With the changing of leaves and crisp autumn air, now is the perfect time to fall in love with Columbia’s exotic offerings, or reacquaint yourself with some of these favorite familiar establishments.
If you missed Boo at the Zoo, make a date to visit Riverbanks Zoo. Take in the changing trees as you walk along the garden’s river trail, or spend some quality time with the zoo’s more than 2,000 animals from around the world.Feeling particularly adventurous? Hop on into the kangaroo walkabout and mingle with some roos. And for the adrenaline junkie, maximize your experience with an Explore More Card which allows access to rock climbing, ziplining, and a treetop jungle gym.
Where to Find it: 500 Wildlife Parkway. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. www.riverbanks.org.
Continue your suspension of the ordinary at The Book Dispensary. As the oldest bookstore in Columbia, this shop is stocked with great books at even better prices. Book lovers in search of something specific are encouraged to call or email to check availability. If what you’re looking for isn’t in stock, they’ll add it to their watch list and will let you know when it arrives. In addition to their search services, this local, family-owned business offers book repairs, a trade-in system for store credit, and all paperbacks are 40 percent off their original list price — every day. With deals like these, it’s no wonder this book store has been voted “Best of Columbia” year after year.
Where to find it: 710-C Gracern Road. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
Having confronted unfamiliar creatures and escaped into far off literary lands, let your inner explorer’s spirit guide you to 2 Gingers. Known for its traditional cooking methods and fresh ingredients, you can taste the diversity of India at Columbia’s only all-you-can-eat Indian cuisine buffet. Located just minutes from both the zoo and book store, the restaurant’s menu is a perfect blend of hearty and flavorful. In addition to their buffet, 2 Gingers offers an array of vegetarian options. Indulge in their special house-made curry and Naan, which is baked in a clay oven. Don’t forget to take a business card and to-go menu because this classic Indian eatery offers delivery and catering.
Where to find it: 245 Bush River Road. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. www.2-gingers.com.
Before the weather gets too frigid, stop into Cook Out and raise a thick milkshake to you and your fellow explorers. Although this fast-food chain is best known for its value menu, its equally impressive 40 (and counting) milkshake flavors provide the perfect sweet endnote to a day of exploring. Insider tip: you can combine up to four ingredients in one shake. So go crazy!
Where to find it: 600 Bush River Road. 10:30 a.m.-3 a.m. Sunday-Monday; 10:30 a.m.-4 a.m. Friday-Saturday. www.cookout.com.