Leave the world behind this week and set your sights on the stars.
Vacationing extraterrestrials and star travels will find a welcome landing pad in Bowman, S.C., at the UFO Welcome Center. Despite a sign near the entrance that reads, “Space people only. Enter at your own risk. Danger,” the UFO Welcome Center has become a popular tourist attraction for locals. Built by Jody Pendarvis over the past 25 years, what began as an office space in Pendarvis’ backyard has turned into a site so beloved, that mayor Marion Clenn wants to rename it Bowman’s official town welcome center. In addition to the central structure, Pendarvis is in the process of building an alien catcher.
But be warned, much of the flying saucer and surrounding infrastructure is made from salvaged scrap materials and if visitors aren’t careful, they can end up being the ones caught, and forced to fend off the aliens alone.
Where to find it: 40014 Homstead Road Bowman, S.C. www.roadsideamerica.com
Fight back a hungry stomach by driving west on Interstate 20 to exit 63 for Bush River Road. It’s known that this column can get kinda cheesy from time to time, and what better way to take its cornball humor to galactic heights than to eat “out of this world” queso at Real Mexico Restaurant Y Tienda. Believed by some to be the best Mexican restaurant in Columbia, diners can’t go wrong with any one of the fresh, simple, and traditional menu items. For those willing to go boldly where they may have never gone before, order the mojalcete: cactus, peppers and onions, chicken or beef, chorizo (spicy sausage), and melted cheese served in a hot volcanic stone bowl with homemade tortillas. It’s worth the space travel.
Where to find it: 2421 Bush River Road. www.realmexicoresturantwebexpert.com 803.750.8990. Open 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Speaking of planetoid voyages, sneak on board the Apollo 11 spacecraft with three tweenage flies in South Carolina State Museum’s newest 4D experience, “Fly Me to The Moon.” The film is part of the State Museum’s Cosmically Cool Summer with screenings occurring daily in the Rev. Dr. Solomon Jackson Jr. 4D interactive theater that utilizes a range of sight and sound simulations, and motion, to give audiences an experience like nothing on earth. After which, visitors can walk through the exhibition “Apollo 50: Journey to the Moon,” which charts the history of the Apollo landing and S.C.’s contributions to the NASA program. Tickets for “Fly Me to The Moon” include museum admission and ranges from $11.95 for kids 3-12, $13.95 for adults, and $12.95 for seniors 62 and older.
Where to find it: 301 Gervais Street www.scmuseum.org 803.898.4921. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
Having started the day at a UFO site, it’s only fitting that you and your fellow aliens end the night at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. Voted best craft beer selection by the Free Times this year, Flying Saucer carries everything from local beer to specialty 50 ml bottles that they serve every Thursday for Big Bottle Small Pours night. In addition to that weekly event, from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday all draft beer are only $4, which means no more worrying about intergalactic excursions tapping out all your savings.
Where to find it: 931 Senate Street www.beerknurd.com 803.256.2055. Open 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday.
Alyssa Velazquez, special to GoColumbia