The beautiful campus here at USC is yours to take advantage of. As the great outdoors remains a safer option for groups to gather, the fall is the perfect opportunity to hang out and explore a variety of green spaces just steps away from your classroom buildings.
University landscape artists contributed their favorite spots to create an outdoor guide to hanging out.
The Horseshoe is the "centerpiece" where most students go to socialize, according to Tom Knowles, the director of grounds management.
“The lawn of the Horseshoe is used all the time for eating lunch and picnicking,” Knowles said.
Knowles recommends getting off the "beaten path" and exploring the "pockets" and gardens on either side of the Horseshoe.
“You can take a nap on the lawn under beautiful, mature trees; study by yourself or with a group of friends for exams; play frisbee; pet dogs; walk around the rose garden,” Sustainable Carolina garden manager Andrew O’Flaherty said.
Gibbes Greene is the area just east of the Horseshoe. According to Emily Jones, the university's landscape architect, it is one of campus's highlights. She said people use this lawn area for frisbee golf and to sit on blankets.
Toward the other end of campus, the Greene Street fields are open along with Foundation Square. The square includes over 120 new trees, a canopy cover, tables and chairs and a city blue bike rental station.
Rocky Branch Creek
Shade and trees are something to look out for with the Columbia heat. Spots located near water might provide a cooling breeze.
“I've gone to eat lunch down a few times down at the Blatt fields, where [Rocky Branch Creek] runs under the railroad tracks,” Knowles said.
He said it is a quiet place scattered with picnic tables along the creek.
Across from Blossom Street, the creek runs by East Quad with open spaces to enjoy under the shade of trees, which Jones said is good for a bigger group, especially those students living in the quad area.
Spots like these can offer an escape from the busy campus grounds, and the presence of water can be soothing.
Thomas Cooper Library
“Of course a lot of people like the reflecting fountain and the pond out in front of Thomas Cooper Library,” Knowles said.
The library terraces have ample seating surrounding the building, and located in front is the Richard T. Greener Garden.
AC Moore Garden
Jones said the AC Moore garden is a "very underutilized open space," perfect for residents of South Tower and Patterson Hall to hang out in a gazebo adjacent to the pond.It is located at the intersection of Blossom and Pickens.
Gambrell Hall Patio
University ambassador Kaci Latimore recommends the third floor of Gambrell Hall’s outside patio for a spaced-out area.
“So if you want to have that cool setting just to look up on top and then see everything that's going on over in the humanity side of campus, that would be one way just to interact with your friends out there,” Latimore, a third-year broadcast journalism student, said.
Another place Latimore suggested to hangout and possibly play sports is on the soccer field right across from Williams-Brice Stadium.
There are so many locations on campus to disconnect from your computer and gather openly that offer opportunity for whatever your day has in store. There are plenty off-campus spaces close by as well.
Latimore said the Riverwalk is a very "chill" spot and includes hammocks.
Maxcy Gregg Park
“Maxcy Gregg Park is right across the street from the AC Moore Garden,” Jones said. “It's a city of Columbia park that goes along Rocky Branch.”
"Research has proven that spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits such as improved motivation and mood, reduced stress, and reduced risk of health disease," O’Flaherty said in an email interview.
Combining the outdoors with some healthy recommendations from chefs on campus, you can boost your mood, get connected and enjoy the fall flavor.