
Downtown: 1801 Gervais St., 803-254-5889,
Offers design and installation services on cabinets, countertops, hardware, tile, wood trim, flooring and more. Also offers interior design, construction management and general contracting services.

Carl Thomas Lamps
Vista: 724 Lady St., 803-256-3713
This gallery of lighting also sells custom lamps and chandeliers and does lamp repairs.

Carolina Imports
north columbia: 2965 N. Main St., 803-748-9889,
From traditional heavy wood tables and accent pieces to on-trend chairs and bedroom furniture, Carolina Imports is known for both its selection and its good prices.

Columbia Antique Mall
Vista: 602 Huger St., 803-765-1584,
Twenty-five antique dealers in 25,000 square feet means Columbia Antique Mall has a wide selection of Americana collectibles, statuary and fountains in addition to period furniture and accessories.

Columbia Flag & Sign Company
West Columbia: 633 Meeting St., 748-8524,
No matter where your loyalties lie — among sports teams, businesses or countries — Columbia Flag can help you out.

Ellen Taylor Interiors + Design
Vista: 807 Gervais St., Ste. 100, 803-758-1007,
Interior designer Ellen Taylor’s Gervais Street retail shop and gallery has fine original art, a selection of furniture and accessories. Free in-home art consultations through February.

Garner’s Natural Life
Forest Drive: 4840 Forest Dr., Ste. 15 A, 803-454-7700,
Offers an extensive selection of organic, natural and homeopathic products to help your health-related needs.

Gourmet Shop
Five Points: 724 Saluda Ave., 803-799-9463,
If it has to do with food, wine or your kitchen, it’s at Gourmet Shop. Stocks a variety of cookware, fine linens, cigars, kitchen accessories, prepared foods and wine. Also a popular café; eat outside if you can find an open table.

Hay Hill Garden Market
Southeast: 1625 Bluff Rd., 803-834-6652,
Offers an extensive and thoughtful variety of plants, ranging from native flowering plants and shrubs to the odd and unusual. Also carries English-forged garden tools, outdoor furniture, top-of-the-line grills and accessories and select gifts.

Forest Acres: 4840 Forest Dr., 803-790-9911,
Handcrafted furniture, lighting, art and home accessories are all available at MACK. The interior designer-owned shop’s neutral, relaxing palette offers a welcome shopping experience in Forest Acres.

Nadeau Furniture
Cross Hill Market: 702 Cross Hill Rd., 803-790-2400,
Nadeau offers handcrafted, well-designed contemporary furniture at reasonable prices whether you’re looking for indoors or outdoors.

Downtown: 1450 Main St., 803-401-5273,
Located in the downtown Marriott, Nest carries crafts and artisan items from Soda City Market vendors and more. Also carries books from the University of South Carolina Press.

Devine Street: 2754 Devine St., 803-254-0772,
A favorite of brides forming their gift registries, Non(e)such also stocks antiques, jewelry, home accessories, linens and baby gifts.

Southern Vistas
Rosewood: 2825 Commerce Dr., 803-256-0559,
Southern Vistas has done landscape architecture for Riverbanks Zoo and Asheville’s Grove Park Inn, among others. Offers a full range of flourishing plants, shrubbery, perennials and ground cover.

Strobler | photo by John Carlos

Forest Acres: 4721 Forest Dr., 803-790-6300,
From furniture to lighting and drapery, Strobler has a 15,000-square-foot showroom in Forest Acres showcasing an excellent selection of well-priced home furnishings.

The Urban Garden Hydroponics
Northeast: 9557 Two Notch Rd., Ste. E, 803-788-9313,
Sells everything you need to get started with hydroponics, a method of growing plants without using soil.

West Columbia: 830 Meeting St., 803-794-5010,
Specializes in timeless, classic and tasteful interiors for your home or business.

Whit-Ash Furnishings
Vista: 919 Gervais St., 803-779-5123,
Whit-Ash is a mecca for affordable furniture in Columbia. The huge Vista warehouse also offers oriental rugs, mattresses and accessories.

Outdoors & Sports

Adventure Carolina
Cayce: 1107 State St., 803-796-4505,
Specializing in canoeing and kayaking gear, Adventure Carolina also carries equipment and clothing for backpacking, rock climbing, camping and bicycling. Also schedules regular trips down the Congaree and more.

The Backpacker
Vista: 1215 Wayne St., 803-799-7571,
Established in 1973, The Backpacker carries all your favorites from Patagonia, The North Face and other top brands, including anything you could possibly need to go camping, hiking or climbing.

Bluetile Skateshop
Five Points: 621 Harden St., 803-376-1880,
A skater-owned skate shop, Bluetile carries a variety of skateboards, equipment, shoe and clothing brands. Also puts on skate-related events.

Cycle Center
Five Points: 1001 Harden St., 803-256-0557,
Maybe you know brand names like Specialized, Cannondale, Pinarello, Fuji, Haro and Masi. Maybe you don’t. Either way, Cycle Center can help you out.

Get Your Gear On
Greystone/Zoo Area: 208 Candi Ln., 803-799-0999,
With a stated mission of keeping the outdoors affordable, Get Your Gear On offers both new and consignment items for hiking, climbing, cycling, canoeing and kayaking.

Half-Moon Outfitters
Devine Street: 2912 Devine St., 803-929-0771,
Established in 1993, Half-Moon Outfitters offers a full range of gear for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, rock climbing, backpacking, hiking, trail running, surfing and more. If you’re going on an outdoor adventure, Half Moon has what you need.

Mast General
Downtown: 1601 Main St., 771-2300,
A key player in Columbia’s ongoing Main Street revitalization, Mast General stocks everything from outdoor gear to candy by the pound, clothing, kitchen tools and vintage children’s toys.

New Wave Paddleboarding
St. Andrews: 6801 St. Andrews Rd., 803-569-9961,
Serves the Lake Murray area with standup paddleboards; also a surf and skate shop.

Outspokin’ Bicycles
Devine Street: 3223 Devine St., 803-254-9797
Irmo: 7601 St. Andrews Rd., 803-254-9797
Ever feel like your bike just doesn’t feel right? This place prides itself on its fittings, and has done them for thousands of riders. Wide selection of bicycles and accessories.

Palmetto Outdoor Center
West Columbia: 731 Meeting St., 803-404-8254,
Sells used kayaks, canoes, tubes, life jackets and paddles. Also rents full line of gear.

River Runner
Vista: 905 Gervais St., 803-771-0353
With three rivers in the Midlands, River Runner has everything you need to tackle them, from kayaks and canoes to gear and car-top racks. River Runner also rents canoes and kayaks daily.

Salty’s Board Shop
Devine Street: 2712 Devine St., 803-748-9946,
Whether you’re surfing, snowboarding or skating, Salty’s has it covered — along with all the gear, clothing and accessories you’ll need. Also carries a full line of eyewear and flip-flops.

Summit Cycles
Northeast: 10171 Two Notch Rd., 803-462-0380
Whether you’re a hardcore cyclist or just someone looking to have a lot of fun, Summit Cycles has you covered. Website features a bike-finder tool to help you narrow down what you need.

Todd & Moore Sporting Goods
Vista: 620 Huger St., 803-765-0150,
Founded in 1944, the locally owned Todd & Moore is conveniently located downtown and offers a full range of athletic wear and equipment for baseball, football, soccer, tennis, lacrosse and more.

Toys & Candy

Be Beep Toys
Forest Acres: 4525 Forest Dr., 803-787-5772,
Legos, action figures, arts and crafts, puppets and stuffed animals: Be Beep has it all, including stylish school supplies and of-the-moment toys on your child’s wish list.

Tic Toc Candy Shoppe
Five Points: 730 Santee Ave., 803-708-9030
Lexington: 5175 Sunset Blvd., 803-520-0504
Twenty-one colors of M&Ms. Belgian chocolates. Customizable candy trays. Classic Mary Jane’s and Sugar Babies. Yes, we’re talking about wall-to-wall candy.

Uptown on Main
Downtown: 1204 Main St., 661-7651,
Whether you’re looking for a custom gift basket, embroidered clothing, locally themed books, greeting cards, baby gifts or something for that hard-to-shop-for man, Uptown on Main has it covered.

Party Time

Bet-Mar Liquid Hobby Shop
St. Andrews: 736-F St. Andrews Rd., 803-798-2033,
Do you have what it takes to try your hand at making your own beer or wine? Bet-Mar can get you started.

Shandon/Rosewood: 4410 Fort Jackson Blvd., 803-728-0737,
Did someone say “15,000 square feet of wine, beer and spirits”? Why yes, they did.

Vista: 1700 Huger St., 1-800-322-7688,
Popcorn! Boiled peanuts! Cotton candy! Caramel apples! Yes, it’s like having the fair in town every day. Also sells a variety of tailgating party supplies and has an in-house coffee shop. Serving Columbia since 1935.

Green’s Beverages
Downtown: 400 Assembly St., 803-799-9499
St. Andrews: 4012 Fernandina Rd., 803-744-0570
Whether you’re frantically scurrying for the right wine to serve with dinner or heading to a tailgate, Green’s is one of the city’s go-to sources for all types of alcoholic beverages. Also hosts tastings and has a growler station.

If It’s Paper
Downtown: 2429 Main St., 803-252-3636,
Need wrapping paper, cake-decorating supplies or an envelope of a particular shade? This place is chock-full of difficult-to-find paper supplies.

Morganelli’s Party Store
Forest Acres: 3155 Forest Dr., 803-738-2337
Ice, mixers, kegs, liquor, wine, beer — everything you need for a party. Morganelli’s has a staff that’s particularly knowledgeable and helpful with wine selections. Well-stocked growler station, too.

The Peanut Man
Vista: 1215 Lincoln St., 803-799-9988,
It’s called The Peanut Man, and sure, it sells boiled, raw, roasted and gourmet peanuts. But you’ll also find candy apples, cotton candy, fudge, popcorn and more here. Also has locations in the Village at Sandhill and in Ballentine.

Total Wine
Harbison: 275 Harbison Blvd. D, 803-407-3737,>
There’s a reason why Total Wine calls itself America’s Wine Superstore: Each location carries approximately 8,000 different types of wine, 3,000 types of spirits and 2,500 different beers.

Vino Garage
Downtown: 2327 Main St., 803-834-3392,
Want to discover new, hard-to-find wines and beers? Vino Garage is a great place to do it. Hosts frequent tastings and events.

8 Sins Tattoo
St. Andrews: 2301 Bush River Rd., 803-750-2485,
Strives to provide an excellent experience for each customer and make each tattoo a work of art. Past winner of several Best of Columbia awards.

Animated Canvas
Vista: 1209 Park St., 758-6002
Lexington: 4325 Augusta Rd., 359-3241
What do you want — a butterfly? Flower? Skull? Celtic cross? Dragon? Marilyn Monroe? The artists here have just about seen — and done — it all.

Devine Street Tattoo
Devine Street: 4451 Devine St., 803-782-0753,
The experienced ink artists at Devine Street Tattoo can create just about anything you want, with attention paid to detail, color and shading. Check out their work online to see who’s the best fit for you.

The Glo Room
Lexington: 4325 Augusta Rd., 803-996-9353
Vaporizers are a hit for a new strand of smokers. The OGs still like their glass handmade and colorful. Get all of the above and more smoking accessories here.

High Life Smoke Shop
Five Points: 631-A Harden St., 803-255-3485,
E-liquid, e-cigarettes and vaporizers are pretty popular these days, and High Life is on top of the trend. Also carries a wide variety of hand pipes, water pipes, hookah supplies, T-shirts and jewelry.

Hip Wa Zee
Five Points: 940 Harden St., 803-376-1500,
Founded in 1999, this eclectic shop rents costumes of all kinds year round. Also offers vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories.

Immaculate Body Piercing
Five Points: 2009 Greene St., 803-799-2877,
Immaculate Body Piercing’s employees are trained to exceed South Carolina requirements, and after your piercing has healed, Immaculate also offers a wide variety of jewelry, including custom settings and jeweler-quality pieces.

Indigo Rose Tattoo
Five Points: 2009 Greene St., Suite 112, 803-799-2844,
Want to know what kind of work Indigo Rose does? That’s easy: Check them out on Facebook, Instagram (@indigorosetattoo) or Twitter (@IndigoRoseSC). Owner Shannon Purvis-Barron was named Best Tattoo Artist in the 2015 Best of Columbia awards.

Knotty Headz
Dentsville: 1608 Decker Blvd., 803-603-0641
St. Andrews: 1221 Broad River Rd., 803-603-9030
Tattoo and body piercing studios owned by a husband-and-wife team with years of experience and a dedication to reasonable prices.

Lucky 7’s Tattoo
West Columbia: 3937 Platt Springs Rd., 877-756-7868,
Custom tattoo studio and art gallery.

Five Points: 701 Santee Ave., Ste. B, 803-708-5611,
Sells e-cigarettes, e-liquid and all the vaping accessories you could need.

Nancy’s Nook
St. Andrews: 3311 Broad River Rd., 803-798-1010
Northeast: 5445 Two Notch Rd., 803-786-8125
From lotions, lubes, leather and lingerie to all the “toys” you could possibly want, Nancy’s Nook is not called “the store for couples” for nothing. Open 24 hours.

Natural Vibrations
Five Points: 719 Harden St., 803-771-4144
Founded in 1997, Natural Vibrations is a classic college-town alternative shop. Carries hand-blown glass pipes, vapes, fair-trade clothing, incense and more. And if you’re looking for all things Rasta, this is your place.

Planet Vapor
Vista: 300 Huger St., 803-851-1418,
Specializes in electronic cigarettes and high-quality e-juice. Also has locations on Two Notch and Garners Ferry roads.

Upscale Vaping
St. Andrews: 4018 Fernandina Rd., 803-561-0003
Sells everything you could possibly need if you’re into vaping.

Taboo Adult Superstore
Devine Street: 4716 Devine St., 803-738-8307
City Council has been trying to zone this place out of existence since day one. It also survived the flood. Yes, Columbia, there is still an adult shop on Devine Street.

Vision Quest Body Art & Gallery
Downtown: 2620 Main St., 803-542-7115,
Founded by Steve Phipps, Vision Quest is the first tattoo parlor on Main Street. Phipps got his start as an apprentice under Troy Schlegel in 1998 and keeps connected to the tattoo industry, often traveling for guest appearances and conventions.

Village Vaping
Rosewood: 1830 Rosewood Dr., 803-828-3534,
E-cigs, E-juice and everything else you need to vape.

Music, Books, Comics & ‘Zines

Addams University Bookstore (USC)
Downtown: 152 Assembly St., 803-256-6666,
Student-textbook store also offers computer and smartphone accessories, Gamecock apparel and more.

Barnes & Noble
USC campus: 1400 Greene St. (Russell House University Union), 803-777-4160
Forest Acres: 3400 Forest Dr., 803-787-5600
Aisles and aisles of books, plus a Starbucks on site. And if you people would stop ordering everything from Amazon, Barnes & Noble might even hang around for a while longer.

Bill’s Music Shop & Pickin’ Parlor
West Columbia: 710 Meeting St., 803-796-6477,
The place to go in Columbia if you’re looking for a dobro, banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar or any other old-timey instrument. Offers lessons and books, and presents concerts.

The Book Dispensary
St. Andrews/Broad River: 710-C Gracern Rd., 798-4739,
Maybe you want to browse aisle upon aisle of used romance novels. Maybe you want to dig through books on South Carolina history. Maybe you have a hankering for a gardening book or a classic novel. Have at it: It’s all here. Also offers book repair and rebinding.

Comic Nirvana
West Columbia: 3935 Sunset Blvd., 800-356-0605,
With comics, graphic novels, Marvel Select action figures, T-shirts, and new and back-issue comic books, it’s a comic lover’s paradise.

Cosmic Rays
Devine Street: 4427 Devine St., 803-661-8504,
Carries comics, games, collectibles and DVDs.

Drip Coffee
Five Points: 729 Saluda Ave., 803-661-9545,
Come for the coffee — which is amazing — and stay for the vinyl. Great selection of classic indie and punk.

Ed’s Editions
West Columbia: 406 Meeting St., 803-791-8002,
If you’re the kind of person who can’t resist browsing the shelves of a used bookstore, then this is your place. Don’t miss the Rare Book room, which houses books ranging in value from $100 to $1,000.

Heroes and Dragons
St. Andrews/Broad River: Boozer Shopping Center, 803-731-4376,
Carries an insane amount of comics, graphic novels, games and toys — including lots of collectibles. Looking for Star Wars collectibles or Mattel’s She-Ra? Look no further.

St. Andrews/Broad River: 1563-A Broad River Rd., 803-798-2606,
Features a massive selection of music, both new and used, as well as movies, games and clothing. Also buys and trades.

Papa Jazz Record Shoppe
Five Points: 2014 Greene St., 803-256-0095,
It might be small, but its racks are full not only with jazz, but also plenty of new and used R&B, hip-hop, indie rock, progressive rock, classic rock, reggae and more. A rite of passage for any self-respecting local music fan.

Pecknel Music Company
Five Points: 732 Saluda Ave., 803-799-6860,
From guitars to keyboards to DJ and club gear, Pecknel has it. Also carries sheet music and rents band and orchestra instruments.

Punk Monkey Comics
Forest Acres: 4711 Forest Dr., 803-743-4575,
It’s a comic book store, toy store, music store and DVD store (where they offer disc repair). They buy, sell, trade and also host events and author signings.

Scratch N Spin
West Columbia: 513 12th St., 803-794-8888,
This Triangle City shop carries music, movies, comic books, video games and more — in just about every format past and present, too.

Silver City Comics
Cayce: 538 Knox Abbott Dr., 803-791-4021,
Based on the name of a fictional place in DC Universe comics, this is where comics come to life. Packed to the gills with new and used comics and comic memorabilia.

Sims Music
St. Andrews: 1110 St Andrews Rd., 803-772-1185,
It’s worth the trek to St. Andrews to get to Sims — it’s a huge store full of guitars, amps, keyboards, sheet music, accessories and more. Also offers repairs and lessons.

South Carolina Bookstore
USC/South Main: 801 Main St., 803-799-7406,
Student-textbook store also offers Gamecock apparel, school supplies and other miscellany.

Star Music
Downtown: 1322 Assembly St., 803-252-8133
Northeast: 9810 Two Notch Rd., 803-699-5200
Carries guitars, band and orchestra instruments, sheet music and accessories. String players take note: This is the place to get the old violin set up.

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Annual Manual 2016:  Districts & Neighborhoods in Columbia SC

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

Columbia has three primary downtown districts: Downtown (i.e., Main Street), the Vista and Five Points. Each area has its own distinct feel.

Downtown is where you’ll find the State House, City Hall and lots of bankers and lawyers — but also a burgeoning culinary scene and arts culture, downtown living options and nearby historic homes. In the Vista, you’ll find dozens of restaurants, retail spots and galleries, along with Trustus Theatre, rock clubs and more. In Five Points, there’s a college-village vibe, with coffee shops, vintage clothing spots and a hip record store, but also upscale clothing boutiques and a sidewalk café.

Beyond these three districts, you’ll find Lexington, Lake Murray, Harbison/Irmo and the Northeast, among other areas, each with its own distinct characteristics. From shopping and dining to sightseeing and recreation, the city’s districts have a lot to offer.

Coming soon: an entirely new residential, retail and entertainment hub at Bull Street Common, a 180-acre site downtown that will also be home to the Columbia Fireflies, a minor league baseball team that begins play in a brand new stadium this spring.

Tapp’s on Main Street | photo by Thomas Hammond

1 Downtown / Main Street
Main Street is the historic heart of downtown Columbia and the traditional stomping ground of the city’s power elite. These days, it’s also home to new restaurants, the weekly Soda City Market, the Nickelodeon Theatre, Mast General Store, residential options and the annual city-sponsored Famously Hot New Year party. Plus, the Columbia Museum of Art — which moved downtown in 1998 — has a steady stream of excellent exhibitions and events. As the street develops, property is becoming harder to come by: 2015 saw both rents and occupancy rates increasing. Bottom line: There’s a lot of action on Main Street these days.

The Vista | photo by Thomas Hammond

2 The Vista
Once marked by textile mills and rail lines, the area between the State House and the Congaree River is now a premier dining, shopping, nightlife and cultural district. It is home to the city’s leading progressive theater company (Trustus); stylish clothing retailer Urban Outfitters; several hotels; and some of the city’s key clubs and bars, including the Music Farm. Just beyond the Vista’s core are several of the city’s primary attractions: the S.C. State Museum, Colonial Life Arena and EdVenture Children’s Museum. The area also has an increasing number of residential options and hosts popular annual events including the holiday-kickoff Vista Lights each November and the arts showcase Artista Vista each spring.

Five Points | photo by Forrest Clonts

3 Five Points / Devine Street / Shandon
From its genesis in 1915, Five Points has grown into an eclectic district brimming with the energy generated by a steady stream of visitors from the nearby University of South Carolina and surrounding neighborhoods. In the daytime, college students, shoppers and professionals occupy the area’s mix of coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants. At night, the area’s bars and clubs get busy. Five Points is also close to the tree-lined streets and bungalows of Shandon, whose residents help support the area’s many boutiques. Of particular note on Devine Street: Craft & Draft, a craft beer retailer with a small bar; Pout, a key destination for luxury beauty products and skin services; and Bohemian Home, which features stylish contemporary home furnishings.

4 Lexington
Situated just west of the City of Columbia, Lexington County has transformed over the past few decades from a rural area dotted with small communities into a region bustling with growth. Though it retains small-town values compared to its more cosmopolitan neighbor, the area has a growing number of dining and retail options, including a charming shopping district in the Town of Lexington. Plus, the basics here are solid — with good schools, reasonably priced housing and a strong economy that all keep residents coming. Lexington County also boasts excellent sports facilities, including the Cayce Fitness and Tennis Center, and the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, which makes the area a gateway to the whole Columbia region.

Lake Murray | photo by Thomas Hammond

5 Lake Murray
Anyone who lives on Lake Murray — sometimes called the Jewel of South Carolina — will tell you it’s more than just a lake: It’s a state of mind, a haven away from the city offering its own bucolic worldview. With roughly 500 miles of shoreline, Lake Murray is South Carolina’s largest man-made lake and offers seasonal recreation, a huge July 4 fireworks display, major fishing tournaments, and camping and picnic sites at Dreher Island State Park. Public access is limited, though, so it helps to own a boat or befriend someone who has one.

6 Northeast / Clemson Road / Blythewood
Once a rural area — and a bombing range for Fort Jackson — the Northeast is an expansive region of reasonably priced homes, good schools, national retailers and restaurants extending out to the Town of Blythewood, one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the state. Home to the 1,419-acre Sesquicentennial State Park, the popular planned community Lake Carolina and the Village at Sandhill retail complex, the Northeast also boasts some major employers, including Providence Northeast. Also sports unique local restaurants such as Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar and Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles, the popular Sandhill Farmers Market and the annual Sparkleberry Country Fair.

7 Harbison / Irmo / Dutch Fork
The Columbiana Centre shopping mall and big-name retailers like Target, Nordstrom Rack and hhgregg make this area a regular stop for residents from all areas of town. Along with extensive shopping options, there are also a couple of amenities you might not expect in a generally suburban area: Saluda Shoals Park and Harbison State Forest, which offers more than 16 miles of roads and trails weaving through a pine and hardwood forest.

8 Fort Jackson
Where do half of the Army’s soldiers do their basic training? At Fort Jackson, that’s where. Fort Jackson is huge, encompassing more than 52,000 acres, 1,160 buildings and employing about 3,500 active-duty soldiers and an equal number of civilians. Opened in 1917, about 36,000 soldiers come through for basic training each year and 8,000 more come for advanced training. The fort is also home to several museums and a water park, plus it hosts an annual fireworks display. Be aware, though, that base access is limited for civilians — so make sure to call ahead for details.

9 Rosewood
Anchored by two excellent elementary schools and a Publix grocery store, Rosewood is a great place for young professionals and families who want to be downtown but don’t want to pay Shandon-sized prices. Home to the urban farm City Roots, the area has become a focal point for food events, including themed dinners and the annual Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival. Rosewood also hosts the super-popular Rosewood Crawfish Festival each spring and has a slowly burgeoning restaurant scene, including The Kraken Gastropub and the small but popular Cock ‘n’ Bull Pub. Other draws: Gamecock football at Williams-Brice Stadium, and soccer fields, a skate park and disc golf at Owens Field.

10 Olympia
With the Olympia & Granby Mills, the Lofts at USC and Aspyre providing residential anchors — and the beautiful, historic 701 Whaley hosting events and contemporary art — Olympia’s cachet is on the rise. Add in riverfront development, Carolina Stadium and a university tech incubator coming in, and you’ve got an area on the move.

11 Forest Acres
Nestled on the eastern edge of the City of Columbia, Forest Acres is home to major national retailers and grocery stores including J. Crew, Anthropologie, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and more. Housing options abound in the tree-filled neighborhoods of this city within a city (yes, it has its own mayor and city council), which is close to downtown and to Fort Jackson. Morning people also know the area for its breakfast food at The Original Pancake House.

Eau Claire Town Hall | photo by John Carlos

12 North Columbia
There’s a longstanding psychological divide in Columbia that’s located at Elmwood Avenue; downtown types tend to think there’s nothing going on north of this divide. They’re wrong, though: Neighborhoods like Elmwood Park, Cottontown, Eau Claire (which was its own town until 1955), Earlewood and Keenan Terrace have made this an up-and-coming part of town, with more young people moving in all the time and a slowly growing base of businesses — including Lamb’s Bread Café, Vino Garage and The War Mouth — to support their presence. And with minor league baseball coming to the Bull Street Common development this spring, the south end of North Columbia could get a big boost.

13 State Street / West Columbia / Vista West
Just across the Gervais Street bridge sits an eclectic mix of restaurants, nightspots, galleries and gift shops — among them Terra, @116 and Café Strudel on State Street and, just a few minutes away in Triangle City, the incredible True BBQ. Gallery West is a high-quality art and gift spot on State Street, and Frame of Mind sells eyewear — but also hosts frequent art events. Of particular note to music fans: the long-running rock club New Brookland Tavern and Bill’s Music Shop, the home of local bluegrass. Neighborhoods along the Avenues and Sunset Boulevard are popular with city-minded people who don’t want to pay downtown prices.

14 St. Andrews / Broad and Bush River Roads
Don’t let the gritty sprawl fool you: If you look closely, there are hidden gems in this area — especially if you like ethnic foods. Among the treats: Elie’s Authentic Lebanese Cuisine; 2Gingers and Delhi Palace (Indian); and Inakaya (sushi and Japanese). It’s not all food, either: Manifest Discs, Firefly Toys & Games and Sims Music also call this area home.

The Horseshoe at USC | photo by John Carlos

15 USC / South Main
The University of South Carolina campus dominates the landscape south of the State House, and many of the businesses on nearby streets cater to a university crowd. Whether it’s coffee, bagels, Mediterranean food, locally brewed beer or frozen yogurt, students in this area can do a lot of things without need of a car. But there’s plenty of room for their professors too, as well as legislators, state government workers and business people — just check out Thirsty Fellow, Immaculate Consumption or California Dreaming at lunchtime. If you (or your parents) like the area enough, set your sights on an apartment at 650 Lincoln or a luxury condo at Adesso.

16 Southeast/Lower Richland
An area of rich cultural history and natural resources, Lower Richland is home to Congaree National Park, historical sites (including the Lower Richland Heritage Corridor), military facilities and several major employers. More than half its land is used for farming and timber.

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Annual Manual 2016: Attractions in Columbia SC

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

Columbia is full of history — and historical attractions. The Articles of Secession were signed here, and Gen. Sherman occupied the city at the end of the Civil War. Even the Publix in the Vista carries a whiff of Civil War history, occupying a building that once printed Confederate currency.

But it’s not just war sites that you need to see: Statewide, South Carolina has 1,300 sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

The city has several notable historic homes, including the Robert Mills House & Gardens (Mills was an architect who designed the Washington Monument), the Mann-Simons Site (an important center of the African-American community) and the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, the only presidential site in the state and the only museum in the country dedicated to the history of the Reconstruction era.

Columbia also has an often-overlooked civil rights history that includes three major Supreme Court rulings. Signs along Main Street commemorate key local events and people.

Our attractions aren’t all ancient, either. See, for example, the monument to Hootie & the Blowfish in Five Points.

Columbia’s biggest attraction of all is the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, which draws approximately 1 million visitors per year. Opened in 1974, the zoo occupies 170 acres along the Lower Saluda River and houses some 2,000 animals in natural habitat exhibits; 70 of those acres are devoted to Riverbanks Botanical Garden, which features woodlands, gardens, historic ruins, plant collections and a visitor facility.

Other top destinations in the city include the South Carolina State Museum (with a planetarium, observatory and 4D theater), EdVenture Children’s Museum, Congaree National Park, the Columbia Museum of Art, Three Rivers Greenway, Colonial Life Arena, the Township Auditorium and more.

For a list of upcoming events, visit

Downtown / USC / South Main 

Columbia’s Main Street is booming these days. The Hub at Columbia has brought a major influx of young residents to the area. Restaurants such as the The Oak Table, Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse, Good Life Café, Michael’s, Cantina 76 and The Epicurean by Al-Amir have given Main Street a big daytime boost. The Soda City farmers market is bustling on Saturday mornings. Columbia’s home of independent film, the Nickelodeon Theatre, is on the 1600 block of Main Street. Drip Coffee services downtown dwellers’ caffeine addictions and provides a great meeting spot. The Whig is one of the hippest bars in town. And the Columbia Museum of Art, long the area’s cultural anchor, provides a steady stream of exhibitions and events. Bottom line: Things are happening downtown.

Just south of the State House is a string of establishments catering largely to university types and state employees. Among the options within a few-block radius: Turkish food; coffee; sandwiches; frozen yogurt; hot dogs; ice cream; bagels and locally brewed beers at Hunter-Gatherer.

African-American History Monument
State House grounds 
The backstory of this monument goes back to 1994, when state Sen. John Courson put forward a grand bargain that would link removing the Confederate Flag from the State House dome (but keeping it on State House grounds) with creating an African-American history monument. That initial proposal didn’t pass, but eventually a compromise came together. Dedicated in 2001, this 12-panel sculpture represents key aspects of the African-American experience. 

Busted Plug Plaza 
1400 Block of Taylor St. 
It’s a giant metallic fire hydrant. What else can we say?

Columbia Museum of Art 
Main and Hampton streets, 803-799-2810
Exhibitions! Concerts! Beer! The museum’s traveling exhibitions span the full range of art history, while its permanent collection emphasizes European fine and decorative arts. Of course, the art is always a key draw when you’re talking about an art museum, but there are also a ton of other events happening here: the 20-something-oriented Arts & Draughts series, the acclaimed Chamber on Main series, plus lots of lectures, films and more.

Elmwood Cemetery
501 Elmwood Ave.
OK, so maybe hanging out in a cemetery isn’t your idea of fun. But this cemetery is full of history — and Civil War history in particular. Established in 1854, Elmwood Cemetery covers 168 acres and includes an area dedicated to Confederate soldiers. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

Finlay Park 
930 Laurel St., 803-545-3100
Truth be told, Finlay Park (opened in 1991) has seen better days. Nonetheless, it can still be a good place for a walk amid the hustle of downtown. It could also get a boost soon as the city is considering major renovation plans. Also hosts occasional concerts and festivals. Located behind the Assembly Street post office. 

Governor’s Mansion 
800 Richland St., 803-737-1710,
Built in 1855 as a residence for officers of the Arsenal Military Academy, Gen. Sherman’s troops spared the building at the end of the Civil War and it became the official Governor’s Mansion in 1868.

Hampton-Preston Mansion 
1615 Blanding St., 803-252-7742,
Built in 1818, the Hampton-Preston Mansion opened for tours in 1970; its rooms reflect the Federal period to the early postbellum years. 

Koger Center 
1051 Greene St., 803-777-7500,
The Koger Center is operated by USC and has served as Columbia’s primary facility for the performing arts since 1989. Hosts the Broadway in Columbia series, South Carolina Philharmonic concerts, ballet performances and more. Seats just over 2,000.

Mann-Simons Cottage 
1403 Richland St., 803-252-7742,
One of only a few houses in South Carolina owned by free blacks in antebellum days and preserved as a historic house museum. Celia Mann and her descendants owned the house from the mid-19th century until 1970. The house serves as the focal point for the annual Jubilee Festival. 

McKissick Museum
USC Horseshoe, 803-777-7251,
Offers exhibits relating to the cultural, political and natural history of South Carolina and the southeastern United States.

Modjeska Monteith Simkins House
2025 Marion St.
Built between 1890 and 1895, this one-story cottage was the home of Modjeska Simkins, a leader in South Carolina’s civil rights movement and the first woman to serve as state secretary of the state NAACP. At a time when blacks could not stay at city hotels, Simkins’ home offering a gathering space and lodging for many civil rights figures, including Thurgood Marshall.

Nickelodeon Theatre 
1607 Main St., 803-254-8234,
Specializing in foreign and independent films, the Nickelodeon moved into the spot of the former Fox Theatre on Main Street in 2012 and opened a second screen this year. Also presents the popular multidisciplinary Indie Grits festival.

Palmetto Trail
Conceived in 1994 as a statewide series of linked trails, the Palmetto Trail features 350 miles of completed paths thus far. In the Midlands, the Capital City Passage is an urban section of the trail going from Riverfront Park to Fort Jackson. 

Randolph Cemetery
Elmwood Ave. at I-26,
Founded on land purchased from Elmwood Cemetery in 1872, Randolph Cemetery is the first cemetery established specifically for Columbia’s black community. Prior to the cemetery’s founding, blacks were buried along with poor whites near the river in a potter’s field. But in 1871, 19 local black leaders came together to establish a respectable place for burial for blacks; it is named in honor of Senator Benjamin Franklin Randolph.

Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden 
I-126 at Greystone Blvd., 803-779-8717,
From reptiles to birds and everything in between, Riverbanks Zoo is by far Columbia’s biggest tourism draw. Home to more than 2,000 animals and a 70-acre botanical garden, Riverbanks also sports a zipline canopy tour, a ropes course and hosts popular annual events such as Boo at the Zoo, Brew at the Zoo and Lights Before Christmas. 

Robert Mills House and Garden 
1616 Blanding St., 803-252-7742,
The Robert Mills House is best known for its namesake, who also designed the Washington Monument. Open for tours, it is one of only five National Historic Landmarks in the city. 

South Carolina State House 
Main Street at Gervais Street,
More than 50 years after its original inception in 1851, architect Charles C. Wilson finally completed the building, calling it “one of the most notable buildings of the world.” Others disagreed, with one legislative observer calling the dome “nothing short of a miserable fraud.” Now you can gape at the expanse of lawn where the Confederate flag flew until July of 2015. Call 803-734-2430 or visit for tour information. 

Seibels House 
1601 Richland St., 803-252-7742,
Built in the late 18th century, the Seibels House now serves as the Historic Columbia Foundation office and is a popular spot for weddings. Historic Columbia was chartered in 1961 to prevent the loss of the Robert Mills House and now is involved in many aspects of historic preservation in Columbia.  

Soda City Market
1500 Block of Main Street,
Held every Saturday morning, the Soda City market offers sustainably produced meat and produce, as well as fresh bakery items, crafts and other locally produced goods.

Sylvan Building 
1500 Main St. 
Where’s the Sylvan Building? Just look for that old clock at the corner of Main and Hampton streets. Built between 1868 and 1870, The Sylvan Building was the first large building constructed in Columbia after Union soldiers burned the city on Feb. 17, 1865. Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

Tapp’s Arts Center
644 Main St., 803-988-0013,
Tapp’s Arts Center officially opened in 2011 and has become a focal point of Main Street’s art scene. Presents visual arts exhibitions and offers artist studios. Also hosts a range of concerts, comedy shows, film screenings and other arts-related events and is available for rentals.

Town Theatre
1012 Sumter St., 803-799-2510,
Built in 1924, Town Theatre is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest continuously operating community theater building in the country; presents family-friendly musicals and other productions.

Three Rivers Greenway, 803-765-2200
Designated in 2013 as a National Recreation Trail, the Three Rivers Greenway provides several miles of linked river access in Columbia, Cayce and West Columbia. The completed Cayce and West Columbia portions of the Greenway are already popular for walking and running, and the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheatre hosts outdoor concerts and more.

Township Auditorium
1703 Taylor St.,
First opened in 1930, the 3,000-plus-seat Township Auditorium has hosted such artists as Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Pink Floyd, The Clash and Bob Dylan. Reopened in 2010 after a $12 million face lift, the Township brings everything from R&B, country, rock and EDM acts to wrestling, comedy and dance.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral & Cemetery
1100 Sumter St.
Originally dedicated in 1814, Trinity Episcopal grew into a new building in 1847, one designed by Edward Brickell White and modeled after York Cathedral in England. Today, it’s one of the 20 largest Episcopal churches in the country. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice James F. Byrnes and six governors are buried in its cemetery.

Taylor and Marion streets
A 1975 wall mural of a road running through a tunnel, Tunnelvision is an iconic piece of local public art. Don’t drive by this thing when you’re stoned unless you feel like totaling your car. 

USC Horseshoe 
900 Block of Sumter St., 803-777-8161 
Little do most of the frolicking young college students on the gorgeous USC Horseshoe know — or care, probably — that Robert Mills, the nation’s first federal architect, designed several buildings there, as well as the Maxcy Monument, named for the first president of the college, Jonathan Maxcy. 

Woodrow Wilson Family Home 
1705 Hampton St., 803-252-7742,
The Wilson family moved to Columbia in 1870, moved into the home in 1872 and left two years later following a dispute between Wilson’s father and the Presbyterian Theological Seminary where he taught. After years of renovations, the home re-opened in February of 2014, focusing on Reconstruction-era history.

Vista / Riverfront / State Street / Vista West

This converted warehouse district is largely known for its many dining and nightlife options and art galleries, but it also sports some key attractions such as the Colonial Life Arena, EdVenture Children’s Museum and the South Carolina State Museum, as well as a theater and a grocery store (converted from a former Confederate printing plant). Home to such popular annual events as Vista Lights (a holiday season kick-off party), Artista Vista (a three-day gallery crawl in the spring) and Art Bar Agora, the Vista also has an increasing number of residential options. On the third Thursday of every month, the area also holds the Vista Nights art crawl.

Adluh Flour Mill
804 Gervais St., 800-692-3584.
The neon Adluh Flour sign in the heart of the Vista points to a cultural icon of Columbia. Founded in 1900, Adluh is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Flour and cornmeal products sold on-site.

The Big Apple
1000 Hampton St., 803-252-7742,
A debate still rages as to whether the phrase “The Big Apple” came to New York City from jazz or from horse racing (a 1930s N.Y.C. sports column was called “Around the Big Apple”). For Columbia’s sake, let’s go with the jazz theory: Once a local synagogue, The Big Apple later was turned into a juke joint where, in 1936, blacks invented a new dance, the Big Apple. Now popular for weddings, receptions and dance events.

Colonial Life Arena
801 Lincoln St., Charge by phone: 1-877-489-2849, General Info: 803-576-9200
The 18,000-seat Colonial Center is the largest arena in South Carolina, hosting major concert and entertainment acts and serving as the home for USC men’s and women’s basketball.

Columbia Marionette Theater
401 Laurel St., 803-252-7366,
Located near Riverfront Park, the Columbia Marionette Theater was founded in 1988 and presents children’s productions ranging from traditional fairy tales to educational shows. In 2009, founder Allie Scollon received a top national puppetry award.

EdVenture Children’s Museum
211 Gervais St., 803-779-3100,
The South’s largest children’s museum, with more than 70,000 square feet of cool stuff to keep the kids occupied.

Riverfront Park
Laurel at Huger Street, 803-545-3100,
Separating the Historic Columbia Canal and the Congaree River, Riverfront Park is a popular jogging and walking trail encompassing 167 acres just west of Huger Street. Currently closed due to canal repairs following the October 2015 flood.

South Carolina State Confederate Relic Room & Museum
301 Gervais St., 803-737-8095,
The Confederate Relic Room actually has much more than Civil War memorabilia, with artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War to World War II. Located in the former mill that also houses the South Carolina State Museum.

South Carolina State Museum
301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921,
The State Museum opened a major expansion space in 2014 featuring an observatory, planetarium and 4D theater. Housed in the historic Columbia Mill building (built in 1893), the South Carolina State Museum has permanent and rotating exhibitions covering South Carolina’s cultural history, natural history, science, technology and art. The museum also brings in non-South Carolina-related blockbuster exhibitions.

Three Rivers Greenway, 803-765-2200
The completed portions of the Greenway are popular for walking and running, and the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheatre hosts outdoor concerts and more.

Trustus Theatre
520 Lady St., 803-254-9732,
A popular and well established theater in the Vista, Trustus offers contemporary works alongside popular musicals and mainstream plays.
Just across the Gervais Street bridge sits an eclectic mix of nightspots, galleries, gift shops, restaurants and antique shops, many of them on State Street in West Columbia.

Five Points / Rosewood / Olympia / Southeast

Five Points is a college student’s playground, but it’s also much more. Home to the annual St. Pat’s festival — which draws thousands of music fans and partiers every year — Five Points offers an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and bars where you’ll find everything from coffee, hip clothes, books and records to deli sandwiches, burritos, ice cream and more. And with the coveted tree-lined bungalows of Shandon just up the street, Five Points and Devine Street also have options for the post-college crowd, including numerous locally owned clothing stores and other retail spots.

Not far away in Rosewood, you’ll find a burgeoning residential and retail area anchored by Publix and sprinkled with eclectic spots to grab a drink such as the Kraken, Cock ‘N’ Bull Pub and Rockaway Athletic Club. Rosewood has its own signature events, too, among them the Rosewood Crawfish Festival and the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival.
Over in the historic mill village of Olympia, you’ll find a dynamic community space at 701 Whaley — which houses the 701 Center for Contemporary Art and hosts numerous local events — and Carolina Stadium, home of the Gamecock baseball team. Olympia’s big annual events are Olympia Fest and the Quarry Crusher Run.

701 Center for Contemporary Art
701 Whaley St., 803-779-4571,
Opened in the fall of 2008, the 701 Center for Contemporary Art is an integral part of the local arts scene, hosting cutting-edge visual arts exhibitions, artist talks and more. 

Carolina Stadium 
431 Williams St. 
University spokespeople will tell you that USC’s baseball stadium (which opened in 2009) is located in the Innovista district, but locals know the area as Olympia. Regardless of where you place it, the 9,000-seat baseball stadium is a bang-up place to watch the Gamecocks. Recently named the best college baseball stadium in America.

City Roots
1005 Airport Blvd., 254-2302,
In the heart of lower Rosewood, City Roots is a working urban farm, with classes, volunteer opportunities, parties and other events. Visit the chickens, feel the warm compost, check out the tilapia pond and the two greenhouses, pick some strawberries — it’s all educational, and the produce is delicious.

Congaree National Park, 803-776-4396
No, Congaree National Park is not in Rosewood, but if you head out Rosewood Drive to Bluff Road and keep going for 18 miles, you’re there. This 22,000-acre park boasts the largest old-growth, floodplain forest on the continent. It’s also an International Biosphere Reserve, a Globally Important Bird Area and a National Natural Landmark. Activities include hiking, boating, camping, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, nature walks and more. Located in Hopkins, 18 miles southeast of Columbia (S.C. 48 from Bluff Rd. or exit 5 off I-77).

Five Points Fountain 
Harden Street and Saluda Avenue 
The Five Points Fountain is a nice place to hang out with your coffee or lunch; it’s also ground zero for numerous events, including the Five Points After Five concert series, which presents local and regional bands on an outdoor stage. 

Five Points Retail 
Five Points is for strolling, dining and shopping. Retail options are wide, encompassing everything from unique gifts at Portfolio Art Gallery or Finleaf Gallery to hip clothing at Sid and Nancy and skateboards at BlueTile. When night falls, there are plenty of places to get your groove on, too (see Nightlife). 

Hootie Monument
Remember that band with the song “Hold My Hand” that came out in the mid-’90s and sold an ungodly number of records? Those guys were from Columbia. Head to Santee Avenue, look at the big metal sculpture and read all about the many musical exploits of Hootie & The Blowfish. 

Shops on Devine 
Just up the hill from Five Points on Devine Street are a string of high-quality, locally ≥owned shops. From craft beer at Craft & Draft to ultra-cool furniture at Bohemian Home and high-end fashion at Pout and Brittons, Devine Street merchants specialize in some of the most unique and eclectic offerings in the city.

South Carolina Military Museum
1225 Bluff Road, 803-806-4440,
Dedicated to honoring South Carolina’s National Guard and its citizen soldiers throughout history, from the late 17th century to the wars of the 21st century.

Williams-Brice Stadium
1125 George Rogers Blvd., 803-777-4271,
Situated close to both Rosewood and Olympia, Williams-Brice Stadium is party central during football season, with fans spilling into both Five Points and the Vista after games. Since being built in 1934, Williams-Brice has served as the site of lots of drunken football revelry, as well as hosting Pope John Paul II, the Rolling Stones, U2, Kenny Chesney and then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Northeast / Forest Acres / Fort Jackson / Blythewood / Camden

Home to the wonderful Sesquicentennial State Park, the Northeast also sports the 600-acre Sandhill Research and Education Center, the annual Sparkleberry Country Fair, the enormous Village at Sandhill retail complex (and in it, the popular Plex Indoor Sports), the expansive Lake Carolina residential development, several golf courses and farmers markets, and top-notch schools that keep residents coming. Just a few miles away in Camden is the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, which commemorates the 1780 Battle of Camden.

Camden Archives & Museum
1314 Broad St., 803-425-6050,
Offers genealogical research facilities and maintains a diverse collection to aid visitors in their research. Collects material pertaining to the north-central section of South Carolina formerly recognized as the old Camden District.

Columbia Children’s Theatre
3400 Forest Dr., 803-691-4548,
A nonprofit, professional theater offering educational and entertainment opportunities to children and families.

Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County
810 Lyttleton St., Camden, 803-425-7676,
Presents community-oriented theater, music, dance and exhibitions, as well as the annual Carolina Downhome Blues Festival. 

Goodale State Park
650 Park Rd. (Camden), 803-432-2772
Cypress trees, a pond, fishing, picnic spots, kayaking and canoeing all make this a popular spot to visit.

Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site
We’ll spare you the suspense: The Americans got their asses handed to them at the 1780 Battle of Camden. Some 233 years later, though, we’re over it. Hosts a Battle of Camden Remembrance Day each August, Revolutionary War Field Days each November and other events throughout the year.

Lake Wateree
Winnsboro, 803-482-6401,
Hosts fishing tournaments and offers a publicly accessible boat ramp, tackle shop and refueling dock.

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden
145 Broad Acres Rd. (Bishopville),
A true South Carolina icon, Pearl Fryar has made his incredible topiary garden his life’s work — and invited the public to see it.

Sandhills Farmers Market
900 Clemson Rd., 803-788-5700,
Open each Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m. through Nov. 25. Farmers from around the region bring fresh local produce, meat, fish, eggs, butter, milk, cheese, honey, plants, flowers, shrubs and baked goods. Across from the Village at Sandhill.

Sandhill Research and Education Center
900 Clemson Road, 803-788-5700
Agricultural research facility and nature preserve on 600 acres. Wildlife is abundant; guests are advised to stay on designated trails.

Sesquicentennial State Park
9564 Two Notch Rd., 803-788-2706,
This 1,419-acre park features a 30-acre lake surrounded by trails, picnic areas and campsites. Also offers boating, fishing, swimming, meeting facilities and trails. Trails include a 6.1-mile mountain bike trail, a 1.9-mile nature trail, and a 3.5-mile walking and jogging trail. Located 13 miles northeast of Columbia on Two Notch Road.

South Carolina Railroad Museum
110 Industrial Park Rd. (Winnsboro), 803-712-4135,
Everybody loves trains, right? Take an hour-long ride, stroll through historic train cars and check out the hats, whistles and other train paraphernalia in the gift shop.

U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum
4442 Jackson Blvd., 803-751-7419
Commemorates Fort Jackson’s prominent role in training American soldiers by acquiring and exhibiting artifacts dating to the fort’s founding in 1917. Public access is limited; call ahead for details.

Village at Sandhill
481 Town Center Pl., 803-419-0235,
Located off I-20 (Exit 80, Clemson Road), the Village at Sandhill is a testament to the growth of Columbia’s Northeast region. Primarily a massive retail development, the Village at Sandhill also boasts a movie theater, numerous dining options and community events, including outdoor concerts.

Lake Murray / Lexington / Harbison / Irmo / West Columbia / Cayce

For visitors to the area, the key draw in this part of town is Lake Murray, a 50,000-acre man-made lake with 650 miles of shoreline. Lake Murray offers a wide range of seasonal recreation options — including sailing, fishing (especially striped bass), camping and hiking — and a huge Fourth of July fireworks display (held the Saturday before the holiday). Public access is limited to the few parks and marinas scattered around the lake, so keep that in mind as you make your plans.

There’s more to the area than the lake, however. Among your options: Saluda Shoals Park, which features a wetlands preserve; Harbison State Forest, a great place to bike; and Seven Oaks Park, with a full-service recreation complex.

If you’re looking for cultural offerings, among your options are the Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra and the Chapin Theatre Company, which has been serving the area for more than 25 years. For Columbians from all areas of town, the Columbiana Centre Mall and its surrounding big-name retailers make it a necessary stop. Good schools and neighborhoods round out the package for residents.

Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center
1120 Fort Congaree Tr., 803-227-3030, 
A massive and well-kept modern tennis complex hosting tournaments and offering year-round lessons. Also has a gym.

Chapin Theatre Company
PO Box 360, Chapin, 803-240-8544,
What originated informally in the late ‘70s as a few friends staging no-frills plays has become a staple of Lexington County’s cultural life. Shows at Harbison Theatre.

Congaree Creek Earthworks Monument
Situated along the Timmerman Trail portion of the Cayce Riverwalk, this monument marks the site of earthworks built during the Civil War by more than 750 enslaved blacks. Parking at Cayce Fitness and Tennis Center.

Congaree Riverwalk, 803-765-2200
We’re still waiting for Columbia to finish its portion of the Three Rivers Greenway, but most of the Lexington County sections are already done. The completed Cayce and West Columbia portions of the Greenway are popular for walking and running, and the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheatre hosts outdoor concerts and more.

Crooked Creek Park
1098 Old Lexington Highway (Chapin), 345-6181,
“Crooked Creek” makes this park sound like it’s a dirt path next to a trickle of water. Actually, it’s got a 53,000-square-foot community center with a full gym and racquetball courts, along with tennis courts, athletics fields, picnic areas and walking trails.

Dreher Island State Recreation Area
3677 State Park Rd., Exit 91 off I-26, 803-364-4152,
Located 30 miles northwest of Columbia in Prosperity, the Dreher Island recreation area consists of three islands encompassing 12 miles of shoreline on Lake Murray. Especially popular for fishing and boating (Lake Murray is a top destination for striped and largemouth bass), Dreher Island also offers lakefront camping, cabin and villa rentals, water skiing and picnicking. 

First Responders Wall of Remembrance
Dedicated in 2008, this memorial to 9/11 was made from steel from Ground Zero in New York City.

Frankie’s Fun Park
140 Parkridge Dr., 803-781-2342,
Kids’ stuff? Hardly. This Harbison-area entertainment center packs three go-kart tracks, three 18-hole mini-golf courses, batting cages, bumper boats, an arcade, a 5,000-square foot multi-tiered laser tag arena and an super-tall drop zone that says “In your face, gravity!” into 14 acres filled with fun for all ages. What, do you hate fun or something?

Gibson Pond
241 Gibson Rd., 803-359-1027,
These 15 acres in the Town of Lexington offer walking trails, kayaking, picnic tables and a scenic overlook.

Harbison State Forest, 803-896-8890
If you didn’t know it was there, you’d never expect to find 2,177 acres of forest along the sprawling mess that is Broad River Road. But there it is — one of the largest public green spaces inside the city limits of a metropolitan area in the eastern United States. Features more than 16 miles of roads and trails (popular for biking) and a canoe landing.

Harbison Theatre
7300 College St., Irmo,
Info: 803-407-5003, Tickets: 803-407-5011
The 400-seat Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College presents a high-quality and eclectic array of performing arts events that diversify Midlands Tech’s offerings and strengthen its relationship with the local community. Also serves as a rental facility for local arts organizations.

Lake Murray
Located a few miles northwest of downtown Columbia, Lake Murray is a 50,000-acre lake offering boating, camping and other recreational activities. lists public access points, as well as marinas and landing spots. Good striped bass fishing during the season.

Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra
Think there’s no culture when you get outside downtown? Think again. Led by artistic director Einar Anderson, the Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra was conceived in 2001 and held its first concert in 2004.

Lexington County Museum
U.S. Highway 378 and Fox St. Lexington, 803-359-8369, facebook.comlexingtoncountymuseum
Founded in 1970, the museum complex encompasses seven acres and features 36 historic structures focusing on the early history of Lexington County, from 1770 until the Civil War.

Peachtree Rock Nature Preserve, 803-254-9046
Sadly, the geological wonder known as Peachtree Rock — a triangular-shaped top-heavy sandstone formation that had stood on its pointed base for millions of years — fell in December of 2013, likely due to rain and years of vandalism. The good news? You can see the formation lying on its side, as well as Little Peachtree Rock and the rest of this beautiful 460-acre preserve, which has the only waterfall in the coastal plain. Located off S.C. 6 in southern Lexington County near Swansea.

Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden
If you live downtown, you’ll likely enter the zoo from its Greystone Blvd. entrance off I-26. But if you live west of the Congaree River, you can enter from Sunset Boulevard (Highway 378) in West Columbia. This entrance will take you right to the zoo’s beautiful 70-acre botanical garden.

Saluda Shoals Park, 803-731-5208, 213-2050 (weekend)
Situated on 270 acres downstream from the Lake Murray Dam, Saluda Shoals features a popular water park, an environmental education center, canoe trips, nature hikes, biking trails, fishing spots, picnic shelters, art exhibits, summer camps, health and wellness programs, meeting facilities and more. Good trout fishing if you like to wade. 

Seven Oaks Park
200 Leisure Ln., 803-772-3336,
Built in 1973 and located in the St. Andrews area, Seven Oaks Park is a full-service recreation complex offering fitness, athletics and cultural arts programs. Features a dance studio, art gallery, picnic areas, tennis courts, walking trails and more.

State Farmers Market
Exit 115 off I-26,
Relocated to Lexington County from Richland in 2010, the South Carolina State Farmers Market has a lot more space than it used to — space for vendors, shoppers and parking. Open Mon-Sat 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sun noon to 6 p.m.

Village Square Theatre
105 Caughman Rd., Lexington, 803-359-1436,
Community theater from the Lexington County Arts Association.

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Annual Manual 2016:  Nonprofits in Columbia SC

By Free Times
City Districts & Neighborhoods
Jobs, Economy and Demographics
Outdoors & Recreation
Health & Fitness
Festivals & Events
Music & Nightlife
Arts & Culture
Food & Drink

Harvest Hope Food Bank | photo by Austin Price

If you want to make an impact on your community, one good place to start is by volunteering for or donating to a local nonprofit. Here are some places you could start. For a more complete list of local nonprofits, see the Midlands Gives Guide at

The Animal Mission
Volunteer-run organization that promotes pet adoption, spay/neuter awareness and and works for better conditions in local animal shelters.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia
Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the United States. Serves children ages 6 through 18.

Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands
Want to decrease kids’ risky behaviors and increase their appetite for learning? Formed in 1959, the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands offers before- and after-school programs and more to youths in Richland, Lexington and Fairfield counties.

Central Carolina Community Foundation
A key local voice for philanthropy, the Central Carolina Community Foundation awards grants in an 11-county area covering everything from health, education and human services to arts and culture. Organizes annual Midlands Gives online philanthropy initiative, as well as the One SC Fund for flood relief.
Central South Carolina

City Year
Nearly a quarter of high school students in Columbia drop out. Using near-peer-age mentors, City Year works to help kids in high-poverty communities stay engaged with and enrolled in school.

Columbia Opportunity Resource (COR)
Provides volunteer opportunities to help young professionals engage with the community and get involved in board service, events and leadership programs.

Columbia Urban League
Empowers African-Americans and other underserved communities through education, civic engagement and working for racial justice.

Columbia World Affairs Council
Promotes ties between Columbia and the rest of the world and bestows annual Global Vision Award.

Common Cause South Carolina
Ever wonder who’s trying to clean up the government around here? That would be Common Cause.

Congaree Riverkeeper
What are you worried about: Stormwater runoff? Sewage discharges? The Congaree Riverkeeper has a finger on the pulse of issues affecting the region’s rivers and speaks out to protect them.

Conservation Voters of South Carolina
Works to make conservation and environmental issues a priority among South Carolina’s elected officials.

Promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and the knowledge economy through programs like the Ignite! conference and the Science Café series.

Family Connections of South Carolina
Connects families of children with special needs and disabilities to resources, support and education.

Family Service Center of South Carolina
Programs range from debt counseling and foreclosure mitigation to dental clinics and special needs adoption services.

Friends of Congaree Swamp
Supports, promotes and protects the natural and cultural heritage of Congaree National Park and its watershed.

Funeral Consumers Alliance of South Carolina
Education and advocacy group dedicated to informing people of their rights and options with regard to funeral services. Conducts price surveys of the Columbia area.

Gills Creek Watershed Association
Attempts to restore and protect Gills Creek, one of several important but impaired creeks running through the city.

Girls Rock Columbia
Want a young girl to gain a sense of empowerment? Encourage her to play in a band.

Habitat for Humanity
Homes provide stability, security and a sense of dignity. Founded in 1985, the Central South Carolina branch of Habitat for Humanity has built hundreds of homes for Midlands families.

Harvest Hope Food Bank
Provides food assistance to approximately 38,000 people every week in 20 counties of South Carolina. Harvest Hope relies on donations and needs volunteers to help reduce costs and fulfill its mission.

Historic Columbia
Promotes and protects the historic properties of Columbia. Offers tours, maintains house museums and works to raise historical awareness.

Humane Society
Offers low-cost spay and neuter services, investigates animal cruelty and promotes responsible pet ownership.

Keep the Midlands Beautiful
Organizes and promotes recycling, cleanup and beautification efforts.

League of Women Voters of South Carolina
Nonpartisan group promotes active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues.

Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc.
Provides medical, psychiatric and rehabilitative treatment to individuals recovering from severe mental illness or emotional disorders.

Midlands Housing Trust Fund
Provides financing, technical assistance and advocacy for the creation, preservation and rehabilitation of affordable housing.

Trains assistance dogs to help people live more independent, enriching lives. Among those helped are children with autism, soldiers with PTSD and people with mobility issues.

One SC Fund
Officially designated as the flood-relief fund for the state of South Carolina; operated by the Central Carolina Community Foundation.

Palmetto Conservation Foundation
Works to conserve the state’s natural resources, preserve historic landmarks and promote outdoor recreation through trails and greenways. The signature project of Palmetto Conservation is the cross-state Palmetto Trail.

Palmetto Cycling Coalition
Promotes bicycling safety and better access for bicyclists across the state.

Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter
Provides a safe and nurturing environment for abused and neglected children and unaccompanied teens, offering a broad range of services.

Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation
Works to preserve and protect the architectural heritage of South Carolina.

Pawmetto Lifeline
Dedicated to solving pet overpopulation and creating a no-kill community in the Midlands.

Pets, Inc.
Operates a no-kill shelter and adoption facility; promotes spaying and neutering.

Protection & Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc.
Protects and advances the rights of people with disabilities.

Richland County CASA
Local guardian ad litem program that trains volunteers to advocate on behalf of children in the judicial system.

Richland County First Steps
Improves school readiness for children in Richland County by working with government agencies, nonprofits, businesses and families.

River Alliance
This group is the reason that Columbia has a riverwalk, and it continues to advocate for investment in and sound management of the Midlands’ rivers.

Rocky Branch Watershed Alliance
Seeks to protect Rocky Branch — an urban stream with major flooding problems — from development and pollution.

Salvation Army
Evangelical social services organization offering services to those in extreme poverty.

SC Equality
Dedicated to lobbying for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands
Provides crisis intervention and support services to survivors of sexual assault and abuse in Richland, Lexington, Newberry, and Sumter counties. Also advocates for victims and educates about sexual trauma issues.

Provides services to women and children impacted by domestic abuse. Educates the community, advocates in court on behalf of victims and provides counseling and shelter.

Sisters of Charity SC
Christian-based group dedicated to reducing poverty in South Carolina. Recently launched new anti-poverty website
South Carolina Appleseed

Legal Justice Center
A voice for the voiceless that lobbies on public policy affecting low-income Americans, children and immigrants.

South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
The good news: South Carolina’s teen birth rate dropped 61 percent between 1991 and 2014. The bad news: It’s still the 12th-highest rate in the country. This is the organization that works for research-based approaches to reducing teen pregnancy.

South Carolina Legal Services
Offers practical legal advice and provides free legal services (in civil cases) to eligible low-income residents.

South Carolina Pride
Operates the Harriet Hancock Community Center, a resource hub for LGBT residents. Also organizes the SC Pride Festival, one of the largest in the Southeast.

South Carolina Wildlife Federation
Works to conserve and restore South Carolina’s wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics
South Carolina only has two female state senators. We could do a lot better.

Sustainable Midlands
If there’s an issue related to healthy, green, livable communities in the Midlands, Sustainable Midlands is probably involved in it.

St. Lawrence Place
A village of 30 single-family homes that offers shelter and skills training for families who have fallen on hard times. Also, Columbia’s only long-term, transitional shelter that allows families to stay together.

Tell Them
Advocates for age-appropriate sex education and access to reproductive health counseling and services. Whether it’s sex education, birth control or in vitro fertilization, Tell Them S.C. is on the front lines for the state’s women.

Privately funded program helps the homeless move from the streets into permanent housing with a tiered program of increasing responsibility.

United Way of the Midlands
Works on critical needs in the areas of education (adult literacy, dropout prevention, after-school programs), financial stability (food and shelter programs) and health (health care access, senior independence, dental care and chronic disease management). Also operates Young Leaders Society for young professionals.

Women in Philanthropy
Works to encourage women to take an activist role in philanthropy. Funds grants to benefit women and children, focusing on root causes and measurable, long-term change.

The Women’s Shelter
Provides a safe environment for women in crisis and necessary resources to help them build stronger, more productive lives going forward.

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Violent Universe, Circus XTREME, Sweet on CMA

By Free Times
For more family-oriented events, visit and the websites of individual organizations.

Violent Universe: Catastrophes of the Cosmos
South Carolina State Museum
301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921
Date: Ongoing Cost: $13.95; $12.95 (seniors age 62+); $11.95 children (ages 3-12); $4 (members)

Witness the raw power of the cosmos in this 25-minute planetarium show. Narrated by Patrick Stewart, also known as Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard.

Rio: The 4-D Experience
South Carolina State Museum
301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921
Date: Ongoing Cost: $13.95; $12.95 (seniors age 62+); $11.95 children (ages 3-12); $4 (members)

When the last blue macaws on Earth, Blu and Jewel, are captured by bird smugglers, they must work together despite Blu’s inability to fly.

The Snow Queen
Columbia Marionette Theatre
401 Laurel St., 803-252-7366
Date: Ongoing Cost: $5

When Kai comes in contact with a magic shard, he is whisked away to the castle of the Snow Queen. It’s up to Gerda to travel through the lands of Spring and Summer to rescue him.

Colonial Life Arena
801 Lincoln St., 803-576-9053
Date: Jan. 21-24 Cost: $10-$60

Children can let their imaginations go wild in an exhilarating adventure with extreme thrills, exotic animals and extraordinary performers.

The Great Amazing Race
Sesquicentennial Park
9564 Two Notch Rd., 513-518-0528
Date: Jan. 23 Cost: $48

Features two-person teams (adults and kids grades k-12) racing through obstacle course in competition against their peers.

Dinos: The Big Dig
EdVenture Children’s Museum
211 Gervais St., 803-779-3100
Date: Jan. 23-April 24 Cost: $11.50 children and adults, $10.50 military, seniors (age 62+), $8.50 (groups of 15 or more), Free (members)

This dino-mite exhibit features roaring robotic dinosaurs such as the stegosaurus, raptor and triceratops.

Parents’ Night Out: Frozen Friends
Riverbanks Zoo
500 Wildlife Parkway, 803-779-8717
Date: Jan. 29 Cost: $20 (members, per child), $25 (per child)

Plan a night out on the town while your kids enjoy a fun-filled and educational evening full of adventure at the Zoo. Dinner is included.

Gladys’ Gang: Head in the Clouds
Columbia Museum of Art
1515 Main St., 803-799-2810
Date: Feb. 3 Cost: Free

Children can explore clouds with different textures, colors and shapes with stories, and go on a cloud walk through the galleries.

Family on Safari: Valentine’s Event
Riverbanks Zoo
500 Wildlife Parkway, 803-779-8717
Date: Feb. 5 Cost: $45

Treat your little ones to a special Valentine’s surprise and celebrate the ones we love the most and the sweet ways animals care for one another.

Monster Jam
Colonial Life Arena
801 Lincoln St., 803-576-9053
Date: Feb. 5-6 Cost: $13-$43

You know what to expect at Monster Jam: monster trucks.

12-Cent Kids’ Day
Edventure Children’s Museum
211 Gervais St., 803-779-3100
Date: Feb. 12 Cost: 12¢ children; $11.50 adults, $10.50 military, seniors (age 62+), $8.50 (groups of 15 or more), Free (members)

In celebration of EdVenture’s 12th birthday, admission is only 12 cents for kids.

Family Fun Day - Sweet on CMA
Columbia Museum of Art
1515 Main St., 803-799-2810
Date: Feb. 13 Cost: Free

Get creative at art stations, play the valentine bean bag toss, take the “Young at Heart” tour, try the “Two of a Kind” gallery hunt and more.

Passport to Art: Puppy Love
Columbia Museum of Art
1515 Main St., 803-799-2810
Date: Feb. 14 Cost: Free

Valentine’s Day is all about love. And what could be sweeter than the love of a dog? Create a furry friend in the studios and enjoy a dog-themed tour.

Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic
Colonial Life Arena
801 Lincoln St., 803-576-9053
Date: Feb. 19 Cost: $15-$55

Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and the comical duo of Donald and Goofy as 25 of your favorite characters.

Sing Along with the Muppet Movie
Harbison Theatre at Midlands Tech
7300 College St., 803-407-5011
Date: Feb. 21 Cost: $15; $13.50 (group); $13.50 (MTC Alumni)

Sing along with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and friends at Heather Henson’s interactive film experience featuring the original Muppet Movie.

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A Spring Break Staycation with Tweens and Teens

By Pam Molnar
My 12-year-old daughter came from school and announced that she was the only one staying home for spring break this year. She went on to tell me how bored she would be, how lucky her friends were and how she would be stuck at home doing nothing.

Poor girl! Contrary to what your teens and tweens think, not everyone goes on a spring break vacation. Finances, parent’s vacation time and recent holiday travel are some of the reasons that a spring vacation is not possible. In order to keep your teen or tween from driving you crazy, plan a week’s worth of activities that you can do around your own town. Enjoy a fun and relaxing week at home with a different theme for each day.

Pajama Day

Most teens are exhausted by their constant on-the-go lifestyle. What they really need is a day off. Homework, extracurricular activities, social plans and family obligations leaves little time to just hang out. Reserve a day with no agenda. Let your child sleep in. Encourage a day of lounging on the couch in pajamas. Buy easy self-serve meals and use disposable plates. Spend the day recharging for the week ahead.

Volunteer Day

Now that your teen or tween is well rested, start your staycation by helping others. Pre-plan a day of volunteerism and spend the day with those in need. Start with a morning at the homeless shelter preparing breakfast or cleaning up from overnight. Move on to walking dogs at the animal shelter in the afternoon or play board games with the residents at an assisted living home. Your choice of volunteering does not have to be limited to an organization. Plan to help an older neighbor clean out their garage or babysit for a new mom that can use another pair of hands.

Adventure Day

Plan to do something you have never done before. Enroll your teen in an adventure day camp in your area to try surfing, kayaking or scuba diving. Looking for an indoor activity? Check out your local sports complex to try a new sport, go rock climbing or take diving lessons. For less sporty teens, try a theater camp, cooking class or sing at an open mic night. Encourage your kids to try something new — even if it scares them a little. You are building their confidence for the next adventures in their lives.

Party Day

Have an Unbirthday Party like the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. Invite all your teen’s friends who are home for spring break. Plan something as simple as a gathering place for multiple friends to hang out. Order pizza, plug in the iPod and shut the basement door. Consider asking some parents to stay and have a drink with you. Socializing with other parents is a great opportunity for you to get to know your children’s friends better.

See the Local Sights Day

There are probably a few spots in your own town that you have never been to before. Get suggestions from your friends and neighbors. Visit local websites for tourist attractions as if you were visiting for the first time. Check out your local historical society, museum or a store that you have never gone into. Take your camera along and snap silly pictures of your family visiting the sights. Share with friends on Instagram.

Today’s the Day

How many times has your tween asked if they could do something and your answer is, “Maybe another time”? Well, today’s the day. Take your teen to the mall to get her ears double pierced. Stop for ice cream before dinner and spoil your appetites. Let your kids have a sleepover and stay up as late as they want. Show your kids that they cannot always predict what their parents’ answer will be.

Ticket Day

End your week on a good note. Get tickets to an event your tween or teen would love. Whether it is a concert, theatre performance or a sporting event, you can find something to do that your child will always remember. Better yet, they will have something to share at the lunch table when the vacationers ask what he or she did over spring break.

Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and the mother of three teenagers. Much to their disappointment, they are all staying home for spring break this year.

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To Post or Not to Post?

The Case Against Posting Your Kid’s College Acceptance News on Facebook
By Anne Postic
The teen years can be rough, and it’s nice to have some great news. (As an aside, if your perfect kid’s teen years have been a dream, I’m totes happy for you — but shut up.) You just want your teen to know how proud you are and share it with friends who will be really happy for you and your child. And your best friends love yours like they love their own.

But, real talk. During this season of college acceptances and rejections, please think before you post.

I know. Buzzkill.

Your son or daughter is understandably thrilled — and relieved — that they got in. You’re over the moon, and heaving your own sigh of relief. The empty nest is within reach. College is happening! For real.

So, why do I begrudge you your Facebook post?

It’s Not Your Moment

First of all, you don’t own this news. Your child is almost an adult. (I mean, OK, I’m pretty old and have recently realized what an immature moron I really am, but technically, they’re almost adults.)

One of the worst things about getting older is the lack of occasion for personal celebration. You already got your driver’s license, graduated from some sort of school, got married or found a partner, had a kid or two, turned 30, bought a house, got your first big promotion or dream job — though not necessarily all of them, and not necessarily in that order.

Your milestones from here on are crappy. Your parents will die. Your kids won’t be perfect, and they’ll do horrible things. You’ll never save quite enough for retirement, and if you aren’t a millionaire yet, you probably won’t be. Your romantic relationships might wax and wane or fail completely. You’ll get wrinkles.

Sorry. It stinks, but there it is.

But you’re mature enough to know what you do have and you can cherish the happy and thrilling moments — like the day your son or daughter gets that thick envelope. (Or, um, the day they log in to the college’s online notification system and find out they were accepted, and let you know via text or muffled whoop from their bedroom.)

This isn’t your moment, as much as it may feel that way. Let your kids bask in their own glory.

You Want Your Kid to Be Humble and Empathetic

By letting your children tell people about an exciting achievement on their own, you let them practice humility. They can take time to be empathetic and consider what their peers are going through. You’re teaching them to value accomplishment for its own sake, and not for the attention it brings. You’re raising an adult who can connect to other people and make lifelong friends. A wise parent once said, “My main job is to make sure my kid doesn’t become a douche.” We can’t always succeed, but letting them spread the news selectively is a great start.

You aren’t the only parent of a teen on Facebook. Over the years, you’ve met approximately 1 million other parents with kids the same age — at school, on the soccer field, at dance class and at all the other places you’ve bided your time while your son or daughter became a better person. And those parents are probably your friends on Facebook, from back in the day when you needed to facilitate carpools and team snack rosters.

You may not have kept up with them as your kids grew older and quit soccer for baseball, or dance for band. You might not even remember they’re still on your friend list. But they’re lurking. A lot of their children are still hoping for good news, or got wait-listed, or didn’t get into their first choice school, or even their second or third.

Some kids won’t get in anywhere. Some kids are breaking their parents’ hearts, living every parent’s worst fears. Those parents may not know if their once-upon-a-time baby will even make it to the end of senior year. And you don’t always know who they are.

Some kids will get into a great school, but won’t be able to afford to go. Think about that before you post about the scholarship letter your daughter just got, the letter that’s icing on the cake, because you’ve been saving for years and weren’t worried about paying for college anyway. Posting the second, third, fourth and even fifth acceptance letter lets people know that not only did your kid get in where theirs did not, they aren’t even taking the spot. That news can be a real blow during a stressful time. Slip on that other parent’s shoes for a minute.

Share the News with People Who Care — In Person

I disagree with people who say we need to be more honest on social media. No one wants to hear about your kid’s drug problem, your divorce, your craptastic day at work, or your literal and figurative dirty laundry. (Well, your best friend does. So pick up the phone.) You don’t have to share your unhappiness, but you don’t have to go overboard sharing the great moments, either. There are always people who want to celebrate with you, and they’d rather hear it in person.

Call your parents, your best friend or your future scholar’s godparents, and brag away. Most parents have a list of people who will share their joy. The top people on mine are my siblings and my sister-in-law, who are always ready to share my happiness. One big post on Facebook would only give me one chance to brag — and I want to brag 20 times, to 20 different people, and relive my joy every time.

And don’t worry. The lack of a post won’t make people think your kid is in jail, rotting away without a college acceptance letter. They’ll eventually figure out that your kid is in college the old-fashioned way — by asking their own kids.

Revel in your big news, and praise your child up and down the street to her face, but think about other people’s feelings and revel a little more quietly.

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Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs Coupons

By Free Times

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Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs

By Free Times

825 Main St., Columbia
5175 Sunset Blvd., Lexington
640 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia
1935 Broad River Rd., Columbia

Print these coupons for great food at a great price!

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2020 Vision Speaker Panel

By Free Times

Looking at Columbia’s Future

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Join business executives and community leaders for a complimentary continental breakfast at the Capital City Club for a discussion about:

Downtown Columbia
Five Points
The Congaree Vista

This is a continuation of the successful “Summer in the City” series of breakfast programs that focused on Downtown Residential Living, the River District Development, and Columbia Common (Bull Street).


Matt Kennell, President and CEO | City Center Partnership

Amy Beth Franks, Executive Director | Five Points Association

Meredith Atkinson, Executive Director | Congaree Vista Guild

Come and join the discussion. Space is limited. RSVP required to attend: Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone the club concierge at 803-2000.

Presented by:

Capital City Club, 1201 Main Street, Suite 2500, Columbia, SC 29201

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Resolutions You Can Work on With Your Kids

By Heather Green
Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions. From losing weight to saving money, we all look forward to positive changes in the New Year.

It’s a great time for the whole family to enjoy new beginnings. From preschoolers to teens, all children benefit from goals that produce good life habits.

“They’re still young enough that their habits are not firm,” says Christine Carter, author of **Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents**.

Teaching good habits — and the skills to work toward goals — are wonderful life lessons.

Here are a few helpful hints to help your family develop successful 2016 resolutions.

It’s All in How You Say It

No child or teen wants another task or chore, so make sure that chosen goals are specific, attainable — and, if possible, fun.

“It’s all about happiness! Present it optimistically — every day’s a new day, and you have a chance to reinvent yourself,” says Meg Cox, author of The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everyday.

Carter suggests starting out with last year’s accomplishments and then slowly suggesting what your child might want to work on this year. While you don’t want to make resolutions for your child, you do want to empower and guide them to make age-appropriate, attainable goals.

“This is how they take ownership of their goals and learn to plan,” Carter says.

Make sure to narrow down resolutions so that your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed or set up for failure. Guide your child in narrowing down a specific and manageable list while keeping their goals developmentally appropriate.

Also, while it’s important to follow up with your child’s progress, be careful not to nag them. Keeping resolutions fun and achievable will inspire long-lasting progress and results.

Make It a Family Affair

An entertaining way to keep the resolution momentum going is to make it an annual family tradition. Near January, sit down as a family and discuss improvements that you all would like to see in the upcoming year. Whether it’s taking family hikes, eating together around the table more often or unplugging once a week, working on goals as a family can improve family bonding and increase quality time together.

Let younger children dictate their thoughts to older children who can read and write; it’s important that all family members feel included and have a voice.

It’s also important that parents act as role models and follow through with the resolutions that are agreed upon. Making sure that you’re available for family game night or that you unplug when you expect your teen to — basically, practicing what you preach and being a great role model — will improve the overall success of your family’s New Year’s resolutions.

“Let’s not ask them to do more than we are willing to do,” says Carter says.

Once your family has decided on one or two resolutions, keep a reminder up on the refrigerator or family bulletin board to keep accountability.

“When you’re sitting down and sharing resolutions with each other, it makes the family closer,” Cox says. Not only will you have family goals for the upcoming year, but you’ll also take a few moments after a busy holiday to reconnect and communicate with each other.

Here’s to a happy and successful 2016.

Need Some Suggestions?

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the following list of age appropriate resolutions:

• I will clean up my toys.
• I will remember to brush my teeth daily.
• I will wash my hands.
• I will be friendly to all animals.
• I will play nicely with other kids.

5-12 years old
• I will drink water and milk daily instead of sugary drinks.
• I will wear sunscreen to protect my skin.
• I will find a sport I enjoy and spend more time outside.
• I will always wear a helmet when riding my bike.
• I will talk to a parent or trusted adult when I need to talk or feel stressed.

13 and older
• I will take care of my body through physical activity.
• I will choose nonviolent video games and TV shows.
• I will help out in my community.
• I will not text while driving.
• I will resist peer pressure and talk to a trusted adult about difficult decisions.

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FT Family Calendar

By Free Times
Planet Earth: Shallow Seas 4-D Experience
South Carolina State Museum
Date: Ongoing
Cost: $16.95; $15.95 seniors (age 62+); $14.95 children (ages 3-12); $7 members. All tickets include museum admission.

In this 15-minute epic 4-D adventure, hear the power of the ocean’s waves as they crash along the shoreline, and feel the salty spray as you surf the coast with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in search of food.

Rio: The 4-D Experience
South Carolina State Museum
Date: Ongoing
Cost: $16.95; $15.95 seniors (age 62+); $14.95 children (ages 3-12); $7 members. All tickets include museum admission.

When the last blue macaws on Earth, Blu and Jewel, are captured by bird smugglers, they must work together despite Blu’s inability to fly.

FROZEN Sing-A-Long Night
South Carolina State Museum
Date: Dec. 30
Cost: $13.95; $12.95 seniors and military; $11.95 children; free for ages 2 and younger

Enjoy a magical evening inspired by Disney’s Frozen, featuring a meet and greet with Anna and Elsa.

Lights Before Christmas
Riverbanks Zoo
Date: Through Dec. 30
Cost: $22 per scout/child (ages: 5–13); $10 per adult

Bring the kids and the camera to enjoy nightly visits with Santa, hot cocoa, marshmallows and nearly one million twinkling lights.

WOW! New Year’s Eve Kids
Downtown Columbia, 29201
Date: Dec. 31
Cost: Free

Before the adults ring in the New Year with a free concert by Lauryn Hill, kids get to enjoy amusement rides, carnival games and more on Main Street.

New Year’s Eve at Noon
EdVenture Children’s Museum
Date: Dec. 31
Cost: $11.50 (free for members)

Doors open at 9 a.m. for activities celebrating New Year’s Eve throughout the world. As the countdown to noon begins, a giant illuminated ball descends and lands at the foot of EDDIE.

Holiday Lights on the River
Saluda Shoals Park
Date: Through Dec. 31
Cost: $15 (cars); $25 (15-passenger vans); $40 (buses)

Features over 400 themed, animated light displays on a two-mile loop of the park.

The Polar Express 4-D Experience
South Carolina State Museum
Date: Through Jan. 3
Cost: $13.95; $12.95 seniors (age 62+); $11.95 children (ages 3-12); $4 members. All tickets include museum admission.

When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

South Carolina State Museum
Date: Through Jan. 3
Cost: $13.95; $12.95 seniors and military; $11.95 children; free for ages 2 and younger

A two-week celebration with a variety of activities like the “Holidays around the World” kick-off party, visits with Santa and performances by the Bright Star Touring Theatre.

Gladys’ Gang: A Tree for Me
Columbia Museum of Art
Date: Jan. 6
Cost: Free (reservation required)

Explore the lines, colors, and shapes that make up trees. Take a nature walk through the Independent Spirits exhibition, and create a tree painting with water and salt. Spaces are limited. Reserve your spot at Ages 2-5.

Passport to Art: Winter White
Columbia Museum of Art
Date: Jan. 10
Cost: Free (reservation required)

White can mean fresh snow, puffy clouds or a blank canvas. What does it mean to you?

EdVenture Children’s Museum
Date: Through Jan. 11
Cost: $11.50 (free for members)

Want to see some snow? At this winter wonderland, where children can climb Mount EdVerest, explore an ice cave and tube down Sled Hill, a 25-foot-long slippery slope. Along the way, children learn about the science behind the snow.

Family on Safari
Riverbanks Zoo
Date: Jan. 15
Cost: $45 per person

Discover how animals survive during the coldest time of the year in this overnight adventure. Admission for the park on the day following the event is included in ticket price. Dinner, snack and breakfast are also included.

Young Entrepreneur Expo
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
Date: Jan. 16
Cost: Free

These days, some enterprising young people start businesses while they are still in college — or even before. This free one-day expo will have a wide range of business workshops, seminars, and presentations from industry experts. Attendees and fellow exhibitors will have the opportunity to shake hands with both new and familiar faces of the community’s business leaders.

National Theatre Live: Treasure Island
Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
Date: Jan. 17
Cost: $15

Recorded at the National Theatre in London, this stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery brings Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny to life.

Main Street Ice
Corner of Main and Hampton Streets, 545-3100
Date: Through Jan. 19
Cost: $8 (opening day), $10; $8 (children 12 and younger), $8 (active military, seniors)

An outdoor ice skating rink comes to downtown Columbia.

Free Days at CMA
Columbia Museum of Art
Date: Jan. 19-29
Cost: Free

Engage your mind and enrich your spirit. Free days are offered in appreciation of the support of the City of Columbia and Richland Country and are sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

Day in the Life of a 19th-Century Child
Gift Shop at Robert Mills House
Date: Jan. 21
Cost: $7 ($6 for members)

Part of the Early Adventure series, this program helps children between the ages of 3 and 5 to see what life was like before tablets and TV.

Columbia City Ballet, Aladdin Tea
Koger Center
Date: Jan. 30
Cost: $25

Start your journey with Jasmine & Aladdin into Arabian nights with Aladdin Tea. This is a great way to introduce children to the narrated story of Aladdin a ballet that rides into a world of magic on his flying carpet.

The Snow Queen
Columbia Marionette Theatre
Date: Through Jan. 30
Cost: $5

When Kai comes in contact with a magic shard, he is whisked away to the castle of the Snow Queen. It’s up to Gerda to travel through the lands of Spring and Summer to rescue him.

Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In A Play!
Columbia Children’s Theatre
Date: Feb. 19-28
Cost: $10

Celebrate with your favorite characters from Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series.

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Discover Five Points

By Free Times
Five Points Fountain

Tyler Ansell
Property Manager
Station at Five Points

Q: How long have you been in Columbia?

A: I moved here from Tampa, Florida in July 2015, so right around six months. I’ve worked in student housing coming up on six, maybe seven years. Started out as a maintainance guy while still in college and worked in a lot of different roles all over the country before landing here in Columbia as property manager.

Q: What does Station at Five Points offer that other student housing complexes do not?

A: There are definitely a lot of benefits to living at the Station that you’re not going to get at other places. We have queen-sized memory foam beds and the only two-story gym in Columbia. But I think the biggest difference is our location in Five Points and the proximity to campus. Students are just a few blocks away from everywhere they already go. We want to be involved in this neighborhood; our location allows us to do that. The benefits to living at the Station are endless! Five years from now, this will be the most well-maintained complex in the city and a very integral part of the Five Points neighborhood. Students are going to be knocking on our door and signing leases as soon as spots open up; it will be the place to live in Columbia.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

A: That’s easy. Fishing.

Q: South Carolina barbecue, what’s your verdict?

A: I fell in love with mustard sauce growing up in Jacksonville at a place called Toby’s. I knew it could only be better here, and my expectations have definitely been met.

Save the Date

February 13, 8 p.m. The Attic

A South Carolina presidential primary event like no other! Music, speakers, comedy sketches, silent auction, voter registration with a twist. Doors open at 7 p.m. DJ Guy, along with others, will begin at 11 p.m.

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FT Family Media: Fire Engine No. 9, Finding Winnie, Rocknoceros

By Free Times

Fire Engine No. 9
Mike Austin
Random House Books for Young Readers, 40 pages, $16.99

Ages: 3-7

When I saw this book, my heart raced faster than a fire engine rushing to a fire. I couldn’t wait to hand it out to the many children who come to the library clamoring for books about firefighters and fire engines.

Fire Engine No. 9 pulls readers in with its bright bold illustrations that convey urgency and action. Austin proves masterful as both an illustrator and author. Using only the most essential text (“Fire! Fire! Fire!” Or “Whoosh!”), he tells the story while also inviting pre-readers to enjoy the book independently.

Adults will want to jump on board with this book for reading aloud, discussing the endpapers, which feature firefighters’ tools and equipment. From beginning to end, Fire Engine No. 9 is one of the best picture books featuring first responders and is not to be missed. — Heather McCue, Richland Library Children’s Room

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
Lindsay Mattick (author) & Sophie Blackall (illustrator)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 56 pages, $18

Ages: 3-6

Follow the delightful story of a black bear that captured the heart of a young veterinarian from Canada and inspired the favorite children’s book character, Winnie-the-Pooh.

On his way to take care of horses in World War I, Harry Colebourn bought a small bear cub from a trapper and named her Winnie after his hometown of Winnipeg. During the war, he left her in the care of the London Zoo where, later, A.A. Milne visited with his son, Christopher Robin, and was inspired to create his beloved character and stories.

Christopher Robin fell in love with Winnie and you will, too. This story is sweet and a pretty amazing family heirloom. The illustrations are whimsical and the storytelling, shared with love and care by the great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn, is personable and endearing. An instant classic! — Lori Cook, Richland Library Sandhills

One-Punch Man Volume 1
ONE & Yusuke Murata
Viz, 200 pages, $9.99

Ages: Teen

Saitama is a person of immeasurable strength and speed. His tragic origin: he worked out so hard his hair fell out. His noble mission: to be a hero for fun.

If you couldn’t tell by now, One-Punch Man takes the paper-thin tropes of many action manga and digests them through the absurdity that is the plainspoken Saitama and his ability to end any fight in one (fantastically illustrated) punch. Villains of all backgrounds threaten his beloved city — when really, he just wants to get to the grocery store before his favorite sale ends.

What began as a sketchily drawn webcomic has been refined to sheer eye candy and taken the manga and anime world by storm. — Thomas Maluck, Richland Library Teen Services


Reading Rainbow Skybrary
(Reading Rainbow, For Apple & Android, $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year)

At $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year, even avid Reading Rainbow fans may wonder if this app is really worth the price. It is. The unlimited subscription plan gives kids access to hundreds of quality e-books (each with a “read to me” option) and Reading Rainbow videos that are organized into themed Worlds of Reading. Parents who grew up with the show will love sharing old favorites with their children as well as watching new content featuring Levar Burton. The Skybrary is a perfect blend of vintage charm and modern technology. — Georgia Coleman, Director of Library Experience, Richland Library Main

FT Family book reviews are provided by Richland Library.


Jim Weiss (narrator) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra

The Nutcracker
Maestro Classics

It wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one viewing of the Nutcracker ballet. Tchaikovsky’s famous work is a traditional staple of the season and as such, more of a timeworn warhorse than a fresh, exciting experience for many.

Young children, however, might have never seen or heard it before; it is those little impressionable ears that this version has in its sights. Instead of a simple classical rendition of the famous music, this version includes storyteller Jim Weiss recounting the tale in his own captivating fashion. Once you get past him talking over the orchestra track, it is a wonderful way to introduce children to this classic holiday story.

Conductor Stephen Simon and the London Philharmonic Orchestra provide a more than adequate performance of the various set pieces that are so familiar to most of us that the mere titles evoke a melody in our head: “Battle with the Mouse King,” “Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Waltz of the Flowers,” to name a few. This isn’t a tinkly, faux-classical Baby Einstein recording, but a real orchestra, tightly conducted.

Weiss is a joy to listen to; the multiple award-winning storyteller has one of those Mr. Rogers kind of voices that comfort as they entertain, and he’ll captivate a child’s imagination with his expressive tone.

Don’t let this be a substitute for taking a child to the real, live ballet; rather, use it as an introduction and preparation. This way they won’t keep asking you what’s going on during the live performance — they’ll already know.

Happy Holidays From Rocknoceros
Rockno Records

Kids know that the holidays don’t start in December — they begin with Halloween (the big candy haul) and go through Thanksgiving (lots of food and going to grandma’s house) first, then comes the Christmas season and its big toy payoff.

This is one holiday collection that acknowledges that fact, beginning with “Halloween Masquerade” and continuing with “This Thanksgiving” before focusing on the more snowy side of things.

Rocknoceros is a fun family band kind of kid’s rock act. Their bright, happy style fits the material here nicely, whether it’s a familiar song such as “Good King Wenceslas”, present in a more percussive version than one might expect, or a silly tune like “O Christmas Brie” — an appropriately cheesy reworking of “O Christmas Tree.”

There is an inclusive nature to this collection, too, with a rocking “Dreidel Song” covering Hanukkah and “Auld Lang Syne” extending the festivities to the New Year. Everything on Happy Holidays From Rocknoceros is celebratory enough to make it a recording worth returning to each fall — another family tradition for the holidays.

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Holiday Baking for the Clueless

You Too Can Make Homemade Baked Gifts
By Anne Postic
I can’t bake. I don’t even do very well with boxed mixes — and I don’t get it, because chemistry was one of my favorite subjects in science, and I’m a decent cook otherwise.

I blame this on being left-handed, because if it isn’t that, then I’m just an uncoordinated slob (also a distinct possibility). The only time this really poses a problem is around the holidays. People bring me cute baked goods, homemade treats that taste delicious. I want to be that person! I mean, not really. But I do want to be able to make something homemade to give people, and a big pot of linguini is hard to transport. And weird.

After many years, I’ve picked up four recipes that are easy enough to make, appropriately kitschy, and simple enough that the kids can help. After all, it’s their fault I’ve been catapulted into a world where people bring each other homemade gifts. If you, like me, don’t have time for this, file these recipes away for an emergency. They’re listed here in order from hardest to easiest — so read to the end.

Caramel Sauce

This recipe was originally published in Ladies Home Journal. But they shut down the magazine and killed the website, so I had to hunt it down in a dark corner of the Internet. (Thanks,!)

I changed the recipe a little, so there’s no plagiarism here. Besides, generally speaking, lists of ingredients are not subject to copyright protection. (But full cookbooks are, so don’t get any ideas.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 cups sugar

¾ cup water

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1½ cups heavy cream

3 tbsp butter

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

1½ tsp ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

In a larger-than-necessary pot on the stove — the higher the sides, the better — combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar.

Bring to a light boil and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t go nuts on stirring, because the sugar grains will bump into each other and solidify. This is science.

Cook, without stirring, until you see caramel. The original recipe says this takes six minutes; I found it took about 20, maybe because I was afraid to overheat it. As the caramel cooks, brush down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush.

Remove from heat and stir in the cream and butter. Caramel will bubble like crazy, so pour slowly and keep a bowl of ice water nearby, in case you need to dunk burning flesh.

Congratulations! You made caramel! Now add the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves and it’ll be more awesome.

Let it cool and pour it into cute little mason jars. Mine are four ounces. Keeps in the fridge for about 2 months.

Ready to turn your homemade caramel into a gift? Buy some adorable labels at World Market or the Dollar Store and have your kids tie them on with kitchen twine. Extra points: Make labels out of torn pieces of paper bag — so very Etsy. Also, it’s cheaper than buying them.

Cheese Crackers

The beauty of these crackers is that you can make logs of the dough and freeze it, then take it out, slice, and cook whenever you’re ready. Even for after-work drinks. You’re so fancy.

You’ll need:

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

¾ stick unsalted butter

½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

dash of hot pepper sauce

1 ¼ cups sifted, all-purpose flour

Optional: caraway seeds or fresh herbs

Mix everything but the flour and optional seeds and herbs in a bowl.

Add the flour and mix it in thoroughly, until you’ve made a lump of dough. It’s a pain. Do it with your hands if that doesn’t gross you out.

Form into a log and wrap it in plastic.

Chill it in the fridge for at least three hours or pop it into the freezer for later.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Slice the dough into ¼ inch crackers and put them on baking sheets. Sprinkle with optional ingredients if you like. (I like caraway seeds, rosemary, thyme, dill, poppy, or sesame seeds.)

Bake until the edges start to brown, about 15 minutes.

Let them cool completely before you try to serve.

Note: If you freeze the logs for later, it would be nice to thaw them in the fridge before you slice them for cooking. But guess what — they’re easy to cut frozen, and they’ll turn out just fine. You may have to cook them for a minute or two longer. If you slice them while the oven is preheating, they’ll be almost thawed by the time you put them in anyway.

You can also experiment with the cheese. Any hard cheese will do, like smoked gouda or manchego. The nice thing about shredded cheddar is you can buy the cheap brand already grated, which makes one less step for you!

Spiced Nuts

Go ahead and make some of these for yourself, because you’ll want some, and they also freeze well.

You’ll need:

Nuts (whatever kind you prefer,
but I usually use pecans)

Butter or olive oil


For every cup of nuts, use about a tablespoon of butter, or a little less than a tablespoon of olive oil. As for herbs and spices, go for it. Your choice (though I’ve included some ideas below). There are two methods, stovetop and oven.

Stovetop: Heat the butter in a pan, stir in the nuts and spices, and push them around the pan for about ten minutes, or until they start to taste right.

Oven: Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 375°F. Cook for about 10 minutes, then toss in a bowl with melted butter or oil, and your flavorings of choice.

Let the nuts cool before you put them in cute little baggies. This is definitely an assembly line job for the whole family. If you have terrible handwriting, let the kids make labels. It’s cute when they have terrible handwriting.

A few seasoning options:

Salt, curry, cumin, and cayenne

Salt, pepper, and rosemary

Cinnamon, sugar, and cayenne

Old Bay Seasoning

Your favorite seasoning salt

My favorite seasoning salt, Seasonello from Bologna, which sounds fancy, but is available at the Piggly Wiggly

Feel free to mix your nuts, and toss in a few seeds if that’s your thing. Experimentation is the name of the game.

Lavender Shortbread

This is the biggest cheat of all time (because it’s so easy), but a chef once asked me for the recipe, so here you go. The kids can make these all by themselves while you take a shower or read a book.

You need:

A log or three of sugar cookie dough from the store, whichever brand
has the least corn syrup

Lavender Salt (I like Beautiful Briny
Sea brand)

Slice the log as instructed, then cut each round into four smaller cookies.

Put the cookies on a baking sheet, but do it kind of messy, so it looks like you formed the dough yourself.

Sprinkle them with lavender salt.

Cook as instructed.

Final step: See final step of spiced nuts.

Look at that. You made stuff. Remember that part of the joy of giving homemade gifts is that they aren’t from a professional. It may seem like everyone but you has taken a cake decorating class, or that their banana bread is a secret family recipe. (It isn’t. It’s from the Pillsbury cookbook. I can make you a copy.)

A homemade gift is supposed to say, “I care about you, so I made this,” not, “Aren’t I fantastic?” Of course, my gifts say something like, “I care about you, but I was impatient to come have a cocktail with you, and I figured the kids needed something to do, so … here. Would you like me to mix the drinks?”

Other Easy Recipes to Google
  • Homemade Chex mix, an ‘80s classic
    Haystacks, a ‘70s classic
    Rice Krispie Treats, which you can dress up for the holidays
    Instant Russian Tea Mix, which has nothing to do with tea and requires Tang
    Homemade vanilla extract (takes time, but is as easy as it gets)
    Marinated olives, which are just olives with extra flavor
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    Gamecocks v. Florida Gators 2015 - Print Edition

    By Free Times

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    A Slice of Life After the Flood

    Kids Contribute to Relief Efforts
    By Kara Meador
    These pizza delivery boys aren’t old enough to drive, but that doesn’t stop the three of them from pulling a wagon full of pizzas for two-and-a-half hours around the Pine Glen community in Irmo.

    A neighborhood where kids their age used to shoot hoops in their driveways has been eerily transformed into a place where people — many of them strangers to those they are helping — pick through the remainders of other people’s lives, trying to salvage the pieces.

    “It just looked like a tornado hit,” says Misty Burton, the mother of 9-year-old twin boys Tradd and Jackson and 4-year-old Hampton. “There was stuff everywhere. There were people everywhere. There were cars. You could barely drive through the neighborhood. I didn’t really know how to prepare them for that.”

    Nonetheless, she says, “It was important for me that they see it.”

    Like many local parents, Burton wanted to do something to help friends and neighbors. With schools closed and much of the Midlands shut down, family members brought youngsters out in droves to volunteer, determined to use the flood as time to give children a lesson in empathy, compassion and helping others.

    “You can’t get that in any other way. It only comes back to you, and you only have those feelings when you are serving others,” Burton says. “How do we raise children who don’t feel entitled? Trying to teach them to serve and not always being served. That requires action.”

    At The Cooperative Ministry in downtown Columbia, Marvell Mendenhall brought her 9-year-old granddaughter, London, to help organize donations.

    “We’ve been blessed and now we can be a blessing to others,” Mendenhall says.

    They weren’t directly affected by the flood, but they know many people who were.

    “I like helping out,” London says with a big grin. “There was a big family and they brought loads of stuff.”

    Nearby, close to a load of donated towels and blankets, is Stephanie Whitson, second chair bassoonist with the South Carolina Philharmonic. The orchestra’s Oct. 9 performance was postponed because of the flood; that’s given her a little time to help. With her are her 17-year-old twin sons.

    “Not only did they help The Cooperative Ministry, but the next day they went to their school, Spring Valley High School, to help with a food and water drive,” Whitson says.

    In Lexington County, 9-year-old Norah Steagall held a supply drive in her neighborhood then took the items to an overflow donation center set up by Lexington Interfaith Community Services.

    “I’ve never seen anything like this before — hundreds of young people called to action,” says Christi Steagall, Norah’s mom. “You want them to be one of the first people who say, ‘How can I help?’ That’s good parenting,” Steagall says.

    Back in Pine Glen, the boys start winding down, exhausted after a long and emotional day. They started out with 24 pizzas and a cooler full of water. Four-year-old Hampton is no longer screaming, “Do you want pizza?!” to the people working nearby. Instead, he’s plopped himself in the back of the red wagon, his big brothers pulling him as he holds remaining pizzas on his lap.

    That’s around the time their mother took a picture of them and posted it on social media with this caption:

    “Boys, I hope you remember what you saw today. What it looks like to have your furniture and mattress and pictures and everything you’ve worked for in a heap on the side of the road. I hope you remember that people called YOU the blessing and you made them smile. I hope you remember that helping people really helps your heart more. I hope you remember that hope sometimes comes in the form of pizza in a wagon. Love, mama.”

    Burton is adamant that what her family did was minuscule compared to others who spent days and weeks helping people affected.

    “So many people did so much good,” she says. “I wasn’t looking at it like look what my kids did … I just wanted them to remember. I want them to remember later in their life — hey, we did that and hopefully seeing a picture like that when you’re older makes you want to continue to chase after the feeling of helping someone else.”

    Helping Kids Understand the Flood
    “During this crisis, children can be upset and asking questions about how and why this has happened, and it can often be challenging to answer their questions in a way that provides comfort,” says Karen Coltrane, president and CEO of EdVenture Children’s Museum.

    EdVenture has produced a fact sheet about the flooding and suggestions on how to answer questions from your children.

    EdVenture suggests that caregivers can help their children by:

    Answering questions in clear, factual terms they can understand

    Patiently repeating answers, because children need repetition

    Respecting your children’s emotions, even if different from your own

    Listening carefully to your children and creating a safe, calm environment for conversation

    Reassuring your children that adults are working hard to keep them safe and helping people who were harmed or whose homes flooded

    Talking to your child about the important work of police, fire & rescue, EMS, National Guard and all first responders

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    FT Family Media

    By Kevin Oliver
    Music Reviews
    by Kevin Oliver

    Andrew & Polly
    Odds & Ends
    Palindrom Records

    Whether you’re writing for adults or children, these days it’s not enough just to make great music. Andrew and Polly make whimsical folk-pop for children, but they have also gained a following for their Ear Snacks podcast, which they trumpet as being created “for kids, by kids.” It features all sorts of silliness and lots of music, and it would most likely be thoroughly enjoyable for your little ones.

    The duo takes its off-kilter sensibility into its songs on this new album, putting things such as fruit, birds and The Beatles into a childlike perspective.

    “Fruitphabet” is the best at carrying over the podcast style to a song. What at first sounds like it will be a singalong about fruits starting with various letters of the alphabet turns into a what-will-they-come-up-with-next blast as the letters inspire sillier and sillier lines.

