We mostly stopped off in Columbia because it was right next to Congaree National Park, but it turned out to be a really great visit. We had good food, learned some cool facts about the city, ended up with some fantastic artifacts, and saw some neat sights.
Our first stop was at a restaurant called Good Life Cafe. I saw it when I was browsing the internet for vegan options, and it was listed as one of the best places to eat, so I put it on the list.
As we were getting closer, we decided to look more closely at the menu. It turns out that Good Life Cafe is a raw vegan restaurant. If you aren’t familiar, this means that none of their food is heated above 118 degrees because any hotter would “kill” it. I could see the concern in Dan’s face when I was reading about the living foods. Once we actually arrived, Dan found the “cooked items” section of the menu and ordered a bean burger, while I ventured into the unknown and ordered from the living noodle bar: zucchini noodles with mushroom stroganoff sauce, plus a side of sweet potatoes (my absolute favorite food) and a little kale salad.
IT WAS DELICIOUS. I savored every single bite. The noodles were not warm like I’m used to, but I love zucchini and mushroom, and to have them in a dish together was out of this world. We ended with a banana split with blueberry vanilla ice cream. The meal was so good that we returned the following morning for brunch and smoothies (blueberry waffles and funky monkey for me, sausage biscuit & gravy and strawberry shortcake for Dan).
We were fortunate enough to have our drive through Columbia fall on a weekend, because it turns out that every Saturday starting at 9am, the Soda City Market is open on Main Street.
This is like a farmer’s market spanning 3 blocks that has fresh fruits and vegetables, food trucks, wood crafts, art, jewelry, clothing, coffee, live music, and so many dogs. Kreacher met so many dog friends and really did a great job weaving in and out of the crowd. We went in the hopes of finding some souvenirs from Columbia for the adventure room, and it was a huge success! We bought a painting of illuminated trees from an artist who honestly seemed surprised that we wanted to buy something he painted.
He painted really interesting and beautiful paintings, it’s just that he seemed very out of this world. He was asking Dan how he was supposed to use his phone to charge Dan’s card, and he was just really happy, goofy, and upbeat about the whole thing. Shortly after we left him, two women were running a stand of wood burned crafts. HARRY POTTER word burned crafts. We walked away with a wall hanging, some bookends quoting Dumbledore.
Now we just need to build the bookshelves in the adventure room so we can display the bookends, and also start hanging things! Lastly, we found Kreacher a dog treat bakery vendor. He got a mini-pupcake and three different bags of treats. He didn’t actually really eat many of them because he doesn’t really eat anything, but he ate enough to stay alive.
While there, we saw the world’s largest fire hydrant, and a huge mural painted on the side of a bank that looked like a tunnel. The artist did an amazing job–it looked so real!
At night, we camped at Sesquicentennial State Park, and it was a fantastic experience. Dan already has this awesome tree house tent that sits on top of the car, but our campsite had a water spigot and a power box. We were right next to the bathroom, which had SHOWERS. It was a camping experience I’ve never had before, and I would categorize it as glamping for sure, just because having so many amenities available was like we just put an air mattress in our backyard. I loved it, but I also love the backcountry style camping. Glamping was perfectly okay for this trip though, since I had a stress fracture and wasn’t keen on a whole bunch of extra walking since the boot I had wasn’t doing a whole lot to project my foot.
Our trip to Columbia as a whole was really nice. I loved Main Street in the middle of Columbia, and the small town feel that it had, but two blocks over was surprisingly impoverished. There were boarded up buildings and homeless people sitting, standing, and laying around.
Things to Know:
- Paying for parking in Columbia might not be a thing since all of the parking meters read “expired” and no one had tickets. Maybe it was a Friday night and Saturday thing, but I would ask a local before digging around for quarters.
- If you are searching for alcohol, look for buildings adorning red polka dots.