Gamecock Football Advice.
September 9, 2010 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Columbia, South Carolina first-timer advice. I'm heading there in October for a Gamecock's football game, part of a continuing yearly visit to different SEC football venues, and would appreciate recommendations for convenient/quality/reasonable lodging, campus area bars and restaurants, music venues and other stuff that must be seen and done.
posted by mbx to Travel & Transportation around Columbia, SC (9 answers total)
hey, a question I can answer!

For lodging, there are a number of hotels near the stadium. try the Inn at USC - though it might be pricey this time of year. But it's actually on campus. When you look for hotels, look for hotels in the Downtown area. The stadium itself is like 1 mile from this area. It's also where you'll find the campus as it's a metro campus.

This is a link to a quick search. All the hotels there are good to go. Look for hotels near the Vista Area (Huger Street, Gervaise). Try the Stay Bridge. When you call, just ask if they are near 'The Vista', which is an upscale bar district. Try 'Liberty Tap Room' or 'The Flying Saucer' for good times. There are also some nice clubs and singles bars. Jillians is a nice one and it's next to 'Wet Willy's'.

I'm headed to the Georgia game and the Furman game. After the game, We'll be partying in Vista. I'm 33, so I'm too old to be hanging out in 5-Points with the college kids. But there are some nice restaurants, bars and clubs there, too.

If youre gonna be in town, PM me and we'll get buy you some drinks.
posted by Davaal at 7:08 AM on September 9, 2010

I live about two miles from that stadium and am in the area every day. In Columbia, you're going to be looking at two distinct areas: the Vista, with slightly higher end fare, and Five Points, the college stomping ground with lots of bars and niche stuff. The Vista will keep you in your car, but the Five Points area can be walked from a central parking area. If you want to spend a scenic morning, the Horseshoe is a little slice of Charleston worth a few minutes walk (and on the weekends before 11AM, it's mostly deserted, which means it's nice and quiet.) Also I'd recommend a restaurant called Hunter Gatherer, they have a lovely eclectic menu and do their own beer brewing.

Lots of this will be personal preference, but if you're looking for a lunch buffet, Doc's Barbeque is a great traditional Southern lunch barbeque option. Nothing fancy, but good food. It's also very close to the Stadium. If you like fried chicken (and don't mind if it's a bit saltier than normal, which I love but some don't) you should visit Zesto's. It's across the river from Columbia, but still less than five or so minutes away from downtown. It's a local chain that is usually slam-packed, kind of a love-it-or-hate-it deal with the saltiness but I love it. A note though, they're closed on Sundays.

There's a Mellow Mushroom pizza place downtown that does lovely scratch pizza. There's also a seafood restaurant nearby called the Blue Marlin that does very good things, I swim in their crab soup.

Beyond that, I don't do much with the hotels or bars here. Hopefully that's a start. I'm definitely open to any questions about the area.
posted by Phyltre at 7:08 AM on September 9, 2010

Well, I lived there for 12 years so here's my advice on what to do and what to see aside from sitting in the WB and trying not to laugh at the 60 year old lady yelling "Cocks!" at the top of her lungs.

For ease of transport, get a hotel on Gervais or Assembly Street and catch one of the campus shuttles to the fairgrounds. This has the added bonus of allowing you to walk around campus (which is quite pleasant) and walk over the Hunter-Gatherer for good food and beer. On Friday night if you really want to go experience the student party scene hit up five points, take a cab so you don't have to worry about parking/driving. The cops will be out in force on the Friday before a game. The party spots will be obvious, so I merely suggest you hit up Bar None for the local tavern scene or Goatfeathers for an excellent beer/liquor dessert menu.

If you are downtown, as I recommend, this also mean you will be stuck in traffic for the entire Saturday, but that is okay, because you want to show up for tailgating at about noon for an evening game. Tailgating is everything to the Gamecock faithful, and while they don't throw down quite as hard at the Bulldog nation (sorry, 'cocks, 'tis true), and you should come well hydrated and prepared to meet and drink with around 20,000 of your new friends.

On Sunday, you're going to want to do something else. I suggest brunch at Motor Supply, or Gourmet Shop. Eat grits, they are hangover helper extraordinaire. Or you can take Blossom Street into West Columbia/Cayce and get a freshly made Krispy Kreme if the hot light is on. Wander the Riverwalk (on either side) for pleasant exercise or see if the State Museum or Art Museum are having a free Sunday and go wander them. Pick up a Free Times, it'll have the concert calendar & arts scene listings. The music scene is... lacking, but the 701 Center will probably have something going on, and its right in Olympia, off Assembly. Your other option will be New Brooklyn Tavern, across the river.

In terms of weather, be warned, it'll still be quite hot, so plan accordingly.

Have fun! But as the child of a Clemson family, I'll say next year plan to do the same thing a little further north to see it done right.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2010

convenient/quality/reasonable lodging

Columbia has several decent chain hotels in the Vista, which is a restaurant/bar/shopping district close to the stadium. I doubt they are too expensive.

campus area bars and restaurants

Students drink in an area called Five Points. It is lined with bars of varying quality. I like Delaney's and Speakeasy, though the latter probably is not very sportish if that is what you are looking for. But don't worry, very little of Columbia during football season is not sportish. As for restaurants, I highly recommend the fried steak from Yesterday's, which is a bar/restaurant also in Five Points which has been around since the mid-70's and was a setting in Pat Conroy's best book.

music venues

This is a little tougher. New Brooklyn Tavern maybe. I mostly just go to Bill's Pickin' Parlor on Friday nights to catch the amateur bluegrass. Be warned, the crowd is the real deal. Not hippies playing pretend like most bluegrass events. Lots of them are old and the ones who are young bring their kids and everybody sits in folding chairs or old movie theater seats and there is a sign at the door banning alcohol and drugs. That being said, it is awesome and I might be there with my two-year old and my wife's 77-year old grandmother rocking out. Costs 3 bucks to get in.

other stuff that must be seen and done

If the fair's in town check that out. Boys II Men and the Oakridge Boys are playing this year. All of Riverfront Park is awesome. I like to bike down to the end where the dam is. During football season the only must be done thing for football fans is tailgating.
posted by ND¢ at 7:32 AM on September 9, 2010

Apologies for a slight hijack (mods, if I should post a separate question, delete this and I'll figure it out):

I'll be in Columbia next Sunday night, killing a couple of hours while my teenager and her friends are at the Ludo concert at the New Brooklyn Tavern. Good places for coffee (or bookstores, or movies) that will be open lateish on Sunday night?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:19 AM on September 9, 2010

I always enjoyed hitting The Flying Saucer ...Hundreds of beer choices!
posted by keep it tight at 11:07 AM on September 9, 2010

Hunter Gatherer on the south side of the State House. The Whig's on the North side of the State House (Under ABC's studio) and a good hipster hangout if you're into the whole beard-watching thing. Both have very respectable draft beer selections.
posted by ijoyner at 2:41 PM on September 9, 2010

Mr. Friendly's for creative southern.
posted by brujita at 4:20 PM on September 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the info. It is all very helpful. Sounds great and looking forward to the trip. Clemson may be next.
posted by mbx at 8:05 AM on September 10, 2010

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