    Parents will recognize several tracks, including covers of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” and The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” Neither reach the kind of recast preciousness Elizabeth Mitchell has perfected, but “Forever Young” is refreshingly different and kid-friendly enough to fit well here, and I don’t know anyone who can resist singing along to “Here Comes the Sun.”

    Speaking of singing along, or at least shouting, the duo’s cheesy but fun re-arrangement of the Ghostbusters theme song makes one wonder why nobody has thought to put it on a kid’s album before.

    Lisa Loeb
    Nursery Rhyme Parade
    Furious Rose / Amazon Prime

    One might wonder if we really need another album of the traditional nursery rhymes. Take a listen to Lisa Loeb singing them, however, and this might become some of your favorite versions of these overly familiar tunes.

    Loeb is better known to some of us as the pop singer behind the 1994 hit “Stay (I Missed You)”, but she has also been writing and performing children’s music for a while now, including collaborations with Elizabeth Mitchell. Her almost childlike vocals are well suited to the genre, but she never comes across like she is playing a part.

    All of the old favorites are here, from “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to the “ABC” song, “Pop Goes the Weasel”, “London Bridge” and more. The production is spare, with some songs only featuring Loeb’s voice and some hand claps, others including a kids’ chorus, and most with little more than a guitar for musical accompaniment.

    Loeb’s warm, friendly style translates well even onto these well-traveled tunes, so toss out that generic nursery rhyme CD you’ve been suffering through and substitute these wonderfully rendered versions instead.

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    Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

    By Amy Reeves
    As a mom of three young children, a young-adult book writer and an English professor, sometimes I’m so busy I leave my coffee on the roof of my car when I drive away from Starbucks. Consequently, although I love Halloween because it’s a chance to be creative and have fun with my kids, I’m the mom who finds herself the week before Halloween with zero costume plans.

    The adorable homemade bubblegum machine costume I found on Pinterest, and swore in June I would make this fall for my baby’s first Halloween — yep, that never happened. But because I’m in this pickle almost every year, I’ve become an expert at pulling together last-minute costumes for my family.

    First, I’ve learned to get creative with what’s already in my closet. When my son was a toddler, I pulled out a grey sweatshirt and sweatpants. I ran down to a nearby craft store and bought some yellow and grey felt and fake fur. With the felt, I made a large crown. I sewed large grey claws onto the edges of the sleeves, and with the fur, I pinned a tail on the rear seat of the pants. Boom. I had a Max from Where the Wild Things Are running around my house. (And yes, I was so busy on Monday morning, that at preschool he still had the felt claws on his jacket from weekend trick-or-treating. Oops.)

    Another year we pulled out some black sweatpants and sweatshirts, bought two black ski masks, and told our daughter and son they were ninjas for Halloween. They had fun showing off their moves to neighbors for extra candy and the ski masks came in handy as the cold weather set in.

    I’ve also learned that old church and wedding clothes come in handy. That little tuxedo outfit your son wore as ring bearer to a wedding — the one that was too expensive and he only wore once? By putting that on, he could be anything from a little James Bond to a scary butler. One year, I pulled a tweed jacket from my son’s closet, bought him a red bow tie and a Sonic Screwdriver, and he wowed the neighborhood as Dr. Who. Take that overly frilly flower girl dress your daughter wore, slash the skirt with a razor and draw some stitches on her face with mascara, add a black wig, and she can be the bride of Frankenstein.

    Also, zombies are never out of style. These costumes are scary and simple and there’s an array of twisty paths one can take with the zombie costume. Vintage zombie costumes are always fun — think old black skirts or slacks, overalls, newsboy hats, white blouses, steampunk-style shoes and boots. Create some rips and tears here and there, splatter the clothes with some craft red paint or food coloring for blood, and add some dark shadows under the eyes with makeup. Or you could go with the more recognizable Walking Dead zombies where you just take everyday clothes, rip them up and add the fake blood stains; then, in addition to the dark eye shadow, draw some cool facial rot with black and red lipstick. (Incidentally, our family — baby included — is opting for a zombie Halloween this year.)

    A “no-frills” costume always works, too. These are great last-minute costumes for teenagers who just want to walk around the neighborhood filling their pillowcases with candy. My college students — busy and on small budgets — are pros at these types of costumes. The sheet-ghost is always a hit. Yes, that’s right, a plain white sheet with cutout eyes. The costume is classic, novel, and a great gesture to It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. And speaking of the great pumpkin, another option is to pull out a pumpkin trash bag, stuff it with paper, and you are, officially a giant pumpkin. (Add orange face paint and a felt hair leaf for extra credit.) Finally, anyone can be a devil. Just wear whatever you have on, add a headband with devil horns, and suddenly you’re wicked cool.

    Tips for Last-Minute Inspiration

    For young children, browse their favorite books.

    I found inspiration from Where the Wild Things Are. I’ve heard stories from others who have pulled together simple costumes for beloved book characters such as Harry Potter or Junie B. Jones. I’ve heard of someone pulling off the princess from The Paper Bag Princess with a paper grocery sack and a large fake crown. (For the record, she was so much cooler than the bazillion little Elsa trick or treaters.) Here’s a link to a great list of children’s book characters that transform easily into awesome costumes:


    I’m not really a Pinterest person, but dang … when it comes to costumes and Halloween decorations, the site has a lot of great ideas.

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    Columbia SC Real Estate

    By Free Times
    Homes for Sale

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    $284,900 - Gorgeous All Brick 5BR/2.5BA on Pond. Home Looks Brand New! Open Flr Plan. S/S Appliances. Neutral Colors. 5 min. to Lake Murray. Irmo Schools.Janice Foy Dinkel 803-261-8001 Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate, Inc.

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    3BR / 2BA / 2,073 sq. ft. $127,000 Contact Madison Ballagh, (803)319-0754. RE/MAX Metro.

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    50 ACRES - 0 Old Dunbar Road MULTI USE LAND - 50 ACRES approx. 8 miles SW of Columbia & USC, 3/4 mile SE of Cola Metro Airport. Great for multiple uses. Call for information. $299,500. Contact Ray Stoudemire 803-960-3083 with Russell and Jeffcoat Real Estate, Inc.

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    Commercial for Sale

    AUTO BODY SHOP for Sale - North Myrtle Beach, SC. Great location, Towing on-site. Principals only. Ken Sibal, Coastal Business Brokers, (843) 467-1507.

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    The Side Line: USC vs Vanderbilt - Print Edition

    By Free Times

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    The Global Guide to Decorating

    This holiday season, use a variety of colors and techniques to bring cultures from all over the world into your home
    By Free Times
    Looking for a fresh approach to holiday decorating? Try thinking beyond candy canes and dreidels and go global. An expansive decorating theme is especially appropriate to set a warm, inviting tone for an open house or party that includes a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Highlight your holiday and toast others’ traditions. Here are some ideas for decking your halls in a worldly way.

    It’s More Than a Door

    Whether decorating for family or for a fiesta, the entrance to your home is the first impression holiday-hungry eyes will take in. It sets the tone, and that tone should be inviting. Make it magnificent and make it celebrator, but keep it simple and clutter-free.

    For a quick and easy do-it-yourself project, HGTV suggests substituting the traditional winter wreath with an outdoor planter filled with greens. Add some color by including solid-hued ornamental spheres or other vintage jeweled pieces. Don’t have the right jewels for the pot? Use bold, textured ribbon — think metallic (golds, silvers, coppers) for an unbiased but festive look – and tie around the base or lid. You, your family and guests will feel welcome before even crossing the threshold.

    Think Region, Not Religion

    If you are feeling more secular this season you can still vamp up your diverse decorating. Go beyond borders and celebrate a region of the world that is new to you. Mix it up with a Mediterranean holiday theme. Or go with an Asian influence and celebrate the Chinese New Year. The possibilities are endless – from Venezuela to the Virgin Islands, Latin America to Lithuania, devote your décor to a new land. Pick a theme and browse the international section at a local bookstore for inspiration, surf the Web or ask a friend. However you pick your place, make a list of ideas, concepts and traditions unique to that area that you want to incorporate and get creative. Remember, it’s your theme so the possibilities are endless.

    Let There Be Light

    Hanukkah isn’t the only festival of lights. The African tradition of Kwanzaa and Sweden’s Santa Lucia Day shine, too. Whether inside or outside, lighting can change the mood instantly. For outside highlights, Pamela Patsavas of Distinctive Event Productions in Chicago suggests the latest trend: bulbs attached to stakes in the ground or secured and draped from the bows of trees. Change bulbs to amber to give off a warm glow rather than a stark whitewash. And you don’t have to spend a fortune for this sparkle.

    “You can illuminate your house for the holidays for less than $50,” Patsavas says. “Go to the local hardware store and look for flood lights with a hint of color for an instant transformation.”

    When taking your luminous look inside, go beyond Santa’s red and white and cover bulbs with various strips of multicolored cellophane to change the hue of any room. Have a more subtle vision? Combine candles of different colors, shapes and sizes to express your continental consciousness. Try arrangements of white or beige, accented with golds or silvers. Again, combining different metallics makes for a modern medley.

    For Patsavas, the sky is the limit when it comes to interior illuminating. Rope lighting under cabinets enhances a kitchen or dining room. If the spotlight will be on food, though, stay away from blue and green bulbs, “they’ll make your apps less than appealing. With pink and peach tones, everything looks good,” she says. Entertaining? Make your room look instantly larger with lights that shine from the four corners. Give depth to the den by placing lights in plants. And if you aren’t looking for a new lighting strategy or can’t change the chandelier, “put your existing ones on dimmers and you’ll get the ambiance you’re looking for with the touch of a button,” says Patsavas.

    Scents of the Season

    Seasonal flowers do more than just decorate. They add festive fragrance and flair. But pass on the poinsettias and think outside the box. For floral designer Peggy O’Dea of Zezé Florist, New York, this means passing on traditional colors and going with what works with your interior. Forego what the holidays normally call for and, “pick the most beautiful flowers with one traditional accent — like a beautiful bright arrangement of orange roses with one festive pine cone.” Keep it current and go with the metallics to highlight but stick with matte colors for a Zen look that is up to date. Or focus your florals for a more specific look to highlight one holiday.

    Tweak the traditional blend of pine tree branches and evergreens and give a dramatic nod to St. Nick with a combination of rich red grapes, apples and plums. Small bunches of red rose buds will enrich this palette. For African acknowledgement, place a centerpiece of muhindi (ears of corn) on a mkeka (straw mat). Keep it close to Kwanzaa with red, green and black candles. Celebrate warmer climates with kumquats and lemons in silver bowls, or arrange on moss lined silver trays. Or use the pineapple, a symbol of hospitality, to draw attention to any table. To complete the look, O’Dea suggests skipping the garland on the mantle draping fabric instead.

    The Season for Texture

    Draping the mantle isn’t the only way to use fabric to send your global message. The quickest way to update or change the look of your home is to change the accessories. Think of your house like your favorite black dress – switching up the little details creates an entire new look. Changing throw pillows and blankets gives your house a holiday overhaul. And a new look doesn’t have to break the bank. Using homemade slipcovers keeps this makeover budget-friendly. For your tropical look, pick a sheer, lighter knit. Thick, textured blends work for your Russian, winter wonderland. Think chenille, velvet or faux fur. For the ultimate luxury, splurge for a cashmere throw. Soft and warm — synonymous with what you want this season.

    So while the weather outside might be frightful, your diplomatic décor will be internationally inviting. Whether the pinnacle of your season is Christmas or the Chinese New Year, let go and let your open-door policy flow.

    Holiday Trimming Around the World
    Need to decorate on the dash? Use these tips for global holiday must-haves from the Berlitz Language Center:

    Colors: Blue and white
    Menorah - Nine Candles: Eight for each night, one for lighting the others
    Dreidel: Symbols on each side create the message ‘A great miracle happened there’
    Gelt: Money given to children after candle lighting ceremony

    Colors: Black, red, green candles called mishumaa saba
    Kinara: to hold candles
    Ears of corn: one for each child

    Colors: red and green
    Legend of Santa Claus
    Christmas tree

    Chinese New Year
    Color: red
    12-year cycle calendar with each year devoted to an animal: rat, ox, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig
    Festival of Lanterns

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    How to Infuse Your Own Booze

    By Free Times
    Canning, jamming, pickling — when it comes to our food and drink, it’s all about DIY these days. Many mixologists (both pro and amateur) are taking matters into their own hands and jars, putting everything from jalapeños to grapefruit into their favorite vodkas. But it doesn’t stop with ‘vitamin V.’ You can also add your personal touch to other spirits such as gin and tequila.

    What You Need

    Short answer: not much more than a large Mason jar or two. Simply fill it with the spirit and ingredients of your choice, sit back, and let nature run its course.

    Picking Your Poison

    You can’t go wrong with your favorite brand, but mid-range spirits are favored. Recommendations from vodka-infusing veterans include Tito’s, Absolut, Smirnoff Triple Distilled and Reyka, an Icelandic vodka.

    Flavor Savors

    Mixologist Tomas Delos Reyes of New York, experiments with different flavors both at work and at home. “In my restaurant Jeepney, I infuse vodka with jackfruit, a fruit native of the Philippines. I usually like to let that sit for at least two days before serving. Others that I’ve made at the restaurant are mango with bird chilies, pineapple with jalapeño, and at home I’ve experimented with infusing Reyka with Palo Santo wood, which gives it a woodsy spice and a light perfumed note to it.” Delos Reyes has learned that when it comes to wood, time is quite literally of the essence — one small piece overnight was all he needed.

    Ava Chin, former Urban Forager blogger for The New York Times and author of the memoir Eating Wildly, has infused vodka with foraged wild violet flowers and leaves she’s collected in Brooklyn (in the form of a simple syrup), and plans to serve it this spring with foraged Sichuan peppercorns.

    For those newer to infusing, here are five recipes that are easy to make and sure to impress at your next gathering.

    Jalapeño Vodka
    Courtesy of: Tim Walker, Head Brewer and Mixologist, Small Batch Beer Company
    Great for: Bloody Marys

    Method: “We use two jalapeños per 750 ml bottle of vodka,” Walker says. “If you want a milder infusion, leave the seeds of the jalapeños out. If you aren’t afraid of some real heat, leave them all in. The infusion process takes anywhere from one to five days. The longer the jalapeños are left in the vodka, the hotter the finished vodka will turn out.”

    Earl Grey Tea-Infused Gin
    Courtesy of: Liz Scholz, Beer Spectacles
    Great for: Gin and tonic

    Method: With a half-liter of gin, add three tea bags and infuse for just three hours. “The tea adds that nice bergamot flavor and cuts the astringent bite of the mid-shelf gin,” Scholz says.

    Lemongrass Blood Orange Vodka
    Courtesy of: Elizabeth Palmer Starnes, Elizabeth Palmer Kitchen
    Great with: Blood orange juice, a squeeze of lime, topped up with tonic

    Method: Add three blood oranges, zested and juiced, and two stalks of lemongrass, (bashed up a bit) to two large Mason jars and fill to the brim with vodka. Let it steep for at least a week, maybe two.

    Fig-Infused Bonded Rye
    Courtesy of: Sam Meyer, Cocktailians
    Great for: Whiskey sours, Manhattans or straight with a squeeze of lemon.

    Method: Cut up both fresh and dried figs (about 10-12 each) into quarters or smaller. Add them to a Mason jar with 2-3 bottles of high proof whiskey (Meyer prefers 100-proof Rittenhouse Rye these days). Shake daily for three weeks, then strain fig pulp and pieces with cheesecloth and enjoy.

    Pineapple Ginger Jalapeño Tequila
    Courtesy of: Elizabeth Palmer Starnes, Elizabeth Palmer Kitchen
    Great for: Margaritas, on the rocks with a salted rim and lime wedge.

    Method: One pound pineapple (cubed), one jalapeño (sliced and deseeded), and a one-inch long chunk of ginger (peeled and chopped). Add all to two large Mason jars and fill to the brim with tequila. Palmer comments: “You can make this spicy by leaving the seeds in the jalapeño, but be careful, they’re strong!”

    About Time

    Certain creations need a few hours, others several days or weeks. As a general guideline, Palmer advises to let your infusions steep in a dark, cool place for at least one week and up to two. “Strain your infusion through a fine strainer lined with a cloth napkin, and keep your finished product in a cool place out of direct sunlight,” Palmer says.

    This article originally appeared in Paste, Feb. 2014.

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    With Holidays Coming, The Time to Plan is Now

    By Katie Alice Walker
    There are 62 days until Dec. 1.

    If just thinking about the word “December” frightens you, you’re not alone. The mad dash of hosting friends and family, finding the right gift for your officemates and decorating your home to exude seasonal spirit can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive. And it often starts with Thanksgiving in November, so your best bet is to plan ahead.

    Read on for tips and tricks for getting ready, including some hints from a local wedding planner and interior designers on creating a holiday plan for your home.

    Now’s the Time for that Makeover

    The key to holiday planning is thinking ahead. Fast forward to your parents’ arrival for a three-day stay. If you’ve envisioned them sitting on a new pair of club chairs, or propping their feet up on a new coffee table, the time to buy those items is now. If a new pair of lamps might brighten up your guest bedroom, this is the time to make your move.

    “This is a great time to touch up paint, hang pictures or update a room with that new furniture you’ve been eying,” says Blair Harris, who along with her business partner, Kristin Williamson, own Travertine, an interiors shop located in The Shops at Cricket Newman Design (2710 Gervais St., “Keep in mind that most furniture lines take 8-12 weeks to ship, so go ahead and place orders now to have them in time for the holidays.”

    If you’re thinking of reupholstering furniture or having the couch your dog loves professionally cleaned, the advice is the same: Now’s the time to make those appointments.

    “It’s also nice to make your guests comfortable, so it’s a great time to take a look in your linen closet and make sure you have adequate towels and sheets,” Williamson says. “Another nice touch for out-of-town guests is having a bathroom stocked with shampoo, blow dryers and other necessities. Extra phone chargers in guest rooms and an out-of-the-way spot for storing suitcases is also nice.”

    Getting a Handle on Food

    When it comes to hosting houseguests, perhaps nothing is more daunting than figuring out what you’ll feed everyone. Avoid the incessant indecisive discussion about who’d rather have steak and who would rather go out for Thai food by planning in advance.

    “Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead cookbook lets you prepare meals and appetizers in advance of guests arriving so that you can enjoy your friends and family instead of spending the holiday in the kitchen,” Williamson says. “Pre-made casseroles and delicious caramel cakes and cupcakes from The Happy Café on Forest Drive also make things easier.”

    Planning for a Party

    Or maybe this is the year you’d like to invite a few of your closest friends for a holiday party. We all know that parties that start out small and intimate can often mushroom. Now’s the time to take a look at glassware if you’d prefer not to serve cocktails from plastic cups, and if you entertain even once or twice a year, plain wine glasses are available relatively inexpensively, likewise for cloth napkins and glass plates to serve food.

    But it’s not all about buying, buying, buying when it comes to decorating your home for the holidays. Jessica Rourke, a Columbia wedding planner and stylist whose work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, The Knot and many other publications, recommends an effortless holiday look, using items you might already have on hand.

    “Over the past couple of years, a few friends and I have gathered at the beginning of December to make fresh garlands and wreaths that I can have adorn the front door of our house and mantles,” Rourke says. “Those add such a great organic, natural touch to the house and also smell amazing.”

    Another nice touch, Rourke says, is vintage glassware.

    “Over the years, my mom has passed down her love for vintage glass Christmas bulbs,” she says. Now, she she says, she collects her own and puts them together in large bowls to use as centerpieces.

    As a wedding planner, Rourke knows how to throw a party.

    “Prepping in advance is key,” she says. “I like to finish all décor, arrange all the florals and bring out all of my serving pieces the day before. Then on the day of the party, it’s just prepping food and finishing touches. A relaxed host creates a relaxed party environment, which sets the tone for a fun night.”

    Rourke also recommends aiming to light candles, bring out appetizers and press play on your holiday playlist about 20 minutes before guests arrive. That gives you a few minutes to enjoy all of your hard work and a clean house.

    “I also like to present the food in stages throughout the party so that there is an interactive element throughout the evening with new food coming out,” said Rourke says.

    When it comes to decorating and entertaining at home for the holidays, Rourke says it’s important that your holiday décor truly reflect the way you like to decorate your home.

    “Be true to your aesthetic by creating and identifying your look — and continuing it throughout your home,” she says.

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    FT Family Media

    By Kevin Oliver

    Various Artists
    Dreams are Made for Children: Classic Jazz Lullabies
    Secret Mountain

    Another gem in a series of storybook/CD sets from the folks at Secret Mountain, this collection of jazz standards will be a bedtime accessory that mom and dad, not to mention grandma and grandpa, will enjoy as their little ones drift off to the timeless voices featured here.

    The book accompanying the sounds is richly illustrated, colorful yet muted. Featuring lyrics to all of the songs on the CD along with brief explanations of who the performers were and why they were important in the jazz scene, it reads like a child’s book even on its own.

    Pair a reading of the book with the musical companion disc, however, and the words will come alive in the voices of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Mel Torme, Billie Holiday and more. These are not dumbed-down or re-recorded versions, either, but original takes from the artists in their prime; the mastering is pristine, with no discernible difference in quality or sonic structure from one track to the next, regardless of the era.

    What better way to help your child fall asleep than with “Goodnight My Love” from the sweet voice of Sarah Vaughan, or Nat King Cole as he sings to “My Sleepy Head (Go to Sleep),” complete with a quick spoken “good night” as the tune ends. Read the first couple of song lyrics as you’re putting the kids to bed, leave this playing, and they’ll surely have sweet, jazzy dreams all night.

    Jose-Luis Orozco
    Come Bien! Eat Right!
    Smithsonian Folkways

    Getting kids to eat their vegetables — or just eat good stuff instead of candy and junk food — is every parent’s struggle. Latino children’s musician Jose-Luis Orozco offers up this batch of food-related songs and sing-alongs in hopes that singing about good eating habits will help the lessons stick with children longer.

    A bilingual disc with 19 songs in both Spanish and English versions, the album comes with complete lyric books for both; the printed lyrics could be a great help for teachers wanting to use these songs in the classroom. The bilingual versions likewise can turn a language lesson into an educational eating experience as well.

    Orozco plays in a gentle folk-acoustic style throughout, with some Latin percussion accenting the simple takes on “La Comida en mi Plato (The Food On My Plate)”, for example. Many tracks have spoken introductions, creating the illusion of Orozco surrounded by a group of children, or joined at a group dinner table, perhaps.

    The four food groups are well documented on “Whole Grain Bread”, “Veggies” and more. Orozco also has some fun with silly songs such as “Compadre, Buy Me a Coconut,” and he turns the Latin American folk standard “De Colores” into an accordion-led food sing-along, “Tasty Colors.”

    Put this one on at your next meal and sing along as you nosh, learning and eating at the same time.


    Superhero Comic Book Maker
    Duck Duck Moose
    For Apple products
    Ages: 6 and up

    This easy-to-use app lets children create their own comics. Kids can select scenes and characters, record their own narration and add text bubbles and sounds effects to bring their very own superhero story to life. Great for developing narrative skills and imaginations. If you like this one, Duck Duck Moose has an app called Princess Fairy Tale Maker that’s worth trying, too. — Rebecca Thomas, Richland Library


    Kevin Henkes (author and illustrator)
    Greenwillow Books, 32 pages, $17.99)
    Ages: 3-7

    Kevin Henkes is a master of the picture book and his latest title is no exception. With simple text and illustrations, Henkes tells the story of toys waiting on the windowsill for something to happen. For each toy, it’s different — rain, wind or snow. Henkes manages to communicate love without being cloying and allows space for children to dream. A masterfully produced picture book that begs for families to read it again and again, Waiting is a perfect gift. — Heather McCue, Richland Library

    My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)
    Peter Brown (author and illustrator)
    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 40 pages, $14.99
    Ages: 4-8

    Poor Bobby’s teacher is the worst — or is she? With one strong gust of wind, Peter Brown takes young readers on a whimsical journey through the age-old battle of perspective. From paper airplanes to the park, My Teacher is a Monster is the perfect family read-aloud for back-to-school. Created using a combination of India ink, watercolor, gouache, pencil and wood-free paper, Brown’s illustrations are equally as inspiring as the story. — Laura Morris, Richland Library

    The War that Saved My Life
    Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    Penguin Young Readers Group, 320 pages, $16.99
    Ages: 9-12

    In England, Ada sits at the window watching the world go by. She isn’t allowed outside because of her disability. The only bright spot in her life is her brother, Jamie, who seems to be leaving her behind. Then Hitler and his armies threaten to invade England. All of the children in London, including Ada and her brother, are evacuated to the country. Once they arrive, she and Jamie find themselves living with Miss Smith, a woman who doesn’t appear to want them. Quickly, Ada discovers that appearances aren’t always what they seem. She also comes to understand that she is much stronger and more determined than she ever dreamed. Together with Jamie, Miss Smith and a pony named Butter, she starts to understand what “family” means and what it truly means to be loved. — Heather McCue, Richland Library

    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power
    Ryan North (author), Erica Henderson (illustrator)
    Marvel, 128 pages, $15.99
    Ages: 9-12

    Doreen Green is a young woman with the proportional speed and strength of a squirrel — as well as a trusty companion squirrel named Tippy-Toe. Doreen can speak squirrel. She has enrolled in computer science classes in college and gets along great with her classmates and roommate, but the cosmic being Galactus is en route to devour the Earth and a girl’s got to hustle, you know? In keeping with Ryan North’s accessible, rapid-fire wit and Erica Henderson’s silly, colorful illustrations, ridiculous obstacles keep Doreen from confronting Galactus. Doreen’s mission to “kick butts and eat nuts” should delight both younger readers new to superheroics or older readers who like seeing tropes turned on their head. — Thomas Maluck, Richland Library

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    Homework is the Worst

    Tips For Nudging the Process Along
    By Anne Postic
    Confession: I’m terrible at getting my kids to do homework. Ask their teachers. I hate it, and I’ll do anything to get out of it.

    When I come home, I want to hang with my kids while I cook, enjoying their company. (This has been the most surprising thing about being a parent: I love talking to my kids, and I’m not a kid person.) Thanks to homework, however, we can’t relax. If they enjoyed my company like I do theirs, our evenings would be a lot more fun. They’d finish working in the afternoon in anticipation of kicking it with their super-cool parents. Yeah, right.

    Over the years, we’ve had varying degrees of success with homework, and plenty of failure. Here are a few things that worked at different ages, at least some of the time.

    1. Novelty. First graders love homework. They fake-complain about it with relish. Your big challenge here is recognizing the kid who’s a true perfectionist and gets distraught about the quality of their work. Make them take a break, hug them, and get back to it later.

    2. Bribery. When our oldest son was in elementary school, his teacher assigned homework at the beginning of the week, due on Friday. It wasn’t a lot of work, but it was a struggle. I tried explaining how it would enhance his learning experience, and that starting early would mean getting it over with sooner. When that didn’t work, I gave up and told him if he finished it by Wednesday morning, he would get a “homework reward,” which usually meant a trip to the Rosewood Dairy Bar for a milkshake and fries. It worked.

    3. More time. In spite of their slacker ways, my children are perfectionists. I’m a perfectionist/procrastinator, and it’s painful. You freeze with grandiose visions of what you could accomplish. With an hour to go, that vision isn’t happening. A patient parent would help them. Or force them to do it. What do I do? Depends on the kid. One of mine is a natural early riser, and can wake up to finish. Some kids are willing to take a step back and do the minimum, just to get it over with. Once — just once — I let my ninth grader call in sick for a whole day to finish a paper. In my defense, he got a prize in middle school for not missing a single day.

    4. Let them know it’s just homework. I wish I had learned earlier that sometimes the best you can do is the best you can do, and it’s fine. One assignment is not your whole career.

    5. Change of venue. My husband and I always have more work we could be doing. He takes a kid to his office, and they work together. I’ve taken them to a coffee shop, where the ambient noise — and hot chocolate — can be motivating. Sometimes, just moving from the living room to the dining room can make a difference.

    6. Help them. Have you ever made a mistake, or waited too late to start something? Helping kids with homework once in a while teaches them empathy, not laziness.

    7. Take a break. Five minutes, maybe a whole hour. If you have a temper, and your kid has a temper, a break might be the only way to get it done.

    8. Teach humility and honesty. In college, if I didn’t finish an assignment on time, I’d say to my professor, “I apologize. I didn’t finish. I know this is inconvenient. I’ll understand if you say no or have to lower my grade, but may I please hand it in Wednesday?” They always said yes. Honesty is refreshing, always and everywhere. Coach your kids, let them practice, and don’t let them ask by email. They’ll learn to look people in the eye and admit fallibility. I have plenty of experience with this one.

    When the tears, yours and theirs, are flowing, it’s hard to put things in perspective. No one homework assignment will keep them from succeeding in life and being happy. If you can remember that, the work may not always get finished, but you’ll sleep better. So you’ll be well-rested when you start over the next night.

    How To Get Out of Helping Your Kids with Homework
    A Tongue-in-Cheek Guide to Evading Your Parental Duties

    Here are a few tips to make homework someone else’s problem:

    1. Blame your spouse. Tell them they never do anything to help, and it’s their turn. Make a list of all the things you do that they don’t. Sigh. Loudly.

    2. Tell your kids you skipped whatever grade they’re in, so you can’t help with the homework. It’s true in my case, at least when they’re in fourth grade, but feel free to ad lib.

    3. Prepare a speech for teachers about how important it is that kids take responsibility and learn from their mistakes. Use a variation of this speech with other parents when your kid flunks out of school.

    4. Savor a dry martini and explain to your kids that you don’t have to do homework, because you finished high school, college and graduate school. Even if “graduate school” consisted of a master’s in social work that you’ve never actually used, other than to mess with your kids’ heads and get information out of them when you can tell they’re lying.

    5. Tell them you have homework, too. Furrow your brow, hide in your room with a laptop, and catch a few episodes of whatever you’re binge-watching on Netflix. Keep a Word document on the screen and be quick with the trigger finger, so you can hide Netflix when they barge in to ask questions about their real homework.

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    2015 Tour of Homes Plan of the Week

    By Free Times
    For a copy of the 2015 plan book featuring 41 homes, contact the Building Industry Association of Central S.C. Look for the 2016 Tour of Homes in June.
    (803) 256-6238 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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    Tales from the Tailgate

    By Sean Rayford
    Photos by Sean Rayford
    One block down the street from Bank of America Stadium, there’s a little place called The Dog House. It has beer, liquor and televisions — and for the first game of the 2015 football season, many North and South Carolina college football fans, discouraged by high ticket prices, found it a good spot to root for their teams. Ticket prices ranged from $70 to $258 — “Super Bowl prices,” Steve Spurrier quipped. And even though many Tar Heel and Gamecock fans had wished they were on the inside of the stadium, watching your team just outside the venue in a local watering hole is like none another. By the first quarter, you’ve shared a few high fives and hugs, and by the second quarter you can even remember some new names. By the third quarter, people are trying to bribe you with booze, thinking your presence is a good-luck charm. And by the fourth quarter, you’ve got 30 or 40 new best friends. It isn’t the same as being inside the stadium for the battle of the Carolinas, but that’s the beauty of it.

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    Kentucky Nightmare

    By James Harley
    The Gamecocks enter to “2001” before the Kentucky game Oct. 5, 2013. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina
    Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to return to those days when one could assume an automatic victory over Kentucky?

    Well, the past is past, no matter how not too distant it is, thanks to last year’s unexpected letdown. Though to be honest, the new sense of skepticism applies more to the season as a whole than to the single game against the Wildcats. In other words, as bad as things may get, the Kentucky game actually still provides a beacon of hope for Gamecock fans who crave any sign of returning to those 11-win glory days.

    At the same time, there is optimism among the Kentucky faithful that third-year coach Mark Stoops is building a program that will finally change the fairly entrenched perception of the Wildcats as just another SEC bottom-feeder. In two years, Stoops has lifted this team from consecutive 2-10 seasons in 2012 and 2013 to a 5-7 record last year, the closest Kentucky’s come to a winning season since 2009. Stoops is optimistic about the future as well, fueled by the three top-40 recruiting classes he’s landed during his short tenure.

    Still, preseason oddsmakers see Carolina as the better team, favoring the Gamecocks by a touchdown at home. That’s a fairly safe call, given that the last two meetings have each been won by a score (each team’s won once) and that Kentucky has never won a night game at Williams-Brice Stadium. But even with Carolina predicted to win, Kentucky’s rise is cause for concern. And while vengeance for last year’s loss should motivate the Gamecocks, there are some on-field matchups that need special attention in order to secure a victory.

    Kentucky’s primary advantage is clearly at quarterback. While South Carolina could still be testing multiple inexperienced signal-callers, the Wildcats return junior Patrick Towles, the SEC’s fifth leading passer in 2014. Highly productive, Towles threw for 2,718 yards last season, and he completed 70 percent of his passes in the win over Carolina. While Towles lost key receivers in Demarco Robinson and Javess Blue, leading wideout Ryan Timmons returns, as do experienced sophomores Dorian Baker, Blake Bone and Garrett Johnson. Like Carolina’s, Kentucky’s receivers are young, but the overall experience level in terms of playing time and production is substantially higher on the Wildcats’ side.

    Kentucky’s offensive advantage may also extend to the running back position. Leading rusher Stanley “Boom” Williams returns along with Jojo Kemp, who ran for three touchdowns in last year’s game, including two in the fourth quarter to bring Kentucky back from a 14-point deficit, and still haunts Carolina fans’ dreams.

    Indeed, the strength of Kentucky is its offense, which improved its per-game scoring average from 21 points in 2013 to 29 points last season and which is expected to continue to improve. On the surface, this may seem especially problematic given that Carolina has been lambasted for its poor defense. But as disappointing as last year’s loss was, much of the blame for it must go to the offense, which turned the ball over in several key instances — virtually handing the game to Kentucky when it was on the line.

    So what gives Carolina the advantage this time around? Other than having the home field, it’s a holistic thing where we have to hope that this year’s team is simply bigger, faster and less prone to fourth-quarter miscues than last year’s. Most agree that it wasn’t so much Kentucky’s strengths as Carolina’s weakness that downed the Gamecocks. The idea that the Wildcats’ win was a fluke is reinforced by the fact that Kentucky went on to lose its final six games.

    Hopefully, that’s true. If it is, we should expect to see a double-digit victory for the Gamecocks. If it’s not? Then we can expect a long and painful season. Gamecocks 41, Wildcats 27.

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    Gentleman Baller

    A gentleman off the field, T.J. Gurley gets mean on it
    By Chris Dearing
    Senior defensive back T.J. Gurley pumps his fist after making a big third-quarter hit against Georgia on Sept. 13, 2014. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina
    As a reporter, you’re supposed to be impartial. But T.J. Gurley is one of those student-athletes that you can’t help but pull for. The South Carolina senior spur from Cairo, Georgia, is always smiling in interview sessions. He delivers answers in a slow Southern drawl, preceding his responses with a “Yes, sir” or “No, sir” nearly every time. He seems laidback and honest, and not one bit coached up.

    But in between the white lines of the football field, Gurley unleashes a mean streak that’s earned him the reputation as one of the Gamecocks’ hardest hitters. He likes it that way just fine.

    “I’ve never really been one to shy away from contact,” Gurley says. “I think being physical is one of my best assets as a player.”

    Co-defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward — who was known for playing at full speed when he was a safety at Alabama — sees a little bit of himself in Gurley’s game.

    “He’s not scared of anything,” Ward says. “He will get in your face and lay the wood. It makes receivers think when they’re coming across the middle. That’s never a bad thing.”

    Gurley has manned the safety spot for three seasons, but new defensive co-coordinator Jon Hoke moved Gurley to the spur, a hybrid linebacker/safety position. Gurley believes the move suits his skill set a little better, as he’s now closer to the line of scrimmage and can get more physical.

    “The switch has been better for me,” Gurley says. “It takes everything I do well and lets me help the overall defense better. We’ll be straight this year.”

    “I just have to read my keys,” he continues. “I have to be like a linebacker sometimes: I have to be a corner in Cover One, and then I have to zone read like a linebacker in Cover Two — hold off a seam and stuff like that. I have to know what the offense is doing and know where my key is on the field. I feel like it fits my skill set a lot because I can tackle and cover. It’s a good position for me.”

    Ward agrees that switching Gurley to the position, which requires a player to be physical enough to play close to the line but athletic enough to cover wide receivers, will pay dividends for both player and team.

    “He’s closer to the box,” says Ward, referring to the defensive area between the offensive tackles extending approximately seven yards deep in the defensive backfield. “He’ll be blitzing and be in position to tackle a lot more. T.J. is a safety who I think plays better when closer to the line of scrimmage.”

    Senior defensive back T.J. Gurley intercepts a third-quarter pass intended for East Carolina’s Justin Hardy on Sept. 6, 2014. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina

    Gurley’s aggressive play got him on the field as a true freshman in 2012. He was one of four true freshmen that played in the season opener, and he later made two starts. His first came against Missouri, when he had to replace a suspended D.J. Swearinger. His second came against Florida, during which he suffered a season-ending knee injury in punt coverage.

    “Yes, sir, that was tough to overcome,” says Gurley. “I had never really had a major injury like that, so I had to work hard in rehab and do everything I was supposed to do to get back on the field.”

    He played in all 13 games as a sophomore, making two starts against Georgia and Arkansas. He started strong, registering 20 tackles in the first two games of the season, but sputtered to a disappointing season, recorded just 10 more tackles over the final 11 contests.

    Gurley bounced back last season, when he was one of the highlights of a struggling defense. He was second on the team with 80 tackles, 49 of which were solo stops. He had at least five tackles in every regular season game, and picked his second career interception against East Carolina.

    Gurley has high hopes that the Gamecock defense will return to form during his senior season.

    “We’re staying humble and listening to the coaches,” Gurley says. “We have to play our technique this season and everything will be good. We’re just trying to be a great defense and go out and do what coach Hoke is telling us to do.”

    That this is Gurley’s final season hasn’t really dawned on him yet; he doesn’t think that will creep into his mind until his final home game. But at this point, he wouldn’t trade the journey for anything. He was around for two 11-win seasons and wants to erase the sour memory of the 2014 season. He thinks the defensive unit will make that happen.

    “We need to get back to playing our style of ball and we’ll be a lot better,” Gurley says. “We missed a lot of tackles last year and didn’t listen to what coach told us to do and we were doing our own thing. We have to get back to our roots. We’ll be fine.”

    Spoken like a true Southern gentleman.

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    Gamecocks v. Kentucky Wildcats 2015 - Print Edition

    By Free Times

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    Basement Cat

    Wildcats can haz quick offense, but no can haz defense
    By Chris Dearing
    The student section comes alive as “Sandstorm” is played before the Kentucky game on Oct. 5, 2013. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina
    South Carolina fans still have nightmares of Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp running roughshod through the Gamecocks defense. The Wildcats scored 21 points in the final eight minutes last season to come back from a 14-point deficit to defeat South Carolina, handing the Gamecocks their second straight fourth-quarter loss. Kentucky opens Carolina’s home slate Saturday, and the Wildcats hope to work that magic again.

    Kentucky started 5-1 a season ago but faded down the stretch, and didn’t qualify for a bowl. Mark Stoops is entering his third season as Kentucky’s head coach, and a revamped offensive attack has long-suffering Kentucky fans hoping a bowl game is in the near future. Stoops brought in former West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson to revive the Air Raid attack the Wildcats utilized in the late 1990s.

    Quarterback Patrick Towles, who accounted for more than 3,000 yards of total offense last year, will be the triggerman of the attack. He will have plenty of weapons at his disposal in running backs in Boom Williams and Kemp. The receiving corps will be led by Ryan Timmons, Blake Bone, Dorian Baker, Garrett Johnson and Jeff Badet.

    “It’s one of the most experienced offenses in the league,” says Carolina co-defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “It’s going to be a challenge to slow those guys down.”

    The Wildcats lost defensive standouts Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith, but have talented transfers Melvin Lewis and Ryan Flannigan up front. Defensive deficiencies caused Kentucky’s season-closing skid; if the Wildcats hope to become bowl-eligible in year three of the Stoops era, an improvement on that side of the ball is a necessity.

    Three to Watch
    Jon Toth, C
    Toth, a junior on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, is one of the nation’s best centers. He’s the best of four returning starters on the offensive line — one that stymied the Gamecock pass rush during last year’s upset win. A year more experienced, the line could pose problems for a retooled Gamecock D-line.

    Boom Williams, RB
    It was Jojo Kemp who ran wild over Carolina last year, but Williams is equally a threat. As a true freshman, Williams ran for three touchdown runs of more than 50 yards, a kickoff return for 75 yards en route to 1,159 all-purpose yards as a true freshman. When Williams finds space, he can do some pretty nasty things — but he often runs straight into trouble.

    Melvin Lewis, DT
    Ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith combined for 12 sacks last season. With Jason Hatcher suspended for the game there is concern on how Kentucky’s defensive front seven will hold up against a balanced South Carolina attack. The burden to pressure the quarterback falls on Lewis, a 6-foot-4, 332-pound wrecking ball who’s a borderline-elite player.

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    From the Abyss

    Can Jon Hoke and the Tampa 2 turn the Carolina defense around?
    By Scott Hood
    South Carolina’s J.T. Surratt, left, and Skai Moore wrap up South Alabama running back Kendall Houston during third-quarter action on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina
    Overlooking nothing after a frustrating 2014 season in which the Gamecocks blew three seemingly insurmountable fourth-quarter leads, Steve Spurrier put the shaky South Carolina defense under the microscope in January shortly after the Gamecocks returned from the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. Upon close inspection, Spurrier saw a disconnect between coaches and players, and a unit saddled by stale schemes and fraught with inadequate talent, enthusiasm and energy. New eyes, new voices and new perspectives were essential to pull the defense from the abyss, Spurrier decided.

    His solution? Lure his old friend Jon Hoke away from the NFL and make him the chief decision-maker and play-caller for the Gamecock defense — even if he were to share the defensive coordinator title with Lorenzo Ward, who’s been at Carolina since 2009.

    Since joining the program in early February, Hoke has focused on four key areas: assignment, alignment, technique and key (that is, focusing on specific players).

    “Those are the four things we need to make sure we’re sound in, then continue to make sure we understand the importance of getting takeaways in the football game,” Hoke says. “College football players are just trying to develop fundamentals like everybody else. I don’t see it as much different than a rookie mini-camp [in the NFL].”

    What you won’t find on Hoke’s list of priorities is scheme. Hoke firmly believes technique trumps tactics. In other words, even the most ingenious scheme amounts to nothing if you lack players capable of lining up correctly, playing with full effort, recognizing offensive formations and executing proper fundamentals and discipline when the ball is snapped.

    Redshirt junior Jordan Diggs upends up Kentucky’s Alexander Montgomery during third-quarter action on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. New defensive co-coordinator Jon Hoke moved Diggs from spur to strong safety. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina

    That’s why Hoke set out to simplify the Gamecock defense with an objective of allowing the players to play instinctively without thinking too much or playing too fast.

    “We’ve got a simple scheme,” says Ward. “The guys are getting better. When you have good players, you can play simpler.”

    Carolina’s base scheme will be the 4-3 — four down linemen, three linebackers — with a number of subpackages, including the five-defensive back nickel package, the Tampa 2 (similar to Cover 2, except the middle linebacker drops into deep middle coverage; the scheme prioritizes speed over size) and the zone blitz, wherein a defensive lineman to drop into coverage to replace a blitzing linebacker or defensive back.

    However, as Carolina demonstrated last season, poor tackling poisons all the water in the well.

    “Hopefully, we are much better tacklers,” says Spurrier. “We’ve practiced it pretty well. We’re teaching guys to take the right angles and use your teammates to help you. Hopefully, it will pay off. But I tell our guys all the time that practice is practice. You need to practice well, but then you need to take it to the ballpark. Our coaches have certainly put in the time and effort to make this defense of the best we’ve had here. Time will tell how we’re doing.”

    Carolina’s poor tackling technique was clearly evident to Hoke when he watched video of last season’s games.

    “If you can’t tackle on defense, it’s hard to play defense,” he says. “You have to leverage the ball. There’s always going to be somebody inside-out and always somebody outside-in. If you leverage, you will tackle with the proper shoulder.”

    “Don’t overthink it,” he continues. “Somebody is going to make a lot of money on a manual talking about tackling, but it’s really about leverage on the tackle, which is where you’re coming from and which arm and leg are free. If your outside arm and leg are free, you tackle with your inside shoulder. You should always tackle with your leverage side.”

    How many tackles did Carolina miss last season? A lot, Ward concedes.

    “We didn’t play very well in space and so we missed a lot of tackles,” Ward says. “Hopefully, we’re better now. I think the entire defense has taken it to heart, the way we played, execution of assignments, the whole nine yards.”

    Even before Hoke’s arrival, Gamecock coaches set out to transform the front seven of the defense, particularly the underperforming defensive line, which struggled to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The pass rush was virtually nonexistent last season (see: the Clemson game) as the Gamecocks finished dead last in the SEC in sacks with 14 and amassed just 27 quarterback hurries. By contrast, Gamecock opponents had twice as many hurries.

    Video rarely lies, and the Gamecocks defensive linemen, for whatever reason, were unable to fight their way through blocks last season. As a result, Carolina signed six new defensive linemen on National Signing Day in February. Three from the junior college ranks are expected to contribute immediately: Greenwood, South Carolina, native Marquavius Lewis, who quickly landed starting role at defensive end; Ulric Jones; and Dante Sawyer.

    “We’ve got some players that have done pretty well in practice, and hopefully they will do well in the games,” Spurrier says. “If not, we’ve got some young guys and some junior college guys that are ready to go. We have some competition up front this year that maybe we didn’t quite have last year.”

    Lewis was one of the top JUCO defensive ends in the country last year, and he seems to be the pass rusher Carolina was lacking in 2014. But can he terrorize SEC quarterbacks? Saturday’s game will offer clues.

    Big and fast, the 6-foot-3, 291-pound Sawyer displays the rare combination of mobility and quickness to play defensive end, but he has the size and strength to excel at the three-technique defensive tackle spot (meaning he lines up on the outside shoulder of a guard), one of the most important positions in Hoke’s 4-3 scheme because he is responsible for generating pressure on the quarterback through the middle.

    South Carolina defensive co-coordinator Lorenzo Ward on the sideline against Texas A&M on Aug. 28, 2014. The Gamecocks allowed 680 yards against the Aggies; head coach Steve Spurrier hired Jon Hoke as defensive co-coordinator during the offseason. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina

    “[Sawyer] is a D-end that is playing three-technique,” says Ward. “He’s a smart, intelligent, instinctive player. He is playing the three-technique because that is what he is in this system. The No. 1 position you want to recruit in this scheme is a three-technique, because that guy has got to be dominant. He is going to be in a lot of one-on-one situations. It works well for us to have a guy like Dante, who was recruited as a defensive end but weighs 280, 290 pounds and can move. It’s a good position for him to be in.”

    Beside the additions of the new players, Carolina’s defensive coaches hope veteran linemen who failed to fulfill expectations in 2014 — players like Darius English — experience a bounce-back season. If they do, that will increase the chances for a defensive line rebirth.

    Even the youthful secondary added a key piece: Isaiah Johnson, a graduate transfer from Kansas. Johnson, a fifth-year senior safety, should provide much-needed experience and maturity to the third level of the Gamecock defense.

    Multiple freshmen were baptized by fire last season, but Johnson is a proven commodity. He racked up 148 tackles and six interceptions in two years with the Jayhawks, earning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors in 2013. He was Kansas’ second-leading tackler in 2014 with 75 total stops.

    “I really like Isaiah back there,” Spurrier says. “He is a very mature young man going into his fifth year. He wants to play for a winner; that’s why he transferred. He has been a good leader and a good player for us at safety.”

    In order to squarely fit his players with the physical demands of each position, Hoke made a couple of important personnel decisions in the spring: senior T.J. Gurley was switched from safety to spur linebacker (the fourth linebacker employed when Carolina faces spread offenses); Jordan Diggs — who’s taller, bigger and faster than Gurley — shifted from spur to strong safety.

    Gurley’s unrelenting physical style should find an ideal home on the second level of the Gamecock defense, as he will frequently line up in the box and help defend the run as well as cover tight ends and slot receivers when opposing quarterbacks throw the ball.

    “He loves to tackle, so you have to like that about a safety,” Ward says. “He’s playing the nickel role in our spur defense, so he will have the opportunity to do that a lot more. He’s closer to the box. T.J. is a safety who plays better closer to the line of scrimmage. He probably holds the key to the defense. We’ll blitz him or drop him in coverage. He does a lot of things for us.”

    Last year’s linebacking corps returns en masse, led by Skai Moore, Carolina’s leading tackler. Moore (middle linebacker), Jonathan Walton and Larenz Bryant (outside linebackers) sit atop the depth chart at the three spots.

    Until the end of camp, the Gamecock coaches double-trained Walton and Bryant to play on both the weak and strong sides.

    “You have to double-train them,” Ward says. “In this system, if you have some smart guys, it will work out well for us in the future if we can get them double-trained, because if one goes down you can keep your best players on the field by moving one to other position and bringing another guy on.”

    If the season-opening game against North Carolina is any indication, the Hoke’s adjustments seem to be working. The revamped Gamecock defense yielded 440 yards but held the Tar Heels’ uptempo offense to 13 points in the win, thanks in large part to Skai Moore’s two end-zone interceptions. There were still tackling problems in the secondary, and the pass rush was largely ineffective, but the performance still offers promising returns.

    The real tests, though, will come when the Gamecocks open SEC play.

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Opera

    By Free Times
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    Columbia College

    Nov. 9 Opera Scenes

    The Met Live in HD
    The Metropolitan Opera’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of live performance transmissions returns. Select shows will be broadcast at Sandhill Stadium 16 with IMAX and Columbiana Grande Stadium 14. Visit or for details.

    FBN Productions, Inc. - Opera for Kids
    Bringing the joy of operatic storytelling to children of all ages since 1994.

    March 7-April 4 Spring Tour

    Newberry Opera House
    1201 McKibben St., 803-276-6264

    Jan. 26 Madama Butterfly – Opera by Puccini
    April 25 Newberry College Opera Scenes

    Palmetto Opera

    Feb. 20 Verdi’s Rigoletto (Koger Center)
    May 14 Great Voices From Broadway to Opera (Johnson Performance Hall)

    USC - Opera at USC
    This season Opera at USC presents two fully staged productions and an evening of one-act operas. Tickets are $25 for general admission; $20 for seniors, USC faculty/staff, military; $7 for students. Season tickets are $45; $30 for seniors, USC faculty and staff and military.

    Nov. 6-8 La Périchole by Offenbach (Longstreet Theater)
    Feb. 26-28 Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini (Drayton Hall)
    April 11-12 Speed Dating Tonight by Ching (School of Music Recital Hall)

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Film

    By Free Times
    The Nickelodeon's presents Docs Now! Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll on Sept. 21.
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    Arts at Shandon
    607 Woodrow St.,

    Sept. 25 Night at the Cinema

    Columbia Museum of Art
    1515 Main St., 803-799-2810,
    Oct. 20 Cine Cola Film Festival

    Columbia College

    Oct. 11 A Woman on Paper (SCETV documentary)
    Nov. 15 Georgia O’Keeffe

    Half-Moon Outfitters
    2912 Devine St., 803-929-0771

    March 16 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

    Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
    7300 College St., 803-407-5011

    Feb. 13 Valentine’s Cinema: Roman Holiday
    Feb. 21 Sing Along with The Muppet Movie
    April 23 Pops Series: Sci-Fi in Hi-Fi (SC Philharmonic)

    Native American Indian Film & Video Festival
    Soliciting entries through Sept. 28; see website for details.

    Nov. TBA

    Newberry Opera House

    Nov. 11 Last Days in Vietnam (presented by Vets with a Mission)

    Nickelodeon Theatre
    1607 Main St., 803-254-8234
    Film schedule is updated continuously; see website for details.

    Aug. 30-31 Merchant of Venice
    Sept. 4 First Friday Lowbrow Cinema Explosion: Slaughter High
    Sept. 7-16 The Apu Trilogy
    Sept. 11-17 Docs Now!: Do I Sound Gay?
    Sept. 20 Those Who Feel the Fire Burning
    Sept. 21 Docs Now!: Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll
    Sept. 23 Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes
    Sept. 28 Docs Now! They Will Have to Kill Us First
    Oct. 2 First Friday Lowbrow Cinema Explosion: Blood Freak
    Oct. 4 Othello
    Oct. 5-26 Agnès Varda Retrospective
    Oct. 27-28 Ann Arbor Film Festival Program
    Nov. Columbia Jewish Film Festival
    Nov. 2 The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
    Jan.-Feb. Art Doc series
    April 13-17 Indie Grits

    Richland Library, Main Branch
    1431 Assembly St., 803-929-3457
    Screens various literary-themed movies and film series. Satellite branches screen films, too.

    Sept. 16 Kurosawa to Bergman: Films From Around the World (Northeast)
    Oct. 21 Kurosawa to Bergman: Films From Around the World (Northeast)
    Oct. 29 Bad Art: Bad Movie Edition - Troll 2

    S.C. State Museum

    Nov. 8-Jan. 3 Star of Bethlehem (planetarium)
    Nov. 8-Jan. 3 The Polar Express: The 4-D Experience (4D Theater)

    Tapp’s Arts Center
    1644 Main St., 803-988-0013

    Oct. 9 Second Act Film Festival

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Art

    By Free Times
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    701 Center for Contemporary Art
    701 Whaley St., 803-779-4571
    Housed in the former Gallery 701 and dedicated to providing exhibition space for contemporary art and live/work space for artists.

    Sept. 11-Oct. 25 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial Part I
    Nov. 5-Dec. 20 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial Part II
    Jan-Feb 2016 Solo Exhibition Kristy Bishop

    About Face
    Artists’ group dedicated to portraiture and figural drawing. Meets at the Columbia Museum of Art.

    Anastasia and Friends Gallery
    1534 Main St, 803-665-6902
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Presents diverse and eclectic exhibitions in the front of the Free Times office; a hot spot during the monthly First Thursday art crawls.

    Sept. 3 Kara M. Gunter, Creatural

    Artista Vista
    Held the last weekend in April, Artista Vista is a free, three-day gallery crawl during which Vista galleries and studios open their doors late on Thursday night offering complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres. Galleries open again on Friday and Saturday and often feature artist demonstrations during that time.

    Apr. 21-23 Artista Vista

    Arts at Shandon
    607 Woodrow St., 803-771-4408

    Oct. 18 Paint Palooza
    March 13 Submissions for Art Contest received
    April 10 Art Contest Winners Announced
    April 11-May 12 Art Exhibit in the Atrium

    Benedict College Ponder Gallery
    1600 Harden St., 803-705-4605
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Presents works by African-American artists.

    Sept. 17-Nov. 7 Cotton Culture: The Art of Winston Kennedy
    Oct. 8-Dec. 4 Visual Conversations (faculty art and art history research exhibition)
    Nov. 17-Dec. 10 Fall Graduating Senior Exhibition

    City Art Gallery
    1224 Lincoln St., 803-252-3613,
    Presents local and regionally oriented exhibitions and artist talks, as well as art classes, art supplies.

    Sept. 10-Oct. 10 Thomas Crouch, Subject Matters: More Paintings
    Oct. 15-Dec. 31 Dan Smith, US, A Civil War Artwork
    Jan. 7-Feb. 27 Tom Thompson, Then and Now Assemblage and Collage
    March 3-April 2 Photography by Ed Shmunes
    Apr 4-23 Photography and Artwork by USC students
    April 28-June 25 Tiles and Paintings by Carol Pittman

    Columbia College and the Columbia Museum of Art celebrate Georgia O’Keeffe’s Columbia connection (she once taught at the college) during the 2015-16 season. Pictured: Anything (Red and Green Trees), on view at the Columbia Museum of Art Oct. 9 through Jan. 10.

    Columbia College Goodall Gallery
    1301 Columbia College Dr., 803-786-3899

    Sept. 8 Gallery reception for Envisioning O’Keeffe
    Through Sept. 27 Envisioning O’Keeffe
    Oct. 9-Dec. 27 Sanctuary and Spirit: Images of O’Keeffe by Todd Webb
    Oct. 10 Gallery reception for Sanctuary and Spirit
    Jan. 8-Feb. 7 A Natural Wonder: Exploring Georgia O’Keeffe’s Columbia College Story (K-12 juried exhibition)
    Feb. 14-March 27 South Carolina Creative Couples
    April 9 Senior Art Majors Exhibit Reception

    Tonya Gregg’s work is part of Columbia Museum of Art’s exhibition Independent Spirits: Women Artists of South Carolina beginning Oct. 9.

    Columbia Museum of Art
    1515 Main St., 803-799-2810,

    Through Sept. 13 From Marilyn to Mao: Andy Warhol’s Famous Faces
    Through Sept. 27 Identity (community gallery)
    Through Jan. 10 Celebrating the Life and Art of Leslie Pierce (community gallery)
    Through Jan. 10 The Art of Joseph Norman
    Oct. 9–Jan. 10 Georgia O’Keeffe: Her Carolina Story
    Oct. 9.–Jan. 10 Independent Spirits: Women Artists of South Carolina
    Feb. 5–May 1 REMIX: Themes & Variations in African-American Art
    Feb. 5–May 1 African-American Art from the Collection

    Crooked Creek Art League
    Meets on the third Monday of each month. Features speakers of varied artistic backgrounds.

    Dr. Sketchy’s Columbia, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Formed in Brooklyn, Dr. Sketchy’s is an “anti-art” alternative art school where artists draw glamorous underground performers in an atmosphere of boozy conviviality. Contact for details.

    Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County Bassett Gallery
    810 Lyttleton St., 803-425-7676

    Oct. 22-Nov. 20 Jeremy Butler (sculptor)
    Oct. 22 Opening reception for Jeremy Butler (sculptor)
    Dec. 1-Jan. 15 Camden ART Members Show
    Jan. 15 Opening reception for Camden ART Members Show
    Jan. 28-March 4 Southern Exposures: From the Mountains to the Sea
    Jan 28. Opening reception for Southern Exposures: From the Mountains to the Sea
    March 17-April 1 You Gotta Have Art Celebration
    April 7-May 6 Al Beyer
    April 7 Opening reception for Al Beyer
    May 17-20 Camden ART Honors Show
    May 17 Opening reception for Camden ART Honors Show

    First Thursday on Main
    Monthly art crawl on Main Street stretching from the 1200 block to the 1700 block and involving numerous business and organizations, including the Tapp’s Arts Center, One Columbia, Palmetto Luna, Anastasia & Friends Gallery, Arcade Mall, Nest, Carolina Hair Studios and more.

    Sept. 3 First Thursday

    Gallery 80808 and Vista Studios
    808 Lady St., 803-252-6134
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Oct. 7-19 Claire Farrell/Grace Rockafellow
    Oct. 28-Nov 9 Heidi Darr-Hope — 20 years of Healing Icons
    Nov 18-30 Vista Lights
    Dec 2-7 Midlands Clay Arts
    Feb 2016 Laura Spong at 90

    Gallery West
    118 State St., 803-207-9265
    Fine art paired with antiques and contemporary crafts.

    Sept. 15-Nov. 1 Captured: The Photography of Seven
    Nov. 17-Dec. 31 New Work and Installation by Jocelyn Chateauvert, Paper Artist

    HoFP Gallery
    2828 Devine St., 803-799-7405
    Established in 1967, HoFP Gallery offers custom framing and presents occasional art shows.

    iF ART presents works by David Yaghjian Sept. 25 through Oct. 10.

    iF ART Gallery
    1223 Lincoln St., 803-255-0068
    Presents high-quality contemporary art in the heart of the Vista.

    Through Sept. 12 Peter Lenzo: New Works 2013 – 2015
    Sept. 25-Oct. 10 David Yaghjian Solo Exhibition
    Sept. 25 Opening reception for David Yaghjian Solo Exhibition
    Oct. 23-Nov. 14 Dorothy Netherland Solo Exhibition
    Oct. 23 Opening reception for Dorothy Netherland Solo Exhibition
    Nov. 19 Vista Lights
    Nov. 27-Dec 20 Exhibition TBA
    Feb. 5-28, 2016 Laura Spong: The 90th Birthday Exhibition
    Feb. 5 Opening reception for Laura Spong: The 90th Birthday Exhibition

    Log Cabin Art Guild
    Sept. 12 Gel Printing with Myrtle Robinson

    Over the Mantel Gallery
    3142 Carlisle St., 803-719-1713
    Sept. 17 Reception for Salley McAden McInerney, My Columbia

    Palmetto LUNA Arts
    1830 Henderson St.,
    Multidisciplinary organizer and promoter of Latino-focused arts. Active at First Thursday on Main Street. Henderson Street gallery is open by appointment only.

    Redbird Studio and Gallery
    2757 Rosewood Dr., 803-727-2955
    Pieces are created on the pot­tery wheel and then fired with glazes and slips from local mate­ri­als. Offers classes for children and adults.

    S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Museum
    301 Gervais St., 803-737-8095,
    Through Jan. 3 Trench Maps: Military Cartography on the Western Front, 1914-1918

    S.C. State Museum
    301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921 (weekdays)
    803-898-4978 (weekends),

    Through Jan. 31 Threads: The Story in Our Clothing
    Through Feb. 6 Carolina Makers
    Sept. 19-TBA Time and Place: The Artwork of James Fowler Cooper
    Sept. 26-May 22 Julius Caesar: Roman Military Might and Machines

    Studio Cellar
    912 Lady St., 803-929-0709
    Art and wine studio, no prior experience needed. Also presents exhibitions.

    Sept. Introducing resident artists Alex Denka, Jonathan Inkley, Lauren Chumley, Anne Frazier
    Oct. 1-15 Alex Denka: Architecture and Perspective
    Oct. 15-30 Alex Denka: Color and Movement in Southern Charm
    Nov. 1-15 Jonathan Inkley: Japanese Culture Study
    Nov. 15-30 Jonathan Inkley: Subconscious Mind
    Dec. 1-15 Lauren Chumley: Beauty Discovery
    Dec. 15-30 Lauren Chumley: Zen
    Jan. 1-15 Anne Frazier: Mosaic Masterpiece
    Jan. 15-30 Anne Frazier: Cubism

    Sumter Gallery of Art
    200 Hasel St., 803-775-0543

    Sept. 3-Oct 30 Willie Cole and Michaela Pilar Brown
    Nov. 5-Jan. 8 Michelle Van Parys, John Hathaway, Joshua Flint

    Tapp’s Arts Center
    1644 Main St., 803-609-3479,
    Participates in monthly First Thursdays on Main series with exhibitions and performances. Studio space available for artists.

    Sept. 3 Opening for Figure Out 2015
    October John D. Monteith
    November Thomas Crouch
    December Sandra Carr

    Trenholm Artists Guild
    Members include amateur and professional artists who work in watercolor, oil, acrylics, pastel, sculpture, fiber, and photography. Meetings are held monthly September through May on the second Monday of the month.

    Sept. 11-13 Portraiture Workshop
    Sept. 14 An evening with Susan Lenz
    Oct. 3 Rosewood Arts Festival 2015

    USC-Hollings Library
    The Hollings Special Collection Library is accessible through the Thomas Cooper Library and is open weekdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Free and open to the public. 803-777-3142.

    Through Sept. 15 Volcanoes and Earthquakes and Tornadoes, Oh My!
    Through Nov. 15 Nuclear Carolina: Power and Waste in Palmetto State
    Sept. 23-Oct. 30 Defining Botany

    University of South Carolina-McKissick Museum
    USC Horseshoe (728 Pickens St.)

    Sept. 17-Nov. 21 Guantanamo Public Memory Project
    Through July 16 Heard at Every Turn: Traditional Music in South Carolina

    USC-McMaster Gallery
    USC Department of Art, McMaster Building (first floor), 1615 Senate St., 803-777-7480,
    On view this season are several solo exhibitions and an exhibition dedicated to human anatomy. Guest artists, faculty and student artwork will be featured.

    Through Oct. 9 Return of the Wanderer, an exhibition by Boyd Saunders
    Oct. 29-Dec. 11 Solo Exhibition: Lauren Greenwald
    Jan. 4-Feb. 5 Solo Exhibition: Michaela Pilar Brown
    Feb. 11-26 61st Annual USC Student Art Exhibition
    March 7-April 1 Arte Corporis the Anatomical Body

    The Village Artists Art Gallery
    631-8 Promenade Place (Village at Sandhill), 803-699-8886,
    Showcases works from local artists through a variety of mediums including oil, acrylics, watercolor, photography, sculpture and more.

    Sept. 4 First Friday Village Artists featuring Al Leitch

    Vista Lights
    Annual free event serves as the kick-off to the holiday season in the heart of the Vista. The streets are closed for people to enjoy a tree lighting, open houses at local businesses and street entertainment. Galleries often feature artist demonstrations, too.

    Vista Nights
    Restaurants and bars are open late in the Vista, but galleries typically aren’t. Every third Thursday of the month, though, Vista galleries and retail shops keep their doors open a few extra hours and welcome the evening strollers.

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Other Events and Programming

    By Free Times
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    Aiken’s Makin’
    Two-day arts and craft festival held Sept. 11-12.

    Arts at Shandon

    Nov. 7 Centennial Fashion Show
    Dec. 9 Gingerbread Contest of Biblical Proportions

    Cayce Historical Museum

    Oct. 10-11 Native American Cherokee Trail River Festival

    Colonial Life Arena
    801 Lincoln St., 1-855-456-2849,

    Oct. 2 Katt Williams (comedy)
    Feb. 5-6 Monster Jam

    Columbia Blues Festival
    Free festival held Oct. 24 in Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

    Columbia Metropolitan Airport
    3250 Airport Blvd., 803-822-5000

    Sept. 12 The AAF Model and Stylist Competition

    The Columbia Museum of Art hosts Arts & Draughts — which features bands, beer and open galleries — Nov. 13, Feb. 5 and May 13.

    Columbia Museum of Art

    Sept. 13 Dinner in White
    Oct. 13 Contemporaries’ Oktoberfest
    Nov. 13 Arts & Draughts
    March 5 CMA Gala
    Feb. 5 Arts & Draughts
    May 13 Arts & Draughts

    Comedy House
    2768 Decker Blvd., 803-798-9898

    Sept. 2-6 Tyler Craig
    Sept. 18-20 Corey Holcomb

    Crafty Feast Indie Craft Fair

    Dec. 13 Crafty Feast (Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center)

    This celebration of economic competitiveness also draws civic leaders, creatives, entrepreneurs and more.

    Nov. 18 Ignite! 2016

    EdVenture Children’s Museum
    211 Gervais St., 803-779-3100,

    Oct. 15 EdVenture After Dark (adults only)
    Jan. 30 FROST, EdVenture’s Annual Gala at SCETV Studios (adults only)
    Feb. 18 EdVenture After Dark (adults only)
    April 14 Girls Night Out (adults only)
    May 19 EdVenture After Dark (adults only)

    Eau Claire Unity Festival

    Sept. 19 All-Day Festival (N. Main Street and Monticello Road)

    Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County

    Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
    7300 College St., 803-407-5011

    Oct. 2 Caroline Rhea (comedian/actress from Sabrina the Teenage Witch)
    Nov. 10 Fabien Cousteau: One Ocean, One People
    Feb. 4 Glennon Doyle Melton (Q&A with blogger/author)
    March 15 Negin Farsad: Fighting Islamophobia, Bigotry and What Have You with Comedy

    Historic Columbia

    Sept. 19 The 37th Annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage
    Oct. 16 Happy Hour at the Robert Mills House
    Oct. 17 Home Movie Day
    Oct. 22 Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ: The Palladium Society’s 12th Annual Silent Auction
    Nov. 3 The Palladium Society’s Renovation Rodeo
    Nov. 20 Happy Hour: Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative on Main Street
    Nov. 22 Oyster Festival Open House: During the South Carolina Oyster Festival
    Dec. 18 Happy Hour with Historic Columbia
    Dec. 18 Candlelight Tours & Carriage Rides
    Jan. 15 Happy Hour at Hollings Library
    Feb. 19 Happy Hour with Historic Columbia
    March 5 The Palladium Society Chili Cook Off
    March 18 Happy Hour with Historic Columbia
    April 2 Flowers and Families
    April 7 The Palladium Society’s Renovation Rodeo
    April 15 Happy Hour with Historic Columbia
    April 16 14th Amendment Symposium
    April 22-23 Garden Symposium
    May 4 Preservation Awards
    May 20 Happy Hour with Historic Columbia

    Newberry Opera House

    Oct. 3 Oktoberfest (Downtown Newberry)
    Oct. 14 Ghost Hunters LIVE - Jason Hawes & Steve Gonsalves
    Nov. 1 Oyster Roast
    Nov. 20 Main Street Lights (Downtown Newberry )
    Jan. 12 Ran’D Shine - A Different Kind of Deception (magician and mentalist)
    Feb. 6 Healthy Chili Cook Off – City of Newberry
    Feb. 27 James Gregory “The Funniest Man in America”
    March 11 Irish Fling (pub crawl)
    April 16 Pork in the Park (Downtown Newberry)
    May 20 A Taste of Newberry – Downtown Newberry

    One Columbia for Arts and History
    City-funded arts promotion organization. Maintains cultural event calendar on website. To reserve a square at the art festival, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Nov. 7 Sidewalk Art Festival (with Columbia Design League and Izms of Art, Lincoln Street Tunnel)

    Richland Library

    Nov. 5 Stellar Sights: Stargazing in the City (adults)
    Dec.17 Stellar Sights: Stargazing in the City (adults)

    Rosewood Arts Festival
    All-day festival with 100-plus artists, music, performances and more. Held Oct. 3 at Rockaways.

    SC Pride Festival
    Oct. 24 Power of Pride (Main Street)

    S.C. State Museum
    Sept. 19 Fall Festival

    Shamelessly Hot
    Burlesque and vaudeville shows organized by Frame of Mind owner Mark Plessinger.
    Sept. 11 The New York Nudie Revue (701 Whaley)
    Oct. 1-3 Shamelessly Hot’s Spooktacular
    Oct. 10-11 Shamelessly Hot’s Spooktacular: Helpers & Hotties (CMFA ArtSpace)

    State Fair
    Includes concerts and competitions in fine art and student art.
    Oct. 14-25 State Fairgrounds

    Sumter Opera House
    21 North Main St., Sumter, 803-436-2616
    Nov. 8 Tom Mullica - Tribute to Red Skelton
    Dec. 31 New Year’s Eve Comedy event

    Township Auditorium
    Nov. 14 Mike Epps (comedy)

    USC - Institute for Southern Studies
    The Institute for Southern Studies is sponsoring a series of presentations that explore cotton and the South. All presentations are free and open to the public. Details TBA.

    September Sven Beckert (historian, Harvard University)
    October James Giesen (historian, Mississippi State University)
    October Laura Kissel (filmmaker, University of South Carolina)
    November Diana Ramey Berry (historian, University of Texas-Austin)
    January David Shields (food historian, University of South Carolina)
    February Kathleen Robbins (photographer, University of South Carolina)
    March Sara Schwebel (English professor, University of South Carolina)
    March Giorgio Riello (historian, Warwick University)
    April Robert G. Williams (economist, Guilford College)

    USC - McKissick Museum
    USC Horseshoe, 803-777-7251
    McKissick Museum tells the story of Southern life — community, culture and the environment.

    Oct. 24 Hymns, the Sacred Harp and Heritage
    Feb. 26-27 Music in South Carolina Conference
    April 1 From Spirituals to Swing in South Carolina

    USC - South Caroliniana Library
    910 Sumter St., 803-777-3131
    The South Caroliniana Library marks its 175th anniversary with a series of displays, presentations and symposiums.

    Oct. 6 175th Anniversary Events, TBA
    Nov. 10 Oral History at the Caroliniana: Sharing Stories from the Collection
    Dec. 8 University Archives Symposium (Elizabeth West and Katharine Allen)
    Jan. 26 Visual Materials Symposium (Beth Bilderback)
    Feb. 16 African-American Genealogy Symposium (Nathan Saunders and Mike Berry)
    March 19 South Caroliniana Society Annual Lunch (guest speaker Vernon Burton)

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Literary, Tours & Talks

    By Free Times
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    Columbia Museum of Art
    1515 Main St., 803-799-2810

    Sept. 22 ArtBreak with Pam Bowers
    Sept. 27 Artist Salon: Identity
    Oct. 9 O’Keeffe Lecture with Chief Curator Will South
    Oct. 23 Salon Talk: Kirkland Smith, Mary Gilkerson, and Doni Jordan
    Nov. 2 NaNoWriMo Kickoff Party with Richland County Public Library
    Nov. 10 ArtBreak with Tom Poland
    Nov. 13 Lecture: O’Keeffe Museum Curator Cody Hartley
    Dec. 4 O’Keeffe Lecture with Brad Collins
    Dec. 11 Salon Talk: Susan Lenz, Mary Robinson, and Kathleen Robbins
    Dec. 15 ArtBreak with Julia Elliott
    March 12 Poetry Out Loud

    Conundrum Music Hall
    Presents Writer’s Block poetry series on fourth Wednesday of each month. Hosted by Queen It Shall Be.

    Gallery West
    118 State St., 803-207-9265

    Sept. 22 An Evening of Readings from Jasper magazine’s Fall Lines

    Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
    7300 College St., 803-407-5011

    Nov. 10 Fabien Cousteau: One Ocean, One People
    Feb. 4 Glennon Doyle Melton
    Mar. 15 Negin Farsad

    Historic Columbia

    Sept. 1, 8, 22, 29 Lecture Series: Remembering Columbia
    Sept. 4, 11,18, 25 Happy Hour History Tour: The Vista
    Sept. 10 Moonlight Cemetery & Secrets from the Grave Tours
    Sept. 13 Second Sunday Stroll: University Hill
    Sept. 17 David Nicholson:
    Flying Home Discussion and Book Signing
    Oct. 8 Spirits Alive! Cemetery Tours
    Oct. 11 Second Sunday Stroll: Robert Mills District West
    Nov. 8 Second Sunday Stroll: Jewish History on Main Street
    Nov. 20-Jan. 3 Holiday Tours at Historic Columbia
    Dec. 13 Second Sunday Stroll: Five Points
    Jan. 5, 12, 19, 26 Lecture Series: Remembering Columbia
    Jan. 10 Second Sunday Stroll: Lower Richland
    Feb. 14 Second Sunday Stroll: Civil War Bus Tour
    March 2 Lunch and Learn: Pharmaceuticals
    March 9 Lunch and Learn
    March 13 Second Sunday Stroll
    April 10 Second Sunday Stroll: Homeplaces
    April 14 Moonlight Cemetery & Secrets from the Grave Tours
    May 8 Second Sunday Stroll: Robert Mills House District East
    May 12 Moonlight Cemetery
    & Secrets from the Grave Tours

    Katie and Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center
    306 Flora Dr., 803-787-2023

    Oct. 26 Ron Lieber discusses his book, The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money

    Lourie Center
    1650 Park Circle

    Sept. 3 Lunchtime Lecture: 12,000-Year History Park at Congaree Creek (River Alliance CEO Mike Dawson)
    Sept. 17 Lunchtime Lecture: Georgia O’Keeffe: Her Carolina Story
    Sept. 18 Capital City Big Band Dance Concert

    Mind Gravy
    Weekly poetry series led by Al Black and held at Drip in Five Points. Search Facebook for user group.

    Newberry Opera House

    Nov. 5 David Cullen (author of Columbine and contributor to New York Times and more; Newberry College Gerding Author Series
    March 12 An Evening with Robert Osborne and the Movies

    Richland Library
    1431 Assembly St., 803-799-9084

    Sept. 15 Flirting with the Enemy: A Night with Tom Elmore (Ballentine)
    Sept. 17 The Speechwriter: Book Talk and Signing with Barton Swaim
    Sept. 20 Genealogy Speaker Series: Lower Richland History
    Sept. 22 Open Mic Poetry (St. Andrews)
    Oct. 13 Jazz roundtable: Introduction to styles of jazz (with Eboniramm)
    Oct. 20 Open Mic Poetry (St. Andrews)
    Oct. 31 Read-a-Rama: Spooktacular
    Nov. 17 Open Mic Poetry (St. Andrews)
    Dec. 15 Open Mic Poetry (St. Andrews)
    Feb. 1-28 One Book, One Columbia
    April 7-9 Augusta Baker’s Dozen Storytelling Celebration 2016

    Red Rose Holiday Tour
    Downtown artisan market in Lancaster with open studios and galleries. Held Dec. 4-6.

    South Carolina Center for the Book
    1500 Senate St., 803-734-8666
    Presents Speaker @ the Center series.

    Sept. 23 Bernie Schein, Famous All Over Town
    Oct. 14 S. Jane Lari, Losing the Dollhouse
    Nov. 18 Ellen Malphrus, Untying the Moon
    Dec. 9 Angela Williams, Hush Now, Baby
    Jan. 20 Elizabeth Cassidy West and Katharine Thompson, On the Horseshoe: A Guide to the Historic Campus of the University of South Carolina

    USC - Fall Literary Festival
    All Fall Literary Festival readings are free to the public. Readings take place in the Hollings Special Collections Library, which is connected to the Thomas Cooper Library.

    Oct. 8 Gene Luen Yang, American graphic novelist and illustrator
    Oct. 13 Claudia Rankine, American poet and playwright
    Oct. 20 Etgar Keret, Israeli short story writer and filmmaker

    USC - Hollings Library
    The Hollings Special Collection Library is accessible through the Thomas Cooper Library and is open weekdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed weekends. Exhibits are free and open to the public. 803-777-3142.

    Nov. 1-April 1 Pat Conroy Retrospective
    April 11-May 1 First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare
    April 14 First Folio Kickoff Event
    April 18 Medieval manuscript public program

    USC - The Open Book
    Part book club, part lecture series and part community read. All talks and author appearances are in the Hollings Special Collections Library, which is accessible through the Thomas Cooper Library. A book signing and reception follow each appearance. Free to public.

    March 21 Discussion of Nuruddin Farah’s Talk on Crossbones
    March 23 Conversation with Nuruddin Farah
    March 28 Discussion of Jenny Offil’s Dept. of Speculation
    March 30 Conversation with Jenny Offil
    April 4 Discussion of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See
    April 6 Conversation with Anthony Doerr
    April 11 Discussion of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You
    April 13 Conversation with Celeste Ng
    April 18 Discussion of Paul Auster’s The Book of Illusions
    April 20 Conversation with Paul Auster

    USC - School of Music

    Sept. 25 Lecture: Nostalgia and Musical Reminiscence in Late-Nineteenth-Century Opera
    Oct. 2 Outkasted Conversations: Searching for Contemporary Southern Blackness in Digital Spaces

    USC - South Caroliniana Library

    Oct. 6 175th Anniversary Events, TBA
    Nov. 10 Oral History at the Caroliniana: Sharing Stories from the Collection
    Dec. 8 University Archives Symposium with Elizabeth West and Katharine Allen
    Jan. 26 Visual Materials Symposium with Beth Bilderback
    Feb. 16 African-American Genealogy Symposium with Nathan Saunders and Mike Berry
    March 19 South Caroliniana Society Annual Lunch with guest speaker Vernon Burton

    USC - Women’s and Gender Studies Program

    Oct. 12 Adrenée Glover Freeman Memorial Lecture: Claudia Rankine (Law School Auditorium)

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Dance

    By Free Times
    Harbison Theatre presents MOMIX Botanica on Nov. 15.
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet
    914 Pulaski St., 803-771-6303
    A civic company for pre-professional dancers, Carolina Ballet alumni can be found in top companies throughout the country.

    Sept. 26 Galaxy (CMFA Artspace)
    Nov. 24-29 The Nutcracker (Township Auditorium)
    Dec. 18 Annual Letters to Santa (CMFA ArtSpace)
    Feb. 6 PUB Night (CMFA ArtSpace)
    Feb. 26-28 Junior Company, Hansel & Gretel (CMFA ArtSpace)
    April 23 Annual Gala (after Poetry of Ballet performance)
    April 23-24 The Poetry of Ballet (Township Auditorium)
    April 24 Chopin: The Poetry of Ballet (Township Auditorium)
    May 14-15 Fairy Tales! (CMFA ArtSpace)
    May 21-22 Dance Workshop (CMFA ArtSpace)

    Arts at Shandon

    April 23 Spring Fling: Dance through the Decades

    Columbia City Ballet
    1545 Main St., 803-799-7605
    All performances at the Koger Center.

    Oct. 29-31 Dracula
    Dec. 12-20 Nutcracker
    Jan. 29-30 Aladdin
    Mar. 18-19 Peter Pan

    Columbia City Jazz
    Dance Company, 803-252-0252
    Highly acclaimed pre-professional jazz dance company. Also brings in guest artists for master classes.

    Columbia Classical Ballet
    3823 Heyward St., 803-252-9112
    Performances at the Koger Center unless otherwise noted.

    Sept. 13 Cabaret Night Fundraiser (701 Whaley St.)
    Oct. 15-16 Cinderella (educational outreach)
    Oct. 16 Night of Passion
    Dec. 3-4 The Nutcracker (educational outreach)
    Dec. 4-6 The Nutcracker
    Jan. 23 LifeChance
    Feb. 26 The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Feb. 26-27 Aladdin (educational outreach)

    Columbia College
    1301 Columbia College Dr.
    Performances are held at Cottingham Theatre.

    Nov. 20-21 Fall Choreographers’ Showcase
    Jan. 29-30 Dance Faculty Concert
    April 15-16 Dance Concert

    Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County
    810 Lyttleton St., 803-425-7676

    Sept. 19 2015 Dancing With the Stars

    Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
    7300 College St., 803-407-5011

    Nov. 15 MOMIX Botanica
    Jan. 22 Strings and Salsa
    Feb. 27 HT@MTC Incubator Presents: Ruins (by Terrance Henderson)

    Newberry Opera House
    1201 McKibben St., 803-276-6264

    Oct. 30 Krasnoyarsk - National Dance Company of Siberia
    Dec. 10 Jingle All the Way (Carolina Freestyle)
    Jan. 8-9 The Dark Carousel (Newberry Ballet Guild)
    Mar. 2 Carmen (Moscow Festival Ballet)
    May 14 Dance Station Spring Performance
    May 28 DC Danceworks Spring Recital

    Palmetto Center for the Arts
    Richland School District Two Auditorium
    7500 Brookfield Rd., 699-2800 ext. 2832
    Various fine arts performances by artistically gifted high school students.

    The Power Company Collaborative
    Contemporary dance company based at Columbia College.

    Oct. 30-31 Campus Tour of Dance (Columbia College)

    Sapphire Moon Dance Company

    Unbound Dance Company

    USC Dance Company
    Presents ballet, modern and jazz works as well as innovative dance concerts and contemporary works. Tickets are $18 for the general public; $16 for USC employees, military and seniors; and $12 for students. Tickets are available through the Koger Center box office, 803-777-5112. Charge by phone at 803-251-2222.

    Nov. 12-13 On Pointe (Koger Center)
    Dec. 1-4 Student Choreography Showcase: Meteor (Drayton Hall)
    Feb. 2 Dance Theatre of Harlem (Koger Center)
    Feb. 15-18 Breaking Boundaries (Drayton Hall)
    April 15 11th Annual Ballet Stars of New York Gala Performance (Koger Center)

    USC Dance Conservatory
    Now in its 21st year, the conservatory is an afterschool community outreach program committed to the training of young dancers from their first steps to advanced levels.

    April 14 Student Choreography Showcase: Benchmark of Choreography (Koger Center)
    May 20-21 Spring Concert (Drayton Hall Theatre)

    USC - Wideman/Davis Dance
    Wideman/Davis Dance is USC’s resident professional company, which presents innovative works. Tickets are $18 for the general public; $16 for USC employees, military and seniors; and $12 for students. Tickets are available through the Koger Center box office, 803-777-5112. Charge by phone at 803-251-2222.

    Dec. 1-4 Ruptured Silence: Racist Symbolism and Signs (Drayton Hall)

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Theater

    By Free Times
    Broadway in Columbia brings The Illusionists to the Koger Center on Nov. 8 and 9.
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    Arts at Shandon
    607 Woodrow St.,
    February The Tom Glenn Players present You Can’t Take It With You

    Broadway in Columbia, 803-251-2222
    Presenting Broadway-caliber touring theater productions in Columbia. All shows held at the Koger Center.

    Nov. 8-9 The Illusionists
    Jan. 12-13 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    March 30-31 Once
    April 19 Celtic Woman
    April 26-27 42nd Street

    Broadway and More
    201 S Dargan St., 843-661-4444,
    Broadway shows and dramatic theater at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence.

    Oct. 16 Always...Patsy Cline
    Dec. 18 A Christmas Carol

    Chapin Theatre Company
    107 Columbia Ave., 803-345-6181,
    Performances at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College.

    Sept. 11-20 Noises Off
    Dec. 4-13 Christmas Belles (Seasonal comedy at the Chapin Firehouse Theatre at American Legion Post in Chapin)
    Feb. 5-14 Duck Hunter Shoots Angel
    April 8-17 Messiah on the Frigidaire
    June 17-26 Moon Over Buffalo

    Columbia College
    1301 Columbia College Dr.
    Performances are held at Cottingham Theatre.

    Sept. 8 Taming of the Shrew (Cambridge American Stage Tour)
    Feb. 26 Hanging Georgia (explores relationship between O’Keeffe and Stieglitz)
    April 8-9 Musical Theater Production TBA

    Conundrum Music Hall
    626 Meeting St., 803-250-1295

    Sept. 4-12 Soda City Cirque, Finding Elysian

    Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County
    810 Lyttleton St., 803-425-7676

    Oct. 22-25 A Raisin in the Sun
    Dec. 19 Jingle Arrgh the Way
    Jan. 28-31 Little Shop of Horrors
    Mar. 17-20 Disney’s Winnie the Pooh Kids
    April 7 A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline

    Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
    7300 College St., 803-407-5011

    Oct. 15 Of Mice and Men (National Theatre Live)
    Oct. 29 Frankenstein (National Theatre Live with Benedict Cumberbatch)
    Nov. 12 Hamlet (National Theatre Live with Benedict Cumberbatch)
    Jan. 17 Treasure Island (National Theatre Live)
    Jan. 30 Wiesenthal
    March 5 Broadway Back Together (Broadway songs)

    Newberry Opera House
    1201 McKibben St., 803-276-6264

    Oct. 19 No Fear For Freedom: The Musical (story of The Friendship 9)
    Nov. 10 Hamlet
    Nov. 13 Flashdance: The Musical
    Dec. 17 A Christmas Carol
    Feb. 8 Saturday Night Fever (musical)
    Feb. 18 Driving Miss Daisy
    Mar. 18-19 Always, Patsy Cline
    April 5 Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
    April 19 Live From Nashville
    June 17-18 Newberry Community Players, State Fair (musical)

    On Stage Productions
    680 Cherokee Lane, 803-351-6751

    Sept. 18-27 Little Shop of Horrors
    Oct. 29-31 Frankenstein Slept Here
    Dec. 4-12 Twisted Carol
    Feb. 12-21 Miracle in Memphis
    April 29-May 8 Crimes of the Heart

    St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
    6952 St Andrews Rd., 803-732-2273
    Home to the Palmetto Artist Series.

    Nov. 19-21 A Christmas Carol

    Sumter Opera House
    21 N Main St. (Sumter), 803-246-2500

    Oct. 30 Hamlet (Warehouse Theatre)

    Town Theatre
    1012 Sumter St., 803-799-2510

    Sept. 11-Oct. 4 Singin’ in the Rain
    Nov. 6-22 A Christmas Story
    Jan. 15-31 Nice Work If You Can Get it
    Feb. 19-Mar. 6 The Honky Tonk Angels
    May 6-28 The Addams Family

    Township Audtiorium

    Oct. 4 Menopause the Musical
    Nov. 13 Je’Caryous Johnson’s Things Your Man Won’t Do

    Trustus Theatre
    520 Lady St., 803-254-9532,

    Sept. 18-Oct. 3 Marie Antoinette
    Nov. 20-Dec. 19 The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical
    Jan. 29-Feb. 13 TBA play directed by Jim O’Connor
    Mar. 11-April 9 Peter and the Starcatcher
    May 20-June 4 The Flick
    July 1-30 Green Day’s AMERICAN IDIOT

    USC - Center for Performance Experiment
    Established in 2009, the center is a unique performance space dedicated to actor training, presenting new and traditional works in exciting and experimental ways. 718 Devine St. All performances are free.

    Nov. 15-21 Herculine and Lola
    Dec. 2-4 MFA Actor Solo Shows
    Feb. 21-27 Mad Forest
    April 17-23 Balance

    USC - Lab Theatre
    Located in the recently renovated Booker T. Washington High School. Tickets are $5 and available at the door. Arrive early for best seating. Booker T. Washington is at 1400 Wheat St., between Sumter and Pickens streets, across from the Blatt PE Center.

    Oct. 8-11 Stop Kiss by Diana Son
    Nov. 19-22 Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker
    Feb. 25-28 Still Life by Emily Mann
    April 21-24 Five Women Wearing the Same Dress by Alan Ball

    USC - Theatre South Carolina (USC)
    Main Stage productions are $18 for the general public; $16 for university faculty and staff, military and seniors; $12 for students. To purchase by phone, call the box office at 803-777-5122. The box office is in Longstreet Theatre, 1300 Greene St. Enter from the breezeway off Sumter Street.

    Oct. 2-10 The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht (Longstreet Theatre)
    Nov. 13-21 Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward (Drayton Hall)
    Feb. 19-27 Scapin, adapted from Moliere by Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell (Longstreet Theatre)
    April 15-23 The Tempest by William Shakespeare (Drayton Hall)

    Village Square Theatre
    105 Caughman Rd., 803-359-1436,

    Sept. 18-Oct. 4 Hairspray
    Nov. 6-15 Harvey
    Jan. 29-Feb. 14 Dr. Dolittle, Jr.
    Mar. 11-April 3 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    May 6-15 The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

    Workshop Theatre

    WOW Productions
    5816 Shakespeare Rd., 803-807-2969

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Children & Teens

    By Free Times
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet
    914 Pulaski St., 803-771-6303
    A civic company for pre-professional dancers, Carolina Ballet alumni can be found in top companies throughout the country.

    Dec. 18 Annual Letters to Santa (CMFA ArtSpace)
    Feb. 26-28 Junior Company, Hansel & Gretel (CMFA ArtSpace)
    May 14-15 Fairy Tales! (CMFA ArtSpace)

    Columbia Children’s Theatre
    3400 Forest Dr., 803-691-4548, (second level of Richland Mall)

    Sept. 18-27 Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type (MainStage Production)
    Oct. 23-25 Zombie Prom (YouTheatre Production)
    Nov. 13-15 The Phantom Tollbooth (YouTheatre Production)
    Dec. 4-13 Jingle Arrgh the Way (A Pirate Christmas Adventure; MainStage Production)
    Feb. 19-28 Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In A Play! (MainStage Production)
    March 11-20 Disney’s The Jungle Book (YouTheatre Production)
    April 15-24 Seussical the Musical (MainStage Production)
    June 10-19 The Commedia Hansel & Gretel (MainStage Production)

    Columbia City Ballet
    1545 Main St., 803-799-7605
    All performances at the Koger Center.

    Dec. 11, 16 Frosty the Snowman

    Columbia Classical Ballet
    3823 Heyward St., 803-252-9112
    All performances at the Koger Center.

    Oct. 15-16 Cinderella (educational outreach)
    Dec. 3-4 The Nutcracker (educational outreach)
    Feb. 26-27 Aladdin (educational outreach)

    Colonial Life Arena
    801 Lincoln St., 1-855-456-2849,

    Feb. 5-6 Monster Jam

    Columbia Marionette Theatre
    401 Laurel St., 803-252-7366,

    Through Oct. 31 Brementown Musicians

    Columbia Museum of Art
    1515 Main St., 803-799-2810

    Sept. 2 Gladys’ Gang: I’m a Little Teapot or Coffee Pot
    Sept. 13 Passport to Art: Set the Table
    Oct. 7 Gladys’ Gang: Autumn Hues
    Oct. 11 Passport to Art: Carolina Stories
    Oct. 24 Spooktacular Night at the CMA
    Nov. 4 Gladys’ Gang: OK O’Keeffe!
    Nov. 8 Passport to Art: On the Face of It
    Dec. 2 Glady’s Gang: Hats Off!
    Dec. 13 Passport to Art: It Compliments You!

    EdVenture Children’s Museum
    211 Gervais St., 803-779-3100,

    Sept. 19 Farmville
    Oct. 31 Halloween event (date tentative)
    Nov. 7 StoryBook Ball
    Dec. 5, 12, 19 Santa’s Gingerbread Jamboree
    March 26 Easter event (date tentative)
    June 11 Columbia Mini Maker Faire

    FBN Productions, Inc. - Opera for Kids
    Bringing the joy of operatic storytelling to children of all ages since 1994.

    March 7-April 4 Spring Tour

    Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
    7300 College St., 803-407-5011

    Feb. 21 Sing Along with The Muppet Movie

    Historic Columbia

    Oct. 1-31 Scarecrows in the Garden Exhibition
    Oct. 29 Trunk or Treat
    Nov. 21 Santa Signing
    Dec. 19 Breakfast with Santa

    Richland Library

    Sept. 19 Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (positive family hip-hop, Richland Library Main)
    Oct. 17 Haunted Gingerbread Housemaking (Richland Library Southeast)
    Oct. 30 Not-So-Spooky Halloween Stroll (Richland Library Main)
    Dec. 12 Beneath the Trees with Molly Ledford (families)

    S.C. State Museum
    301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921

    Through Sept. 7 BUGS! Giant Robotic Creatures
    Oct. 29 Growl at the Moon
    Oct. 31 Tricks & Treats
    Nov. 8-Jan. 3 The Polar Express: The 4-D Experience (4D Theater)

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    Cultural Season 2015-16: Music

    By Free Times
    Columbia Museum of Art presents its Chamber Music on Main series beginning Oct. 29.
    Venues | Music | Art | Theater
    Film | Dance | Opera
    Literary, Tours & Talks
    Other Events & Programming
    Children & Teens

    Árpád Darázs Singers
    Led by Robert Neese, a student of founding conductor Árpád Darázs, this ensemble performs a varied repertoire of classical and contemporary works including sacred, secular, accompanied and a cappella.

    Dec. 3 Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community
    Dec. 6 Newberry First Baptist Church
    Dec. 13 Reformation Lutheran Church

    Arts at Ebenezer
    All concerts are free, open to the public and held at Ebenezer Lutheran Church.

    Nov. 13 Bach, Beer and Friends with Michael C. Ganong
    April 22 Classical Harpsichord with Jory Vinikour

    Arts at Shandon
    607 Woodrow St.,
    May 13 Performance by Matthew C. Ganong, pianist

    Bill’s Music Shop
    701 Meeting St. (West Columbia),
    Bluegrass and acoustic jam sessions on Fridays, classic country concerts on Saturdays. Also: open mic songwriters (second and fourth Tuesdays), Blythewood Jazz Orchestra (third Thursdays).

    Sept. 10 Loftis Manis
    Sept. 17 Blythewood Jazz Orchestra
    Sept. 19 Pickin Parlor (State Museum)
    Oct. 11 Sideline Bluegrass
    Oct. 18 Queen of Hearts
    Oct. 25 Pickin Parlor (State Fair)
    Nov. 8 Ralph Stanley II

    Colonial Life Arena
    801 Lincoln St., 1-855-456-2849,

    Sept. 18 Scream Back 2 School Fest 2015
    Oct. 16 Def Leppard, Foreigner, Night Ranger
    Nov. 20 Trans-Siberian Orchestra
    March 6 Janet Jackson

    Columbia Baroque

    Sept. 4 The River Thames (USC School of Music Recital Hall)
    Oct. 30 The Rhine (Columbia College, Spears Center)
    Jan. 22 The Seine (USC School of Music Recital Hall)
    May 13 The Danube (USC School of Music Recital Hall)

    Columbia Choral Society

    Nov. 22 Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn (Ebenezer Lutheran Church)
    May 20 Jasmine and Jazz (Columbia Museum of Art)
    May 22 Jasmine and Jazz (Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County)

    Columbia College
    All performances at the Spears Concert Hall unless otherwise noted.

    Sept. 3 Ayala Asherov Trio
    Nov. 23 Chamber Ensemble
    Dec. 1 Jazz Combos Ensemble
    April 11 Chamber Ensemble
    April 18 Spring Choral Concert
    April 21 Jazz Combos Ensemble

    Columbia Community Concert Band
    All-volunteer, adult, nonprofit band founded in 1981; now has more than 80 musicians. 2015-16 season will be announced Sept. 10; first concert is Oct. 30.

    Columbia Museum of Art
    1515 Main St., 803-799-2810

    Sept. 4-5 Baker and Baker Presents: Beethoven Cello Sonatas with A.W. Duo
    Sept. 8 CMA Jazz on Main
    Oct. 29 CMA Chamber Music on Main
    Nov. 13 Arts & Draughts
    Nov. 20 CMA Jazz on Main
    Dec. 9 CMA Chamber Music on Main
    Jan. 22 CMA Jazz on Main
    Jan. 29 CMA Chamber Music on Main
    Feb. 5 Arts & Draughts
    March 8 CMA Chamber Music on Main
    March 25 CMA Jazz on Main
    April 26 CMA Chamber Music on Main
    May 13 Arts & Draughts

    Congaree Bluegrass Festival

    Oct. 3-4 Last Road Bluegrass, more (Historic Columbia Speedway)

    Conundrum Music Hall
    626 Meeting St., 803-250-1295,
    Columbia’s home for experimental music — and more.

    Sept. 14: Cortex (jazz from Norway)
    Sept. 19 Tipple (Frode Gjerstad, sax; Kevin Norton, vibes/drums; David Watson, guitar/bagpipes
    Oct. 8 Christophe Erb, reeds; Jim Baker, piano/electronics; Frank Rosaly, drums
    Oct. 28 Dave Rempis Percussion Quartet
    Nov. 11 Matuto (Brazilian bluegrass)
    Nov. 13 Jason Kahn (drums, percussion), Toshimaru Nakamura (no-input mixing board), Tetuzi Akiyama (guitar), Bryan Eubanks (sax, electronics)
    Nov. 18 Loop 2.4.3 (world percussion with electronics and voice)
    Dec. 12 Faun and a Pan Flute (nine-piece orchestral/experimental instrumental music group w/ marimba, cello, sax, tuba, etc.)
    Dec. 15 Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion) and Michel Doneda (soprano sax)

    Dutch Fork Choral Society
    Formed in 2001, The Dutch Fork Choral Society is a community choir serving the Irmo/Chapin area.

    Famously Hot New Year

    Dec. 31 Famously Hot New Year 2016 (Main Street)

    Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County
    Concerts held in the Wood Auditorium unless otherwise noted.

    Oct. 1-3 19th Annual Carolina Downhome Blues Festival
    Nov. 12 Kershaw County Music Association Fall Choral Showcase
    Dec. 10 Edward Arron & Friends
    Dec. 13 Camden Community Concert Band Christmas Concert
    Dec. 15 Chamber Choir of Kershaw County Christmas Concert
    Feb. 5 The Pitchforks — Duke University’s All Male A Cappella Ensemble
    Feb. 14 The Danish String Quartet with Claire Bryant
    Feb. 27 Gospel Fest
    Feb. 28 2016 Heritage Tea
    March 13 Camden Community Concert Band Winter Concert
    March 25 Finally Friday Free Concert Series
    April 1 April Fool’s Follies “Best Of” Party
    April 14 Kershaw County Music Association Spring Instrumental Showcase
    April 29 Finally Friday Free Concert Series
    May 1 Camden Community Concert Band Spring Concert
    May 6 Chamber Choir of Kershaw County Spring Concert

    Five After Five
    Five Points,
    Weekly outdoor concert series running April through August.

    Francis Marion Performing Arts Center
    201 S Dargan St. (Florence), 843-661-1720

    Sept. 9 Genghis Barbie
    Sept. 24 Ambartsumian-Rivkin Duo
    Sept. 26 Sawyer Brown
    Oct. 16 Always … Patsy Cline
    Nov. 13 Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
    Dec. 18 A Christmas Carol

    Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College
    7300 College St., 803-407-5011

    Oct. 11 The Magical Music of Harry Potter (SC Philharmonic)
    Oct. 18 Pops Series: The Great American Songbook (SC Philharmonic)
    Oct. 23 Committed (a cappella gospel/pop)
    Nov. 21 Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
    Dec. 13 Pops Series: Holiday Pops (SC Philharmonic)
    March 10 Cherish the Ladies (Celtic folk)
    April 23 Pops Series: Sci-Fi in Hi-Fi (SC Philharmonic)

    Heritage at Lowman

    Sept. 13 Susan Zhang (piano)

    Historic Columbia

    Nov. 19 Tim Daisy (jazz, Robert Mills Carriage House)

    iF ART Gallery
    1223 Lincoln St., 803-255-0068

    Nov. 18 Tim Daisy (jazz) solo concert

    Jam Room Music Festival

    Oct. 3 Blonde Redhead, Hiss Golden Messenger and more (Main Street)

    Koger Center
    1051 Greene St.,
    Most performances are listed under the name of the group performing. Visit website for a complete schedule listed by month.

    Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra

    Oct. 1 Wine & Waltzes Beach Bash (River Center at Saluda Shoals)
    Nov. 22 Hits of the Big Screen (Harbison Theatre)
    Nov. 22 Handel’s Messiah (Lexington Baptist Church)
    Feb. 28 Classical Shuffle (Harbison Theatre)
    May 8 Concertos & Cupcakes-winners of Young Artist Competition (Harbison Theatre)
    June 5 Koncert for Kids! (Cornerstone Presbyterian Church)
    July 3 Star Spangled Symphonic Salute (Saluda Shoals Park)

    Lexington County Choral Society
    All concerts at Saxe-Gotha Presbyterian Church.

