Go Columbia

It's summer in Columbia. Here's a guide on how to keep your cool


Hey, you, with the sweaty face and whimpering air conditioning. Yep, we feel ya.

It’s hot out. (Yeah, yeah, “famously” and all that.) And summer officially started this week, so it’s only going to get hotter.

Luckily, it’s easy to chill out in Columbia, whether your idea of “chill” is floating a river, listening to jazz in the park or literally chilling with some penguins.

Here’s our guide for some of the coolest ways to beat the summer heat in and around Columbia.

Outdoor concerts

Enjoy slightly cooler evening temperatures as you get your groove on at an outdoor stage in Columbia this summer. Whether you’re into jazz, beach music, Carolina-grown rock-and-roll or something even cooler, you can find it in the park or in the streets near your favorite Five Points watering hole on a variety of Saturday and Sunday nights. Just up the road in Lexington, Icehouse Amphitheater offers music (and a name that makes us think cool).

Cost: Free

Chill factor: 3 ice cubes

Drive-in movie

See a sunset and some of your favorite films on an outdoor screen. Try the old favorite Big Mo, just down the road in Monetta, with multiple screens showing current movies every weekend. Or check out the new Summer Drive-In Series at Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce – the next showing is “The Shining” on Saturday, July 22.

Cost: $10 or less per person if you share a car

Chill factor: 3 ice cubes

Snoballs, ice cream and *adult* milkshakes

We love a Tutti Frutti snoball from Pelican’s or a black sesame ginger cone from Sweet Cream on Main Street. If you want to stick a straw in something a little more grown-up, try an alcohol-infused milkshake at Kaminsky’s or Grill Marks in the Vista.

Cost: Under $10

Chill factor: 4 ice cubes

Ice skating at the Plex

Even if you don’t feel very cool when you wipe out on the ice, at least you can appreciate the relief from the heat outside. Besides, where else can you wear a coat and gloves when it’s 90-plus degrees around the capital city?

Cost: Under $15

Chill factor: 4 ice cubes

River tubing and kayaking

Pack your paddles and, most importantly, your coolers for a famously hot, long afternoon floating the Broad, Saluda or Congaree. And lather on the sunscreen, or else you’ll be famously burned – which is so not cool. (More river ideas, page 15).

Cost: $50 or less

Chill factor: 2 ice cubes

Lake Murray beach and paddleboarding

Try out your sea legs (are lake legs a thing?) on a paddleboard – take a sunset “cruise” around the lake, or try a SUP yoga class. Or, sweat it out on the public beach on the Lexington side of the lake. Either way, thank the Lord you’re on the water.

Cost: Around $20 or less

Chill factor: 2 ice cubes

Blue Tapas Bar & Cocktail Lounge

You might work up a sweat on the dance floor, but cool down – and keep your drink ice cold – at the ice bar. Literally. There is a sheet of ice circling the bar (!!).

Cost: Depends how much you drink and eat

Chill factor: 4 ice cubes

Public pools and Palmetto Falls Water Park at Fort Jackson

You have about a 100 percent chance of getting splashed by some kids – and in this heat, thank goodness. Find pools, water slides and a lazy river (yessss) at the Fort Jackson park. Or do some more low-key splashing at one of the city’s public pools: Maxcy Gregg, Greeview or indoors at the Drew Wellness Center.

Cost: Under $15

Chill factor: 2 ice cubes

Penguin room at Riverbanks Zoo

Oh, to be as cool as a penguin! The zoo keeps the penguin-viewing room pretty chilly, so it’s a great place to take a cool-off break while you spend a day animal-watching.

Cost: Under $20

Chill factor: 5 ice cubes

Dave & Buster’s

Because arcade games are always cool, and beating your buddies is cooler. And for your friend who’s an overzealous gamer, give him this message: Just chill.

Cost: Depends how much you drink and play

Chill factor: 3 ice cubes