The Daily Gamecock

Column: 'Spring break' on budget, things to do in Columbia

For many college students, a memorable spring break might seem to come at a cost more than they're willing or able to spend. But with some research and a little planning, the perfect spring break can be achieved by even the stereotypical "broke college student" — and locally, at that.

This list of inexpensive spring break activities in Columbia can be used as an easy way to get started. 

Students need not even leave campus to begin a budget-friendly spring break. The Gamecock Entertainment web page includes a calendar of campus events that are available to all university students free of charge. Among the events lined up for March is Dogs on Davis, hosted by Carolina Productions, and Gamecock Entertainment's "Carolina's Got Talent." Students are also invited to Thursday After Dark Goat Yoga, which will take place on March 18, and a stand-up comedy show with Russell Underground on March 20.

With the weather warming up, it's a great time to explore outdoor activities. Lindsay Schultz, a first-year dance education and psychology student, said the West Columbia Riverwalk and the Riverbanks Zoo are popular and affordable outdoor sites to visit. An adult ticket to the zoo is $21.99 plus tax, and entry to the Riverwalk is free.  

Schultz also said visiting local lakes is a good way to get some fresh air and even have outdoor photoshoots with friends.

Lake Murray, only 45 minutes from campus, is a great option for this. The "jewel of South Carolina," as it is known, offers boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and an assortment of other activities to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and the arrival of spring.

Visitors can also explore the lake's Dreher Island State Park, where they can fish, camp or picnic on the beach. Admission to the park is $3 per adult. Columbia is also is home to Harbison State Park in Richland County, and just 18 miles southwest of the capital lies the Congaree National Park. The Congaree park preserves the largest region  of old growth bottomland hardwood left in the southeastern U.S.

If the outdoors aren't for you, Columbia has city options in walking distance to campus. First-year marketing student Jessica Bolkle said she recommends Soda City Market, especially when it's nice out. 

"It's relatively cheap for food trucks and artisans and stuff, and it's always something new and fun," Bolkle said.

Soda City Market is open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

With Main Street being a hub for activity and arts, you don't have to look much further from the market for live music. "Throwback Thurdsay" with Mike Stone at The Main Course Restaurant is one of the many events happening this spring on Main Street. The event is scheduled for March 11 and 18, and tickets are $5.

Students can also choose to visit the Richland library, which, according to Experience Columbia's website, is an award-winning establishment with four floors of interactive exhibits and books — an awesome experience without a price tag.

And, of course, it's possible to have fun from home. Whether quarantined, social distancing or just taking some much deserved time away from the excitement of today's world, it can be great to spend time catching up on reading, Netflix or quality time with family and friends.

Regardless of your plans this spring, you deserve a little break. Without a week away, try a couple hours away. 


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