    Dec. 4-5 Winter Concerts
    March 4-5 Winter Concerts
    May 6-7 Spring Concerts

    Lourie Center
    1650 Park Circle,

    Sept. 18 Capital City Big Band Dance Concert

    Music Farm

    Sept. 4 Mystikal & Juvenile
    Sept. 10 Zoso-The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience
    Sept. 11 The Blue Dogs
    Sept. 26 Moon Taxi
    Sept. 30 Dawes
    Oct. 3 Soda City Comic Con Adult Cosplay Contest
    Oct. 4 Emancipator Ensemble
    Oct. 6 Collective Soul
    Oct. 14 Cherub
    Oct. 16 Griz
    Oct. 17 The Litt Games: Homecoming 2015
    Oct. 28 Young the Giant
    Nov. 3 J.J. Grey & Mofro
    Nov. 5 Slightly Stoopid
    Nov. 10 GTA & K Camp
    Nov. 11 Somo: The Fallin’ Up Tour
    Nov. 15 STS9
    Nov. 20 Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band
    Dec. 19 Jump, Little Children (sold out)
    Dec. 23 Palmetto Health Christmas Party

    Newberry Opera House
    1201 McKibben St., 803-276-6264

    Sept. 11 The Boxmasters (American roots rock)
    Sept. 13 John Wagner and Friends (piano, clarinet, jazz)
    Sept. 18 Kansas
    Sept. 20 Doug and Bunny Williams (musical variety)
    Sept. 26 Legendary Tributes: Rick Wade and Terry Turner perform Conway Twitty, Tom Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley
    Sept. 27 Charlie Thomas’ Drifters
    Oct. 1 Lisa Loeb
    Oct. 2 Ambrosia and Orleans
    Oct. 4 Abbey Simon
    Oct. 8 An Evening with Guy Penrod (gospel)
    Oct. 11 Steve Tyrell
    Oct. 13 Rusted Root and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
    Oct. 16 Vienna Boys Choir
    Oct. 18 Don Williams
    Oct. 22 Josh Turner
    Nov. 6 Balsam Range (bluegrass)
    Nov. 7 The Vogues (surf rock)
    Nov. 8 Sirena Huang (violinist)
    Nov. 10 Hamlet (Warehouse Theatre)
    Nov. 15 The Four Freshmen
    Nov. 18 Steve Watson (jazz guitar, Newberry College)
    Nov. 20 Carl Palmer’s Emerson Lake & Palmer Legacy
    Nov. 21 Gene Watson
    Dec. 1 Ozark Jubilee
    Dec. 4 Palmetto Mastersingers
    Dec. 5 The Raleigh Ringers
    Dec. 6 The Charlie Daniels Band
    Dec. 8 Three Irish Tenors – Christmas from Dublin
    Dec. 9 The Embers
    Dec. 12 208th Army Band
    Dec. 13 Christmas with The Lettermen
    Dec. 14 Mid Carolina Band Christmas Concert
    Dec. 19 Ronnie McDowell and Friends Classic Country Christmas
    Dec. 31 New Year’s Eve Celebration w/ Dick Goodwin Band
    Jan. 3 Dailey and Vincent
    Jan. 15 Edwin McCain
    Jan. 22 Junior Brown
    Jan. 23 Night Fever – The Bee Gees Tribute
    Jan. 24 Glenn Miller Orchestra
    Jan. 27 Arlo Guthrie
    Feb. 4 The Stylistics
    Feb. 6 Delbert McClinton
    Feb. 12 Tanya Tucker
    Feb. 14 Boy Meets Girl – Starring Daniel Rodriguez and Marla Kavanaugh
    Feb. 16 Yamato-Japanese Drummers
    Feb. 20 Travis Tritt
    Feb. 21 Mountain Heart
    Feb. 25 The Bellamy Brothers
    Feb. 26 Blood Sweat & Tears
    Feb. 28 Clint Black
    March 6 Jerusalem Symphony
    March 7 Creole Carnival-GlobalFEST
    March 9 Los Lonely Boys
    March 10 The Hit Men: former members of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
    March 16 The Young Irelanders
    April 1 Broadway: Big Band Years
    April 2 The Oak Ridge Boys
    April 7 Pawel Checinski (piano)
    April 9 Del McCoury Band
    April 10 Doug and Bunny Williams
    April 14 Close To You – The Music of The Carpenters
    April 19 Live From Nashville
    May 3 The New Christy Minstrels
    May 5 Mother’s Finest
    May 13 Caroline Stoessinger – Moonlight Sonata
    May 18 Mid Carolina Band Spring Concert
    May 21 Rick Alviti (Elvis impersonator)

    The Palmetto Mastersingers

    Dec. 4 Newberry Opera House
    Dec. 12 Christmas Concert (Irmo High School Auditorium)
    Jan. 6 Community Epiphany Service (Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church)
    TBA Festival of Choirs (First Baptist Church)
    May 13 Spring Concert (Irmo High School Auditorium)
    May 30 Memorial Day Celebration (Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church)

    Rhythm on the River
    West Columbia Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater

    Sept. 4 Deleveled
    Sept. 18 The Travelin’ Kine
    Sept. 25 Brian Conner And His Amazing Friends
    Oct. 2 Syr
    Oct. 9 Elliott and the Untouchables

    Rice Music House
    470 Town Center Place, 803-254-2777

    Oct. 18 June Matsuo
    Nov. 22 Marina Lomazov
    Dec. 13 Holiday Staff Concert
    Feb. 21 BK Davis

    Rooftop Rhythms
    Richland Mall

    Sept. 24 The MAXX
    Oct. 29 The Men of Distinction

    The Sandlapper Singers
    This is the final season for co-founder and artistic director Dr. Lillian Quackenbush.

    Sept. 17 Singing with the Stars (season kickoff party, 701 Whaley)
    Oct. 29 The Hit Parade (Shandon Presbyterian Church)
    Oct. 30 The Hit Parade (St. Martins in the Fields Episcopal)
    Dec. 17 The Marriage Revisited (Union UMC Church)
    Dec. 18 The Marriage Revisited (St. Joseph Catholic Church)
    Dec. 19 The Marriage Revisited (Lutheran Theological Seminary)
    Feb. 19 Falling (Libby Larsen piece written to accompany James Dickey poem, USC School of Music Recital Hall)
    April 21 New Beginnings (Incarnation Lutheran Church)
    April 22 New Beginnings (St. Andrews Presbyterian Church)

    The Skipp Pearson Foundation
    Produces shows at Le Cafe Jazz in Finlay Park.

    Sept. 3-6 Jazz Under the Stars (Le Cafe Jazz)

    South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra
    All concerts at the Koger Center except where noted. Conduct the Phil concerts are free, though the events they are at might not be.

    Sept. 25 Conduct the Phil-Irmo Okra Strut
    Oct. 9 Masterworks Series-Northern Lights (Elisabeth Tsai, piano)
    Oct. 15 Conduct the Phil-S.C. State Fair
    Nov. 15 Masterworks Series -Beethoven & Blue Jeans with ‘Que and Brew (Miles Hoffman, viola)
    Nov. 15 Youth Orchestra
    Nov. 21 Conduct the Phil-Soda City Market
    Jan. 9 Masterworks Series-All About the Bass with Edgar Meyer
    Feb. 6 Masterworks Series-All That Jazz (Joseph Eller, clarinet; Phillip Bush, piano)
    Feb. 7 Youth Orchestra
    March 12 Masterworks Series-Sayaka in the Spring (Sayaka Shoji, violin)
    April 9 Conduct the Phil-Soda City Market
    April 16 Masterworks Series - The Rite of Spring
    April 23 Conduct the Phil- Kershaw County Farmers Market
    April 30 Conduct the Phil-Orangeburg Festival of Roses
    May 1 Youth Orchestra

    St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
    Home to the Palmetto Artist Series.

    Sept. 10 Sharon Hudson Rattray (organ)
    Sept. 25 Kiev Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
    Oct. 16 Andrew Peterson (Burning Edge of Dawn Release Tour)
    Dec. 12-13 The Many Moods of Christmas
    Feb. 19 Point of Grace
    May 1 In God We Trust!
    June 18 Tim Zimmerman and The King’s Brass

    Sterling Chamber Players
    All concerts held at 300 Senate. Tickets: $12 advance; $15 at door; $5 for students.

    Sumter Opera House
    21 N Main St. (Sumter), 803-246-2500

    Sept. 13 Doc Severinsen Big Band
    Sept. 26 Disney Junior’s Choo Choo Soul
    Nov. 16 U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors
    Nov. 20 Lorrie Morgan
    Dec. 10 The Embers

    Township Auditorium
    1703 Taylor St., 803-576-2350,

    Sept. 4 Old School Funk Party
    Sept. 17 Loading Dock Live: Terence Young and The Finesse Band
    Sept. 18 Future
    Oct. 12 Zedd: True Colors Tour
    Oct. 22 Festival of Praise Tour
    Oct. 25 Ron Thomas
    Oct. 30 Anthony Hamilton & Friends
    Nov. 7 Columbia Winter Jazz Fest
    Nov. 21 Third Day presents Lead Us Back Tour with Brandon Heath and Warren Barfield

    Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
    1100 Sumter St., 803-771-7300
    In addition to the concerts below, half-hour Compline music services are held on Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. during Advent (Dec. 3, 10, 17) and Lent (Feb. 11, 18, 25; March 3, 10, 17); free and open to the public.

    Oct. 20 Share the Music Student Musician Tour (presented by S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts)
    Dec. 13 Handel’s Messiah
    Dec. 16 Community Carol Sing
    Jan. 21 Harvard University Choir
    Jan. 28 Colla Voce (choral group led by Larry Wyatt)
    April 10 Variations on America: Choral Music by Ives, Bernstein, Copland

    Unitarian Universalist Congregation Coffeehouse
    2701 Heyward St.,
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Presents acoustic music including folk, blues, Celtic, bluegrass, jazz and international music.

    Sept. 5 John Emil
    Sept. 26 Beth Wood
    Oct. 3 Robert Thomas Band
    Nov. 7 Nikki Talley
    Nov. 14 One Leg Up
    Dec. 5 Christmassongs (Nashville musicians)
    Dec. 12 Jonathan Byrd
    Jan. 2 Jack Williams et. al. New Year’s Eve Song
    Jan. 16 Harpeth Rising
    Feb. 20 Honey Dewdrops
    March 5 Greg Trooper
    March 19 Tellico
    April 9 Angela Easterling

    University of South Carolina School of Music
    813 Assembly St., 803-777-4280,
    From its symphony orchestra to its many faculty recitals, the USC School of Music is a steady source of high-quality music programming. Most events are held at the Koger Center, the school’s Recital Hall (second floor of the music school on Assembly Street next to the Koger Center) and in the new Johnson Performance Hall. Performance updates are posted online throughout the season.

    Sept. 4 Across the Water with Columbia Baroque: The River Thames (Recital Hall)
    Sept. 5 Soulful Strings: Indian Classical Music Concert (Anupama Bhagwat, sitar; Recital Hall)
    Sept. 11 The Fourth Wall (winner of 2014 SAVVY Chamber Competition, Recital Hall)
    Sept. 14 Tina Milhorn Stallard and Lynn Kompass Faculty Recital (Recital Hall)
    Sept. 25-26 South Carolina Cello Choir (Koger Center)
    Sept. 29 Jacob Will Faculty Voice Recital (Recital Hall)

    USC-Chamber Innovista
    Chamber Innovista adds a different vibe to the high-energy downtown district by providing a world-class collection of exciting and original chamber music performances. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for seniors and students. Season tickets are available.

    Jan. 26 USC School of Music Recital Hall
    March 1 USC School of Music Recital Hall

    USC-Choral Music
    Vocal music abounds at Carolina, from the prestigious Concert Choir to the jazzy Carolina Alive to the uplifting USC Gospel Choir. Concerts listed are free.

    Oct. 1 USC Concert Choir (Main Street United Methodist Church)
    Nov. 19 University Chorus (Shandon United Methodist Church)
    Dec. 4 USC Concert Choir Christmas concert (First Presbyterian Church)
    March 3 University Chorus and USC Concert Choir (Main Street United Methodist Church)
    April 7 USC Women’s and Men’s Chorus (Johnson Performance Hall)
    April 25 Carolina Alive (School of Music Recital Hall)

    USC-Cornelia Freeman Concert Series
    Featuring the university’s music faculty performing a diverse repertoire, this chamber music series raises scholarship money. Concerts are in the School of Music Recital Hall. Season tickets are $50 for adults; $40 for senior citizens, USC faculty and staff. Single tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for senior citizens, USC faculty and staff; and $5 for students.

    Sept. 6 Music by Johannes Brahms, Bruno Siegfried Huhn, Mana-Zucca, Fred Teuber, George Crumb, and Claude Debussy
    Sept. 13 Music by Ernő Dohnányi, Robert Schumann, Darius Milhaud, André Caplet, Tayloe Harding
    Sept. 20 Music by Franz Schubert, André Previn, and William Bolcom
    Sept. 27 Music by Barbara York, Johannes Brahms, Scott Wyatt and Bert Ligon

    USC-Jazz Ensembles
    The music of Miles, Coltrane, Goodman and many others take center stage as jazz ensembles of all sizes — big bands to small combos — perform “America’s classical music” throughout the year. All concerts are free.

    Oct. 8 Jazz faculty recital (School of Music Recital Hall)
    Nov. 5 Left Bank Big Band (Johnson Performance Hall)
    Nov. 12 Swing Shift Big Band (Johnson Performance Hall)

    USC-Parker Quartet
    For the third consecutive year, the Grammy-winning Parker Quartet is in residence at the School of Music. Ticketed performances are $15 for adults; $10 for senior citizens, USC faculty and staff, and military; $5 for students. The public is invited to observe master classes.

    Nov. 10 Johnson Performance Hall
    Nov. 15 Family Concert (Johnson Performance Hall, free)
    March 15 Johnson Performance Hall
    March 20 Family Concert (Johnson Performance Hall, free)

    USC-Southern Exposure New Music Series
    A free concert series that presents some of the best contemporary classical music and musicians in the world? Yes, please.

    Oct. 2 George Crumb’s Apparition: Soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Jacob Greenberg
    Jan. 29 Exposed Wiring V: C Street Brass, Percussionist Cameron Britt and USC faculty (four world premieres; live performance with electronics series)
    April 1 Transforming the Concert Experience: Karel Dohnal (clarinet) and Peter Ferry & Xuan (percussion and video design duo)
    April 15 Indie Grits collaboration (films commissioned to accompany music)

    USC Symphony Orchestra
    All concerts at the Koger Center. Tickets are $30 for the general public and senior citizens; $25 for USC faculty and staff; $8 for students. Purchase at 251-2222, or online at the Koger box office.

    Sept. 15 Paremski Plays Tchaikovsky (Piano Concerto No. 1; guest artist Natasha Paremski)
    Oct. 20 John Williams Extravaganza! (film score classics; guest artist Michael Ludwig, violin)
    Nov. 17 Viva España! (guest artists Beijing Guitar Duo and mezzo-soprano Janet Hopkins)
    Feb. 23 All-Beethoven Concert (guest artist Vadim Gluzman, violin)
    March 22 Poems And Songs (guest artist Janet Hopkins, mezzo-soprano)
    April 18 Segev Plays Elgar (guest artist Inbal Segev, cello)

    USC-Southeastern Piano Festival
    Features internationally known guest artists and the Arthur Fraser International Competition, which brings outstanding young pianists from throughout the country to Columbia. Events held in the School of Music Recital Hall and the Johnson Performance Hall.

    June 2016 TBA

    USC Symphonic Winds
    Under the baton of Cormac Cannon, the Symphonic Winds perform music that represents both traditional and contemporary genres. Performances are free.

    USC Wind Ensemble
    The highly regarded USC Wind Ensemble is committed to new music and is conducted by Scott Weiss. Performances are free.

    Sept. 21 USC premiere of Luminosity: Concerto for Wind Orchestra by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Joseph Schwantner (Koger Center)
    March 18 Johnson Performance Hall
    April 24 Koger Center for the Arts

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    By Lisa Willis

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    Arrested Development

    Eight storylines to watch in the upcoming Gamecocks season
    By Free Times
    South Carolina’s Brandon Wilds scores a touchdown against Florida on Nov. 15, 2014. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina
    By Scott Hood

    Steve Spurrier’s 11th season on South Carolina’s sidelines promises to be better than his last, when the Gamecocks snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on three separate occasions and sputtered to a disappointing 7-6 finish. Well, that’s what Spurrier hopes, anyway.

    The long offseason brought myriad changes to Carolina’s football program. Not only are there new looks on the coaching staff (new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke) and the roster (loads of new players, particularly on defense), but the sparkling-new, multimillion-dollar Gamecock Park facility — a complex surrounding Williams-Brice Stadium that boasts practice fields, an indoor facility and plaza and that has been in the pipeline for years — was unveiled, too. With new faces and new facilities, though, come similar questions. What’s in store for the Gamecocks in 2015? With the season opener against North Carolina rapidly approaching, we look at the season’s top storylines.

     1. The Quarterback Conundrum 

    For the first time since 2008, when three different quarterbacks (Chris Smelley, Stephen Garcia and Tommy Beecher) started under center for the Gamecocks, major question marks surround the sport’s most important position. Dylan Thompson took every meaningful snap in 2014, which left the three returning quarterbacks with virtually no experience. Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia return; true freshman Lorenzo Nunez joined the party during spring practice. All four candidates had moments in August when each performed like he should be the guy. But practice is one thing (cue the Allen Iverson video); real games in stadiums in front of tens of thousands of fans are another. The key question: How will the newly minted starter — expected by pundits to be Mitch — avoid looking over his shoulder when the season begins?

     2. Running Back Depth 

    Last season, the play calling was evenly balanced between runs (479) and passes (468). But the Gamecocks also had a fifth-year senior quarterback guiding the offense, and Dylan Thompson set a single season school record for passing yardage. Given the lack of experience at quarterback, will Spurrier lean on a deep running back corps led by senior Brandon Wilds and junior David Williams? Don’t be surprised if he does. Wilds, whose career rushing total is 1,277 yards, is a proven commodity; he racked up 570 yards last season on an average of 5.4 yards per carry. Injuries, though, have plagued him. Wilds redshirted in 2012 with a high ankle sprain, and he missed most of 2013 with a dislocated elbow.

    Williams has been the starting running back in waiting since he first stepped on campus in 2013. He finally cracks the top two on the preseason depth chart after patiently waiting his turn behind Wilds and Mike Davis, who jumped to the NFL after last season. Will Williams be rewarded? Senior Shon Carson is third on the depth chart, but he’s experienced, with 29 games under his belt. Carson’s shining moment came in 2013, when his 58-yard burst through the middle helped set up the game-winning field goal against Florida. Last year, he impressed again with a 25-yard TD run at Kentucky.

     3. Shell Moves From Right To Left 

    For all the highly publicized personnel changes the Gamecocks made on defense (see below), one of the most intriguing moves made by offensive line coach Shawn Elliott in the spring — and perhaps the shrewdest — was shifting mammoth Brandon Shell (6-foot-6, 328 pounds) from right tackle to left tackle. Shell started at left tackle in his college debut at Vanderbilt in 2012, but struggled and was soon moved to the more familiar right side, where he played in high school. Now Shell will try the left side again, in an effort to prove to NFL scouts that he can protect the quarterback’s blind side. If the experiment proves a success, Shell could become a high-round draft pick in 2016 — and provide a rookie Gamecocks quarterback with much-needed time. Who plays right tackle? Either fifth-year senior Mike Matulis or redshirt junior Mason Zandi is likely to get the call; the other could end up at guard.

    Junior wide receiver Pharoh Cooper evades South Alabama cornerback Margo Reed (No. 31) on Nov. 22, 2014. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina

     4. Cooper, And Then Who? 

    Junior wide receiver Pharoh Cooper went from a virtual unknown — just three catches in 2013 — to one of the SEC’s top receivers after grabbing 69 passes for 1,136 yards, the sixth-highest single season reception total in school history, during the 2014 campaign. Few will forget his acrobatic catch against Miami in the Independence Bowl. But football teams rarely flourish with one go-to receiver. Somebody else must step out to give Cooper a helping hand, or Carolina is begging opposing defenses to double- or triple-team Cooper on every snap. Here’s the sobering reality: Just like at quarterback, the Gamecocks have virtually no experience across the board at receiver outside of Cooper. Eight of the 10 receivers listed on the preseason depth chart have yet to catch a single pass in a Gamecock uniform. Only fifth-year senior Shamier Jeffery has anything other than a zero in the receptions column — he has eight career catches.

     5. The Jon Hoke Dynamic 

    If you had a nickel for every time Spurrier has uttered a variation of the phrase “We’ll definitely be improved on defense next season” over the past six months, your intake would equal the GDP of a small country. Spurrier’s optimism can be summed up in two words: Jon Hoke. Exasperated by the dreadful performance of the Gamecock defense in 2014, Spurrier desperately searched for something — anything — to spark the Gamecock defense.

    He convinced his old buddy Hoke, who was his defensive coordinator at Florida from 1999 to 2001, Spurrier’s final three seasons in Gainesville, to jump aboard. Hoke brought a simpler 4-3 base scheme to Columbia and a laser-like focus on fundamentals, technique and execution — three things often missing from the 2014 unit. He will mix in some zone blitz and Tampa 2, a pro-style defensive scheme. Fragments of the traditional 4-2-5 survive as well, but Hoke, programmed by 13 years in the NFL, refers to the alignment as the nickel. Hoke shares the co-defensive coordinator title with Lorenzo Ward, but the former will serve as the chief play-caller during games.

     6. Defensive Line Transformation 

    Year one P.C. — post-Clowney — was, putting it nicely, an epic disaster for the Gamecock defensive line. Carolina finished last in the SEC in sacks (14 in 13 games), averaged just two quarterback pressures per game — opponents averaged nearly four — and allowed a SEC-high 5.4 yards per rushing attempt. In short, they couldn’t pressure the quarterback or stop the run. Even a junior-high football coach would tell you that’s a lethal combination. Once the season was over, Spurrier and the defensive coaches set out to transform the defensive front in a big way.

    When the ink dried on National Signing Day, the Gamecocks had signed seven defensive linemen, six of whom qualified for admission under NCAA and/or school standards. (Devante Covington failed to get into school.) Many names are now familiar to Gamecock fans: Marquavius Lewis, Dante Sawyer, Dexter Wideman, Shameik Blackshear, Ulric Jones and Boosie Whitlow. They have been given every chance to earn a spot on the depth chart. Was Spurrier delivering a stern message to the holdovers? You bet. The competition for playing time was fierce in preseason camp, and it should continue into the season.

     7. First Graduate Transfer 

    Ever since Russell Wilson left North Carolina State and led Wisconsin to a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth in 2011, the frenzy to sign graduate transfers (essentially, the NCAA’s version of free agents) has been rising. The Gamecocks have been reluctant to sign graduate transfers, however — until this year. Looking for veteran leadership in the secondary, the Gamecocks leaped at the opportunity to sign Kansas safety Isaiah Johnson, a native of Cary, North Carolina. After attending Western Carolina (2011) and Iowa Wesleyan (2012) each for a year, Johnson was a two-year starter for the Jayhawks, recording 148 tackles and six interceptions in 24 games. He was honored as the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2013 after finishing second on the team with 73 tackles. Yeah, he can play a little. As soon as preseason camp started, Johnson staked a claim to the starting free safety job and was soon taking snaps with the first-team defense. The secondary was hurt by a lack of experience a year ago, and several true freshmen were baptized by fire. Johnson’s maturity and talent could calm the waters in 2015.

     8. The Forever Difficult SEC Schedule 

    Saying the Gamecocks play a difficult schedule every year is obvious. It will be difficult every year as long as the conference continues playing football, which should happen for at least the next few decades. In addition to the neutral-site opener against North Carolina, the Gamecocks face four tough road tests at Georgia (Sept. 19), Missouri (Oct. 3), Texas A&M (Oct. 31) and Tennessee (Nov. 7), along with tough home contests against LSU (Oct. 10) and Florida (Nov. 14). Oh yeah, the regular season closes with the Palmetto Bowl rivalry game against Clemson Nov. 28 at Williams-Brice Stadium. That’s a 12-game schedule with few SEC pushovers and two ACC teams, plus a respectable Central Florida team. South Carolina will likely be favored in no more than six — at most, seven — games this season, so if the Gamecocks want to post a better record than last season’s disappointing 7-6 mark, they’ll need to pull off an upset or two, especially on the road.

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    Bringing Space to Life

    By Kara Meador
    Science teacher James Hagerty wants his students to experience the astronaut-style training he received at NASA Space Camp for teachers.
    A Midlands middle school teacher took one small step for science, and one giant leap toward getting his students excited about a career in STEM fields.

    From testing a high-tech flight simulator and sailing across a zip line to a contraption that spins human beings around until they can’t see straight, Summit Parkway Middle School science teacher James Hagerty’s experience at a NASA Space Camp for teachers was, well, out of this world.

    Hagerty teaches 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade science in Richland District Two’s STEM Institute of Design and Innovation (SIDI) Magnet Program. He tackled real life astronaut training as part of the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy (HESA), a scholarship program designed to inspire middle school math and science teachers to become more effective educators in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

    So how does a Columbia science teacher wind up at Space Camp in Hunstville, Alabama?

    Hagerty says it was something he dreamed of as a kid.

    “I always wanted to go, but I wasn’t able to when I was young,” he says.

    Sometimes fate has a way of catching up with you.

    Honeywell brought a program to Hagerty’s school recently to teach students about Newton’s Law. At the end of the presentation, teachers were encouraged to apply to Honeywell’s academy.

    Hagerty thought, “Are you kidding me?” and he went for it.

    The science guru sent in his application, and a short time later, his childhood dream was realized. Hagerty was one of 205 educators from 24 countries and 39 states and territories chosen to participate in the June camp.

    Classes included astronaut-style exercises such as high-performance jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, land and water survival training, and an interactive flight dynamics programs.

    “There was nothing that I did that was not up my alley,” Hagerty says.

    At space camp, teachers become the students. Hagerty says he particularly enjoyed the team-building missions where he worked with colleagues from around the globe to solve real problems.
    “What they do is simulate you as a team in a space shuttle, or on a moon base,” he says.” They’ve also developed a simulation for the future Orion project — where we want to go back to the moon and make it a jumping place for training to go to Mars.”

    The workshops and classroom activities were taught by crew trainers and, in some cases, personnel from the NASA Education Resource Center.

    Back home on Earth in South Carolina, Hagerty says he’s re-energized and ready to inspire his students this school year.

    Not only will he share his space camp experience, but Hagerty is also planning to tap into a number of educational resources supplied by HESA to help bring his lessons to life. He’s also wants to recreate some of the hands-on exercises he performed with his students.

    “When the Apollo, Gemini and Mercury capsule came back into the atmosphere, they had to burn off part of their capsule because they came into the atmosphere at a high rate of speed,” Hagerty says. Hagerty and his space camp team were charged with developing a shield to withstand the heat. Using an egg, the shield they developed and a blowtorch, they put their work to the test.

    “We got to see how hot our egg got — whether we cooked it or whether we actually protected it by the shield we developed.”

    Hagerty is so hooked on his Space Camp experience that he’s not only bringing his trip into the classroom, he’s also hoping to take his class to Space Camp. He and his colleagues are on a mission to take all 80 of the SIDI 8th grade students to space camp at the end of this school year. It’s not any easy task since the adventure will cost more than $900 per student. With the motto, “no space cadet left behind,” Hagerty, his colleagues and his students will try to raise nearly $75,000 this year.

    First up in the fundraising effort is a partnership between the SIDI magnet program and Beef O’Brady’s restaurant on Hardscrabble Road in Columbia. If you eat at the restaurant (or order takeout) Aug. 31, Sept. 14, Sept. 21 or Sept. 28 and tell the server that you are there to support Summit Parkway Middle School, a portion of the sales from those meals will be given to the SIDI program to help pay the cost of the trip.

    For more information on Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy (HESA) head to HESA begins accepting applications in September.

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    Planet Earth, Rio, Gladys’ Gang

    By Free Times
    Planet Earth: Shallow Seas 4-D Experience
    South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921
    Date: Ongoing
    Cost: $13.95; $12.95 seniors (age 62+); $11.95 children (ages 3-12); $4 members. All tickets include museum admission.

    In this 15-minute epic 4d adventure, hear the power of the ocean’s waves as they crash along the shoreline, and feel the salty spray as you surf the coast with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in search of food.

    Rio: The 4-D Experience
    South Carolina State Museum
    301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921,
    Date: Ongoing
    Cost: $13.95; $12.95 seniors (age 62+); $11.95 children (ages 3-12); $4 members. All tickets include museum admission.

    When the last blue macaws on Earth, blu and Jewel, are captured by bird smugglers, they must work together despite Blu’s inability to fly.

    Gladys’ Gang: I’m a Little Teapot or Coffee Pot
    Columbia Museum of Art
    1515 Main St., 803-799-2810,
    Date: Sept. 2
    Cost: Free

    Enjoy stories and songs and a visit to the galleries to find teapots and coffee pots, then head to the studios for a hands-on project.

    BUGS! Giant Robotic Creatures
    South Carolina State Museum
    301 Gervais St., 803-898-4946,
    Date: Through Sep. 7
    Cost: $13.95; $12.95 seniors and military; $11.95 children; free for ages 2 and younger

    Explore some of the world’s most common insects like never before as they are shown 40 to 120 times their size. Using animatronics and interactive technology, brings to life the hidden world of insects.

    Family Night
    EdVenture Children’s Museum
    211 Gervais St., 803-779-3100,
    Date: Sept. 8
    Cost: $1; free for members

    EdVenture’s Family night is on the second Tuesday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m.

    Passport to Art: Set the Table
    Columbia Museum of Art
    1515 Main St., 803-799-2810,
    Date: Sept. 13
    Cost: Free

    Create a still-life collage from a variety of materials. This free drop-in studio program for families features a new hands-on art project each month.

    Click, Clack, Moo
    Columbia Children’s Theatre
    3400 Forest Drive, 803-691-4548,
    Date: Sept. 18-27
    Cost: $10; $8 seniors and active-duty military; $5 all tickets on Saturday night

    When cows learn to type, their literacy rate goes up — and they start making demands of Farmer Brown.

    Annual Fall Festival
    South Carolina State Museum
    301 Gervais St., 803-898-4921,
    Date: Sept. 19
    Cost: Outdoor activities are free; food, drink and art available for purchase.

    Presents a mixture of opportunities for guests to eat a variety of South Carolina-made barbeque and other delicious food, listen to live bluegrass music, meet folk artists and craftsmen, watch demonstrations of their skills and even purchase works of art and crafts.

    EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St., 803-779-3100,
    Date: Sept. 19
    Cost: $11.50; free for members

    Through hands-on experiences, children will see the concept of farm to market to table as they learn about farm animals, farm machinery, and the fresh produce that keeps us healthy.

    The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head
    EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St., 803-779-3100,
    Date: Through Sept. 20
    Cost: $11.50; free for members

    The popular exhibit features Mr. Potato Head, the much-loved silly character, who becomes an astronaut, explorer, scientist and undersea adventurer with a change of his “parts.”

    Family on Safari: Fall Fest Event
    Riverbanks Zoo, 500 Wildlife Pkwy, 779-8717,
    Date: Oct. 2
    Cost: $45

    Overnight adventure at the zoo for ages 5 to adult. Dinner, snack and breakfast will be provided.

    Boo at the Zoo
    Riverbanks Zoo
    500 Wildlife Pkwy, 779-8717,, Date: Oct. 16-30
    Cost: $13.95 (adults); $11.50 (kids 2-12)

    Children 12 and under are invited to wear costumes for a spook-fest complete with Frankenstein’s Foam Zone, an eeky freaky DJ dance party and a trick-or-treat trail with candy and much more.

    Brementown Musicians
    Columbia Marionette Theatre
    401 Laurel St., 803-252-7366,
    Date: Through Oct. 31
    Cost: $5

    The musical adventures of Donkey, Cat and Rooster as they travel to Bremen Town to earn their fame and fortune.

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    Bee Dance, Roller Girl, Colorfy: Coloring Book

    By Free Times
    Bee Dance
    Rick Chrustowski (author/illustrator)
    Henry Holt, 32 pages, $17.99, Ages: Infant to 6

    Waggle, twirl, fly and learn together with this early science picture book for little ones. Enjoy the bold, colorful illustration, simple text and imaginative action words as you follow the journey of bees in search of food and learn about the amazing way they communicate direction and distance to a food source through a dance. A concluding page provides more information on the subject. This fantastic read-aloud will get you and your little one moving, talking and observing nature. — Lori Cook, Richland Library

    Roller Girl
    Victoria Jamieson
    Penguin Young Readers Group, 239 pages, $13.11, Ages: 9-12

    In this engaging graphic novel, 12-year-old Astrid is about to begin her most difficult summer yet. She is going to roller derby camp, but she can’t skate. Her best friend has ditched her for dance camp and another girl. She also finds herself lying to her mom. However, summers are a time for change. Working hard, Astrid becomes a better skater and even discovers a roller derby mentor. She finds a new friend and a new confidence in herself — but also learns that no matter how hard you work, there will always be disappointments. Highly recommended for fans of Girls Rock Columbia and girl power everywhere. — Heather McCue, Richland Library Children’s Room

    Colorfy: Coloring Book
    iPhone and Android
    Ages: 4 and up

    Coloring is not just for preschoolers anymore. Colorfy is a coloring therapy app designed for ages 4-plus that provides intricate digital coloring books, which can be filled in with just the touch of a finger. Choose your favorite colors and designs of florals, animals, patterns and more to create art pieces that can be shared with family and friends. Relax your mind while filling in beautiful designs with this easy-to-use app. — Alison Berry, Richland Library Teen Services.

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    When Your Introvert Goes Back to School

    By Amy Reeves
    Recently, one of my friends was reading the bestselling young adult book Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. In the novel, the introverted main character, Bella, on her first day of a new school, has students and vampires fighting for her attention at the lunch table. I (um … I mean my friend) thought: In what universe would this ever happen?

    New school or not, the first day of school challenges introverted students at any age. For introverted me, the night before the first day of school from kindergarten through senior year was a sleepless one. Who would be in my classes? Would it be possible this year to slip away to a quiet swing during recess to continue reading Nancy Drew and the Invisible Intruder? Would I have to deal with my bully, Wanda? Would my friends get along? What if my lunch period was at a time where I didn’t know anyone and I would have to (gulp) introduce myself to other students and make awkward, polite conversation?

    Needless to say, when my introverted 9-year-old son told me the night before the first day of school that he had butterflies in his stomach, I relived my childhood all over again. For the entire week before school started, he expressed worry about his friendships for the new school year. Sensitive and over-reflective, he rehashed situations from the previous school year. He worried that his best friends might not be in his class. He talked a lot about a boy who hurt his feelings the previous year.

    “What if he’s in my class again?” he asked, worriedly, a few days before the start of school.

    “Will you just stop?” my extroverted 7-year-old daughter said one day. “Who cares? If he does say something again, just shake it off like Taylor Swift! Geez.”

    But the truth is that schools aren’t typically suited for smart, reflective, sensitive introverts like my son. The hard truth is that extroverts get the bulk of the attention — on the playground, in the classroom, in gym class. (Don’t even get me started on how middle school P.E. classes are a level of hell for the introvert. Sixth-grade dodgeball, anyone?)

    So, how do we as parents nurture and empower our introverted children? How do we get them to shine in a large classroom dominated by louder and more outgoing students?

    I think the main thing is that we need to get over the idea that being an introvert is bad.

    Although quiet and sensitive, introverts are also deeply reflective and empathetic. There’s nothing “weak” about the introvert personality. The recent, powerful book by Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, addresses this issue. Her 2014 TED talk launched the Quiet Leadership Institute with a mission to embolden introverts to be leaders at home, in workplaces, in communities and in the global world. More specifically, the Quiet Leadership Institute provides helpful resources for parents and teachers of introverted children.

    Although all of this is wonderful, I can’t rely on the Quiet Revolution to change the world overnight to accommodate my son. I can’t expect all of his teachers to have taken a Quiet Leadership Institute course on nurturing introverted students. So instead, as a parent, I’ve been brainstorming ways to help him thrive.

    First, I’ve learned that he has unique ideas and questions about the world. (Trust me: our family hears all about them every night at dinner: “Presidents should express their ideas through Lego creations.” “What happens if someone is going to have a baby and she doesn’t have any money?”) My husband and I have been trying to help him learn to speak up outside of our home. His ideas are too good to be trapped in his own brain all the time.

    We’re trying to move his sensitive nature more toward empathy. In the same way he gets his feelings hurt easily, he’s the first to notice when someone else in a room is sad, angry or embarrassed. What kind of things can he say to make someone feel better?

    Also, introverts are notoriously great readers, and study after study shows that people who read fiction, because they’re imaginatively entering someone else’s world, are more empathetic. Because of this, we encourage his love of reading, specifically pushing books where characters are brave or where storylines extend or challenge his feelings for people or animals or his ideas about the world.

    Finally, we give him quiet unstructured time after school. Introverts need to “regroup” after being with people for long periods of time. Before he starts his homework, we let him play with his Legos for half-an-hour in his room or read a book. He’s much more focused and patient with his homework if he has this alone time after school.

    Although an introvert myself, challenging and empowering my introverted son is a constant struggle. Fortunately, the new ongoing conversations about introverts have helped immensely.

    Resources for Parents and Teachers of Introverted Children

    Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

    The “Kids” Section on the Quiet Leadership Institute’s webpage:

    Quiet Kids: Helping Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extraverted World by Christine Fonseca

    The Shy Child: Helping Children Triumph Over Shyness by Ward K. Swallow

    Amy Carol Reeves lives in Columbia, where she works as an assistant professor of English at Columbia College and writes young adult novels. Recently, she completed a trilogy surrounding the Jack the Ripper murders in Victorian London; learn more at

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    Quo Vadimus?

    Is South Carolina a program in decline?
    By Patrick Wall
    South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier reacts to the Gamecocks’ loss to Missouri on September 27, 2014. Photo by Travis Bell / Sideline Carolina
    The final episode of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant but doomed television show Sports Night is called “Quo Vadimus,” which, translated from Latin, means “Where are we going?” The phrase works its way into a pivotal plot point, when the actor Clark Gregg, portraying a mysterious businessman who owns a company called Quo Vadimus, attempts to comfort Felicity Huffman’s late-night-sports-show producer.

    “I’m what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man,” Gregg’s character says, “and I’ve failed much more than I’ve succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together and I say, ‘Where are we going?’ And it starts to get better.”

    Steve Spurrier is what the football world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. The 1966 Heisman Trophy winner. 1996 National Champion. Six-time SEC champion. Seven time SEC coach of the year. An all-time winning percentage of 72 percent. He has succeeded much more than he has failed.

    But the 2014 season for Spurrier and South Carolina was, in a word, terrible. Coming off three straight 11-2 seasons and expected to compete for the SEC East title (if not the overall SEC crown), the Gamecocks laid an egg. They got embarrassed at home by Texas A&M to open the season, figured out a way to blow fourth-quarter leads at home to Missouri and Tennessee, and got clobbered by Clemson en route to a 7-6 finish and a miserable 3-5 SEC record.

    So, after failing, at least by his own lofty standards, Spurrier got his people together — a group that includes new defensive co-coordinator Jon Hoke — and asked, “Where are we going?”

    “Sometimes after you go 11-2 three years in a row, some people just assume, ‘We’re going to keep on winning,’ but it didn’t quite happen that way,” Spurrier said during spring practice. “We were not a real strong team. We are by a long way not a finished product, but we’ve got time.”

    With almost every game winnable and losable, it’s difficult to confidently predict South Carolina’s fortunes, whether the Gamecocks’ 2014 was a hiccup or a harbinger. Record-setting passer Dylan Thompson is gone, but two four-star quarterbacks, sophomore Connor Mitch and freshman Lorenzo Nunez, are competing to succeed him. The defense returns a number of starters — but those starters came from a unit that finished 94th out of 128 FBS football programs. (Really, there’s almost nowhere to go but up for the defense, which opened by giving up 680 yards to Texas A&M last season and finished 13th in the SEC in total defense.) There are still questions on the offensive and defensive line — and the nine offseason decommitments from recruiting targets weaken the depth of both. Pharoh Cooper is a the team’s best offensive weapon, but he needs help. Isaiah Johnson, a graduate transfer from Kansas, should help the still-young secondary, which got murdered with quick passes.

    The season opener against North Carolina, then, becomes a barometer game. Maybe the Gamecocks come out strong and prove last year was a fluke. Maybe Mitch or Nunez is the real deal and emerges as one of the SEC’s star quarterbacks. Maybe the new defensive linemen, like vaunted recruits Marquavius Lewis and Dexter Wideman, contribute immediately and the defense returns to form, resembling one of the lights-out units from the 11-2 years. Maybe the Gamecocks ride momentum from a win at Bank of America Stadium — remember: Connor Shaw’s first start came in Charlotte — to a hot start, giving some much-needed confidence for a team that lacked it at points last season.

    But maybe not. Maybe the defense doesn’t improve. Maybe a surefire starting quarterback doesn’t emerge, and maybe he drags the offense down with him. The Tar Heels — themselves a team in limbo — have hired Gene Chizik to run the defense, and if they upset the Gamecocks, last year’s confidence issues will return in a hurry.

    Where are the Gamecocks going? Will things get better? It’s doubtful that even Spurrier knows for sure. But the opening game against North Carolina will go a long way toward figuring it out. Prediction: South Carolina 27, North Carolina 24.

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    College Guide 2015: Money

    By Free Times
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    Is it possible to spend $1,000 on pizza and Chinese takeout?

    Yes, it is.

    Luckily, you’re too smart to do that. A 2013 Pew Research report shows that millennials are more financially cautious than their parents and are carrying less credit card debt. Among college students, the average credit card debt is just $499, according to That’s the good news — the bad news is that debt can explode if you’re not careful. As nice as it is to buy iPhones and to eat out whenever you want to, it’s not the smart play.

    Here are a few College Board tips for how you can avoid falling into the credit card debt trap: (1) consider using a debit card (which deducts from your checking account) instead of a credit card (which is a loan you have to pay back). (2) beware of introductory teaser rates, late fees and rates on cash advances. (3) pay bills promptly, and pay the full balance off if you can (4) use credit only if you’re certain you are able to repay the debt (5) avoid impulse shopping on your credit card (6) save your credit card for a money emergency.
    Bottom line: Know what you are spending, and don’t spend more than you have to.

    That’s where a budget comes in. It will help you get a handle on your monthly expenses — rent, food, car, phone, everything — and figure out how much you can reasonably afford to spend on pizza or beer. Make it easy on yourself: Download a budget app now. Some popular ones include Mint, Pennies, Left to Spend, Slice, Moneydance and Jumsoft Money.

    As important as your monthly budget is, it’s also important to think about the bigger picture of how much you’re spending to be in college. There’s a good chance that you, your parents or both are racking up a fortune in debt to pay your tuition.

    The average student racks up almost $30,000 in student debt — a number that increases every year — but there are variations: Students at public schools pile up slightly less debt, while students at private and for-profit schools generally end up deeper in debt.

    Now, there’s a difference between “good debt” and “bad debt.” Loans to pay for your education are generally considered good — because the earnings potential of a college graduate is much higher than that of someone who has only a high school diploma.

    Still, you should take into consideration the amount of debt you’re taking on in relation to the earnings potential of your particular field. Science, computer, technical and health care fields, for example, will generally offer more earnings potential than journalism, English and art history. We’d never tell you not to develop your creative potential, but when your parents hassle you about coming up with a backup plan, it’s not because they’re jerks — it’s because they don’t want to be paying on your $100,000 debt after you land a $24,000 job. See how that math works?

    Regardless of what field you’re in, only take out as much in student loans as you absolutely need. If you can offset the amount of loans you need with a part-time job, do it: It could take years off what you are paying back later. Plus, if you can limit the amount of money you need to borrow now, it might give you more flexibility when it comes to deciding what job to take after you graduate.

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    College Guide 2015: Alcohol & Drugs

    By Free Times
    City Map & Neighborhoods
    You're Here … Now What?
    Music & Nightlife
    21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
    Alcohol & Drugs

    By the time you get to college, chances are you’ve already tried a little whiskey from the liquor cabinet, downed a beer or two at a friend’s house or been to a full-blown kegger on a spring-break trip.

    How much do teens and college students drink? By the end of high school, 66 percent of students have had more than a few sips of alcohol and 50 percent say they’ve been drunk, according to the Monitoring the Future survey. Still, rates of drinking are significantly lower than in the past; excessive drinking is about half the level it was 20 years ago.

    While drinking might have been just an occasional illegal foray in high school, though, it’s a way of life in college. From fraternity parties to tailgating at football games, drinking becomes a whole other ballgame, so to speak.

    You’ll probably meet people who are using fake IDs to getting into bars in Five Points and the Vista, and you might want to get one, too — but you should know that bouncers have seen every trick there is, and getting busted with a fake ID is a serious offense.

    If you use someone else’s ID to buy alcohol, you could get popped with $100 fine or 30 days in prison on your first offense — yes, we said prison — as well as having your driver’s license suspended for 90 days. If you alter a driver’s license — as opposed to just lying about your age — you could face up to a $2,500 fine and six months in jail, and your license could be suspended for six months.

    So, yeah, that’s serious stuff.

    Driving while intoxicated will get you in serious trouble, too. How bad could it be? Fines, jail time and a suspended license. Even a first offense could land you in jail for up to 90 days.

    If you do get popped with an alcohol-related ticket, you’ll need some advice., founded locally, knows the ropes when it comes to alcohol citations. (It can also help you avoid getting busted in the first place by tipping you off to which bars cops are at.) There are also local lawyers who specialize in this sort of thing — so if you (or your parents) are looking for a lawyer, make sure it’s one with a track record.

    Still, your best bet is to stay out of trouble on the front end: Don’t use a fake ID, don’t drink more than you can handle and make sure there’s always a designated driver. Also recommended: If you decide to drink, have a couple of aspirin handy.


    It’s inevitable: You walk into a party and someone hands you a bong.

    You go to a friend’s apartment and there’s a guy sitting on the couch hunched over a line of coke.

    Welcome to college, where drugs aren’t some abstract concept your parents are lecturing you about — they’re being sold door to door in your dorm.

    Popular drugs on campus include pot; spice/K2 (synthetic pot); prescription painkillers like Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin; and MDMA (also called Ecstasy or Molly).

    Thankfully, heroin use — which had been on the upswing — has leveled off. But there are different variants of drugs emerging all the time, as well as new names for old drugs. Fentanyl, for example, is an opioid that is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin — meaning it can easily kill you. Visit for a heads up on new and super-dangerous drugs.

    Bottom line: If you’re on a college campus, there are drugs around.
    What do you do now?

    There might be someone whose answer is “call the cops on the guy across the hall,” but Free Times has never met that person. In the real world, your choices most likely come down to: (1) Do you partake? (2) If so, can you do it safely? (3) What do you do if things get out of control?

    Doing illegal drugs is, well, illegal, and we don’t recommend you do stuff that could cause injury to yourself — or land you in the slammer. Just because pot is legal in Colorado, Oregon, Washington State and Alaska doesn’t mean police in South Carolina will cut you a break. Trust us — they won’t.

    Our advice? Don’t do drugs. But if you do, don’t be an idiot about it. Taking something you’ve never heard of is idiotic; so is taking something from someone you don’t know. Taking a large dose of anything is idiotic. Doing heroin or fentanyl is a lot more dangerous than taking a puff off a joint. And taking anything without being in the presence of people you know and trust is just asking for disaster.

    Should disaster strike, don’t wait to call for help. If there’s immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, consider USC’s Substance Abuse Prevention & Education line at 803-777-3933 (@SAPEatUSC on Twitter or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) via email) or the Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council ( at 803-726-9300 (Richland County) or 803-726-9400 (Lexington County).

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    College Guide 2015: Sports

    By Free Times
    City Map & Neighborhoods
    You're Here … Now What?
    Music & Nightlife
    21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
    Alcohol & Drugs

    Last year, the University of South Carolina football team was ranked No. 9 nationally in the pre-season Coaches’ Poll. Things didn’t quite pan out — the team ended the 2014 season at 7-6 — and this year, the Gamecocks are nowhere to be found in the Coaches’ Poll Top 25.

    Still, when it comes to USC football, you should know that the excitement level in Columbia is always high. And ever since Coach Steve Spurrier took the helm in 2005, the team has done extremely well overall.

    All that is to say that football tickets are a hot item in this town. So, how do you get your hands on them?

    Free student tickets are doled out through an online ticket distribution system — the same goes for basketball and baseball. To use the system, you need a valid Carolina Card, which you can learn about at

    The ticketing system penalizes students if they register for but don’t use a ticket — so don’t be a jerk. And if you miss out in your early years, don’t fret too much. The system assigns Loyalty Points for athletic attendance based mainly on seniority — meaning you’ll get more points for each game attended when you’re older — but also on things like showing up early for games and attending non-SEC games.

    So, for all you freshmen, that Central Florida game shouldn’t be much of a problem. But Clemson? LSU? Florida? Don’t hold your breath. Find out more about the ticket distribution system by visiting

    If you don’t like football, you’re going to feel out of place, as it consumes campus culture during the entire fall semester. Our best advice: Avoid the south ends of Rosewood Drive and Assembly Street if you can, and the Olympia neighborhood altogether. Gameday traffic occupies much of Assembly and Blossom streets close to campus; Rosewood Avenue and Bluff and Shop roads are often bumper-to-bumper as well. If you are going to the game, your best bet is to walk to Williams-Brice Stadium — even if you live on the far end of campus.
    There’s also a gameday shuttle, which picks up at the Colonial Life Arena and at Capital City Stadium.

    Obviously, the university offers other intercollegiate sports, some of which consistently compete at the highest levels — for instance, the women’s basketball team, which made it all the way to the Final Four in the 2015 NCAA tournament and was in the Sweet 16 the year before. Led by Dawn Staley, women’s basketball has generated amazing energy on campus, sometimes drawing 15,000 fans or more to the Colonial Life Arena. Given the team’s popularity, you’ll want to get your tickets early — especially for the biggest games.

    Then there’s USC’s baseball program, which has stumbled a bit lately but nonetheless has a strong history, having made it to the NCAA tournament 30 times and the College World Series 11 times since 1970. The team even won back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011. The pre-game atmosphere for baseball is a little more laid back than the tailgating hoopla for football, but attendees at the beautiful Carolina Stadium will still find a festive atmosphere. Cheer hard, but no cursing: They’ll throw your ass out!Traffic crunches pretty hard in Olympia during baseball, too, but the shutdown typically doesn’t last all day. Check first-pitch times and plan accordingly.

    Should you not dig baseball, football or basketball, USC’s soccer and track-and-field teams hold their own as well. Or if you’d rather participate than watch, USC offers a whole host of intramural and club sports, including flag football, soccer, softball and — somewhat surprisingly — ice hockey. Go to the games or play your own. Either way, the university’s sports culture is something you probably can’t avoid during your time on campus.

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    College Guide 2015: 21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow

    By Free Times
    City Map & Neighborhoods
    You're Here … Now What?
    Music & Nightlife
    21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
    Alcohol & Drugs

    If you’re not on Twitter, you’re probably out of the loop. We’re not telling you to drop Instagram or Snapchat, but when it comes to getting info you need in a hurry, Twitter is one of the best platforms around. As such, here’s a list of accounts that’ll prove useful during your time as a Gamecock.

    @FreeTimesSC: Whoa! How’d this get on this list? Follow for info on music, nightlife, food and all the nutty things that local and state politicians get into — some of which might actually affect you.

    @colatownfoodie: This account won big in our 2015 Best of Columbia reader’s poll. Helps you keep up on the latest restaurant openings and food events.

    @CarolinaAlert: A great day or night of fun can be ruined by a single moment of danger. Keep calm and follow Carolina Alerts for notices on criminal activity, inclement weather and areas to avoid around campus.

    @UofSCDining: Pro tip — Your eating habits don’t have to go to total s#!t just because you’re in college. Follow for information on healthier eating, and updates on new dining options in and around the Russell House.

    @Collegefessions: College kids are crazy. How crazy? Follow this Twitter account to read quick, humorous and possibly fabricated anecdotes on what college students around the nation will do for a case of beer or a ride to the mall.

    @DrinkingTicket: You’re going to have plenty of chances to consume alcohol during your college career. This Columbia-based account will help you find the cheapest deals on booze, while also providing updates about traffic delays and alerts to DUI checkpoints.

    @FunnyVines: The advent of these bite-sized videos has made it even easier to tumble down that slippery slope of unproductivity. Follow with caution.

    @GamecockFB: Football is kind of a big deal at the University of South Carolina. Follow for videos and interviews from your favorite SEC team.

    @Discover_SC: Columbia is a beautiful city, and this account aims to capture that beauty through images of sunsets, art exhibits, concerts, and, of course, food.

    @Ed2010News: “You need to get an internship” is something you’ll hear once or twice during your tenure at college, and Ed2010 maintains a steady flow of information on both internships (paid and unpaid) and job offers.

    @ExploreCHS: Just because you’re a USC student doesn’t mean you have to stay in Columbia all the time — a day trip to Charleston might be just what you need after a long week of tests. This account highlights happenings around the city.

    @UofSC_CampusRec: Believe us, studying isn’t everything. Sometimes it helps to go outside and get some sun. Follow for highlights on intramural sports, fitness classes and more.

    @FacesPics: Don’t freak out or anything, but the world is watching. Follow to see faces in the most random places.

    @USCSquirrels: As a student of the University of South Carolina you will become very familiar with the many, many squirrels around campus.

    @dogsdoingthings: An excerpt — “Dogs gesturing grandly and reassuring you, ‘None of this will matter in like five minutes.’”

    @NickTheatre: If you’re a fan of film, you should be following the Nick, which highlights an assortment of movies including documentaries and indie productions shot on an iPhone. Oh, and you can also drink in the theater.

    @thegamecock: This is a student-run, daily newspaper that covers campus news, sports, music and film. It also has student columns that provide different perspectives on hot-button topics around campus.

    @usccp: Carolina Productions keeps you up-to-date on the latest comedy shows and musical performances around campus. The best part? Students get in for free.

    @USCCrushes: Submit anonymous declarations of love in hopes that the person you’ve had your eye on since freshman year feels the same way.

    @UofSC: Giving your future alma mater a quick follow probably isn’t the worst idea in the world. Highlights both current and graduate student accomplishments, and posts updates on general campus occurrences.

    @UofSCStuLife: This is an account created to promote service and leadership opportunities. Follow for information about doing much more than just going to class. Résumé builder, anyone?

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    College Guide 2015: Music & Nightlife

    By Free Times
    City Map & Neighborhoods
    You're Here … Now What?
    Music & Nightlife
    21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
    Alcohol & Drugs

    You might not have noticed if you’re new to the city, but Columbia is in the midst of a development explosion, with thousands of new residents (many students) moving in and roughly $1 billion in investment coming into the Vista district alone.

    So if you’ve heard people say that Columbia’s kind of boring — that students just show up, do their time and then then use their degree to head off to larger nearby burgs like Atlanta or Charlotte, or vast metropolises like New York and Chicago — then your thinking is a bit outmoded.

    Columbia’s music scene is on the upswing along with the city, flush with exciting local bands, an auditorium (the venerable Township) that’s recently raked in names like The Avett Brothers and Jack White and the Vista’s Music Farm, a sister to the legendary large rock club with the same name down in Charleston.

    And if live music isn’t your thing, Columbia still has you covered. With a wide selection of dance clubs and cool bars strewn throughout the Vista, Five Points and other neighborhoods close to campus, you’ll rarely be without something to do. Just make sure you find time to study.

    Below, you’ll find a selection of the city’s nightlife highlights.

    Music Venues

    Colonial Life Arena
    801 Lincoln St., 803-576-9200
    You’ll go here for basketball games. You’ll also go here for the area’s biggest concerts. Recent visitors include James Taylor, Paul McCartney and Florida Georgia Line. The arena doesn’t host many shows, but when it does host a concert, it’s a big deal.

    Township Auditorium
    1703 Taylor St., 803-576-2350
    The Township hosts more shows, many of which are also a big deal. R&B greats, classic rock legends and popular modern artists are all on the menu at this beautiful 3,000-seat room.

    Music Farm Columbia
    1022 Senate St., 803-252-9392
    With a capacity that exceeds 1,000, the new Music Farm brings Columbia the large rock club it has sorely missed for most of the last decade. Expect a mix of Americana up-and-comers, feisty indie rock bands and other cool events.

    New Brookland Tavern
    122 State St., 803-791-4413
    An endearingly dilapidated watering hole in West Columbia, New Brookland is the longest-running rock club in the area. It’s also a fine place to stop in for a cheap PBR — as well as the best place in town to catch local bands and on-the-rise touring bands.

    Conundrum Music Hall
    626 Meeting St., 803-250-1295
    Looking to get weird? Go to Conundrum, a mecca for avant-garde jazz, out-there rock ‘n’ roll and basically any show that’s a little too out-there for the town’s other rooms.

    If you’re into local beer — and really, who isn’t — you’ll want to get to know Columbia’s breweries, including River Rat (1231 Shop Rd., 803-724-5712,, which features an outdoor deck with cornhole, along with Conquest (947 S. Stadium Rd., Bay 1, and Swamp Cabbage (921 Brookwood Drive, Check their websites for special events.



    1214 Main St., 803-403-1404
    Go for the bourbon, stay for the whiskey. Serves higher-end Cajun-Creole cuisine like squash jambalaya, bayou burgers, seared duck breast, steaks and more.

    900 Main St., 803-748-0540
    This stalwart brewpub boasts awesome bartenders, scrumptious entrées and an excellent beer and liquor selection. Looking to impress your date? You can’t go wrong here.

    Sheraton Rooftop Lounge
    1400 Main St., 803-988-1400
    Not for the acrophobic, the Sheraton’s hip Rooftop Lounge offers a classy clientele, fine libations and desserts, plus a panoramic view of the Capital City.

    The Whig
    1200 Main St., 803-931-8852
    This dark, underground bohemia offers good, cheap beer and good, cheap liquor to go along with good, cheap eats. Has an awesome jukebox filled with classic punk, Motown, jazz and much more.


    The Attic
    638 Harden St., 803-521-046
    Five Points’ only rooftop bar, with over 25 craft beers.

    Bar None
    620 Harden St., 803-254-3354
    Established in 1994, this is where the bartenders and servers go to wind down after all the other bars close. Relaxed atmosphere, smart playlists and absurdly delicious smoked wings.

    749 Saluda Ave., 803-748-8694
    Its retractable exterior wall opens to reveal the Five Points fountain plaza, thus making CJ’s a great spot for taking in this colorful corner of Columbia.

    Cock N Bull Pub
    326 S. Edisto Ave. 803-251-4474
    The Cock N Bull is an English-style pub with soccer matches aplenty on the tube. Pub food and daily specials include shepherd’s pie, fish-n-chips, pot roast and more.

    The Cotton Gin
    632 Harden St., 803-466-5566
    In the space once occupied by Red Hot Tomatoes, this bar’s mission is “celebrating the Roaring ‘20s in style.”

    741 Saluda Ave., 803-779-2345
    Delaney’s is as Irish as it comes here in the Bible belt. Personable staff, live music and a vibrant atmosphere round out the package.

    Group Therapy
    2107 Greene St., 803-256-1203
    Columbia’s quintessential college bar, with cheap drinks, loud music and an outdoor oasis to escape the crowd. Group wrote the book on college partying in Columbia.

    The Horseshoe
    724 Harden St.,
    Cheap drinks in a relaxed atmosphere — this new bar succeeds with a familiar Five Points formula.

    2112 Devine St., 803-708-4788
    This Five Points institution offers locally sourced food, craft beer, multiple bar stations and a beautiful, relaxing courtyard. Plus: shuffleboard.

    The Kraken Gastropub
    2910 Rosewood Dr., 803-955-7408
    A hip spot in Rosewood, The Kraken offers a wide swath of draft beers, signature beer-based cocktails, upscale bar-food menu and a swanky, cozy-cool vibe.

    2100-B Devine St., 803-929-1118
    For the Vista experience in Five Points, Lucky’s is your place — good wine and beer selection and an outdoor patio.

    2722 Devine St., 803-771-6575
    An out-of-the-way place with respect to Five Points, Nightcaps has a pool table, a big-screen television, comfy lounge chairs and a good late-night atmosphere.

    2000-B Greene St.
    Tucked behind the Salty Nut, Pavlov’s is a long-time stomping ground of college revelers and serves as hallowed ground for many in the fraternity and sorority circles.

    640 Harden St., 803-708-6838
    Next door to Lucky’s, Pinch, too, offers Vista atmosphere at Five Points prices. On-tap beers are rotated frequently, and frequently feature high-class offerings.

    Publick House
    2307 Devine St., 803-256-2207
    Exceptional beer selection, challenging trivia, hip music selection, über-friendly staff, good burgers and the best raw fries around.

    Salty Nut Cafe
    2000 Greene St., 803-256-4611
    Salty Nut is a lunch spot by day. By night, it’s the first place you hit coming down Greene Street from campus, and thus likely the first stop on many pub crawls. A great, cozy spot for a beer or some food.

    The Southern Belly
    1332 Rosewood Dr., 803-667-9533
    A cozy bar that also serves barbecue with all kinds of delicious sauces. Soon to open a second location at 819 Harden St. in Five Points.

    711 Saluda Ave., 803-255-0869
    Delaney’s classy, hip younger sibling boasts a fine liquor selection, great beers and a top-notch staff, as well as fine cigars, comfy couches and weekly jazz nights.

    The Thirsty Parrot
    734 Harden St.,803- 708-4768
    Like Jimmy Buffett? You’ll most likely dig this place, which offers fine burgers and spirits in an easygoing atmosphere.

    TLC Sports Bar and Grill
    936 S. Stadium Rd., 803-251-3087
    Want to party it up before or after a football game? The Loose Cockaboose is the ultimate Gamecock bar, located within a stone’s throw of Williams-Brice.

    Village Idiot
    2009 Devine St., 803-252-8646
    Columbia’s quintessential college-town pizza joint in a pub atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to enjoy delicious fare, cold beer, wallet-friendly weekly specials and a heaping helping of revelry.

    Yesterdays Restaurant and Tavern
    2030 Devine St., 803-799-0196
    A Columbia landmark since 1978, this is a great place for an undergrad to take his or her squeeze out for some Southern comfort food without maxing out the credit card. Above-average beer and liquor selection. Bar in the back has its own entrance on Devine Street.


    Art Bar
    1211 Park St., 803-929-0198
    Cool but never pretentious, the Art Bar is good for people-watching, conversation and rock ‘n’ roll. Its Saturdays (and occasional Thursdays) are filled with fun touring bands and established locals. Don’t miss Linda’s Carraoke on Wednesdays.

    721A Lady St., 803-251-4447
    Blue, a tapas bar and cocktail lounge, features Columbia’s only ice bar and draws in big crowds for its popular ’80s night on Wednesdays. Cozy late-night spot as well.

    Carolina Ale House
    708 Lady St., 803-227-7150
    Southeastern chain grille-and-groggery offers good eats, a good beer selection and plenty of televised sports. Features the Vista’s hottest rooftop bar and plenty of fun drink specials.

    Flying Saucer
    931 Senate St., 830-933-9997
    Flying Saucer led the wave of craft beer love in Columbia. Offering more selections than most commoners could imagine, it’s a beer drinker’s paradise with a nice front porch — plus waitresses in schoolgirl uniforms.

    800 Gervais St., 803-779-7789
    Jillian’s offers billiard tables, an arcade, walls of huge flat-screen televisions, a full menu and an extensive list of imports, domestics and other assorted cocktails and libations.

    Kelly’s Deli & Pub
    1001 Washington St., 803-254-4464
    If this converted fire station reminds you of Five Points, it’s probably because its owners cut their teeth working for iconic Five Points spots like Group Therapy and Jungle Jim’s. These Gamecock fans host regular acoustic performances in addition to karaoke and open mic contests.

    Liberty Tap Room
    828 Gervais St., 803-461-4677
    Affiliated with the brewpubs of the same name out on the coast, Columbia’s Liberty focuses more on other people’s beer than its own. But between the clientele, much-acclaimed menu and massive beer list, we doubt you’ll mind.

    936 Gervais St., 803-661-7741
    Pearlz’ stylish ambience and signature martinis make it a hotspot for Columbia’s young, urban professional crowd. Serves up oysters, raw shellfish and regional seafood favorites. Plus, its upstairs room offers live jazz on the weekends.

    PT’s 1109
    1109 Assembly St., 803-253-8900
    You could live your whole life in Columbia and not know this gay bar exists, and, frankly, its regulars probably wouldn’t mind all that much. Conversely, this haunt is a treasure to the folks who frequent it.

    Rocket Man
    700 Gervais St. (Suite B-2), 803-764-7529
    What’s better than a guy in the corner playing piano? Two guys in the corner playing piano. (Or ladies, as the case might be.) Features dueling piano shows Thursday through Saturday nights.

    807 Gervais St., 803-931-0700
    Sushi, sake and salacious servers ... what else could you want out of an über-hip Vista sushi bar?

    918 Gervais St., 803-603-4313
    One of Columbia’s hottest nightclubs, drawing a variety of world-class EDM artists to get the party going, frequently without a cover charge.

    Thirsty Fellow
    621 Gadsden St., 803-799-1311
    The pizza is great — really, all the food is — plus, this close-to-campus bar is super-friendly, offers great beers and has a great deck area.

    Tin Roof
    1022 Senate St., 830-771-1558
    Started in Atlanta in 1996, Tin Roof now has locations throughout the Southeast. Its calling cards: live music, good food and a laid-back atmosphere.

    700-C Gervais St., 803-312-9911
    Two chic sushi bars within two blocks of each other in the Vista? Be still our beating hearts! Tsunami’s elegant, contemporary atmosphere and ample seating area complements its extensive sake, wine and beer selection.

    Uncle Fester’s Sports Bar
    522 Devine St., 803-748-9897
    While most of the Soda City’s bars are closing up shop on Sunday morning, this watering hole between Palmetto Pig and Todd & Moore keeps the party going. Always packed with a diverse clientele.

    Uncle Louie’s
    1125 Park St., 803-933-9833
    Its no-frills, no-nonsense attitude has endeared this unassuming local bar to a loyal legion of regulars, but there’s always room for more.

    Wet Willie’s
    800 Gervais St., 803-779-5650
    Bahama Mama! Mojito Mojo! Grape! Peach! Mango! Serves alcoholic slushies — er, daiquiris — and, as such, is a late-night Vista favorite. Also has a pretty kick-ass music room upstairs.

    Wild Wing Café
    729 Lady St., 803-252-9464
    Sure, Wild Wing Café has sandwiches, salads and soup, but the obvious draw is its 33 flavors of wings. If you can’t decide on one, get the sampler platter. Also boasts a ton of TVs, a party atmosphere and a steady stream of regional rock bands.

    The Woody
    808 Lady St., 803-779-9663
    Named after beloved Columbia oldies disc jockey Woody Windham, The Woody is a popular Vista spot for shag and salsa dancing, but is way welcoming to partiers in their 20s, too. Offers nightly drink specials.

    World of Beer
    902-F Gervais St., 803-509-6020
    Offers over 500 different beers. Yes, Virginia: Five hundred beers on draft and in bottles. Wine and cigars, too.

    West Columbia

    State Street Pub
    136 State St., 803-796-2006
    An across-the-bridge institution, State Street Pub wins its crowd with pool, cheap beer, sports and plenty of charm. Loads of beers on tap. You’ll need to be a member, but you should be.

    A British Pub!
    As a student, you’ll like spend much of your time in Columbia’s downtown districts. But there’s life beyond the heart of the city, too. British Bulldog Pub (1220 E10 Bower Pkwy., 803-227-8918, serves up Guinness, traditional U.K. cuisine and sports (including soccer) on big-screen TVs.

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    College Guide 2015: Food

    By Free Times
    City Map & Neighborhoods
    You're Here … Now What?
    Music & Nightlife
    21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
    Alcohol & Drugs


    Chances are you’ll never eat as terribly as you do in college. You’ll find out quickly about the inescapable Freshman 15 — the 15 pounds freshmen typically pack on from too much pizza and not enough exercise or vegetables — not to mention the horrors of the unlimited dining plan.

    Here’s a hint, though: Even if your diet would make a nutritionist weep, your wallet and your waistline will still fare better if you stay away from fast food chains and stick with food from local restaurants. Columbia has plenty of wallet-friendly eateries catering to the college crowd.

    Andy’s Deli on Greene Street has been around almost forever. Photo by John Carlos

    College Delis

    These tried-and-true near-campus sandwich shops are a rite of passage for every Carolina student. Hell, your grandparents probably remember some of these places:

    Andy’s Deli (2005 Greene St., 803-799-2639, is a friendly and classic local deli.

    Beezer’s (919 Sumter St., 803-771-7771) makes great sandwiches fast.

    Groucho’s Deli (611 Harden St., 803-799-5708, has been in business since the 1940s. The STP Dipper is legendary. If you’re not living near Five Points, there are other locations all over the city.

    Pita Pit (2002 Greene St., 803-799-4557, will make you feel virtuous (actual vegetables!) while still filling you up.


    Sure, you could order a pizza from a big pizza chain. But you’d miss out on these local gems:

    Dano’s (3008 Rosewood Dr., 803-254-3266, is a low-key neighborhood joint with cheap pizza and lots of TVs.

    Nicky’s Pizzeria (2123 Greene St., 803-748-9661) serves New York-style pizza — Sicilian or thin.

    Pizza Man (341 S. Woodrow St., 803-252-6931) specializes in super-crispy, cracker-thin crust — a love-it-or-hate-it proposition — with cheap-slice nights on Tuesdays.

    Thirsty Fellow (621 Gadsden St., 803-799-1311, makes a kickass crust and has a great beer selection. Located right across Blossom Street from the Greek Village.

    Village Idiot (2009 Devine St., 803-252-8646; 4517 Forest Drive, 803-787-5005, is a venerable institution with cheap pizza and even cheaper beers. A new location is opening soon at 612 Whaley St., in the Mills.


    Sometimes, you’re studying too hard to get off the couch — or you’re too hungover to haul your ass further than the front door. For those times, these are our favorite options. Lots of other places listed in this section offer delivery, too; just ask. (And don’t be a jerk: Tip your delivery driver.)

    The aforementioned Beezer’s sells big, tasty sandwiches — and delivers them until the wee hours.

    Eddie’s Calzones (817 Harden St., 803-764-3669, delivers till 4 a.m. These late-night food pockets have become legendary on campus.

    Insomnia Cookies (2013 Devine St., 877-632-6654) delivers gooey, warm, slightly underbaked cookies until 3 a.m.

    Tea Pot (829 Knox Abbott Rd., 803-796-5888, offers cheap and tasty Chinese food and delivers within a wide radius.

    More Chinese Food

    Other great Chinese options close to the university include Main Moon (2800-D Rosewood Dr., 803, 251-8990), Eggroll Station (135 Sunset Blvd., 803-791-4060) and Eggroll Chen (715 Crowson Rd., 803-787-6820,

    Grilled Teryaki in Five Points is open super-late on the weekends. Photo by Jonathan Sharpe

    Late Nights

    You’ll probably end up at Grilled Teriyaki (748 Harden St., 803-933-9950, some night, wondering what exactly is in the addictive white sauce you just drizzled all over your fried rice.

    The Whig (1200 Main St., 803-931-8852, isn’t for just any college student — it leans more Velvet Underground than Selena Gomez — but it serves great bar food (burgers, cheese fries) till late. Tuesday nights mean 75-cent tacos.

    If you’re up really late, there are a few Waffle Houses ( in the area, most notably in Five Points (916 Harden St., 803-799-0313) and next to Williams Brice Stadium (1210 Bluff Road, 803-544-9685).

    If you’re out in the Vista, you might consider a trip to the 24-hour, recently renovated IHOP (1031 Assembly St., 803-251-9165, for some late-night pancakes and sausage.

    Hangover Helper

    Cafe Strudel (300 State St., 803-794-6634, is a good choice anytime, but it’s especially recommended the morning after you’ve been drinking. Order the Hangover Hashbrowns.

    Likewise, Pawleys Front Porch (827 Harden St., 803-771-8001) is great anytime — but one of their massive burgers could be particularly helpful after a rough night out.

    The Whig serves great bar food across from the State House. Photo by Jonathan Sharpe


    Got a hankering for some dessert? You’ll want to check out Cupcake (1213 Lincoln St., 803-212-4949,, Nonnah’s (923 Gervais St., 803-779-9599, and Kaminsky’s (930 Gervais St., 803-550-9979,

    Southern Comfort

    Missing grandma’s house? For true Southern comfort food, you’ve got two leading candidates: Yesterdays (2030 Devine St., 803-799-0196, is a great non-fratty Five Points bar and a low-key Southern restaurant.

    Lizard’s Thicket (818 Elmwood Ave., 803-779-6407; for other locations, see is a local meat-and-three chain that makes indispensable pot roast.

    Now that you’re in Columbia, you’ll need to eat some barbecue. There are lots of worthy contenders; one of them is Hudson’s Smokehouse (4952 Sunset Blvd., 803-356-1070,

    Tacos and Mexican Food

    Want cheap, healthy burritos and tacos? Head to Five Points classic El Burrito (934 Harden St., 803-765-2188).

    Tio’s (921 Sumter St., 803-252-7229, is a chill place for a smothered burrito and a Corona. Plus, they have delicious margaritas and specialty cocktails.

    And Cantina 76 (1301 Main St., 803-764-1769, and 2901-A Devine St., 803-708-6004, is a good place to impress a date — tasty margaritas, affordable tacos — without spending a million bucks.

    Off the Beaten Path

    As a student, you’ll likely spend a lot of time eating burgers, sandwiches and pizza at downtown spots. But sometimes you’ll want to explore further out, too — either in your choice of cuisine or in your choice of location.

    Parents in town? Take ‘em to Mr. Friendly’s (2001-A Greene St., 803-254-7828,, which serves up innovative New Southern cuisine.

    Arkos Mojo Grill and Martini Bar (109K Old Chapin Road, 803-785-5660, serves up ceviche, fancy salsas, paella, tacos and much more — and has a swank bar menu.

    Tired of the same old food? Al-Amir (1734 Main St., 803-401-5882, offers authentic and well-prepared Middle Eastern cuisine including hummus, falafel, lamb kabob, mujadara and shawarma.

    If you’ve never tried Indian food, you should. Delhi Palace (542 St. Andrews Rd., 803-750-7760, is a popular local spot, offering a buffet as well as traditional menu items.

    That’s just a small sampling. Keep an eye on Free Times and Bites & Sights for restaurant openings and more.

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    College Guide 2015: Shopping

    By Free Times
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    Whether you’re looking for a new dress, a new backpack, a cool T-shirt or some posters to liven up your dorm room, Columbia probably has what you’re looking for — and maybe what you didn’t know you were looking for, too. You know, it’s fun to actually try on that new outfit — and get some immediate feedback from your friends — rather than just hoping that what you order online will look how you want it to.

    If, like lots of students, your access to a car is limited, you’ll want to keep in mind the shopping districts closest to campus — Five Points, the Vista and Downtown (Main Street). A little further out are some great shops in Forest Acres and along State Street in West Columbia. And, if distance is no object, Columbia has big malls, too, including Columbiana Centre (Harbison) and the Village at Sandhill (Northeast).

    Here are some places to shop.

    What Do You Need?

    If you’re looking for something, well, general — anything from outdoors clothes to button-down shirts to kitchen items to candy — go to Mast General (Downtown: 1601 Main St., 803-771-2300, You can find just about anything.

    Loose Lucy’s: If you’re into The Grateful Dead or Phish, you’d better stop here. Photo by John Carlos

    Off the Beaten Path

    If you’re looking for hippie and bohemian threads and merchandise, Loose Lucy’s (Five Points: 709 Saluda Ave., 252-1390, has the vibe you want. The store started in 1990 selling tie-dye shirts in the parking lot at Grateful Dead shows. But it’s not just hippie threads here; you can pick up a Johnny-Cash-flips-the-bird shirt, too.

    If you’re looking for eclectic costumes for themed parties — or vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories to wear every day — make Hip-Wa-Zee (Five Points: 940 Harden St., 376-1500, your first stop.

    Vintage, Recycled, Reduced

    If you want high-end designers without paying high-end prices, Revente (Five Points: 737 Saluda Ave., 803-256-3076, is a designer consignment shop that stocks the runway labels.

    Looking for retro clothing? Scavenge Gentleman’s Closet (Five Points: 717 Saluda Ave., 256-3868) for a vintage suit or dress shoes.

    For other vintage and recycled selections, as well as some new items, stop by Double Takes (Vista: 1211 Lincoln St., 803-771-2335, Customers can consign clothes for cash or store credit.

    If you enjoy the hunt — and like to sell and trade, as well as buy — then you’ll want to check out consignment shop Sid N Nancy (733 Saluda Ave., 803-779-6454, Carries affordable clothes, jewelry, accessories, gifts and more.

    For catalog clothing at reduced prices, check out The OOPS! Co. (601 Harden St., 252-8734, Established in Charleston in 1982, OOPS! sells iconic brands and quirky, creative gifts.

    Natural Vibrations (Five Points: 719 Harden Street) sells everything from clothes to jewelry to glass and smoking accessories in an incense-filled, friendly environment. Photo John Carlos

    Look at Us — We’re a Real City

    Columbia has seen a big influx recently of major chains that once considered the city too small a market to enter. Among the more recent entrants are J. Crew and Anthropologie, both of which are in Trenholm Plaza in Forest Acres.

    Dressing in Style

    Looking for an eye-catching, custom-made dress for any occasion? Check out LaRoque (2700 Devine St., 803-765-6062,

    Urban Outfitters (Vista: 912 Gervais St., 803-254-5381, sells clothes that are smart, hip and flexible enough to go from the classroom to a night out.

    Bohemian (Five Points: 707 Saluda Avenue, 256-0629,, like its furniture-oriented counterpart, specializes in well-edited and contemporary tastes. It stocks stylish women’s clothing and accessories; don’t miss its shoes and jewelry.

    For high-end designers, Coplon’s (Forest Acres: 4825 Forest Drive, 790-0015, carries labels from Jason Wu and Oscar de la Renta to coveted Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo shoes. Coplon’s is Columbia’s high-end women’s clothing shop that also sells handbags, jewelry and cosmetics.

    For Stylish Guys

    If you’re the kind of guy who can talk denim washes with ease and wouldn’t think twice about dropping $150 on a shirt, then Circa 1332 (Downtown: 1332 Main St., 252-6714, is for you. Locally owned, American-heritage style.

    From the best brands in suits and trousers to shoes and shirts, whether it’s casual or formal, Granger Owings (Downtown: 1333 Main St., 803-252-6714, will get you looking right. Carries women’s clothing, too.

    Guys looking for a bow tie? You can’t go wrong at Britton’s (2818 Devine St., 803-771-2700, Their service is off the charts — no, really. Carries a full range of the finest clothes and accessories for both men and women.

    Don’t Forget Your Feet — Or Your Eyes

    Good for the Sole (Five Points: 631 Harden St., 803-254-9488) will have you stepping in the right direction. The store carries brands like Jack Rogers, Fly London, Tamaris, Dansko, Camper, Sperry, Taos, Rainbow and OTZ.

    For unique eyewear, get into Frame of Mind (Downtown: 140 State St., 803-988-1065,


    With inspiration from cultures throughout the world, check out HandPicked (Devine Street: 2822 Devine St., 803-251-2946, for creative and trendy jewelry.

    Van Jean (Devine Street: 2734 Devine St., 803-252-4339, stocks a well-edited selection of designer wares — and you don’t want to miss their sales or the back room with marked-down inventory.

    Whether it’s for football games in fall or flings in the spring, there’s always a need for trendy dresses, tops, handbags, jewelry and shoes. Make a trip to Wish (Five Points: 713 Saluda Ave., 803-563-5135,

    Bluetile Skateshop is a skater-owned store. Photo by John Carlos

    Skaters, Surfers and Runners

    Bluetile Skateshop (Five Points: 621 Harden St., 803-376-1880,, a skater-owned skate shop, carries a variety of skateboards, equipment, shoe and clothing brands. Bonus: It also hosts bands and screen films on occasion.

    If you need a board, Salty’s Surf Shop (Devine Street: 2712 Devine St., 803-748-9946, ( is the place for board sports, gear, clothing and accessories. Salty’s also carries a full line of swimwear, sunglasses and flip-flops.

    The locally owned Todd & Moore Sporting Goods (Vista: 620 Huger St., 803-765-0150, offers athletic wear and goods for all sports — plus a friendly, helpful stuff to help you figure out what you need.

    For those into running, run straight to Strictly Running (Devine Street: 2515 Devine St., 803-799-4786, You’ll find running gear and running partners.

    For the great outdoors, Half-Moon Outfitters (Devine Street: 2912 Devine St., 929-0771, has gear, clothing and footwear. The store occupies an expansive space just up the hill from Five Points.

    Also for the outdoors, The Backpacker (Vista: 1215 Wayne St., 803-799-7571, carries all your favorites including Patagonia and The North Face.

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    College Guide 2015: Housing

    By Free Times
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    On the surface, the housing question is simple. If you’re a University of South Carolina freshman, you’re required to live on campus. If you’re not a freshman, you can live anywhere you like. (Sophomores with good grades have priority for staying on-campus if they want to.) The question is, what kind of a living experience are you looking for?

    650 Lincoln is one of several new downtown student housing options. Photo by John Carlos

    Many off-campus student-housing communities have popped up around Columbia in recent years. Some offer resort-style living, with swimming pools, fancy gyms and upscale suites; others offer your basic white-walled, beige-carpeted three-bedroom apartment. Some will give you something like the dorm experience, with activities and programs; others just want you to pay your rent on time.

    If you’re new to town and want to meet people, student communities can be a good option. On the downside, these living situations can cut you off from the city you’re living in — sometimes literally, given that many aren’t within easy walking distance from campus and will require you to drive or take a private shuttle. However, that’s changing: Whereas private student housing used to be clustered near Williams-Brice Stadium — which is super convenient for football games, but out of the way for most other things — the newest student housing is being built in Columbia’s key downtown districts like the Vista and Five Points. There’s also The Hub on Main Street.

    More info for USC students
    Beyond these big privately owned complexes, Columbia is also home to a lot of student housing in the classic sense: rental houses and apartments tucked in the leafy neighborhoods surrounding the school. Sometimes you’ll deal with an individual landlord, sometimes with a property management company. In most cases, you’ll have to line up your utilities yourself, which often requires a credit check. This sort of renting is a good option if you’re looking to immerse yourself in all that Columbia has to offer. It’s good if you’re looking to take on a little more responsibility and gain a little more freedom. And, let’s face it, it’s good if you’re looking to party really, really hard. Just respect your neighbors, and take note that the City of Columbia doesn’t allow indoor furniture like couches on the front porch.

    Looking for housing? The University of South Carolina maintains a directory of off-campus housing listings at; you’ll need your USC network ID and password to log in. Also included on the site is a message board where you can search for roommates, buy and sell furniture and get your questions answered.

    You should also keep an eye out for signs around campus; ask around to find out how people like their apartment or property management company; and check the Free Times classified section regularly.

    No matter where you’re living, you’re probably not doing so alone. Whether you’re living with your best friend or some random kid from Pelion, you’re probably going to deal with some rough times. Just remember: You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to learn to get along with people who aren’t like you. However, if your on-campus roommate is seriously hampering your ability to get your work done or enjoy your college experience, talk to your RA about some strategies — or, if necessary, a room change.

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    College Guide 2015: Safety

    By Free Times
    City Map & Neighborhoods
    You're Here … Now What?
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    Columbia has roughly 133,000 residents, which means you’re not just surrounded by students on campus, but an entire urban area as well.

    Does that mean you should be fearful?

    No — just aware.

    Don't walk alone at night if you can help it. Photo by John Carlos

    Part of staying safe is knowing what’s going on in your community. For that, make sure you sign up for emergency text messages or online updates via the Carolina Alert system ( or @CarolinaAlert). They’ll notify you of everything from severe thunderstorms to sexual assaults.

    When it comes to Five Points, with its cheap booze and late night fun, it’s worth exercising some special caution so you don’t become a victim.

    First, never walk around alone at night. It’s one thing to stroll to Drip for a coffee at 10:30 a.m., but it’s something entirely different to walk to a bar by yourself at 11 p.m. — or, even worse, to walk back from the bar alone at 2 a.m.

    Lucky for you, the City of Columbia has just rolled out a new transportation plan to help students get from Five Points to campus late at night. Thursday through Saturday nights, cabs and shuttles are available at certain marked spots in Five Points — and no, they won’t be hassling you for being drunk, just taking you safely back to where you need to go.

    Crime can happen not only on the street, but also in a bar or on campus. In fact, most crimes are personal-property crimes. Take a look at the area around campus on — a crime-mapping tool — and you’ll see mostly theft charges. The USC police also post a daily crime log. In 2013, there were 15 burglaries, 32 vehicle thefts, two robberies and four forcible sexual offenses reported on campus, according to the federal government’s Office of Postsecondary Education (

    Here are some key tips to help keep you safe:

    (1) Keep your phone with you — and keep it on.

    (2) Make sure someone knows where you are at all times.

    (3) Don’t get in a car with someone who’s been drinking or taking drugs.

    (4) Know where the emergency call boxes are on campus (there are more than 200 of them).

    (5) Don’t leave a drink unattended because someone could slip a date-rape drug into it.

    (6) Don’t leave valuables unattended, even if it’s only for a few minutes

    (7) Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Yes, that means don’t text while you’re crossing the street.

    That’s a long list and you may not remember every single precaution, but try to remember this: Carry your phone at all times, don’t go out alone and trust your instincts — if a situation feels dangerous, it probably is.

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    College Guide 2015: Sex

    By Free Times
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    You're Here … Now What?
    Music & Nightlife
    21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
    Alcohol & Drugs

    Let’s talk about sex. You’re an adult now — so they tell you — and away from home for the first time, surrounded by peers suddenly thrown into the same situation. Alcohol — while possibly still illegal for you to consume— will doubtlessly be plentiful. Sex will be a constant theme during your college existence, and your choices relating to it will have a big impact on how this experience turns out for you.

    College students should be prepared to makes smart choices about sex. Photo by John Carlos

    A few things to remember: No means no. Forever and always.

    If you don’t want to have sex, then don’t. Plenty of college kids before you have made it through their four years healthy and happy without it. Don’t feel forced to go there if the time isn’t right for you.

    Don’t venture to bars or house parties without a friend or two. All that booze is going to dull that voice in your head that tells you when things are a bad idea, so you’re going to need reinforcements to keep you out of trouble.

    If you’re living with a roommate, you’re going to want to establish a policy about sexual activity. Sock on the door? Always a solid plan. Banning sex from the room? It’s certainly an option, but it’s also one of those rules that’s likely to get broken. Either way, your best shot to avoid walking in on something you don’t want to see is to cover that subject in advance.

    Don’t be stupid. Fellas, wrap it up. Ladies, make sure your fella wraps it up. And for those who fall somewhere else on sexuality’s broad spectrum, make sure you’re playing it safe in whatever activities you choose to engage. Sex is great. It can also lead to serious complications if you aren’t careful.

    If you want your sex life to be private, keep it private. If you’re throwing updates about your intimate activities onto your Twitter and Instagram, people will find them — it’s called social media, remember? So don’t go there if that’s not what you want. (And trust us, that’s not what you want.) Even if it is what you want, it’s likely not what your partner wants.

    Relax. You’ve got a lot of things to worry about now besides sex. Strive to include it in your life only to the point that it relieves your stress, not adds to it. This is admittedly an impossible mark to hit, but we can always try.

    If You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted

    If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, get help. Among the folks at USC’s Student Health Services are Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention & Prevention (SAVIP) Advocates. They’re there to “offer support and a variety of services to students, faculty and staff who are survivors of interpersonal violence (sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, intimate partner violence and/or stalking).” Among other things, SAVIP offers 24-hour, on-call services to assist students. To get in touch, call 803-777-8248 during business hours, 803-777-4215 after hours.

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    College Guide 2015: You’re Here ... Now What?

    By Free Times
    City Map & Neighborhoods
    You're Here … Now What?
    Music & Nightlife
    21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
    Alcohol & Drugs

    Automobile Registration
    Let’s assume, Capital City newbies, that you’re fortunate enough to have landed in Columbia with a vehicle. If you’re coming from out of state, you need register it with the state DMV if you want to establish residency here. You have 45 days to get that done — and before you can do it, you have to pay property tax to your county. (Pro tip: The auditor’s office tells you how much to pay; the treasurer’s office is where you pay it.) Before you head to the DMV, make sure you have not only your tax receipt, but also your vehicle’s title and registration, and proof of liability insurance. If all this bureaucracy makes your head spin — hey, welcome to being a grown-up.

    Lexington County Auditor’s Office, 803-785-8181

    Lexington County Treasurer’s Office, 803-785-8217

    Richland County Auditor’s Office, 803-576-2600

    Richland County Treasurer’s Office, 803-576-2250

    S.C. Driver & Vehicle Services, 803-737-8350

    Driver’s License
    If you’re planning on establishing residency — you know, for the lower tuition — you should go ahead and get your South Carolina driver’s license. The good news: You have 90 days to get your license. The bad news: You’ll need to go to the DMV. That sucks, but you can get out faster if you know what you’re doing. (Also: Unless you’re a masochist, take care of your vehicle registration at the same time.)

    If you have a valid license from your previous home state, you’re golden; if you don’t, you’ll have to pass the written and road exams. (You’ll have to take a mandatory eye exam either way.) And if you only need to renew your license, you can do it at The five-year renewal costs $12.50; the 10-year plan is, logically, $25.

    Of course, where you go is just as important: The Shop Road DMV is your one-stop spot for anything and everything DMV-related. Contact the DMV Call Center at 803-896-5000 or the S.C. Department of Driver & Vehicle Services at 803-737-4000 for further details.

    Irmo/Ballentine DMV
    1016 Broadstone Rd., 803-749-9041
    Lexington DMV
    122 Park Rd., 803-356-8537

    O’Neil Court DMV
    228A O’Neil Ct., 803-419-9403
    Shop Road DMV
    1630 Shop Rd., 803-737-8350

    Unless you’re living on campus, you’ll need to sign up for water, electricity and/or gas service. For most of you, that’ll mean SCE&G.

    Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative, 1-888-813-8000
    South Carolina Electric & Gas, 1-800-251-7234
    Tri-County Electric Cooperative, 803-874-1215

    Cable TV and Internet
    It’s the 21st century. It’s hard to imagine anyone living without cable television or the Internet. Both AT&T and Time Warner Cable offer landline-cable-Internet bundles; go with whichever tickles your fancy. Do note, though, that AT&T’s U-Verse service is not yet available in all areas of Columbia.

    AT&T U-Verse, 1-800-288-2020
    Time Warner Cable, 1-866-892-7201

    There are a bunch of local municipal water services and a few private ones, too. Which one you hook up with depends upon where you live. Not sure who to call? Ask your next-door neighbor where their water comes from.

    City of Cayce Utilities Department
    Handles sanitation and water services.

    City of Columbia Water Customer Service
    Warning: If you try to pay your bill online, there’s a good chance it won’t work. Prepare to be frustrated — or just take care of it over the phone or in person at 1339 Main St.
    Billing, Service: 803-545-3300
    Maintenance: 803-545-3900
    Quality: 803-545-3400
    City of West Columbia Water and Sewer Services

    Lexington County Joint Municipal Water & Sewer Commission, 803-359-8373
    Serves unincorporated parts of Lexington County south of Lake Murray.

    Richland County Utilities Department
    Offers sewer and limited water service in the northwest portion of Richland County, as well as limited water and sewer in the Hopkins area.
    Billing: 803-576-2094
    General questions and 24-hour maintenance: 803: 401-0050

    Town of Lexington Utilities
    Oversees maintenance of the water and sewer lines for the Town of Lexington.

    Library Card
    OK, so maybe having a library card isn’t high on your list of priorities. But we at Free Times know there are still many among you that enjoy turning off the TV and curling up with a good book. And we salute you. Also, the library has tons of DVDs, CDs, eBooks and other downloadable digital content.

    We know your university has a well-stocked library. But Richland County’s library system is one the finest in the nation. Obtaining a library card is, thankfully, much easier than getting a driver’s license: Library cards are free to all residents (including college students who live in Richland County), and out-of-county residents can obtain a library card for a nominal annual fee. Same deal in Lexington County: You can get a card at any branch upon verification of current name and residential address.

    Richland Library
    Main branch located on Assembly Street in downtown Columbia; 11 branches altogether.

    Lexington County Public Library
    Ten locations (and a bookmobile!); main branch located on Augusta Road in Lexington.

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    College Guide 2015: City Map & Neighborhoods

    By Free Times
    City Map & Neighborhoods
    You're Here … Now What?
    Music & Nightlife
    21 Twitter Feeds Every Gamecock Should Follow
    Alcohol & Drugs

    Unlike many other cities, Columbia isn’t built around one core downtown area. Instead, the city has three primary downtown districts: Five Points, Downtown/Main Street and the Vista.

    Each area has its own distinct feel. Five Points has a college-village vibe, with clothing boutiques, hip record stores, vaping and skate shops, and lots of bars and restaurants. Downtown you’ll find the State House, City Hall and the county courthouse — but also an art museum, a vegan restaurant and a great coffee shop. In the Vista, you’ll find restaurants, galleries and retailers, as well as plenty of clubs and bars.

    Beyond these three districts are numerous regions of the greater Columbia area, among them Lake Murray, Harbison/Irmo and the Northeast.

    Each area has its own distinct characteristics. But don’t be too quick to stereotype: Five Points isn’t just for college students, and you’ll sometimes find hidden culinary gems in the suburbs. So, take a look around, and keep your mind open.

    Five Points / Devine Street / Shandon
    There’s a bustling energy to the Five Points area, fueled by a steady stream of visitors from the University of South Carolina and surrounding neighborhoods. In the daytime, you’ll find strolling shoppers, hungry businesspeople and college students occupying the area’s eclectic mix of coffee shops, restaurants and retailers. At night, the area’s bars and clubs get busy, as Five Points is the place to party in Columbia, as least for younger people. As a favorite destination of students, the area is home to several living options, including a major new project being built at the corner of Gervais and Harden streets. Five Points is also close to the venerable old neighborhood of Shandon, whose residents help support some higher-end restaurants and retail boutiques along Devine Street.

    The Vista
    This converted warehouse district is largely known for its many dining options and art galleries, but it’s also home to several new private student housing projects; the city’s leading progressive theater company (Trustus); Urban Outfitters; a grocery store converted from a former Confederate printing plant (Publix); and some of the city’s key clubs and bars (the Music Farm was named Best Music Venue in the Free Times Best Of Columbia issue.) Just beyond the Vista’s core are several of the city’s primary attractions: the Colonial Life Arena, S.C. State Museum and EdVenture Children’s Museum. The Vista also has several residential options.

    Like a lot of urban cores, Columbia’s downtown is in the midst of a major revival. The Hub at Columbia has brought college students to the heart of downtown, flooding the area with more than 800 new residents.The Columbia Museum of Art has a steady stream of excellent exhibitions and events; several new restaurants have opened, among them Cantina 76, Michael’s and the Good Life Café; Drip on Main is feeding the area’s caffeine addiction; the Soda City Market keeps things busy on Saturdays; Mast General Store serves as a retail anchor; the First Thursday has created an arts-district sensibility in the area; and the Nickelodeon Theatre is the finest independent cinema around.

    USC / South Main
    The University of South Carolina campus dominates the landscape south of the State House, so many of the nearby streets are peppered with establishments looking to nab some of the students’ so-called “disposable” income. Whether it’s coffee, frozen yogurt, bagels, sandwiches, locally brewed beers or the massive Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, students in this area have access to quite a lot without need of a car. The Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale House is not to be missed.

    Fort Jackson
    More than half of the Army’s soldiers do their basic training at Fort Jackson, and about 75,000 soldiers are trained there in total each year; the base encompasses 52,301 acres, 1,100 buildings and employs about 3,500 active-duty soldiers and an equal number of civilians. Opened in 1917, Fort Jackson is also home to the Army’s Drill Sergeant School, the Armed Forces Army Chaplaincy Center and School and the National Center for Credibility Assessment — so, you know, don’t try to lie to them.

    Northeast / Clemson Road / Blythewood
    The Northeast part of town is a sprawling region of good schools, reasonably priced homes and national retailers and restaurants extending out to the Town of Blythewood, one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the state. Home to the 1,419-acre Sesquicentennial State Park, the popular planned community Lake Carolina and the expansive Village at Sandhill retail complex, the Northeast also boasts some major employers, including Providence Northeast. Also sports such unique local spots as Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar and the seasonal Sandhills Farmers Market.

    St. Andrews / Broad and Bush River Roads
    Don’t let the gritty sprawl fool you: If you look closely, there are hidden gems in this area — especially if you like ethnic foods. Among the treats: Elie’s Authentic Lebanese Cuisine, 2 Gingers, Delhi Palace, Inakaya Japanese Restaurant and the Indian Grocery. It’s not all food, either: Manifest Discs, Sims Music and Heroes & Dragons Comics also call this area home.

    State Street / West Columbia / Cayce / Vista West
    Just across the Gervais Street bridge sits an eclectic mix of nightspots, galleries, gift shops and restaurants — among them Café Strudel, Gallery West and Frame of Mind (all on State Street), which not only sells eyewear but also presents occasional cabaret and vaudeville shows. Of particular note to music fans: the long-running New Brookland Tavern, known for rock, metal and punk shows; Bill’s Music Shop, the home of local bluegrass; and Conundrum Music Hall, which caters to experimental tastes. Neighborhoods along the Avenues and Sunset Boulevard are popular with city-minded people who don’t want to pay downtown prices. Close to the West Columbia Riverwalk.

    Irmo / Harbison / Dutch Fork
    Big-name retailers like Lowe’s, Target and Best Buy — and that’s not even mentioning Columbiana Centre — make this area a necessary stop for many Columbians from all areas of town. Along with extensive shopping options, good neighborhoods keep drawing people to the area. There are also a couple of amenities you might not expect in a generally suburban area: Saluda Shoals Park and Harbison State Forest, which offers more than 16 miles of roads and trails weaving through a pine and hardwood forest.

    Which county consistently has the lowest unemployment rate in South Carolina? That would be Lexington. In many ways, Lexington County is the foil to Richland County: It’s more conservative both culturally and politically, it’s historically anti-tax, and many of its residents staunchly defend their distinctly non-Columbia identity. City types might balk at the relative scarcity of cultural amenities in Lexington, but the basics are here — good schools, reasonably priced housing and a strong economy — and the amenities are growing, including new restaurants and the popular Old Mill Brewpub. Plus, it has some excellent sports facilities, including a brand new stadium for the Lexington County Blowfish baseball team.

    Lake Murray
    Ask anyone who lives on Lake Murray, and they’ll tell you it’s more than just a lake — it’s a haven away from the city. With more than 500 miles of shoreline, most of it privately owned, Lake Murray is South Carolina’s largest manmade lake and offers seasonal recreation and a huge July 4 fireworks display, as well as hosting major fishing tournaments. Public access is limited to the few parks and marinas scattered around the lake, so your best bet is to buy a boat or befriend someone who has one.

    Forest Acres
    Housing options abound in the tree-filled neighborhoods of this city within a city, which is close to downtown and to Fort Jackson. Once known for such staples as the excellent breakfast spot The Original Pancake House and the high-end grocery next door, The Fresh Market, Forest Acres is now home to a Trader Joe’s, too. (There’s also a nearby and wildly popular Whole Foods at Cross Hill Market.) And while you might not think of Forest Acres for its lunch options, try pulling into the Five Guys parking lot midday on a weekday. Mmm … Five Guys.

    Anchored by Publix and Rosewood Elementary, this neighborhood is a good place for people who want to live downtown but don’t want to pay Shandon-sized prices. The area also has a slowly burgeoning restaurant and entertainment scene, including Southern Belly BBQ, the Kraken Gastropub and the small but popular Cock N’ Bull Pub, as well as annual festivals like the Rosewood Crawfish Festival and the Tasty Tomato Festival. Other draws: soccer fields and a skate park at Owens Field, Williams-Brice Stadium and City Roots sustainable farm.

    This area on the southwestern edge of the USC campus is close to the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences and features such residential anchors as Olympia Mills, Granby Mills, 612 Whaley and Aspyre. The area also features California Dreaming, a long-running and popular local restaurant; the beautifully renovated 701 Whaley, which hosts frequent events and contemporary art shows; Green’s Discount Beverages; and Carolina Stadium, which hosts Gamecock baseball at one of the best college ballparks in the country. Also close to riverfront development.

