There is mainstream, and then there is the tucked away, hidden, or well-worn hidey holes that hipsters crave and residents revere. Be alternative this week and take a day to explore Columbia’s underground.
Dive right into one of the region’s best-kept secrets with Palmetto Outdoors. Experience three miles of floating fun along the Three Rivers Region of Columbia on a TurboPro vinyl tube. For $20, tubers get a life vest, standard tube made for river use, and transportation upstream. While this activity is meant to be fun for the whole family, children must be at least 10 years old to tube. Reservations can be made online or over the phone in advance, walk-ups are also welcome.
Where to find it: 131 Alexander Road. Open noon-3 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; noon-3 p.m. Sunday.
After all that exploration, plunge into The Whig, Columbia’s resident subterranean bar. Often described by its eclectic décor, and cheap but quality beer, the kitchen staff has converted many Columbia residents into loyal customers. The food is hot, hearty, and hedonistically good, just what you need in a place that stays open late. The superstar of the menu is without a doubt the Whig Burger, topped with smoked gouda, beef gravy, bacon, and siracha aioli. For those wanting something a little lighter, but with just enough hefty to keep a potential hangover at bay, order the chipotle pimento cheese fries with all the fixings — a true culinary gem of Columbia.
Where to find it: 1200 Main St. Open 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday.
Speaking of gemstones, drive or walk to Oyster Bar Columbia, the “pearl of the Vista” for an after-dinner drink. This old-fashioned oyster bar founded on shrimp and oysters serves its fresh seafood with nothing but melted butter, warm Mother Shucker cocktail sauce, and cold drinks — one of which is the Oyster Shooter: Absolute vodka or Bacardi with OBC’s Mother Shucker Bloody Mary mix, and finished off with a raw oyster. For the drinker that craves a little more spice, try the Jalapeno Oyster Shooter with house-made jalapeno infused vodka. Who says you can’t have your drink and oyster too?
Where to find it: 1123 Park St. Open 4-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 4 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday.
End a day that started on the river with a place by the pool, a pool table that is. Relax over Billiards at Uncle Fester’s Sports Bar on Devine Street. In addition to pool playing, this dive bar hosts events throughout the week, including karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays. And if you should feel yourself getting hangry during the evening’s festivities, Uncle Fester serves a late-night brunch on Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Proof that something slightly scuffed around the edges often has the most to offer.
Where to find it: 522 Devine St. Open 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fridays; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays.