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21 Things To Do in Columbia, SC: Date Night Ideas

Nestled in the heart of South Carolina, Columbia offers plenty of romantic experiences for couples seeking quality time together. Whether you are a local looking for new date night ideas or visiting for the first time, this vibrant city has something special for everyone. Here is a curated list of the 21 best things to do in Columbia, SC, for couples:

1. Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Flamingos in Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Along the scenic Saluda River is Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, sprawled across 170 acres, offering a captivating blend of wildlife encounters and botanical wonders. Within this expansive sanctuary, visitors can marvel at over 3,000 animals thriving in natural habitat exhibits, where innovative design techniques replace traditional cages with immersive environments.

Stroll through seven major exhibits like Gorilla Base Camp and Koala Knockabout, and walk through an enchanted botanical garden. The botanical garden houses over 4,300 plant species, creating a year-round spectacle of color and fragrance.

Moreover, Waterfall Junction is a whimsical 3-acre children's garden that invites exploration and nature play with its imaginative features, from tree houses to splash zones. Whether admiring exotic flora or connecting with wildlife, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden promises an unforgettable fusion of education, exploration, and enchantment for couples seeking a romantic escape in Columbia, SC.

2. Columbia Museum of Art

The Columbia Museum of Art offers a fantastic date idea for couples. With its impressive collection of European and American art and exciting national exhibitions, there is plenty to admire and discuss at the museum.

A lady sitting criss cross applesauve on a yoga mat as she turns her back for a stretch

The atmosphere is relaxed, making it an ideal setting for a leisurely stroll while taking in the beauty of the artwork. Additionally, the museum hosts various events, such as yoga sessions and live performances, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to your visit.

For those looking for a budget-friendly option, mark your calendar for the first Thursday of the month when admission is free, allowing you to explore the museum's treasures without breaking the bank.

3. Congaree National Park

Escape to Congaree National Park, a sprawling 26,692.6-acre sanctuary located just 18 miles southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. With its towering hardwoods and diverse wildlife, it is the perfect spot for a romantic nature retreat. Explore the park's renowned floodplain forest, boasting some of the tallest canopies in the world and an abundance of champion-sized trees.

Experience the enchanting synchronous firefly movement, a captivating display of nature's beauty that occurs annually between mid-May and mid-June. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails, immersing yourselves in the park's tranquil surroundings and scenic landscapes.

Tall trees in Congaree National Park

Do not forget to stop by the Harry Hampton Visitor Center during daylight savings time, where you can learn more about the park's ecosystem and enjoy a leisurely picnic in the sheltered picnic area. Whether seeking adventure or simply looking to unwind amidst nature's splendor, Congaree National Park offers couples the perfect setting for quality time together in the great outdoors.

4. South Carolina State Museum

Explore the South Carolina State Museum, the largest museum in the state, offering immersive exhibitions on the history, art, natural history, and science of South Carolina. From pre-history to the modern day, guests can delve into the rich narrative of the Palmetto State across four floors of captivating displays.

Situated along the banks of the Congaree River in downtown Columbia, the museum also features exciting attractions like a digital dome planetarium, 4D interactive theater, and an observatory, providing unforgettable experiences for visitors of all ages. Whether you are a history buff, art enthusiast, or science lover, the museum promises an enriching experience for couples!

5. Saluda Shoals Park

Close up on a pine cone and dead leaves at Saluda Shoals Park

Experience the natural beauty of Saluda Shoals Park, a premier riverfront destination offering couples a range of recreational and cultural activities. Spread across 400 acres along the scenic Saluda River, the park boasts amenities like a river observation deck, boat launches, and picnic shelters, perfect for a romantic outing.

Take a leisurely stroll along the ten miles of paved and unpaved trails or challenge each other to a game of tennis at The Courts Tennis Complex. For the adventurous couple, try the Low Ropes Challenge Course or test your skills at the 18-hole Disc Golf Course. It is a great spot for couples seeking quality time in nature.

6. Nickelodeon Theatre

Discover the Nickelodeon Theatre, a charming 99-seat art-house theater in downtown Columbia. Its eclectic programming features a mix of first-run independent films, curated series, and community-relevant screenings.

Throughout the year, the Nick hosts eleven festivals and series, each with a unique focus, including the acclaimed Indie Grits Festival, "Out Here" LGBTQ series, "Black Stories" African-American festival, "Holly Jolly Hollywood" holiday festival, and more. It is the perfect spot for couples to enjoy independent cinema and engage with diverse storytelling in an intimate setting.

7. Township Auditorium

Person performing at a concert

Experience the Township Auditorium, a historic venue steeped in rich heritage and architectural grandeur. Built in 1930, this three-story brick building showcases a stunning Georgian Revival style. With a seating capacity of 3,099 and a 77-foot stage, it sets the stage for unforgettable live performances, from concerts to stand-up comedy shows. It is the perfect spot for couples to immerse themselves in live entertainment and create lasting memories in a setting brimming with history and charm.

8. Robinson Room 

Enter the Robinson Room, a chic cocktail bar and dessert lounge offering an unparalleled experience in sophistication and indulgence. Indulge in their carefully crafted menu featuring tapas, delectable desserts, and handcrafted cocktails, all served in a romantic atmosphere.

Whether going for brunch or an evening rendezvous, every bite promises to tantalize your taste buds and elevate your dining experience. Embrace the ambiance of luxury and create unforgettable moments with your loved one at Robinson Room.

9. Halls Chophouse

Delicious cut steak with vegetables

Dive into a culinary extravaganza at Halls Chophouse, a renowned family-owned steakhouse in downtown Columbia, praised for its world-class fine dining experience. Indulge in a delectable array of dishes, from savory steaks to succulent seafood, including their signature she-crab soup and lump crab cake.

Treat your taste buds to an exquisite journey with menu highlights like oysters Rockefeller and spicy shrimp, perfectly complemented by the charming ambiance of this esteemed establishment. Whether you are craving a classic steak or seeking a taste of Lowcountry cuisine, Halls Chophouse promises an unforgettable dining experience for couples seeking a memorable culinary adventure.

10. Hotel Trundle

Experience the charm of Hotel Trundle, a boutique hotel in downtown Columbia and steeped in 20s-era Art Deco style. This historical landmark seamlessly unites three meticulously restored buildings, showcasing exposed brick, stamped tin ceiling tiles, and custom wood trim, evoking the beauty of a bygone era.

Escape the modern hustle and immerse yourself in the unique ambiance of the past, all while indulging in contemporary comforts. Plus, enjoy the added perk of free room service breakfast, adding an extra touch of luxury to your stay.

11. Enjoy a Sporting Event

Baseball field in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Catch the excitement of a sporting event in Columbia, SC, with options to suit every fan. Head to Segra Park to cheer on the Columbia Fireflies, the city's Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the Kansas City Royals. If soccer is your game, support the SC United Bantams at their USL League Two matches.

For college sports enthusiasts, do not miss a chance to watch the South Carolina Gamecocks football team in action at Williams-Brice Stadium. With about 20 other varsity sports at the university, there is a game for every sports lover to enjoy.

12. Melton Memorial Observatory

Experience the wonders of the cosmos at Melton Memorial Observatory, an astronomical observatory owned and operated by the University of South Carolina. Situated on the historic Horseshoe of the USC Columbia Campus, this observatory, built in 1928, offers free admission to the public on clear Monday nights from 8–10 PM, weather permitting.

With its impressive 16-inch Cassegrain telescope, visitors can marvel at the beauty of the night sky and observe celestial phenomena, including the moon, stars, planets, and even Saturn's rings. It is the perfect opportunity for couples to gaze upon the universe together and immerse themselves in the mysteries of space.

13. Craft Axe Throwing

2 Axes crisscrossing making the letter "X"

Experience the thrill of axe throwing at Craft Axe Throwing, where you can test your skills by hurling tomahawks at dartboard-like targets to score points. With 17 targeted lanes at the Columbia location, there is plenty of space for tossing enjoyment.

Plus, enjoy the convenience of a fully stocked bar and multiple TVs throughout the venue, ensuring you are always close to the excitement. It is the perfect spot for couples seeking a fun and unique date night activity in downtown Columbia.

14. Transmission Arcade

Arcade Games

Discover Transmission Arcade, a classic arcade, bar, and restaurant located on Main Street in downtown Columbia. With over two dozen arcade games and pinball machines, it is the perfect spot for couples to enjoy nostalgic gaming fun.

Fuel your gaming session with delicious eats from their restaurant, offering mouthwatering options like wings, smash burgers, and chicken tenders. Plus, with most games costing 1 or 2 tokens (four tokens per dollar), it is an affordable and entertaining date night destination for couples looking to unwind and have some fun.

15. Let's Cook Culinary Studio

Vegetables and more set up on a counter in preparation for a cooking class

Embark on a culinary adventure at Let's Cook Culinary Studio, where weekly cooking classes and events await, including small, intimate sessions perfect for couples. From pasta-making to mastering Thai cuisine, their diverse classes cater to every taste and skill level.

Join their monthly class for couples cooking on Friday evenings, creating delicious dishes while bonding with your partner. It is the ultimate date night idea for food enthusiasts looking to learn and savor the art of cooking together.