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Writer’s Picks

    By Free Times
    Best Local Website - Sports
    The State -
    This is Columbia, thus, this is Gamecock Country. And despite any heartburn some Carolina fans might have had over former columnist Ron Morris, The State and its has, far and away, the most nuanced, detailed, in-depth coverage of USC athletics. Football is king around here, of course, but special note should go to The State’s David Cloninger for his excellent coverage of USC men’s and women’s hoops. — Chris Trainor

    Best Radio Station
    WUSC isn’t just one of the best college radio stations in the country, it’s an essential conduit for musical discovery. Flitting through folk and alt-country, punk and metal, indie rock and experimental odds and ends, it’s a stream of wonderful inconsistency, keeping you in the know with the sounds that move you and pushing you to stay open to new ones that lie just beyond your comfort zone — just as great college radio should do. — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Local Tweeter
    Go ahead, call me biased — but Free Times’ own Eva Moore is everything a Tweeter should be. Her steady stream of breaking news and local food observations is a tool that can help Columbians become better citizens and better — or at least more adventurous — eaters. And it all comes wrapped with distinct personality and humor. — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Local Politician
    Mayor Steve Benjamin
    You might not always agree with him — and quite a few of you don’t — but it would be hard to argue that anyone other than Steve Benjamin is the best local politician. Benjamin promised Columbia he would bring a quicker-paced, more robust leadership to City Hall, and he has done exactly that. — Dan Cook

    Best Neighborhood
    Every year, Free Times readers pick Shandon as the best neighborhood. And every year, I have to remind you it’s actually Rosewood that’s the best neighborhood, with its hip urban farm, small-plane airport, mini-orchard, disc golf course, world-class skate park, athletic field, forested walking trails, multiple parks, excellent elementary schools and cozy homes. — Eva Moore

    Best Local or Regional Museum
    Columbia Museum of Art
    From the exciting marquee exhibitions — fresh perspectives on essential American artists Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell, the first-ever retrospective from Impressionist painter Charles Courtney Curran — to events like the art-beer-music celebration Arts & Drafts and various other educational programs for the community, the Columbia Museum of Art is one of the city’s true gems. Don’t miss out. — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Take Out Food
    Take Home Something Local
    Nothing against Zoe’s Kitchen — I’m a sucker for that tangy tomato bisque — but why not mix in some local restaurants into your take-out game? Main Moon slings some super solid cheap Chinese; Blue Cactus offers both tantalizing Korean options and Southwest favorites; Village Idiot has been sending home thin and delicious pizzas for 25 years. And there’s more where that came from. So yeah, have your Zoe’s. But mix it up a bit, too. — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Fast Food Chain
    Cook Out
    How can you argue with a combo that allows you to pick sides from a list that includes quesadillas, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and bacon wraps? The sandwiches are top-notch, too — the hamburger and the cajun chicken sandwich are both better than pretty much any of their fast-food peers. And it’s open late. Seriously, what more could you want? — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Place for a Business Breakfast
    Drip on Main
    I sure see a lot of important people talking to other important people about important stuff at Drip on Main. Plus, the breakfast sandwiches kick ass. — Eva Moore

    Best Wine List
    Baan Sawan
    Baan Sawan doesn’t have a big wine list. It has a teeny-tiny wine list with quirky descriptions, which are sometimes in haiku. It also has co-owner Sam Suaudom, who runs the bar and the front of the house and is basically a wine list unto himself. Ask him if he has any new rosés, and watch his eyes light up. Or just tell him what makes you happy, and he’ll try to help. Isn’t that the whole point? — Eva Moore

    Best Sweet Tea
    The sweet tea at Groucho’s is formidable, but I must give the nod to Rush’s. It’s potent, but not too strong; sweet, but not overly so. With a slice of lemon in it, it tastes like what grandma used to make. Also great for washing down chili cheeseburgers. — Chris Trainor

    Best Breakfast
    Original Pancake House
    I pledge allegiance to Original Pancake House / and to Trenholm Plaza, in which it stands / one coffee, black / with Tahitian crepes and Eggs Michael for all. — Eva Moore

    Best Vegetarian Menu
    Lamb’s Bread
    This little café on Main Street, hung with African carvings and art, is basically a vegan soul-food faux-meat-and-three — and the food is stellar. Check out the board behind the counter, place your order and prepare to be wowed. — Eva Moore

    Best Barbecue
    True BBQ
    By publicly declaring my love for True BBQ, I am acting against my own self-interest. It would be far better for me if you never showed up at True at all — never tasted the smoky, succulent goodness that will be delivered to you on a large plate of chopped pork, never gazed at a plate of juicy ribs, never dipped your fork into what is arguably the best hash in the Midlands. But I must put the public interest above my own, regardless of how long the lines get at True BBQ as a result. Enjoy. — Dan Cook

    Best Burrito
    El Burrito
    Sit yourself down at the counter. Watch the cook throw beans and cheese and rice and meat, if you’re into that, into a fresh tortilla along with that hot green salsa. It seems pretty basic, and it is. But the way that ridiculously tasty white cheese combines with those superbly cooked beans just can’t be beat — no matter how many other distracting ingredients you might throw in the mix. — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Pizza
    Thirsty Fellow
    There’s a lot of good pizza in Columbia, and there’s a lot of nostalgically good pizza in Columbia — but the very best pizza is at Thirsty Fellow. The lofty, chewy crust has a deep, slow-risen flavor; the mozzarella is tangy and buttery; and the range of toppings will make you smile. — Eva Moore

    Best Wings
    Bar None
    The very best wings in Columbia are hard to come by. Every other Tuesday, Bar None smokes a quickly exhausted supply of chicken nibblers that arrive to your plate crispy and just a little spicy on the outside, oh-so moist and tender on the inside, with a peppery barbecue sauce on the side that’s just right for dipping. — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Japanese Food
    You already know the sushi is phenomenal, but the rest of the menu at Camon is definitely worth a look — whether it’s the yakizakana, a lightly seasoned whole fish, or the tempura, fried with a light hand and perfectly crispy. For all-around Japanese eating, it’s the very best. — Eva Moore

    Best Dessert
    Oak Table
    Pastry Chef Charley Scruggs just announced he’s moving on from the Oak Table — but during his tenure there, some of the best desserts in town were invented and prepared by Scruggs, from a malty, subtle chocolate bone marrow ice cream to a butterscotch bread pudding. We look forward to seeing who Oak Table brings on next. — Eva Moore

    Best Ice Cream
    Sweet Cream
    The small batch ice cream at Sweet Cream might cost a little more than what you’ll find at the national chains, but those chains don’t offer invigorating flavors like Sesame Seed & Honey, Lime Cardamom, Early Grey and Blueberry Basil. More than just creative, Sweet Cream’s concoctions strike that perfect ice cream balance between richness and refreshment — just the decadent treat for when the summer grind is getting you down. — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Mobile Food
    Belgian Waffle Truck
    This new truck has been busting ass, appearing at events all around the Capital City, and the white gravy on their breakfast waffle is unusually tasty. — Eva Moore

    Best Local Band
    The Restoration
    The best thing about The Restoration is they’re more than just a band. From the solo projects — Adam Corbett’s quirky, techno-minimal pop; the biting folk-rock satires that Daniel Machado offers under the guise of Danny Joe Machado — to last year’s stage production of Constance, the band’s first fearless Southern Gothic folk-rock opera, the seemingly endless creativity and ambition of this local ensemble never fails to impress. — Jordan Lawrence

    Best Gay Bar
    Capital Club
    We all love Art Bar here at Free Times, but every year I hope an actual gay bar — and not just a gay-friendly bar — will win this category. How about the Capital Club, a welcoming, low-key spot on Gervais that’s been open since 1980? — Eva Moore

    Best Art Supply Store
    City Art
    Whether you paint, sculpt or draw, City Art has you covered. Carries a wide range of top brands at competitive prices. — Dan Cook

    Best Bakery
    Crust Bakehouse
    So cool and in-demand, they don’t even have a telephone. Seriously, the olive levain is wonderful, and the various scones — especially the ones with cheese in them! — must be tasted to be believed. — Eva Moore

    Best Place for Fresh Produce
    Rosewood Market
    Rosewood Market may be small, but the shop’s produce buyer is a wonder. On any given day, one can find affordable local veggies and fruits, from okra and fresh shelled butterbeans to South Carolina blueberries, depending on what’s in season. Produce from further away rounds up the affordable, well-curated selection. — Eva Moore

    Best Dry Cleaner
    Lexington Dry Cleaning
    Three things you should always expect from a dry cleaner: (1) that your clothes will returned be in pristine condition, (2) that they’ll be ready on time, and (3) that this service will come at reasonable price. The fourth — your dry cleaner knowing your name — is a bonus. Lexington Dry Cleaning has it all. — Dan Cook

    Best Insurance Agent
    Troy Roberts – State Farm
    We don’t know how he is with insurance, but we love a good corny joke, and the knee-slapper-laden marquee in front of Troy Roberts’ Millwood Avenue office is a community treasure. — Eva Moore

    Best Heating and Air Service
    Cassell Brothers
    When you call Cassell Brothers, they get back to you. When they say they’re going to show up, they do. When they diagnose a problem, they usually get it right — and if they don’t, they fix it quickly and courteously. If you want just anybody, then pick a name and take your chances. If you want top-notch professionalism, pick Cassell Brothers. — Dan Cook

    Best River Outfitter
    Get Your Gear On
    Three years after Riverbanks Zoo fenced in its parking lot, cutting off the main safe, legal access point to the Lower Saluda River, we’re still waiting on public access. But if you’re renting gear from Get Your Gear On, you can park at their Candi Lane business for free — and they have other plans in the works to expand river access. Plus, they’re a smart, dependable, community-minded bunch of folks. — Eva Moore

    Best Sporting Goods Store
    Todd & Moore
    The “dismal science” of economics is actually pretty simple, at least when it comes to supply and demand: When people demand something, the market will supply it. Sure, you could get your sporting needs taken care of at a nationally owned megastore. Or you could go to Todd & Moore, which has everything you need, is locally owned, conveniently located downtown and has a staff that’s available and helpful. You want local retail to thrive? Demand it. — Dan Cook

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Health, Wellness & Cosmetic

    By Free Times
    Best Fitness Club
    Gold’s Gym
    Runner-up: Planet Fitness
    Fifty years in the fitness business is certainly nothing to scoff at, and Gold’s shows no sign of slowing down. Offers yoga, zumba, mixed martial arts classes and more. Pro tip: Do not skip leg day.
    Honorable mention: barre3 Columbia, Pure Barre, Carolina Fitness Studio

    Best Hair Salon
    Bombshell Studio Salon
    Runner-up: Metropolis Salon & Dry Bar
    Kudos to Bombshell for winning a super-crowded category. Whether it’s a color, cut or curl, the talented, friendly and eclectic staff at Bombshell will always give you a style you’ll be excited about.
    Honorable mention: Urban Nirvana, Five Points Salon, Cappelli Salon, Gore Salon, Process, Adorn Salon Studio

    Best Hair Stylist
    Robin Gottlieb - Bombshell Beauty Studio
    Runner-up: Mark Ziegler -
    Five Points Salon
    Robin Gottlieb once again claims the top spot in the Best Hair Stylist category, and, just like in 2014, she edges stylist Mark Ziegler for the honor. When people find a stylist they like, they tend to remain loyal. Apparently that goes for entire cities, too.
    Honorable mention: Gregory Garrett - Metropolis Salon and Dry Bar, Beth Dickerson -Capelli Salon, Amy Schaming - Metropolis Salon and Dry Bar, Coye Jones - Adorn Salon.

    Best Day Spa
    Urban Nirvana
    Runner-up: OCCO Skin Studio
    With locations in Columbia and Lexington and a menu of services that includes massage, waxing, facial treatments and more, Urban Nirvana is a great place to pamper yourself.
    Honorable mention: Pura Wellness Spa, Body Sugaring and Wellness Spa

    Best Massage Therapist
    Brad Rasmussen - Urban Nirvana
    Runner-up: Vicky Corbett - Urban Nirvana
    The great poet Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.” Brad Rasmussen knows the power of touch, specifically the benefits of massage and the physical and spiritual rebirth it can trigger.
    Honorable mention: Andrew Touzel - Fuse Massage Therapy, Pamela Swanson - Pura Wellness Spa, Lawdan Mazloom - Urban Nirvana, Allison Morris - AMR Massage

    Best Esthetician
    Kelli Gibbons - Urban Nirvana
    Runner-up: Stacey Overstreet - staceyO studiO
    If you’re unhappy with the way your skin looks, head over to Urban Nirvana in Lexington and talk to Kelli Gibbons. She’ll set you on the right path to have your skin feeling as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
    Honorable mention: Jessica Lundy - OCCO Skin Studio, Mandy Applegate - Pura Wellness, Lindy Helms - OCCO Skin Studio, Angela Heaton - Hutchinson Center for Aesthetic Medicine

    Best Makeup Artist
    Lindy Helms - OCCO Skin Studio
    Runner-up: Mikel Thompson Rumsey - Bombshell Beauty Studio
    Lindy Helms was the runner-up in this category last year. This year, she’s the winner. Sounds like a person who is consistently excellent at her craft.
    Honorable mention: Kevin Daniel Price - Bombshell Beauty Studio, Tyson Keanum - Gore Salon

    Best Yoga Studio
    City Yoga
    Runner-up: barre3 Columbia, Bikram Yoga (TIE)
    With so many yoga studios to choose from, people still keep voting City Yoga the best place in town. That’s because it has smart, experienced instructors and nurtures your brain, body and spirit.
    Honorable mention: Pink Lotus Yoga Center, Yoga Masala

    Best Tattoo Artist
    Shannon Purvis Barron - Indigo Rose Tattoo
    Runner-up: Shane Anderson - Animated Canvas
    Shannon Purvis Barron, who owns Indigo Rose Tattoo, continues to expand our understanding of a tattoo artist’s role in the community. Whether it’s her work tattooing the mastectomy scars of breast cancer survivors, her nurturing of other artists, or simply her careful and beautiful day-to-day tattoo work, she’s someone Columbia is lucky to have.
    Honorable mention: Darcy Del Priore - Devine Street Tattoo, Steve Phipps - Vision Quest

    Best Tattoo Studio
    Animated Canvas
    Runner-up: Indigo Rose Tattoo
    Have you ever gotten a crappy tattoo? In addition to being a waste of money, they can make you look like a complete clown. At Animated Canvas, you can get yourself inked by some of the finest artists in town. Each artist even has an online portfolio of past works to give you an idea of their skills and specialties.
    Honorable mention: Devine Street Tattoo, 8 Sins Tattoo, Sickle and Moon

    Best Piercing Studio
    Immaculate Body Piercing
    Runner-up: Knotty Headz
    Safety and professionalism are key at Immaculate Body Piercing. The studio’s staff is fully trained not only in piercing techniques, but also in bedside manner, CPR, infection control and more. When you think of body piercing, safe, beautiful and gentle might not be the first things that come to mind, but that’s exactly what Immaculate Body Piercing offers.
    Honorable mention: Ouch Piercings & Tattoos

    Best Cosmetic Surgery Center
    Healing Waters - Palmetto Health Parkridge
    Runner-up: Dr. J. Smythe Rich MD
    Tummy tuck? Breast augmentation? Face lift? The safe and lovely new Healing Waters facility at Palmetto Health’s new hospital is where you want to go.
    Honorable mention: Carlin Plastic Surgery, Capital Plastic Surgery, Hutchinson Aesthetics

    Best Hospital
    Lexington Medical Center
    Runner-up: Palmetto Health Richland
    Lexington Medical Center has long been known as a full-service hospital where patients can receive high-level care and treatment for just about any condition. Now the hospital is embarking on an aggressive growth plan — including the construction of a new $400 million, eight-story tower on its campus near I-26 and U.S. 378 — that will enable it to serve even more people.
    Honorable mention: Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Parkridge, Providence Hospital

    Best Urgent Care
    Lexington Medical Center
    Runner-up: Doctors Care
    If you ever get bitten by an unknown insect while cutting grass, and your leg subsequently swells up like a beach ball, you can go to Lexington Medical Center’s urgent care facility and they will take really good care of you. Trust us. They can also take care of plenty of other medical surprises, both big and small.
    Honorable mention: Parkridge Urgent Care, MEDcare Urgent Care

    Best Pediatric Care
    Sandhills Pediatrics
    Runner-up: Palmetto Pediatrics
    Whether it’s the sniffles, the flu, a broken leg or a serious disease, you need a pediatrician that you — and your kids — can feel comfortable with. Sandhills Pediatrics has 17 of them at five different locations.
    Honorable mention: Lake Murray Pediatrics, Pediatric Associates

    Best Dentist
    Dr. Adam Brantley - Devine Dentistry
    Runner-up: Palmetto Smiles
    If you find a dentist who does excellent work and can make you feel comfortable, you should stick with that dentist. Dr. Adam Brantley fits the bill, and he keeps his treatments up to date by continuously incorporating new advances into his practice.
    Honorable mention: Dr. Greg Wych - Vista Smiles of Columbia, Carolina Smile Studio, Dr. Angela Schweiger - Rice Creek Family Dentistry

    Best Eye Doctor or Group
    Columbia Eye Clinic
    Runner-up: Sansbury Eye Center
    Whether you just need reading glasses or you’re going in for surgery, the Columbia Eye Clinic is an efficient, well-managed eye center whose professionals are fully up to speed on the latest developments in ophthalmology. Largest ophthalmology practice in the Midlands.
    Honorable mention: Devine Eyes, 20!20 Vision, Eye on Gervais - Dr. Earl Loftis

    Best Chiropractor
    The Joint
    Runner-up: Midlands Health Center
    This joint aims to mend your ailing body with service that’s fast, friendly and affordable. They even have a YouTube channel that covers issues such as back pain and health-related myths.
    Honorable mention: HealthSource of Columbia, Maximized Living, Greater Carolina Clinic of Chiropractic

    Best Orthopedic Group
    Moore Orthopaedic
    Runner-up: Midlands Orthopaedics
    Sometimes in life, you get hurt. Maybe even break a bone or two. When that happens, go see Moore Orthopaedic.
    Honorable mention: USC Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine, Lexington Orthopaedics

    Best Physical Therapy Center
    Moore Orthopaedic
    Runner-up: Carolina Physical Therapy
    Frozen shoulder? Runner’s knee? Sometimes your body gives you problems, and you need a good physical therapist to help you get things back on track. You’ll find one at Moore Orthopaedic.
    Honorable mention: Pinnacle Physical Therapy and Personal Training, Columbia Rehabilitation Clinic

    Best Dermatologist
    Carolinas Dermatology Group
    Runner-up: Palmetto Dermatology
    Your skin covers your whole body, and it’s important to take care of it. From skin cancer removal to cosmetic procedures, Carolinas Dermatology Group has a full staff of highly trained professionals to help you review your options and guide you through the process.
    Honorable mention: Dr. Asha James - Columbia Skin Clinic, Greta Zimmerman - Columbia Skin Clinic

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Goods & Services, continued

    By Free Times
    Best Place for Fresh Produce
    Soda City Market
    Runner-up: State Farmers Market
    How awesome is it to be able to stroll up and down Main Street on Saturday morning and pick up your produce for the week? Pretty awesome.
    Honorable mention: Publix, City Roots Farm, The Fresh Market, Cayce Farmer’s Market, Rosewood Market

    Best Natural Food Store
    Trader Joe’s
    Runner-up: Whole Foods
    Not everything at Trader Joe’s is natural, but to get your hands on some fine organic goods at an agreeable price, this popular market is a great place to go.
    Honorable Mention: Rosewood Market, Earth Fare, 14 Carrot Nominee

    Best Nutritional Supplement Store
    Rosewood Market
    Runner-up: Vitamin Shoppe
    If you’re looking for people who know their herbs, vitamins and other supplements, look no further than Rosewood Market. They’ve seen fads come and go, and they have a depth of knowledge that will suit you well in your quest to be happy and healthy.
    Honorable mention: Garner’s Natural Life, Nutrishop

    Best Beer and Liquor Store
    Runner-up: Morganelli’s
    Why stop at a beer store and a liquor store when you have Green’s? The selection of craft beer and imports impresses on one side, with a robust array of drafts for growler fills, and the broad and affordable assembly of spirits on the other side won’t disappoint you either.
    Honorable mention: Total Wine & More, Sam’s Fine Wine & Spirits

    Best Wine Store
    Total Wine & More
    Runner-up: Green’s
    With around 8,000 different wines to choose from, Total Wine can seem a tad overwhelming. But don’t fret. Take your time, take advantage of the store’s knowledgeable staff, and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
    Honorable mention: Morganelli’s, Cellar on Greene, Vino Garage

    Best Store for Used Books
    2nd & Charles
    Runner-up: The Book Dispensary
    Sure, you could download a book on your iPad or Kindle or Nook or whatever. But some of us still want to read books. You know, made of paper. Part of the fun of getting a new book is the hunt. And at 2nd & Charles, you can spend hours perusing thousands of used (and some new) books, until you find that gem you’ve been looking for. #realbooks
    Honorable mention: Rainy Day Books, Stepping Stone Thrift Store

    Best Place for New Comic Books
    Scratch N Spin
    Runner-up: Punk Monkey Comics
    The beauty of Scratch N Spin, apart from the ability to buy pretty much all the brand new comics titles you could want, is that it’s also a one-stop shop for music, games and collectibles. Rejoice!
    Honorable mention: Comic Ray’s, Seven Sense Intl

    Best Place for Used Comic Books
    2nd & Charles
    Runner-up: Heroes & Dragons
    2nd & Charles has raised its comic book game significantly in recent years. Aside from a decent selection of new titles, the book store off Harbison Boulevard has a vast selection of used comics from major companies like Marvel and DC, as well as from small independents. A large number of their used comics are available for $1 a pop.
    Honorable mention: Punk Monkey Comics, Scratch N Spin, Cosmic Ray’s

    Best Dry Cleaner
    Tripp’s Fine Cleaners
    Runner-up: Lexington Dry Cleaners
    Since 1967, Tripp’s Fine Cleaners has been treating its customers like royalty. If you’re ever unsatisfied — and odds are you won’t be — just return your garment and they’ll make it right.
    Honorable mention: Ed Robinson Laundry and Dry Cleaners

    Best Pest Control
    Clark’s Pest Control
    Runner-up: Home Pest Control
    Nobody likes pests. Fortunately there are places like Clark’s that’ll take care of things like that for you. Found some kind of unidentifiable monstrosity sitting in your attic? Snap a photo and send it in. Clark’s got you covered.
    Honorable mention: Modern Exterminating, Cayce Exterminating

    Best Alarm/Security Company
    Runner-up: CPI
    Gone are the days when a home security system was simply a “burglar alarm.” Home security in 2015 is high tech stuff, and ADT’s got the goods.
    Honorable mention: Family First Security, Security Specialists

    Best Staffing Agency
    Apple One
    Runner-up: Recruiting Solutions
    Whether you’re looking to fill a temporary position or hire a new full-time employee, Apple One is ready and able to find you just the right person.
    Honorable mention: Roper Personnel, Snelling Staffing Agency, Trojan Labor

    Best Equipment Rental Center
    Palmetto Party Rentals
    Runner-up: Thompson Rental Services
    Getting married? Having a party? Palmetto Party Rentals probably has what you need.
    Honorable mention: Northern Tool, Richbourg’s Rentals

    Best Party/Event
    Rental Center Celebrations
    Runner-up: Party Reflections
    Need 150 chairs? Fifteen serving bowls? A 110-foot-long tent? From corporate events to weddings and festivals, Celebrations has you covered.
    Honorable mention: Thompson Rental Services, Rentzall Equipment Rental

    Best Computer Repair
    Best Buy
    Runner-up: Silicon Solutions
    Best Buy’s Geek Squad offers a variety of services including protection, consultation, installation, repair and more. No worries, the squad’s got your back.
    Honorable mention: iDavid Computers

    Best Smartphone Repair
    SmartPhone Medic
    Runner-up: Verizon
    Polite, non-judgmental and ready to repair pretty much any problem you have with your smartphone — and to turn it around fast — SmartPhone Medic is the place to turn if you’ve exceeded your warranty.
    Honorable mention: PC Doctor, Cellular Source, iDavid, Sprint, Cellular Connections, Hornsby Computer, SC Computer Doc

    Best Gamecock Store
    Garnet & Black Traditions
    Runner-up: Addam’s University Bookstore
    College football season is just a few weeks away. And what you need, Gamecock Fan, is gear. Lots of gear. Jerseys, shirts, hats, pants, car flags, rain ponchos — and it all needs to be adorned with USC logos. There are plenty of places in town to get your gear, but Garnet and Black Traditions remains a favorite of Free Times readers.
    Honorable mention: Miss Cocky

    Best Cycle Shop
    Runner-up: Cycle Center
    Located on Devine Street in Columbia, Outspokin’ Bicycles runs the gamut for those with cycle needs. The shop has road and performance bikes, mountain bikes, bikes designed specifically for women, a host of bikes for kids and more. Outspokin’ also employs a team of mechanics for all manner of bike tune-ups and repairs.
    Honorable mention: Summit Cycles

    Best Cab Service
    Runner-up: Checker Yellow
    When Uber launched its service in the Midlands last year, the company called itself a “rideshare,” arguing it shouldn’t be regulated the same way as taxis. But state authorities and taxi companies alike said Uber should follow the same rules as cabs. So it’s both fitting and a little ironic that the voters of Columbia chose Uber as the best cab service. In any case, they’ll get you where you need to go.
    Honorable mention: Capitol City Cab, Shaw’s Taxi

    Best Limousine Service
    5 Star Limousine and Sedan Service
    Runner-up: First Class Limo
    If you just want to get from point A to point B, you can call a cab or book a ride with Uber. But if you want to pull up in style? That’s when you call 5 Star Limo, which offers luxury rides at fair prices.
    Honorable mention: Signature Transportation

    Best Guided Tour Experience
    Historic Columbia
    Runner-up: Adventure Carolina
    If haven’t glanced at the calendar of guided tours offered year-round by Historic Columbia, do yourself a favor. The organization’s tours don’t just go through the historic houses the foundation keeps up, but also through various other sites and neighborhoods, taking a hands-on look at the history and culture of our city.
    Honorable mention: Two Gals and a Fork Food Tours, Columbia Food Tours, Capital City Haunts

    Best Outdoors/Camping Gear Store
    Runner-up: Mast General Store
    When you’re making a serious outdoor purchase — hiking boots, a backpack — you don’t want to gamble with buying online. You want to check out The Backpacker, where the knowledgeable staff will get you suited up.
    Honorable mention: Half Moon Outfitters, Sportsman’s Warehouse

    Best River Outfitter
    Half Moon Outfitters
    Runner-up: Adventure Carolina
    You’d be ill advised to try and take on the great outdoors without being fully prepared. That’s where Half-Moon comes in. With everything from climbing shoes to ski gear, this shop is sure to supply you with everything you need for your outdoor adventure.
    Honorable mention: River Runner, Get Your Gear On

    Best Golf Course
    Cobblestone Park Golf Course
    Runner-up: Forest Lake
    Country Club
    This 27-hole course offers panoramic views, rolling hills, and beautiful oaks and pines. With affordable membership plans, too, it’s no wonder Best Of Columbia voters love it.
    Honorable mention: Golden Hills, Columbia Country Club

    Best Marina
    Lighthouse Marina
    Runner-up: Jake’s Landing
    This marina aims to make your next Lake Murray outing as effortless (read: awesome) as possible. With its pontoon rentals, gassing docks, dry storage, bathhouse, wet slips and on-site dining, we’d say their mission has been accomplished.
    Honorable mention: Lake Murray Boat Club, Southshore

    Best Sporting Goods Store
    Academy Sports
    Runner-up: Todd & Moore
    Sure, Academy Sports has whatever you need in regard to athletic and outdoor equipment — baseball, basketball, soccer and football accessories; all manner of athletic shoes; hunting gear, fishing supplies and camping tools. But you know what else they have, parents? Backpacks. More than 140 different backpacks priced under $40. Remember that as you do your back-to-school shopping.
    Honorable mention: Dick’s Sporting Goods

    Best Hobby Shop
    Hobby Lobby
    Runner-up: Michael’s
    If you’re a hobbyist, it makes sense to shop at a place that has the word “Hobby” right there in its name. Hobby Lobby has materials for all types of hobbies, including pine car racing, train sets, stamp collecting, coin collecting, model plane building, baseball card collecting, doll making and more.
    Honorable mention: Firefly, Jo Ann Fabrics

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Goods & Services

    By Free Times
    Best New Car Dealership
    Jim Hudson Automotive Group
    Runner-up: Honda of Columbia
    Let’s be honest: Most people dread shopping for a car. How can you be sure that smooth-talking salesman is actually giving you the best bang for your buck? Well, seeing which dealership our readers voted for is a pretty good start. Founded in 1980, the Jim Hudson Automotive Group is a family owned business offering a huge selection of vehicles.
    Honorable mention: Dick Dyer Automotive Group, Dick Smith Automotive Group

    Best Used Car Dealership
    Runner-up: Jim Hudson Automotive Group
    A long time ago, someone decided that you should pay whatever is listed on the price tag for some things, while you should haggle over others. Cars used to fall into the latter category — until CarMax came around. The company dispensed with all that used-car sales sleaziness and offered straight-up reasonable prices instead. Bonus: On the CarMax website, you can search by make and model — and even look into getting cars sent from dealerships far outside Columbia.
    Honorable mention: Honda Of Columbia, Enterprise Car Sales, Galeana

    Best Motorcycle Store
    Harley Haven
    Runner-up: Thunder Tower Harley-Davidson
    Oh sure, you enjoy your desk job. You eat your cheese sandwich at your desk and drive your kids to soccer practice in a Toyota Prius. But, somewhere deep down inside your soul, there’s a swaggering badass just waiting to come out. And that swaggering badass does his (or her) shopping at Harley Haven, Columbia’s oldest authorized Harley dealer.
    Honorable mention: Capital City Cycles, Columbia Powersports, Carolina Honda Powerhouse.

    Best ATV Store
    Columbia Powersports
    Runner-up: Carolina Honda Powerhouse
    Have you ever actually driven an ATV? Because if you have, then you understand the appeal. Columbia Powersports offers both new and pre-owned all-terrain vehicles — not to mention motorcycles, jet skis, scooters, golf carts and more — at two locations in the Midlands.

    Best Auto Repair
    Runner-up: AAA
    At Nuttall’s, you’ll find ASE-certified master technicians who’ll get your car back into tip-top shape in no time. This full-service auto shop carries the most respected tire brands out there, too.
    Honorable mention: Complete Car Care, Clark’s Auto, 3 Man Auto

    Best Oil Change
    Runner-up: Jiffy Lube
    Sure, Nuttall’s on Millwood Avenue is perhaps best known as a tire shop. But they’re also a full-service shop — and they’ll change the hell out of your oil. After all, changing your oil is critical to promote maximum vehicle performance while extending the life of your vehicle. You can even get a coupon for $5 off an oil change at
    Honorable mention: Express Oil Change and Service Center, Firestone, Midas.

    Best Car Wash
    Frank’s Car Wash
    Runner-up: Constan Car Wash
    It’s a scientific fact: A clean car drives better. OK, maybe it’s not a scientific fact. But a super clean car does look and feel a lot better. Frank’s Car Wash does a fantastic job of giving your ride a high shine. Plus they’ve got a lobby with windows where your kids can watch the car go through the wash. A wash and a show!
    Honorable mention: Sparkle Car Wash, Sunset Car Wash

    Best Tire Dealer
    Frank’s Discount Tire
    Runner-up: Nuttall’s
    If it’s round, rubber and rolls, Frank’s got it. In addition to having a pretty catchy jingle associated with it, this discount tire dealer serves as a fully operational automotive repair and maintenance shop.
    Honorable mention: Firestone, Pope Davis

    Best Driving School
    ABC Driver Training
    Runner-up: Baldwin Driver Training
    Do you have a teenager? If so, you’re surely as least a little nervous — OK, maybe a lot — about the prospect of him or her driving. Relax: That’s why there are professionals to teach them. With some lessons and some practice, you’ll go from fretting over your teen driver to sending the kid to run your errands.
    Honorable mention: Lake Murray Driving Academy, Lexington Driving Academy

    Best Window Tinting
    Mr. Tint
    Runner-up: Palmetto Pro Tint
    They see you rollin’. They’re hatin’. Get some tint on those windows posthaste to block the gaze of the unworthy.
    Honorable mention: Solar Solutions

    Strobler is runner-up for Best Furniture Store. Photo by john carlos

    Best Furniture Store
    Runner-up: Strobler
    Located on Gervais Street in the heart of the Vista, Whit-Ash is a one-stop shop for those looking to furnish their home in style. Enormous selection of furniture and accessories.
    Honorable mention: Rooms To Go, Marty Rae’s

    Best Outdoor Furniture Store
    Carolina Pottery
    Runner-up: Lowe’s
    Looking for some nice lanterns to put in the backyard? Perhaps some potted plants or welcome mats to make visitors feel welcome? From beer mugs to decorative wall art, Carolina Pottery has a variety of options to make your home more, well, homey.
    Honorable mention: Casual Living, Tropic-Aire, Jack Oliver’s Pool, Spa and Patio

    Best Pet Supply Store
    Runner-up: Pet Supplies Plus
    From town to town, from state to state, PetSmart is one of the most dependable places to turn for whatever your pet needs to stay healthy and happy.
    Honorable Mention: Mill Creek; PETS, Inc.

    Best Kennel or Pet Boarding Facility
    Pawmetto Lifeline
    Runner-up: Camp Bow Wow
    Pawmetto Lifeline, which has a sparkling facility on Bower Parkway, is perhaps best known for its pet rescue and adoption operations. But it also has a robust boarding and “Doggy Daycare” operation. The nonprofit dedicates the proceeds from boarding and daycare toward helping homeless pets in the Midlands.
    Honorable mention: Wescott Acres, Elgin Veterinary Hospital

    Best Pet Groomer
    Runner-up: Sarah and Susie’s
    Some say that a pet’s appearance is a reflection of its owner. So why not get your four-legged companion looking spick-and-span with a trip to Groomingdales? Haircuts? Check. Baths? Check. Flea removal? Check. All for a reasonable price to boot.
    Honorable mention: Val’s Pretty Pets, Elgin Veterinary Hospital

    Best Veterinary Clinic
    Shandon-Wood Animal Clinic
    Runner-up: Dutch Fork Animal Hospital
    It’s the personal touch that sets Shandon-Wood apart, with doctors and staff that build up a genuine rapport with you and your pet. But the care is also exceptional, with vets willing to talk you step by step in deciding what’s best for your special little friends.
    Honorable mention: Four Paws, Five Points Animal Clinic, Elgin Veterinary Hospital

    Best Dog Park
    Saluda Shoals
    Runner-up: NoMa Bark Park
    (Earlewood Park)
    Arf arf grrrrr-uff! Yip yap. Bark bark bark bark bark bark! (Translation: Saluda Shoals is a super-fun dog park. Or something like that — we don’t speak Dog all that well.)
    Honorable mention: Emily Douglas Dog Park

    Best Place to Work
    University of South Carolina
    Runner-up: Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union
    Working around smart people on a historic, lovely and well-maintained campus? Sounds pretty good to us.
    Honorable mention: BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Recruiting Solutions

    Best After-School Program
    EdVenture Children’s Museum
    Runner-up: Boys & Girls Clubs
    of the Midlands
    School ends at 2:30 p.m. You get off work at 5 p.m. Clearly you need something to fill the gap — and EdVenture will keep your kid safe, happy and engaged. Features plenty of activities and a staff trained in child development.
    Honorable mention: Shandon Presbyterian CDC, Lake Murray Afterschool Academy Nominee, Incarnation Lutheran Church CDC

    Best Place for Music Lessons
    Columbia Arts Academy/Lexington School of Music
    Runner-up: Freeway Music
    In the old days, taking music lessons meant suffering through age-old folk songs or watered-down versions of classical pieces. These days, kids can study the music they’re interested in — whether it’s rock, pop, blues, jazz, country, classical or anything else. The Columbia Arts Academy and the Lexington School of Music offer lessons in voice, piano, guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin and drums. (The Lexington location offers violin, too.) Plus, they even have rock band classes.
    Honorable mention: Sims Music, Guitar Center, Northeast Arts Academy at NEPC

    Best Martial Arts School
    Capital Karate
    Runner-up: Genova Family Karate
    “You must be shapeless, formless, like water,” said the great Bruce Lee. Learning the proper techniques to become a martial arts master takes years of focus and dedication, but Capital Karate is a great place to start. And even if you don’t make it to the black belt level, you’ll learn self-defense skills and get a great workout.
    Honorable mention: Columbia Martial Arts and Fitness, Gracie Barra Lexington

    Best Contemporary
    House of Worship NewSpring Church
    Runners-up: Midtown Fellowship, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia (TIE)
    NewSpring has nearly 20 church locations across South Carolina, including campuses in Columbia, Northeast Columbia and Lexington. Known for its use of technology; its energetic, modern music; and its unconventional sermons, more than 30,000 people across the state attend a NewSpring campus each Sunday.
    Honorable mention: Seacoast Church

    Best Continuing Education Institution
    University of South Carolina
    Runner-up: Midlands Technical College
    Education is changing, and the University of South Carolina is changing with it. While it’s still a major teaching and research institution — as well as a home for innovation and technology — USC is also expanding its efforts to help working professionals and nontraditional students meet their goals, including through its online Palmetto College.
    Honorable mention: Southeastern Esthetics Institute

    Best Local Insurance Agent
    Larry Lucas - State Farm
    Runner-up: Troy Roberts -
    State Farm
    Got a new car or boat that needs protection? Need some renters’ insurance? Larry Lucas will hook you up.
    Honorable mention: Jeff Burgey - SC Farm Bureau, Roe Young - State Farm

    Best Auto Insurance Company
    State Farm
    Runner-up: USAA
    So, you park your car on a quiet downtown street one night and think nothing else about it. The next morning, you’re awakened by your neighbor asking, “Have you seen your car?” Lo and behold, someone drove by your quiet street on a Monday night, smashed the hell out of your car and just kept right on going. What happens next? That depends on your insurance company. If it’s State Farm, you’ll probably come out OK.
    Honorable mention: Allstate, Nationwide

    Best Law Firm
    McNair Law Firm
    Runner-up: Nexsen Pruet
    With specialties ranging from intellectual property law to lobbying, and more than 100 attorneys in eight offices, McNair can help you with your legal problem, big or small.
    Honorable mention: Chappell, Smith & Arden; McKay, Cauthen, Settana, & Stubley; Harrell & Martin; Turner Padget

    Best Personal Injury Law Firm
    Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger
    Runner-up: Strom Law Firm
    Personal injury lawyers get a bad rap. But remember this: If they weren’t out there suing companies that make dangerous cars and faulty toys, then those companies could continue to abuse their power. Kenneth E. Berger and his team will help you — and, frankly, all of us — out.
    Honorable mention: Chappell, Smith & Arden

    Best DUI Law Firm or Attorney
    Seth Rose
    Runner-up: Strom Law Firm
    So, Seth Rose is a Richland County Councilman. He also, apparently, is a damn fine DUI attorney. In one online review of Rose’s services, a client posted that they were arrested on a DUI charge, but their “record will still be clean” because of Rose. It helps to have an attorney who knows the system.
    Honorable mention: Alex Postic, Randy Hough

    Best Bail Bonds Service
    A-1 Bail
    Runner-up: E Z Out
    A-1’s slogan is “Don’t worry, we’ll get you through this.” If you’re in need of a bail bondsman, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to alleviate all your worries. But they can at least get you home so you can worry in comfort.
    Honorable mention: ABC Bail Bonds, Sinkler Bonding Co.

    Best Bank
    Wells Fargo
    Runner-up: First Citizens
    Back when the banking system melted down in the depths of the Great Recession, Wells Fargo came out a winner. Why? Because it hadn’t taken the wild risks that some other banks had. When it’s time to open a bank account, get a credit card or take out a loan, it’s good to do it with a bank that has its act together. Wells Fargo fits the bill.
    Honorable mention: Bank of America, BB&T, First Community Bank, South State Bank

    Best Credit Union
    Palmetto Citizens
    Federal Credit Union
    Runner-up: All South Federal Credit Union
    The smiling people at Palmetto Citizens will help you set up checking and savings accounts, get you an auto loan, or myriad other services.
    Honorable mention: SC State Credit Union, Safe Federal Credit Union, SC Federal Credit Union

    Best Heating and Air Service
    2nd Wind Heating & Air
    Runner-up: All American Heating and Air
    You know those summer nights when it’s still 101 degrees out at 9 p.m.? Yeah, you know what we’re talking about. When your HVAC system starts sputtering, you want to call a company with a track record. 2nd Wind will get you up and running again in no time.
    Honorable mention: Cassell Brothers, Cool Care Heating and Air, Carolina Conditions

    Best Plumbing Repair
    Meetze Plumbing
    Runner-up: Gene Love Plumbing
    This much is certain: At some point in life, you’re going to need a plumber. Meetze Plumbing, a family operation, has been providing plumbing services in the Midlands since 1981. Meetze provides residential and commercial services, as well as water filtration and sewer and drain work.
    Honorable mention: Cottrell & Co., Dubose Plumbing.

    Best Landscaping Company
    Runner-up: Blue Moon
    Want your lawn and garden to look like a million bucks without spending a million bucks? Call the pros at Woodley’s, who offer everything from design consultations to full-service landscaping.
    Honorable mention: Lawn and Order, US Lawns

    Best Moving Company
    2 Two Men and a Truck
    Runner-up: Soda City Movers
    What literally started off as two men and a truck has grown into a sizable moving company over the last 30 years. In addition to physically moving your old stuff into your new house or apartment, the company offers packing supplies, moving boxes and storage services.
    Honorable mention: Gentlemen Movers

    Best Gun Shop
    Palmetto State Armory
    Runner-up: Shooter’s Choice
    Whether it’s a handgun, a rifle or an AR-15 you’re looking for, Palmetto State Armory has all the weapons, ammo and other gear to get you packing.
    Honorable mention: Academy Sports

    Best Shooting Range
    Palmetto State Armory
    Runner-up: Shooter’s Choice
    The Fernandina location of Palmetto State Armory offers a safe place to hone your skills and practice your aim. Open daily for target practice and personalized lessons.
    Honorable mention: Defender Shooting Sports

    Best Appliance Store
    Runner-up: Jeffers McGill
    When you are looking for a major appliance — say, a refrigerator — you don’t want to go to some rinky dink store that carries two kinds of refrigerators, both of which look like your mother-in-law’s fridge from 1978. No, you need a place that has acres and acres of refrigerators, spread out as far as the eye can see, like the human harvesting fields in The Matrix. That’s Lowe’s: The human harvesting field in The Matrix, but with appliances instead of humans.
    Honorable mention: H.H. Gregg, Best Buy

    Best Real Estate Agency
    Russell & Jeffcoat
    Runner-up: Coldwell Banker United
    Founded in 1965, Russell & Jeffcoat is one of the largest and most respected residential real estate firms in the Southeast — and the firm has been particularly involved in the growth of the Midlands. Sometimes, bigger really is better.
    Honorable mention: Keller Williams, ERA Wilder Realty, Wolfe and Taylor Inc., Bollin Ligon Walker

    Best Home Builder
    Mungo Homes
    Runner-up: Great Southern Homes
    Founded in Columbia in 1954, Mungo Homes is now ranked the 37th-largest builder in the country. The company is active in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, offering multiple floor plans for many tastes and budgets. For generations of Columbia residents, “new home” is synonymous with Mungo.
    Honorable mention: Essex Homes

    Best Hotel
    Runner-up: Inn at USC Wyndham
    Location, location, location — who cares how comfortable your hotel room is if you’re not near anything cool to do? You’ll be in great shape on both counts at the Hilton Columbia Center, located in midst of the Vista with myriad entertainment, shopping and dining options at your fingertips.
    Honorable mention: Marriott, Embassy Suites, Sheraton

    Best Local Clothing Store
    Runner-up: Sid & Nancy
    Some places that talk about customer service are just talking. At Brittons, personalized service is a way of life. Sells the finest in men’s and women’s clothing and accessories — and offers the expertise to get you looking your best.
    Honorable mention: Bohemian, Southern Children

    Best Alternative Clothing
    Runner-up: Loose Lucy’s, Sid & Nancy (TIE)
    “Bohemian” really is a fitting name for this shop, which offers hip, breezy and unique women’s styles.
    Honorable mention: Hip Wa Zee

    Best Children’s Clothing
    Once Upon a Child
    Runner-up: Little Lambs and Ivy
    It’s astonishing how quickly children can grow out of clothes. That’s why this children’s consignment store — with two locations in the Midlands and racks weighed down with clean, well-priced, gently used kids’ fashions — is so essential.
    Honorable mention: Southern Children, Enchanted Closet

    Best Women’s Clothing
    Runner-up: Copper Penny
    Based in Charlotte, with locations throughout the South, Belk is a leading retailer of women’s fashions. The retailer offers some of the most well-known brands and contemporary styles available today. From dresses to jackets to activewear to lingerie to shoes and accessories, Belk has what you need.
    Honorable mention: Revente, Bohemian, Entourage

    Best Men’s Clothing
    Runner-up: Brittons
    Though it is a retail chain, Belk is able to capture a certain Southern style in men’s wear. Among the brands the store carries are Levi’s, Nautica, Southern Proper and Polo Ralph Lauren. The store also carries a large selection of colognes at their fragrance counter. Confession: We might or might not have sneaked a spray or two from the “tester” bottles over the years.
    Honorable mention: Granger Owings, Jos. A. Bank, Circa 1332

    Best Jewelry Store
    Runner-up: Jewelry Warehouse
    Necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings, these are a few of our favorite things. Friendly staff and great repair service serve to sweeten the deal.
    Honorable mention: Sylvan’s, David’s Fine Jewelry, Unforgettable

    Best Culinary Store
    Gourmet Shop
    Runner-up: Williams-Sonoma
    Roaming the aisles of the Gourmet Shop, it’s pretty hard to resist buying everything from a sparkling new silver whisk to a huge, professional-grade Viking mixer — not to mention all the cheese and all the chocolate. A great spot for kitchen essentials and gifts.
    Honorable mention: Charleston Cooks!

    Best Smoke Shop
    The Cigar Box
    Runner-up: Natural Vibrations
    If you’re a cigar lover, it’s hard to walk past the door at The Cigar Box and not be drawn in by the intoxicating aroma. A great selection of stogies matched with drinks and cozy seating makes it a great spot to hang out and puff or to grab a cigar and head home.
    Honorable mention: Alibaba’s, High Life Smoke, Seven Sense Intl

    Best Cigar Shop
    Cigar Box
    Runner-up: Tobacco Merchant
    The Cigar Box has a walk-in humidor with more than 250 premium cigars on offer. It also serves craft beer and has plush leather couches, a pool table and free wi-fi access. No, we aren’t describing heaven. We’re describing The Cigar Box on Main Street.
    Honorable mention: Maduro Room,Lite Um Up Cigars Lounge

    Best Vaping Store
    Planet Vapor
    Runner-up: The Vaping Zone
    If the idea of a planet bathed in a vape haze makes you smile, this is your place. There’s a dizzying array of products involved in vaping — e-liquid, chargers, cases and more — and Planet Vapor has everything, plus a staff that can get you set up quickly and conveniently.
    Honorable mention: Elite Vapors, Seven Sense Int’l

    Best Gift Shop
    Uptown on Main
    Runner-up: Non(e)such
    If you’re looking for a personalized or embroidered gift for someone special, Uptown can help you out. The Main Street shop can hook you up with items emblazoned with initials or some other such insignia, as well as a fine selection of signature Columbia items.
    Honorable mention: Urban Nirvana, Gibson’s, Artizan, Seven Sense Intl

    Best Hand-Crafted
    Gift Shop
    Runner-up: Artizan, Nest (TIE)
    Looking for unique bracelets, earrings, necklaces and more? You’ll find them here; HandPicked works with artisans all over the world to ensure it. Plus, your bracelets and other items can be personalized to make your new acquisitions that much more awesome.
    Honorable mention: Portfolio Art Gallery, Seven Sense Intl

    Best Wine and Paint Studio
    Grapes and Gallery
    Runner-up: Paint and Pour
    Don’t think you can paint? Doesn’t matter. Grapes and Gallery will pour you a glass of pinot grigio and guide you through a fun evening of art.
    Honorable mention: Studio Cellar, Pitter Platter

    Best Antique Store
    Old Mill Antique Store
    Runner-up: Spring Valley
    Antique Mall
    The greater Columbia area has a lot of antiques shops, which makes it a particularly big deal to win this category. Located on State Street in West Columbia, Old Mill offers items from more than 75 vendors and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.
    Honorable mention: Non(e)such, Almost Antiques

    Best Thrift Store
    Runner-up: His House
    Readers, it’s hard for us to even recall all the things we’ve scored at Goodwill over the years. Couches. Desks. Sweaters. Pretty old jelly jars that we use as wine glasses. A $15 vintage houndstooth winter jacket with three-quarter-length sleeves. Thank you, Goodwill.
    Honorable mention: St. Paws Thrift Store, Palmetto Thrift

    Best Consignment Store
    Once Upon a Child
    Runner-up: Revente
    Once Upon a Child bills itself as “the nation’s leading buyer and seller of name brand, new and gently used kids’ stuff.” Basically, the place is packed, wall to wall, with gently used children’s clothes — and when your kids are growing an inch or so every month, you know how helpful that can be. Two locations in Columbia, one on Harbison Boulevard and another on Two Notch Road.
    Honorable mention: Roundabouts Consignments, Sid and Nancy

    Best Hardware Store
    Runner-up: ACE Hardware
    Look, Lowe’s has everything. And because it has everything, you might have to ask for help finding what you need. Fortunately, Lowe’s employees are smart and helpful.
    Honorable mention: Home Depot

    Best Pottery Studio
    Mad Platter
    Runner-up: Southern Pottery
    Parties! Camps! Classes! Founded in 1997, Mad Platter gives you all the tools you need to make your own pottery — and does it at super-low prices. It doesn’t stop at pottery, either; you can also make jewelry, do a glass-fusing project and more.
    Honorable mention: Red Bird Studio and Gallery

    Best Art Supply Store
    Hobby Lobby
    Runner-up: City Art
    These days, Hobby Lobby is almost as famous for its conservative politics as for its arts and crafts supplies. But if you’ve got a project in the works, it’s Hobby Lobby’s inventory that’ll be important to you. They’ve also got Christmas trees and Big League Chew gum, if that’s your thing.
    Honorable mention: Michael’s

    Best Florist
    Rosewood Florist
    Runner-up: Blossom Shop
    Fellas, if you want to impress your lady, try buying her flowers from an actual florist. This lovely local shop can help you find flowers for any occasion.
    Honorable mention: Something Special, American Floral

    Best Bakery
    Runner-up: Tiffany’s Bakery
    Whether you need an Ant-Man cake for your 6-year-old daughter’s birthday, or just some fresh multigrain bread, Publix is the place.
    Honorable mention: Chocolate Nirvana, Silver Spoon Bake Shop, Ally & Eloise, Blue Flour Bakery, Crust Bakehouse

    Best Meat Market
    Ole Timey Meat Market
    Runner-up: The Fresh Market
    With three locations in the Midlands, Ole Timey Meat Market makes it clear: They’ve got the meat. The shop offers beef, chicken, pork, veal and lamb, and more, all cut fresh daily. Ole Timey also carries wine, various sauces and marinades and fresh seafood items.
    Honorable mention: Caughman’s Meat’n Place, Corbitt’s Meat Market

    Goods & Services continues

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Clubs & Bars

    By Free Times
    Best New Bar or Club
    Music Farm
    Runner-up: Bourbon
    The Music Farm has, in short order, become a major player on Columbia’s live music scene. With a capacity of about 1,200, the Senate Street venue is a solid mid-size room, and has played host to a diverse list of artists, including Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, Toro Y Moi and many others. Also, Jump Little Children has a sold out show scheduled there in December. (Given both the band’s and the club’s Charleston roots, that might be the most Music Farm sentence ever written.)
    Honorable mention: Craft and Draft, Rocket Man, Hickory Tavern, Cotton Gin, Belles Bar and Grill.

