Five for Fall

IT’S A FRESH SEMESTER AND COLLEGE STUDENTS, new and old, are on the hunt for free or cheap things to do to avoid studying.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Even though we call it “fall semester,” the temperatures in Columbia are still in the “summer” category. Take advantage of those 90-degree days and hit the rocks on the Saluda River below the Riverbanks Zoo parking lot. Just make sure to pay attention to lights and sirens that indicate SCE&G is releasing water from the Lake Murray Dam.

2. For two months in the fall, the Five Points fountain becomes a hub of activity every Thursday. Good music and cold drinks are the hallmark of the Five Points After Five free concert series. Mystic Vibrations kicks off this year’s series Sept. 11 with its Jamaica-inspired rhythms.

3. Balance all the sun-bathing and rock music with some history and culture. Explore the Columbia Museum of Art’s collection for free on Saturdays. (803) 799-2810 or And a buck gives you access to all four floors of the State Museum on the first Sunday of the month. (803) 898-4921 or

4. The annual Greek Festival, Sept. 18-21, is the best excuse to eat delicious food you can’t pronounce and get a healthy dose of Greek culture. All the action takes place around the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church at Calhoun and Sumter streets.

5. There’s plenty of time to squeeze in a weekend whirl on the Ferris wheel and a funnel cake between tailgating. The State Fair will be in full swing Oct. 8-19 with a lineup of great performers such as Sugarland and George Jones.