16. Escape Room

The wordsEscape Rooms in neon red lights

Engaging in an escape room as a couple offers a thrilling and immersive experience that strengthens communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Working together to unravel puzzles and uncover clues fosters a sense of unity and collaboration, deepening the bond between partners.

It is an opportunity to share excitement, laughter, and a sense of accomplishment as you conquer challenges together. In Columbia, SC, you can embark on this adventure at The Final Door Escape Room, Escape Plan, or Escapology, where themed rooms await to test your wits and provide unforgettable memories for you and your loved one.

17. Make Pottery Together

An individual creating pottery with various pieces surrounding the one they are actively working on

Experience the joy of making pottery together at two fantastic locations in Columbia: HalfMoon Pottery and Mad Platter. These studios offer pottery-making and/or painting experiences, with options for classes, walk-ins, and reservations.

At HalfMoon Pottery, you will find a complete working pottery studio and pick-and-paint ceramics. Meanwhile, Mad Platter offers pick and paint ceramics, glass fusing, and clay impressions.

Choose your art piece, unleash your creativity in design and decoration, and then return to pick up your masterpiece after it has been glazed and dried. It is the perfect activity for couples looking to express their creativity and create lasting memories together.

18. Riverfront Parks

Riverfront Park, Gist Street, Columbia, SC, USA

Discover the scenic beauty of Riverfront Parks in Columbia, South Carolina. West Columbia Riverwalk Park offers picturesque views along the west side of the Congaree River, boasting boardwalks, bridges, and lighted paths perfect for a romantic stroll.

Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park spans 167 acres, offering a 4-mile paved trail that winds along the historic canal and Congaree River. It provides couples with an easy and enjoyable walk to explore the area's natural beauty. Whether admiring the river views or strolling leisurely through the park, these parks offer the perfect setting for quality time together amidst the enchanting outdoors.

19. Wine Tasting and Craft Beer

Someone pouring beer into a glass from a tap

For a romantic evening, indulge in wine tasting at one of Columbia's local wineries or wine bars. Savor exquisite wines and enjoy each other's company in a cozy setting. Alternatively, beer-loving couples can explore Columbia's thriving craft beer scene.

Visit The Vino Garage for unique wine and beer options, served by the glass or available for purchase to enjoy at home. Hunter-Gatherer Brewery, Columbia's first microbrewery, offers craft beer enthusiasts a taste of local brews in a charming taproom setting.

If you prefer outdoor ambiance, head to Weco Bottle and Biergarten in Lake Murray Country, where you can enjoy craft beer, wine, and hard cider on a covered patio while savoring food truck delights. Columbia, SC, offers the perfect setting for couples to unwind and enjoy quality time together.

20. Five Points

Discover Five Points, a vibrant neighborhood in downtown Columbia known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, bars, and nightlife. Explore boutiques, vinyl stores, craft beer venues, coffee shops, and vintage clothing stores, all nestled within this bustling community.

Five Points Bridge with homes in the back and cars passing underneath

From sculptures to murals, Five Points is adorned with custom art installations and landmarks, adding to its unique charm. This neighborhood serves as a hub for live music and community events and also hosts the city's annual St. Patrick's Day Festival, attracting visitors from across the state and beyond. Experience the energy and excitement of Five Points, where every corner offers something new to explore and enjoy.

21. Main Street District

Explore the heart of Columbia, South Carolina, in the vibrant Main Street district, where history meets modernity. This central business district boasts a gourmet food scene, lively nightlife, and the bustling Soda City Market, inspired by European street markets, offering a delightful blend of food trucks, street shopping, and fresh produce.

Tree-lined streets adorned with historic and modern architecture provide the perfect backdrop for exploring the city's eclectic charm. Stop by The Grand on Main for a unique experience featuring boutique bowling, local art, and delectable small plates.

Alternatively, indulge in gourmet American cuisine and live music at Market on Main, where indoor and outdoor seating beckons for a memorable dining experience. With its rich culture, diverse attractions, and bustling energy, the Main Street District invites visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant essence of Columbia.

Have Fun!

The courthouse of Columbia, SC

From arcade games and escape rooms to outdoor adventures and sporting events, Columbia, SC, offers endless opportunities for couples to connect and create unforgettable memories. So why not plan your next romantic getaway in this charming capital city? Whether it is your first date or a special occasion, Columbia is the perfect destination for lovebirds seeking a memorable escape!

Have you been to Columbia, SC? Let me know in the comments below - I would love to know what your favorite things to do were! Share this article with the person or people you want to go on your next adventure with! Also, be sure to SUBSCRIBE below to learn about other places you should add to your "To Visit" List! Ready? Okay, vamos. Time to have fun!

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*This article is not sponsored by any of the above-mentioned locations/businesses, or their affiliates.*
** A majority of the images above are not from the actual place but rather a representation of the place or its description. **

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