    Best Bar or Club
    The Whig
    Runner-up: Tin Roof
    The Whig has a tight, well-curated tap selection, an expansive bottled beer menu, good cheap liquor, eminently tasty bar food and a cozy subterranean space to enjoy it all in. And now, you don’t even have to walk past the Confederate battle flag to step down those stairs across from the State House. Victory.
    Honorable mention: Art Bar, Jake’s, The Woody, Bar None

    Best Bartender
    James Pickle - Uncle Louie’s, Ruth’s Chris, British Bulldog Pub
    Runner-up: Josh Streetman - Motor Supply Co.
    Obviously, James Pickle is in high demand as a bartender. It might be his down-to-earth personality — but it’s probably also the booze, and his skill therewith.
    Honorable mention: Shawn-Dell Corley - Art Bar, Andy Haddock - Terra, Anna Ross - Grapes and Gallery, Ryan Ditman - 116 State

    Best Place to Pick Up Guys
    Tin Roof
    Runner-up: World of Beer
    Guys like live music. Guys like cold beer. Guys like barbecue brisket nachos. Tin Roof has live music. Tin Roof has cold beer. Tin Roof has barbecue brisket nachos. Guys will be at Tin Roof. You should go to Tin Roof to pick up guys. You’re welcome.
    Honorable Mention: Art Bar, The Whig

    Best Place to Pick Up Girls
    Tin Roof
    Runner-up: Liberty Tap Room
    OK, guys here’s what you do: Go out to Tin Roof on a Saturday night. Get a drink and slam it down really fast. Then walk up to that girl you’ve had your eye on all night and, in your best Rick Moranis voice, say, “Is that a mirror in your pocket? Because I can see myself in your pants.” We promise everything will go great.
    Honorable mention: Art Bar, Bar None

    Best Bathroom Wall Wisdom
    Art Bar
    Runner-up: New Brookland Tavern
    Yes, there are some snappy quotes written on the bathroom walls at Art Bar, but just as cool is the collage of different band stickers — a continuously replenished well to find new and awesome tunes. Now, that’s wisdom.
    Honorable mention: Pavlov’s, The Whig

    Best Bar Trivia
    Flying Saucer
    Runner-up: Thirsty Fellow
    Flying Saucer has an impressive beer list, which could come in handy while you rattle off trivia answers. It might also lure you into getting too tipsy to shout out any coherent answers. Either way, you win.
    Honorable mention: British Bulldog Pub, The Whig

    Best Bar Service
    Pearlz Oyster Bar
    Runner-up: Speakeasy
    With wine, cold beer, champagne and refreshing cocktails, Pearlz has your drinks covered. But what seals the deal is professional service with a smile — and that’s what Pearlz offers.
    Honorable mention: The Whig, Bar None, Art Bar

    Best College Bar
    Runner-up: Group Therapy
    Jake’s sits on that perfect middle ground between a laid-back neighborhood bar and a hip late-night spot. Kick back in the leafy backyard with a delicious draft beer and soak in the college-ness of it.
    Honorable mention: Pavlov’s, Pinch

    Best Dance Club
    The Woody
    Runner-up: Social
    Who hangs out at The Woody? Well — everyone. Whether you want to show off your shag skills, or try out the whip and the nae-nae, it’s the place to be.
    Honorable mention: Tin Roof, Cotton Gin

    Best Neighborhood Bar - Downtown/The Vista
    The Whig
    Runner-up: Liberty Tap Room
    The Whig bills itself as “North America’s Greatest Dive Bar.” We can’t speak for all of North America, but it’s certainly the best dive bar in Columbia. It’s dark and subterranean, key attributes of any elite alcoholic crash pad. But they’ve also got the Whig Chicken Sandwich, which is so good you’ll want to smack your mama. No, really, the sandwich will make you want to commit the misdemeanor offense of simple assault against your mother.
    Honorable mention: Pearlz Oyster Bar, Art Bar, Uncle Louie’s

    Best Neighborhood Bar - Five Points
    Runner-up: Delaney’s
    Just try sitting out on that spacious back patio, dogs flitting to and fro during Yappy Hour, a tasty craft beer pint in hand as you wolf down that ridiculously great hangar steak sandwich — just try to do all that and not think that Jake’s is one hell of a neighborhood hangout.
    Honorable mention: Bar None, Yesterday’s, Speakeasy

    Best Neighborhood Bar - Shandon/Rosewood/Forest Acres
    Craft and Draft
    Runner-up: Rockaway Athletic Club
    Pro tip: The ever-rotating tap selection at Craft and Draft is pretty great, but don’t miss its superb selection of chilled bottles and cans. At bottle-shop prices, that means you can hang out in one of the neighborhood’s most laid-back spots and knock back brews cheap.
    Honorable Mention: Henry’s, The Kraken, Cock ‘n Bull

    Best Neighborhood Bar - Harbison/Irmo
    British Bulldog Pub
    Runner-up: Carolina Ale House
    Come for the awesome Guinness combinations and the flaky, crispy fish and chips (and all the other delicious traditional British fare). Stay for the warm and welcoming atmosphere and the smorgasbord of soccer on the many TVs.
    Honorable mention: Hemingway’s, Lucky’s Burger Shack

    Best Neighborhood Bar - West Columbia/Cayce
    New Brookland Tavern
    Runner-up: D’s Wings
    More than a spot to see some reliably great rock shows, New Brookland Tavern is also a great place to stop by, pop the top on a PBR tallboy and hang out with some of the coolest people in town.
    Honorable mention: 2108 State Street Bar and Grill, Belle’s Bar and Grill

    Best Neighborhood Bar - Lexington
    Old Mill Brewpub
    Runner-up: Keg Cowboy
    You can do some good, honest drinking at Old Mill Brewpub. On their beer menu they’ve got a pair of Old Mill Brewpub drafts — a “small batch” Indo Outdo IPA and a Pineapple Kolsch. They’ve also got more than 20 other beers on draft, plus more than 50 kinds of bottled beer and a prodigious wine selection.
    Honorable mention: Arkos Mojo Grill and Martini Bar, Krafty Draft

    Best Neighborhood Bar - Northeast
    Runner-up: Polliwogs
    Henry’s has that true neighborhood bar vibe, in that you feel so comfortable there that you sometimes forget to leave.
    Honorable mention: Solstice Kitchen, Ale House Lounge

    Best Outdoor Deck
    Liberty on the Lake
    Runner-up: Jake’s
    The outdoor deck at Liberty at the Lake has three things going for it: (1) there’s ample seating; (2) there’s often a decent band or musician playing; and (3) you’ll likely have a beautiful view of Lake Murray and all the activity at the adjacent marina. It’s a cool place to hang out, if you can snag a table.
    Honorable mention: Thirsty Fellow, Carolina Ale House, Hickory Tavern, Polliwogs.

    Best People-Watching Bar
    Art Bar
    Runner-up: The Woody
    Any place that scoffs at normalcy is bound to be a good place to watch people. And even after all these years, Art Bar still reigns supreme as the place to go to see Columbia’s weirdest and most diverse blend of folks — and we definitely mean that in a good way.
    Honorable mention: Tin Roof, Hickory Tavern

    Best Gay Bar
    Art Bar
    Runner-up: PT’s 1109
    Art Bar isn’t a gay bar, yet our readers like to vote for it in this category. Why? Because it’s a refreshingly open-minded place, gay or not. Looking for a fun place to dance — or to just chat at the bar with some friends? Art Bar is your place.
    Honorable mention: The Capital Club, The L Word

    Best Adult Entertainment Venue
    Platinum Plus
    Runner-up: Platinum West
    Do you enjoy watching topless young women dance and writhe for your benefit? Yes? Then Platinum Plus awaits.

    Best Sports Bar
    British Bulldog Pub
    Runner-up: Carolina Ale House
    British Bulldog Pub is, without question, the best place in town to watch a soccer match. Oh sure, they often show other sports there. But the place comes alive for a big soccer match. During the recent Women’s World Cup, the pub often filled up and got loud during games featuring the U.S. team. (The U.S. team that, you know, won the World Cup. But who’s bragging?)
    Honorable mention: Buffalo Wild Wings, Wild Hare, Hickory Tavern

    Best Happy Hour
    Cantina 76
    Runner-up: Liberty Tap Room
    When you finish work, sometimes you just want to rest your elbows on a comfortable bar and sip a well-made drink. Cantina 76 offers all that — and at crazy good prices, too. Come 5 p.m., this place is jammed.
    Honorable mention: Pearlz Oyster Bar, Jake’s

    Best Beer Selection
    Flying Saucer
    Runner-up: World of Beer
    Flying Saucer hangs its entire existence on its ability to bring patrons a diverse range of brews that includes some exceedingly hard-to-find concoctions. Based on the crowds that regularly pack the place, they must be doing a fine job.
    Honorable mention: Craft and Draft, British Bulldog Pub

    Best Craft Beer Selection
    Craft and Draft
    Runner-up: River Rat Brewery
    If you’re looking for a six-pack of some rare new gose to take to a late-summer party, this is your place. With a cozy bar and a well-curated rotating draft selection, Craft and Draft really sets the standard for craft beer.
    Honorable mention: Flying Saucer Nominee, World of Beer, Conquest Brewing Company, Grapes and Gallery

    Best Local Brewery
    River Rat Brewery
    Runner-up: Hunter-Gatherer
    River Rat Brewery, so named because of the three rivers that flow through Columbia, has carved out quite a reputation in Columbia’s burgeoning beer scene. The Rat has a number of permanent beers on offer, as well as a host of seasonal brews. (The Moncks Corner Abbey Ale is where it’s at.) They also give brewery tours — for all you beer nerds who just have to know how everything is made.
    Honorable mention: Conquest Brewing Company, Old Mill Brewpub, Swamp Cabbage

    Best Brewpub
    Runner-up: River Rat Brewery
    Hunter-Gatherer has been playing the brewpub game in Columbia for 20 years now. On the brew side, H-G offers reliable local favorites like the rock-solid ESB. And on the pub side, it serves up exceptional food — not just bar stuff, but a tempting menu augmented with seasonally appropriate, gourmet-level specials.
    Honorable mention: Old Mill Brewpub

    Best Margarita
    Cantina 76
    Runner-up: San Jose
    Cantina 76 respects the varied art of the margarita. That’s why they offer several top-shelf tequilas, as well as variations from the simple Cantina (agave nectar, lime juice and tequila) to the fancypants Strawberry Basil margarita. Mmm … Strawberry Basil.
    Honorable mention: Real Mexico, Monterrey’s, Tio’s

    Best Specialty Drink
    Runner-up: Motor Supply Company Bistro
    As you sit at the retro-chic bar and watch your bartender muddle, shake and sometimes even light your drink on fire, you might think to yourself, “This place makes a damn fine cocktail.” You’d be right.
    Honorable mention: Speakeasy, Terra, The Oak Table

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Music

    By Free Times
    Best Concert
    Bruno Mars - Colonial Life Arena
    Runner-up: Avett Brothers -
    Township Auditorium
    The multi-talented Bruno Mars brought his Moonshine Jungle tour to the Colonial Life Arena last year, and, from all accounts, put on a hell of a show. The two-time Grammy winner is the musical equivalent of a five-tool ballplayer on stage, as he sings, leads choreographed dances, plays multiple instruments and banters with the crowd throughout his sets.
    Honorable mention: Kenny Chesney - Colonial Life Arena, Jack White - Township Auditorium, Journey - Colonial Life Arena, Tokyo Joe Elton John Tribute - Koger Center, tUnE-yArDs - Music Farm, Jason Isbell - Music Farm

    Best Music Venue
    Music Farm
    Runner-up: Colonial Life Arena
    From the furious set delivered by rap headknockers Run the Jewels, to the profound and percussive art-pop tUnE-yArDs brought a few months later, and on to the packed show headlined by increasingly beloved alt-country troubadour Jason Isbell, the large rock club Columbia so sorely needed is everything we could have hoped for — and more.
    Honorable Mention: Township Auditorium, New Brookland Tavern, Tin Roof, Art Bar, Conundrum Music Hall

    Best Blues or Jazz Club
    Runner-up: Pearlz Upstairz
    With weekly gigs by favorite local players Robert Gardner and Tony Lee and frequent performances by others such as Mark Rapp and Mike Frost, Speakeasy offers tasty cocktails and an expansive beer selection to complement its reliable stream of top-shelf jazz.
    Honorable mention: Conundrum Music Hall

    Best Karaoke
    Uncle Fester’s
    Runner-up: Linda’s Carraoke
    Uncle Fester’s doesn’t just offer great karaoke — it offers a lot of karaoke, like, several nights a week. There’s no better place to get your fix.
    Honorable mention: Tsubaki, DJ Snow, Belles Bar and Grill

    Best Local Band
    Tokyo Joe
    Runner-up: The Restoration
    Not to be confused with the 1949 thriller starring Humphrey Bogart, this pop-rock group of four just keeps going and going with performances throughout South Carolina. Especially popular is Tokyo Joe’s annual Elton John tribute concert
    Honorable mention: Weaving the Fate, Prettier Than Matt

    Best Local Solo Artist
    Jessica Skinner
    Runner-up: Brent Lundy
    You might know her best as one half of the folk-pop duo Prettier Than Matt; Jessica Skinner’s sparkling voice sounds plenty great on its own, too.
    Honorable Mention: David Adedokun, Daniel Machado

    Best Local CD Store
    Papa Jazz
    Runner-up: Manifest
    Papa Jazz knows vinyl. They know CDs, too, offering a wide and well curated selection that spans jazz, rock, folk and various corners in between, both common and obscure. Overwhelmed? Just ask the knowledgeable staff to guide you. They won’t steer you wrong.
    Honorable Mention: Scratch N Spin, Punk Monkey Comics

    Best Store For Vinyl
    Papa Jazz
    Runner-up: Manifest
    There are a lot of people in Columbia who love vinyl, and about half of them have worked at Papa Jazz. Whether you’re looking for a rare punk import or a used jazz LP, or you need to special-order a hot new dubstep record, they’ve got you covered.
    Honorable mention: Scratch N Spin

    Best Musical Instrument Store
    Sims Music
    Runner-up: Pecknel
    In a band? Want to be in a band? Just want to sit at home and pick out tunes on your acoustic guitar? Sims has what you need, whether it’s drumsticks, a keyboard stand or a brand-new bass.
    Honorable mention: Guitar Center, Musician Supply, Star Music

    Best Recording Studio
    Jam Room
    Runner-up: Strawberry Skys
    Nationally known as a great spot to cut metal and punk records, the Jam Room is no one-trick pony, helping bands from all over track all different kinds of music. The adjoining hip-hop-focused studio, the Boom Room, further expands this amazing diversity.
    Honorable mention: Archer Avenue Studio, Seaboard Recording

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Food & Beverage

    By Free Times
    Best New Restaurant
    Runner-up: Spotted Salamander
    The ambience is delightful, the food is delicious and the drinks can’t be beat. Welcome to Columbia, Bourbon.
    Honorable mention: Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, Hickory Tavern, Tazza Kitchen, Hot Box

    Best Restaurant
    Motor Supply Company Bistro
    Runner-up: Mr. Friendly’s
    New Southern Café
    Motor Supply’s been around for many years, but over the past year, under the leadership of Chef Wes Fulmer, it’s stepped up its game once again. When you eat at Motor Supply, you know you’re going to have a seasonal, artistic, delicious meal.
    Honorable mention: Cantina 76, Terra, Cola’s, The Oak Table, Bourbon, Solstice Kitchen

    Best Restaurant - Northeast
    Solstice Kitchen
    Runner-up: Travinia’s Italian Kitchen
    Solstice would be a great restaurant in any part of town; in the Northeast — where chains far outnumber your locally owned options — it’s a godsend.
    Honorable mention: Polliwogs, Hot Box

    Best Restaurant - Lexington
    Old Mill Brewpub
    Runner-up: Mellow Mushroom
    Located inside Lexington’s historic Old Mill on East Main Street, Old Mill Brewpub is a go-to dining spot in Lexington with a robust food menu. But it’s more than than, too, offering more than two dozen beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers.
    Honorable mention: Travinia’s Italian Kitchen, The Flight Deck, Libby’s, Private Property

    Best Restaurant - Irmo
    Liberty on the Lake
    Runner-up: British Bulldog Pub
    On Liberty at the Lake’s website, there is a slogan: “The only thing better than our food is the view.” They aren’t kidding. The taproom and grill, located just off Marina Road, offers a stunning view of Lake Murray. It also offers solid steaks, sandwiches and plenty of cold beverages that go down easy after a hot day on the lake.
    Honorable mention: Real Mexico, Alodia’s Cucina Italiana, Zorba’s

    Best Restaurant - West Columbia/Cayce
    Café Strudel
    Runner-up: D’s Wings
    There are lots of formidable competitors in this category, among them Terra and 116 Espresso & Wine Bar. So how does Cafe Strudel come out on top? It must be the restaurant’s wide appeal, which extends from its delicious, inexpensive and super-popular breakfast (the Hangover Hashbrowns are legendary) to its creative and eclectic dinner menu.
    Honorable mention: Terra, 116 Espresso & Wine Bar, 2108 State Bar and Grill

    Best Chef
    Mike Davis - Terra
    Runner-up: Frank Bradley - Bourbon
    Nine years ago, Mike Davis opened Terra and set the standard for chef-driven cuisine in Columbia — and he still does. The best thing about Davis is that nothing on the plate is an afterthought; he gives the same attention to a side of butter beans as to a perfectly cooked rabbit loin.
    Honorable mention: Dave Grillo - Cantina 76, Alan Boyle - Solstice Kitchen, Joe Turkaly, Nathan Christmus - caterer

    Best Place for a First Date
    Runner-up: Gervais and Vine
    Not fancy, but still a bit classy, with house-brewed beer and daily dinner specials? Sounds just about right for getting to know someone. We know a lot of married couples who used to hang out here in the early days of their relationship, so clearly it’s good luck.
    Honorable mention: Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café, 116 Espresso & Wine Bar, Cola’s, The Oak Table, Bourbon, Cellar on Greene

    Best Late Night Food
    Waffle House
    Runner-up: Cook Out
    A waffle. Toast. Two eggs. Choice of breakfast meat. Grits or hash browns (not really a choice, as you’ll obviously order hash browns, scattered). Oh, Waffle House’s All Star Special, a late night feast fit for royalty.
    Honorable mention: The Whig, Bar None

    Best Place to Dine Outdoors
    Liberty on the Lake
    Runner-up: Pawleys Front Porch
    There are few things more awesome than throwing back a couple of cold ones while listening to music and enjoying Liberty’s classic American cuisine with a group of friends. An awesome view of the sunset doesn’t hurt either.
    Honorable mention: Gourmet Shop, Carolina Ale House, Terra, Tazza Kitchen

    Best Take Out Food
    Zoe’s Kitchen
    Runner-up: Rush’s
    Want something delicious to eat at your desk — but tired of the burger-dominated lunch market? Zoe’s has you covered. Those white beans are damn good.
    Honorable mention: Eggroll Chen, Hot Box

    Best Bang for the Buck
    Cook Out
    Runner-up: Cantina 76
    Are you hungry, but kind of broke? Cook Out is your move. Basically, they’ll sell you a lot of pretty good food for a low price. Take their Cook Out Tray, for example. You can get a burger, a huge tea and two sides for $4.99. You know what one of the sides is? A corn dog! That’s bang for your buck, pal.
    Honorable mention: Moe’s Southwest Grill, The Whig

    Best National Chain Restaurant
    Runner-up: Bonefish Grill
    Remember that black-and-white YouTube video that came out in 2006 about one man’s journey to Chick-fil-A at his local mall? (“Go up there and just give me a chicken sandwich with some waffle fries! … And maybe a Coke to drink or something.”) Well, it now has more than 20 million views and it’s still hilarious. It’s also extremely vulgar, which is totally unlike what you’ll encounter at Chick-fil-A. No, you don’t remember it? Unforgivable.
    Honorable mention: Chipotle, Longhorn Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, Outback Steakhouse Nominee

    Best Fast Food Chain
    Runner-up: Five Guys Burgers and Fries
    Remember when McDonald’s reigned supreme in the world of national chain restaurants? Well, those days are over. With incredible waffle fries, first-rate chicken sandwiches and absurdly attentive service, Chick-fil-A has earned its spot at the top of this list.
    Honorable mention: Rush’s, Zaxby’s, Cook Out

    Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant
    Runner-up: Chuck E. Cheese’s
    There are several reasons Chick-fil-A likely took this spot. Their kids’ meal is fairly priced. Some of the store’s locations have cool playgrounds. You might see that cow mascot if you go on the right day. (Don’t go that day if your kid is scared of such things.) But the number one kid-friendly attribute? You can trade in the kids’ meal toy for an ice cream. #winning
    Honorable mention: CiCi’s Pizza, Moe’s Southwest Grill

    Best Place for a Business Breakfast
    Cafe Strudel
    Runner-up: Lizard’s Thicket
    It’s no secret that the fastest way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Who wouldn’t want to hammer out a business deal over Hangover Hash Browns, Cinnamon Pancakes and freshly squeezed orange juice? Yum.
    Honorable mention: Eggs Up Grill, Drip, Le Peep

    Best Place for a Business Lunch
    Blue Marlin

    Runner-up: Motor Supply Company Bistro
    Features a dimly lit, dark-wood ambience that makes you feel like you’re cutting important deals — plus excellent seafood, collards and sweet tea. Locally owned and consistently great.
    Honorable mention: Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café, The Oak Table, Solstice Kitchen

    Best Wine List
    Gervais and Vine
    Runner-up: Cellar on Greene
    This wine and tapas bar holds tastings, winemaker dinners and jazz nights every now and then, so if you want to wind down after a long day at work, seek out this Vista establishment. Join the wine club, and you’ll get to expand your knowledge and your palate by trying different wines each month.
    Honorable mention: Hampton Street Vineyard, Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café, Solstice Kitchen

    Best Coffee
    Runner-up: Starbucks
    You might wonder what’s taking so long. You might wonder why the barista has to set up each of those little pots by hand, painstakingly measuring and grinding the beans, pouring hot water and patiently stirring. You might wonder these things — unless you’ve already had a delicious cup of Drip coffee, in which case you know that the wait is well worth it.
    Honorable mention: Cool Beans, The Wired Goat, Loveland Coffee

    Best Barista
    Michael King - Drip
    Runner-up: Jessica Ochoa - The Wired Goat
    Michael King is a friendly, smiling, caring guy, but not too friendly, you know? You don’t want an overenthusiastic barista. Plus, he makes a mean cup of coffee.
    Honorable mention: Beach Loveland - Loveland Coffee

    Best Sweet Tea
    Groucho’s Deli
    Runner-up: Bojangles’
    There’s one liquid that works best in washing down your STP Dipper from Groucho’s. No, it’s not the 45 Sauce (though it is liquid gold). It is, of course, the deli’s famed sweet tea. And when they say sweet tea, they mean sweet tea. You might need a little extra ice to cut the sweetness — or you might not.
    Honorable mention: McAlister’s Deli, Chick-fil-A, Lizard’s Thicket, Rush’s

    Best Breakfast
    Cafe Strudel
    Runner-up: Original Pancake House
    If you’ve ever driven down State Street some weekend morning and wondered why all those people are standing on the sidewalk waiting to get into Café Strudel, now you know.
    Honorable mention: Cracker Barrel, Eggs Up Grill, Lizard’s Thicket

    Best Brunch
    Di Prato’s
    Runner-up: Cafe Strudel
    Pecan raisin French toast, huevos rancheros served with a juicy chorizo link, salmon cakes and grits, fluffy omelettes — all this and more awaits you at Di Prato’s, where the savory enjoyment of a traditional delicatessen meets some serious Southern comfort. Get your brunch on.
    Honorable mention: 116 Espresso & Wine Bar, Motor Supply Company Bistro, The Oak Table

    Best Deli/Sub/Sandwich Shop
    Groucho’s Deli
    Runner-up: Firehouse Subs
    The story of Groucho’s began in 1941 with potato salad, cole slaw and dressings for salads and sandwiches. Its mantra of “fast, fresh and original” has worked out quite well for the deli, as it now spans 26 locations throughout the Carolinas.
    Honorable mention: Jimmy John’s, Beezers, 5th Avenue Deli

    Best Vegetarian Menu
    Good Life Cafe
    Runner-up: Blue Cactus
    Not just a vegan restaurant, but a raw vegan restaurant with a fully stocked bar?! Vegetarians rejoice.
    Honorable mention: Black Bean Company, Lamb’s Bread

    Best Barbecue
    Shealy’s Barbecue
    Runner-up: Hudson’s Smokehouse
    Batesburg-Leesville is known for two things: High school football and Shealy’s Bar-B-Que. They’re both pretty damn good. Shealy’s all-you-can-eat buffet offers a vast array of items, including, of course, barbecue and all the trimmings. The fried chicken is also fantastic. Plus, you cannot eat less than two bowls of banana pudding there, unless you are some kind of communist or something.
    Honorable mention: Little Pigs BBQ, Southern Belly, Palmetto Pig, True BBQ

    Best Burrito
    Moe’s Southwest Grill
    Runner-up: Chipotle
    “Welcome to Moe’s!” At the Tex Mex restaurant Moe’s, employees yell when you walk through the front door, but that’s neither here nor there — the important thing is that Moe’s has huge burritos, more than 20 ingredients and free chips and salsa with every order. Moe’s has a number of locations in the Midlands, all of which employ workers skilled at stuffing as many ingredients as possible into a rolled tortilla. Moe’s queso dip is also quite good.
    Honorable mention: El Burrito, San Jose, Real Mexico

    Best Pizza
    Mellow Mushroom
    Runner-up: Marco’s Pizza
    If you’ve ever gazed upon Mellow Mushroom’s Red Skin Potato Pie — with its roasted red potatoes, Applewood smoked bacon and caramelized onions — you can understand how Mellow Mushroom pulled down top honors.
    Honorable mention: Thirsty Fellow, Village Idiot, Dano’s Pizza, Pizza Joint, Nicky’s Pizzeria, Pizza Man

    Best Wings
    2 Fat 2 Fly
    Runner-up: D’s Wings, Publick House (TIE)
    What’s that? Macaroni and cheese stuffed inside a chicken wing?! Jambalaya too? Yes, yes it’s true. Truck owners Corey Simmons and Ramone Dickerson have found a way to make fried chicken wings even more awesome. The two even have their own show, Wingmen, on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
    Honorable mention: Wild Wing Cafe, Wings & Ale, Carolina Wings and Ribs

    Best Ribs
    Hudson’s Smokehouse
    Runner-up: Carolina Wings and Ribs
    Ribs are really hard to get right. They have to be moist, but the meat needs to be cooked thoroughly enough that it slides off the bone with minimal gnawing. Hudson’s has mastered the art.
    Honorable mention: Texas Roadhouse, True BBQ

    Best Hot Dog
    Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs
    Runner-up: Rush’s
    Sandy’s is a Midlands institution, with a host of locations across the area. They are known for their Black Angus hot dogs and homemade chili. They’re flavorful dogs that can be a little messy — a good four-napkin kind of hot dog. When you’re done with that hot dog, Sandy’s also has delicious ice cream that comes in absurdly large portions.
    Honorable mention: Buddy’s Saucy Dogs, Jimmy’s Mart, KC Hot Dogs

    Best Hamburger
    Pawleys Front Porch
    Runner-up: Five Guys Burgers
    and Fries
    Burgers so good they made Guy Fieri slightly less annoying. Yes, Pawleys was once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives — and boy do these burgers deserve the honor.
    Honorable mention: Rockaway Athletic Club, Rush’s, Smashburger, Burger Tavern 77

    Best French Fries
    Five Guys Burgers and Fries
    Runner-up: McDonald’s
    Five Guys gives you so many of these amply seasoned fries that they could be a meal all by themselves. Unless you’re sharing with someone, stick with a small order and enjoy that delicious Cajun seasoning.
    Honorable mention: Smashburger, Rush’s

    Best Salad
    California Dreaming
    Runner-up: Copper River Grill
    Year in and year out, California Dreaming wins in the best salad category, and with good reason. Those salads are huge, but balanced — and those little honey-slathered croissants are downright addictive.
    Honorable mention: Zaxby’s, Ruby Tuesday

    Best Steak
    Ruth’s Chris Steak House
    Runner-up: Longhorn Steakhouse
    Of course it’s the best steak. It’s Ruth’s Chris.
    Honorable mention: Outback Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse

    Best Taco
    Cantina 76
    Runner-up: San Jose
    Cantina 76 serves up a selection of creative and tasty tacos on its fresh flour tortillas, but let’s focus for a second on just one of them: the BBQ Brisket taco, with tender beef, honey-chipotle barbecue sauce, pico de gallo and a lime squeeze. It’s a flavorful intersection between Southern flair and Tex-Mex heat — exactly the spirit that makes Cantina 76 tick.
    Honorable Mention: Real Mexico, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Taco Bell, El Burrito, The Whig

    Best Asian Restaurant
    Runner-up: M Vista
    Miyo’s is known for its creative Asian fusion cuisine. In addition to an extensive sushi menu, featuring things like the Godzilla, Hawaiian and Mandarin rolls, you can find dishes ranging from Thai Basil Beef, Spicy Garlic Eggplant and Buddhist Delight gluten-free tofu to something as simple as egg drop soup. Delicious.
    Honorable mention: Inakaya, Mai Thai, Blue Cactus

    Best Mexican Restaurant
    San Jose
    Runner-up: Cantina 76
    Chalupas, churros, chimichangas — this family-owned business serves delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine. And, if you stop by on your birthday, they’ll even let you wear a sombrero. Nice!
    Honorable mention: Real Mexico, Casa Linda, El Poblano

    Best Chinese Restaurant
    Runner-up: Eggroll Chen
    From Shanghai noodles and General Tso’s chicken to ginger beef and shrimp fried rice, Miyo’s offers its own take on Chinese classics — and the results are consistently delicious.
    Honorable mention: Eggroll Station, Sun Ming, Main Moon

    Best Italian Restaurant
    Villa Tronco
    Runner-up: Pasta Fresca
    Villa Tronco is old-school — charmingly old-school. The Italian spot on Blanding Street purports to be the first Italian restaurant ever opened in Columbia. With a menu full of Italian classics, a seemingly endless wine list and a cozy environment reminiscent of an old movie, Villa Tronco continues to attract loyal regulars and new customers alike.
    Honorable mention: Travinia’s, Rosso Trattoria Italia, Alodia’s Cucina Italiana

    Best Greek Restaurant
    Runner-up: Grecian Gardens, Mediterranean Tea Room (TIE)
    Want to fill your tummy with some of the city’s most revered Greek salads and pizza? Try Zorba’s.
    Honorable mention: Devine Foods

    Best Japanese Restaurant
    Runner-up: Inakaya
    This Myrtle Beach-based Japanese steakhouse chain has eight locations in Georgia and the Carolinas, which means we’re not the only city that appreciates Miyabi’s hibachi-style cooking and full-service sushi bar. Sit back, relax and watch as the chefs show off their mad skills on the grill.
    Honorable mention: Yamato, Camon

    Best Southern Restaurant
    Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Café
    Runner-up: Lizard’s Thicket
    For years, Mr. Friendly’s has been setting the standard for classy Southern dining in the Capital City. There’s no better place to take an out-of-town guest who wants to know what Southern fare is all about.
    Honorable mention: Yesterdays

    Best Indian Restaurant
    Delhi Palace
    Runner-up: Spice Junction
    Delhi Palace has been a mainstay in the Best Indian Restaurant category, and for good reason. The St. Andrews Road eatery features a host of Indian delicacies on its formidable menu, including everything from staples like tandoori chicken and lamb curry to spicy seafood items like shrimp vindaloo.
    Honorable mention: 2 Gingers

    Best Cajun Restaurant
    Runner-up: Bojangles’
    Cajun flavors, fine dining techniques — and a whole lot of whiskey. We can get behind that, Columbia — and so can you.
    Honorable mention: Private Property

    Best Thai Restaurant
    Mai Thai
    Runner-up: Basil Thai
    You never know what a West Columbia strip mall might bring, but in the case of Mai Thai it brings a much-adored local treasure. Mai Thai serves up a splendid array of Thai favorites, cooked with all the love your heart can handle.
    Honorable mention: Baan Sawan, Bangkok, Golden Chopstix, Thailand

    Best Cuban or Caribbean Restaurant
    Arkos Mojo Grill and Martini Bar
    Runner-up: Coconuts
    Delicious Caribbean and Latin food in a classy environment. ¡Arriba!
    Honorable mention: La Isla Bonita

    Best Middle Eastern Restaurant
    Runner-up: Mediterranean
    Tea Room
    If you’ve never sampled Middle Eastern cuisine before, you’re missing out. Here you’ll find hummus, falafel, lamb kabob, shawarma and much more. Oh Al-Amir, we still think you’re tops.
    Honorable mention: Arabesque, The Green Olive, Elie’s Mediterranean

    Best Sushi
    Runner-up: Miyo’s
    Nailing the classic rolls, whipping up some truly delicious creations of its own, and slinging the freshest and tastiest sashimi in town, Inakaya isn’t just a great sushi restaurant for Columbia, it’s one of the best sushi experiences you’ll ever find for such a reasonable price.
    Honorable mention: Tsunami, Camon Japanese Restaurant, Takosushi, Saki Tumi

    Best Seafood Restaurant
    Blue Marlin
    Runner-up: Bonefish Grill
    Blue Marlin has famous shrimp and grits, yes — but also a diverse array of other seafood, in a lovely restaurant nestled in the heart of the Vista.
    Honorable mention: The Oyster Bar, Harbor Inn Seafood

    Best Dessert
    Runner-up: Tiffany’s Bakery
    Nonnah’s is full of awesome. In addition to favorites like raspberry cheesecake and honey walnut tarts, this cozy little shop has flaming desserts and a special Pineapple Caramel Colada. Finish off your date night with a stop at Nonnah’s. You won’t be disappointed.
    Honorable mention: Kaminsky’s, Sweet Cream Company, Terra, The Oak Table

    Best Frozen Yogurt
    32 Degrees
    Runner-up: Yoghut
    Tasty fro-yo and an astonishing number of toppings — we’re talking Pop-Tarts, pineapple, Andes mint, Swedish fish — add up to one popular yogurt shop.
    Honorable mention: TCBY, Sweet Frog, Menchie’s

    Best Ice Cream
    Marble Slab Creamery
    Runner-up: Sweet Cream Company, Zesto’s (TIE)
    Wait — you can get ice cream with Butterfingers, chocolate chips and caramel all mixed in? Yes, you can. There might be some hard-hearted person out there who can resist the appeal of Marble Slab, but we have yet to meet that person. And when Marble Slab has its cinnamon ice cream out — well, you’d be a fool not to try it.
    Honorable mention: Coldstone Creamery, Baskin Robbins, Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs

    Best Mobile Food
    2 Fat 2 Fly
    Runner-up: Pawleys Front Porch
    It’s been a big year for 2 Fat 2 Fly, most notably because the food truck and its two proprietors, Corey Simmons and Ramone Dickerson, were the subject of a reality TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. But most importantly: THEY MAKE CHICKEN WINGS WITH MACARONI AND CHEESE STUFFED INSIDE OF THEM.
    Honorable mention: Wurst Wagen, Bone-In Artisan BBQ, Pawleys Front Porch, Belgian Waffle Truck

    Best Service
    Runners-up: Mr. Friendly’s, Terra
    When you drive up to Chick-fil-A at lunchtime, you will likely see a long line of cars snaking around the building, waiting on drive-thru service. But, fear not. The crew at Chick-fil-A can move a drive-thru line faster than anyone in the business, in part because, during peak hours, they send employees into the parking lot with digital tablets to go ahead and take orders. That’s hustling.
    Honorable mention: The Oak Table, Solstice Kitchen

    Best Caterer
    Spotted Salamander
    Runner-up: Southern Way
    Combine folksy South Carolina flavors — tomato pie, pimento cheese — with a sophisticated approach, and you’ve got the city’s best caterer.
    Honorable mention: Moe’s Southwest Grill, Scott Hall Catering, River Road Catering Company

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Arts & Entertainment

    By Free Times

    Best Annual Event or Festival
    South Carolina State Fair
    Runner-up: Greek Festival
    Sure, the State Fair can get crowded. Sure, your kids can run you broke playing all those carnival games. But, come on: It’s the State Fair! It’s got animals, rides, food, art shows and a ton of other things going on. Where else can you eat a fried Oreo while looking at a fun house with an airbrushed painting of Nelson Mandela dressed as Indiana Jones on it? Plus, its food events and bands keep getting better every year. Honorable mention: St. Pat’s in 5 Points, Indie Grits, Soda City Suds Week, Rosewood Crawfish Festival, SC Pride Festival

    Best Art Gallery
    701 Center for Contemporary Art
    Runner-up: City Art
    Working with minimal resources, the 701 Center for Contemporary Art nonetheless packs a punch in the local arts scene, hosting contemporary, cutting-edge exhibitions by local, regional, national and even international artists. Also organizes the annual Columbia Open Studios tour. Honorable mention: Tapp’s Arts Center, Gallery 80808

    Best Local or Regional
    South Carolina State Museum
    Runner-up: Columbia Museum of Art
    There has always been plenty to do at the South Carolina State Museum, but there’s really a lot going on these days. Last year, the museum opened a new observatory and astronomy wing, as well as a 4-D theater and planetarium. That’s added a whole new dimension to an institution that was already hosting touring blockbuster exhibitions, as well as exhibitions covering South Carolina’s cultural history, natural history, science, technology and art. Honorable mention: EdVenture Children’s Museum

    Best Dance Company
    Columbia City Ballet
    Runner-up: The Southern Strutt
    When you see a production by the Columbia City Ballet, you’re going to see a show. Whether it’s the annual productions of Dracula and The Nutcracker or an entirely new undertaking, the City Ballet consistently goes all out in its staging and costuming. It’s also the state’s largest dance company, takings its productions to Savannah, Charleston and more. Honorable mention: Broadway Bound Musical Theatre Company, Columbia Classical Ballet

    Best Dance Studio or School
    Columbia Ballet School
    Runner-up: Columbia Conservatory of Dance, The Southern Strutt
    In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Columbia is a dance powerhouse, having produced not only Sara Mearns (principal dancer with the New York City Ballet), but also Brooklyn Mack (The Washington City Ballet) and Kate Harpootlian (So You Think You Can Dance), among others. How do we do it? Strong dance schools. The Columbia Ballet School, founded by Anita Ashley, boasts an impressive faculty that teaches a strong ballet curriculum that can also lead to jazz, tap, contemporary and more. Honorable mention: Palmetto Performing Arts, The Dance Dept., Broadway Bound Musical Theatre Company

    Best Visual Artist
    Ernest Lee - The Chicken Man
    Runner-up: Blue Sky
    “Be what you are, don’t be what you ain’t,” Ernest Lee once said. “Because if you be what you ain’t, then you ain’t what you are.” Lee has an outdoor, portable studio that he sets up at different locations around town, most frequently the gas station at the corner of Gervais and Harden streets. And while The Chicken Man is known for making colorful arrangements of his favorite fowl, Lee also paints dogs, cats, flamingos and celebrities. Honorable mention: Allison Fowler, Thomas Crouch, Sean McGuinness (That Godzilla Guy), Clark Ellefson, Jellykoe (Kelly and J. Spencer Shull), Dave Robbins

    Best Local Comedian
    Jenn Snyder
    Runner-up: Derek Smith
    Yes, Columbia has a comedy scene — and if you haven’t checked it out yet, then you owe it to yourself to do so. Jenn Snyder is one of the leaders of that scene, a veteran comedian who has brought her jokes to festivals and clubs throughout the Southeast and beyond. She’s also helped build a community of funny folks here in Soda City, working to get local comedians and venues connected with each other, all so you can enjoy a night out. Honorable mention: Topher Riddle, John Gibson

    Best Local Theatre Company
    Trustus Theatre
    Runner-up: Town Theatre
    Trustus Theatre prides itself on not only entertaining its audiences, but also challenging them. In the past year, it’s upended the aesthetics of a beloved musical (Godspell), helped a local band bring a biting folk-rock opera to the stage (The Restoration’s Constance) and hosted a series of plays exploring thoughts on gay marriage, among other bold moves — making the Trustus stage is a source of consistent excitement. Honorable mention: Columbia Children’s Theatre, Workshop Theatre, Village Square Theatre

    Best Local Theatre Production
    Godspell - Trustus Theatre
    Runner-up: Evil Dead, The Musical - Trustus Theatre
    The classic 1971 musical Godspell interprets the story of Jesus and his disciples through modern song, dance and improvisational storytelling. Cool? Cool. And Trustus did a bang-up production of it. Honorable mention: Sugar (Some Like It Hot) - Town Theatre, Young Frankenstein - Workshop Theatre, In The Red and Brown Water - Trustus Theatre

    Best Movie Theater
    The Nickelodeon
    Runner-up: Regal Cinemas Columbiana Grande 14
    Back in April, the Nick added a second screen — broadening its selection of offbeat indie flicks, critical darlings, and special screenings and events. Also in April, the Nick presented its ninth Indie Grits Film Festival, adding a clearer focus to one of the most exciting arts events in the Southeast. Simply put, the Nick rocks. Honorable mention: Regal Cinemas at Sandhills, AMC Dutch Square Nominee, Regal Cinemas at Richland Mall

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Politics & City Life

    By Free Times
    Biggest Improvement in Columbia This Year
    Continued Revitalization of Main Street
    Runner-up: Growth in the Vista
    Just a decade ago, Main Street was basically somewhere people worked in offices — you certainly wouldn’t venture there by night. These days, through the efforts of businesses, artists, nonprofits and government, it’s bustling with restaurants, events and more. Honorable mention: Opening of the Music Farm, Bull Street Baseball Stadium, Soda City Suds Week, Passing the Stone Law

    Best Use of Public Funds
    Continued Revitalization of Main Street
    Runner-up: Riverfront Park
    Back in the mid-2000s, when the city dropped several million dollars on the streetscaping of Main Street, people (particularly those who owned businesses on Main) were kind of bent out of shape about it. But those dollars have paid off. Public dollars continue to flow to Main — whether they’re helping support the Nickelodeon Theatre or wooing businesses like Mast General. Honorable mention: Richland Library, Bull Street Baseball Stadium

    Biggest Waste of Public Funds
    Alan Wilson’s Continued Fight Against Marriage Equality
    Runner-up: South Carolina State University
    When Attorney General Alan Wilson mounted a spirited defense against lawsuits filed by two different couples — one that wanted to get married, another that wanted their marriage recognized — Wilson said he was just upholding a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2006 outlawing same-sex marriage. But when a federal court said he was wrong, he appealed. And appealed again. And wrote an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. At some point, it started to seem not only futile but kind of malicious. Ultimately, marriage equality prevailed anyway. Honorable mention: Bull Street Baseball Stadium, Gov. Nikki Haley, Famously Hot New Year’s Eve, Cameron Runyan’s salary, city bus system

    Best Local Politician
    Gov. Nikki Haley
    Runner-up: Mayor Steve Benjamin
    If you had told political observers a year ago that Gov. Nikki Haley would have black voters cheering her on at a ceremony taking down the Confederate flag, they would have said you were crazy. But in the aftermath of the June 17 massacre in Charleston, Haley correctly read the mood of the people and moved swiftly to have the divisive symbol removed from the grounds of the State House. The move alienated some of Haley’s core supporters, but it was praised by a much broader swath of the electorate. It also earned the governor glowing press coverage and revived talk of her as a possible vice presidential candidate.
    Honorable mention: S.C. Rep. James Smith, City Councilman Moe Baddourah

    Best City Council Member
    Anyone BUT Cameron Runyan
    Runner-up: Mayor Steve Benjamin
    City Councilman Cameron Runyan had a near-death experience a few years ago that set him on a new spiritual path. Unfortunately for the voters who elected him, part of Runyan’s spiritual awakening was the “revelation” that LGBT residents don’t deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else. It’s official, folks: Runyan is more conservative than the U.S. Supreme Court. Honorable mention: Moe Baddourah, Tameika Isaac Devine, Leona Plaugh, Brian Newman

    Worst City Council Member
    Cameron Runyan
    Runner-up: Mayor Steve Benjamin
    It’s been an interesting year for Cameron Runyan, the once-progressive city councilman who more and more frequently finds himself aligned with conservative viewpoints. In November, he voted against extending benefits to the spouses of city employees in same-sex marriages. Then in April, city human rights consultant Christine Johnson quit, claiming Runyan obstructed her and saying he was preoccupied with her sexual orientation. So, he’s not exactly a beacon of tolerance — and his constituents have noticed.

    Best Activist Group or Effort
    Pawmetto Lifeline
    Runner-up: PETS, Inc.
    We have a problem with pet overpopulation here in the Midlands, one that results in the death of a large number of animals that might otherwise be adopted. That’s where Pawmetto Lifeline comes in. With its spay/neuter, vaccination and transportation services, Pawmetto Lifeline works to make sure every healthy dog or cat finds a decent home.Honorable mention: Congaree Riverkeeper, SC Equality

    Biggest Local ‘Hero’
    Kyle Carpenter
    Runner-up: Marcus Lattimore
    Kyle Carpenter’s designation as a local hero doesn’t come lightly. In July 2010, the Marine was engaged in combat with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan when he threw himself in front of a grenade to protect a fellow Marine. His injuries were severe, including the loss of his right eye. In June 2014, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. After his medical retirement from the military, he enrolled at the University of South Carolina. Honorable mention: Dawn Staley, Sheriff Leon Lott, Larry Hembree

    Biggest Local ‘Zero’
    Former Sheriff James Metts
    Runner-up: Gov. Nikki Haley
    For more than 40 years, Sheriff James Metts was king of Lexington County. Now, after pleading guilty in an alleged scheme to help undocumented immigrants avoid the feds, he’s finally beat out perennial local zero Gov. Nikki Haley in this category. Honorable mention: Cameron Runyan, Mayor Steve Benjamin

    Best Charity
    Harvest Hope Food Bank
    Runner-up: Pawmetto Lifeline
    Harvest Hope Food Bank distributed more than 28 million pounds of food last year and fed approximately 38,000 people a week. Those kind of numbers speak for themselves; Harvest Hope is an essential charity in the Midlands, one that assists our struggling citizens and strengthens our community. Honorable mention: PETS, Inc., Oliver Gospel Mission, United Way of the Midlands

    Best Green Business or Initiative
    Soda City Market
    Runner-up: City Roots
    Soda City, the weekly Saturday market on Main Street, continues to be wildly popular. Aside from the numerous food trucks, artists, musicians and vendors who appear at the weekly street party, a number of green businesses (like the runner-up in this category, City Roots) often set up shop there, as well. Honorable Mention: Congaree Riverkeeper, Chipotle, Hydroelectric generator at Old Mill Brewpub

    Best Local Business Leader
    Emile DeFelice - Soda City Market
    Runner-up: Mike Tourville - River Rat Brewery
    Emile DeFelice is the man behind the Soda City Market, ran twice for state agriculture commissioner and owns Nest on Main Street, which specializes in local artisan products. Remember hearing about that 1,000-person dinner on the Gervais Street bridge? He’s the one putting that together, too. DeFelice is, in short, kind of awesome.
    Honorable mention: Debbie McDaniel - Revente, Greg Hilton - Evolution Partners, SOCO

    Best Small Business Owner
    Ricky Mollohan - Mr. Friendly’s, Solstice, Cellar on Greene
    Runner-up: Sean McCrossin - Drip
    Ricky Mollohan is a big personality, with the business sense, passion and tasty food to match. Columbia’s lucky to have him.
    Honorable mention: Kellan Monroe and Andrew Johnson - Craft and Draft, Debbie McDaniel - Revente, Lauren Truslow - barre3 Columbia, Beach Loveland - Loveland Coffee

    Biggest ‘Our Dumb State’ Moment
    Charleston Cop Shoots Unarmed Man
    Runner-up: Southern Charm reality show
    It seems painfully obvious that former police officer Michael Slager firing eight times at 50-year-old Walter Scott should have never happened. Even Slager’s attorney quit immediately after the video of the incident was made public. C’mon, son. A point worth noting: Nomination-round voting had already ended when the massacre in Charleston happened.
    Honorable mention: Allowing guns in bars, Re-electing Nikki Haley, Alan Wilson fighting marriage equality

    Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners
    Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens
    Runner-up: The Vista
    From reptiles to birds and everything in between, Riverbanks Zoo is by far Columbia’s biggest tourism draw. Last year, it attracted more than 1 million visitors, and with a $36 million renovation in the works, the zoo is poised to increase its appeal even more. Home to more than 2,000 animals and a 70-acre botanical garden, Riverbanks also sports a 1,000-foot zipline, a ropes course and a climbing wall. Hosts popular annual events such as Boo at the Zoo, Brew at the Zoo and Lights Before Christmas.
    Honorable mention: Lake Murray, Riverfront Park

    Best Neighborhood
    Runner-up: Forest Acres
    You’re damn right Shandon is the best neighborhood in Columbia. With its excellent schools, shaded sidewalks, historic brick bungalows and easy access to Five Points, downtown, Forest Acres and the Vista, you simply can’t beat it — though many have tried.
    Honorable mention: Lake Carolina, Rosewood, Earlewood, Elmwood Park, Melrose Heights

    Best New Home Community
    Saluda River Club
    Runner-up: Lake Carolina
    If you’re going to live in a planned community, you should definitely pick the one with miles of walking trails and a clubhouse full of canoes you can take out on the Lower Saluda River. It’s a safe, fun place to live.
    Honorable mention: Concord Park

    Best Apartment Community
    CanalSide Lofts
    Runner-up: Granby Crossing
    Hip, modern, downtown and right by the river — what more could you possibly ask for than CanalSide?
    Honorable mention: Capitol Places, Abberly Village Apartments

    Best Retirement Community
    Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community
    Runner-up: Agape Senior
    The kids are grown up, and you’ve finally been able to retire. Time to settle down? No, time to have fun. Still Hopes offers 39 acres of beautifully landscaped, worry-free resort style living just minutes from downtown Columbia.
    Honorable mention: Wildwood Downs

    Best Off-Campus Student Housing
    Olympia & Granby Mills
    Runner-up: The Hub
    The conversion of the old Olympia and Granby Mills buildings into luxury student apartments was a textbook example of saving a piece of the city’s past and giving it a viable present use. The concept was so popular that developer PMC Property constructed the 612 Whaley complex to look like the existing mill properties.
    Honorable mention: The Woodlands

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    Best of Columbia 2015: Local Media

    By Free Times
    Best Local TV News
    WIS (NBC)