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Five things worth the drive to Lexington

Three of the seven Allen siblings who own and operate Momma Rabbit’s Nibbles & Sips.
Three of the seven Allen siblings who own and operate Momma Rabbit’s Nibbles & Sips. Photo by Janet Jones Kendall

If you live in pretty much any part of Columbia chances are you are flanked by some solid eateries and entertainment options. However, with new food to taste, stores to shop in, beers to brew and things to do in Lexington these days, you might want to consider a drive out West. If you do, here are five can't-miss items to put on your checklist.

1. Momma Rabbit's Nibbles & Sips. While there are fantastic restaurants all over Columbia, there is only one Momma Rabbit's and it's in Lexington. Owned by the seven Allen siblings (who combined their inheritance from their grandmother, Momma Rabbit, to open the restaurant), Momma Rabbit's has received rave reviews since the day it opened early last year. The quaint decor, mix-matched plates and everything-is-made-from-scratch menu make you feel like you are dining in Momma Rabbit's own house.

When you're full from house-smoked corned beef topped with house-made sauerkraut and house-made Thousand Island dressing (get it? it’s ALL house-made), step next door to the new AR Workshop where you can design some of your very own Fixer Upper-style home decor thanks to owners Ashley and Matt Bonte who are quick to lend guidance and a hand.

2. Main Street. The revitalization of Lexington's Main Street lures a great mix of locally owned restaurants and businesses, including Alodia's Cucina Italiana which will open its second location (the first of which is on N. Lake Drive) there in early 2018. Also Chef Nivit Tipvaree, a Thailand native and graduate of USC and Charlotte's International Culinary School of the Arts, opened Bodhi Thai Dining at 126 E. Main St. this month. You'll find the locals hanging out at favorites such as Keg Cowboy, Private Property, Top Dogs, Libby's, Cribb’s Sandwich and Sweet Shop and The Haven Coffee House (now under new ownership). For the art enthusiast, check out the Lexington Artists Collective (LAC) Gallery and M. Gallery and stop in Pitter Platter to create some ceramic or glass art of your own. For the music enthusiast, check out the newly opened Turntable City at 202 W. Main and get DJ Kingpin Kingsley A. Waring--a.k.a., the Villain of Vinyl--to help update your LP collection.

3. Icehouse Amphitheater. Tucked right off Main Street, Icehouse Amphitheater brings a piece of character and charm to downtown Lexington. It's an entertainment venue but it's also the community gathering spot. Icehouse opened last October, and in its first year it hosted events ranging from free concert series to a middle-school chorus concert to a beer festival to a packed-out performance by South Carolina-born rock artist Edwin McCain. When there are no live performances, the venue has shown family-focused and date night movies in the open night air.

4. Craft beer and breweries. Old Mill Brewpub's Matt Rodgers has made a name for himself far and wide as a true brew "master." Though Old Mill took quite a hit in the October 2015 flood, the restaurant -- and Rodgers -- returned and continues to brew up award-winning beers. From Old Mill, head up Main Street into downtown Lexington and check out Keg Cowboy and head a ways off Main Street to Charter Oak Road (which connects U.S. Hwys. 378 and 1) where you'll find Krafty Draft Brew Pub which boasts and impressive 105 beers on tap. On the other side of town on Sunset Boulevard just past Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse The Casual Pint opened its second Midlands-area location. Casual Pint made a name for itself locally on Gervais Street in the Vista. (Tip: Parking is a lot easier at the Lexington location and the outdoor patio is nice, too).

5. Get a sneak peek at the new grocery stores coming your way. Whether you visit the location on Sunset Boulevard or U.S. Hwy. 1 across from Lexington High School, be sure to check out one of Lexington's two new Lowes Foods. The North Carolina-based grocery chain chose Lexington for its first two stores in the Midlands but the third location has already been announced for Forest Acres (in the former Bi-Lo) and more are sure to be announced soon. Before long, you'll be check out the area's first Lidl grocery store when it opens on Sunset Boulevard across from Aldi.