16+ Fun & Unique Date Night Ideas: Columbia, SC

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Are you looking for something new and exciting to do with your significant other for date night? There are lots of things to do in Columbia, SC for couples. It can be hard to decide! So, we’re highlighting some awesome and unique ways to spend the day, or even just a few hours, with your loved one right here for a date night, Columbia, SC-style! Whether you’re interested in art, theater, ax throwing, outdoorsy activities, or cooking classes, just to name a few, we’ve got you covered for your next date! Let the date night ideas planning begin!

Unique date night ideas: Columbia, SC

Date Nights Are Important!

We get it, between your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, family get-togethers, and work, it’s so hard to plan a date night with just you and your spouse. Now is a great time to make your significant other feel like a priority.

It can be hard to come up with new and unique date ideas, but we are here to help! We hope you enjoy a little one-on-one time in Columbia using our list of date night ideas!

1. Take a Cooking Class 

Looking for something new to do for date night? One thing’s for sure, taking a cooking class together sounds super fun and unique!  Let’s Cook Culinary Studio offers so many great classes, one being a Friday night class specifically for couples. This class is offered twice a month and you will follow a recipe, and the guidance of a chef, to create your own delicious meal. You are even allowed to bring your own wine to complement your meal! 

These classes have limited availability and usually fill up quickly. If this is something you’re interested in, be sure to book your spot well in advance! 

2. Go Paddle Board!

It’s not as hard as it looks, really! And you rent paddleboards for just $25 at California Republic SUP on Lake Murray. Rentals are for two hours, which is just the right amount of time to enjoy the beautiful Lake Murray on the water. Then you can enjoy a picnic on the grassy lawn by the lake.

Paddleboard on Lake Murray: California Republic SUP

Try something new for your next date! Rent paddleboards on Lake Murray.

3. Make Pottery Together 

There are two great places in Columbia that offer pottery making and painting: HalfMoon Pottery and Mad Platter. Both of these businesses offer classes, walk-ins, and take reservations. You will be able to choose your art piece, design, and decorate, then return to pick up your project after it has been glazed and dried. Talk about a statement, or conversation piece for your home! 

4. Go Ax Throwing 

Not long ago, ax throwing was all the rave, and for good reason! If you haven’t had the chance to go I HIGHLY recommend giving it a try. Craft Axe Throwing is the only business in Columbia that offers this fun activity, but there are two locations: downtown Columbia and Lexington.

Axe-throwing target

My husband and I went for the first time about a year ago and it was so much fun figuring it out together, getting competitive with the games and scorekeeping, and of course, snacking on some delicious food and drinks! They are known to be quite busy on the weekends so it would be a good idea to book a lane online in advance! 

5. Get Artsy at a Paint & Sip Studio 

Put your art skills to the test at a “Paint & Sip” studio! Here are the two canvas painting studios we recommend for a date night: 

  • Painting With a Twist 
  • Studio Cellar – currently in the process of changing locations, but offering pop-up events and travel party services until the move is complete. Stay tuned for updated address and opening information! 

Both of these studios offer classes where an instructor will walk you through each step of painting a pre-chosen picture or freestyle painting where you can choose your own artwork, be given a set of instructions, and work at your own pace. You can even bring your own wine, beer, non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks to munch on as you paint! 

6. Test Your Skills at an Escape Room

If you’re looking to have a group date night with some of your other couple friends, an escape room might be just the place for you! The main idea is that you get 60-minutes to solve a mystery using clues all around you. It really puts your mind to the test and works on your communication and team-work skills.

Most of these escape rooms change out their mysteries frequently so you can always go back more than once. There are several fantastic escape rooms throughout Columbia, here are a few of our favorites: 

7. Enjoy Bowling 

There are several places to go bowling all throughout the Midlands, however The Grand on Main Street is like no other! At The Grand you will find a restaurant in the front of the building and bowling lanes in the back. Enjoy a delicious meal with your spouse then continue the night with a fun game of bowling! 

If you don’t want to have a full meal, you can order small plates and drinks while you bowl and they will be brought right to you. This is much smaller than a traditional bowling alley so the atmosphere is a lot more cozy and intimate.

Top Secret: Dessert Bar

Pssst! Not many people know about it, but there is also an underground cocktail and dessert bar called The Robinson Room found here. You and your spouse can continue your night by enjoying unique cocktails and desserts! 

8. See a Show at the Theaters 

Another great date night idea is to head to a local theater and enjoy a performance, musical, or movie. Columbia is home to many theaters that all have calendars FULL of monthly events: 

The Nickelodeon Theater has been in business for more than 40 years. It offers all the charm and coziness of an old-school movie theater with both matinee and evening showtimes. They usually show about 3 – 4 movies at a time which change as new movies are released. 

The Township Auditorium often hosts up-and-coming musical artists, bands, comedians, and more. Already on the list for this year are performers such as STYX, Kountry Wayne, and Jill Scott. 

Another great place to go to view performances is the Koger Center. You can often find ballets, musicals, orchestras, and more! On the 2023 schedule, you can find Annie, Hairspray, and Romeo and Juliet, just to name a few. 

Best movie theaters in Columbia, SC

Want to see a movie?

Here are your options:
Movie theaters in Columbia, SC

9. Go to a College Sporting Event 

Get out your University of South Carolina gear and cheer on the Gamecocks! While sporting events can double as a fun family activity, they can also be a fantastic date idea! No matter what time of year, there is always some kind of college sporting event happening in Columbia – baseball, basketball, soccer, and football, and more. You can check out the full sports schedule for USC

In the stadium at a Gamecocks Football game

Root for the home team at these Columbia, SC sports teams.

Root for more local home teams!
Baseball, football, basketball, and lots more!

10. Take a Tour of the Columbia Museum of Art 

Do you or your significant other love art? Touring the art galleries at the Columbia Museum of Art could be a fun date! They have rotating exhibits, guided tours, and monthly events that would be perfect for couples. 

Columbia Museum or Art is a great date night idea: Columbia, SC

11. Enjoy a Romantic Evening Outdoors 

Pack up a picnic basket, large blanket, pull out your tennis shoes, and take a romantic stroll with your loved one to see a beautiful Columbia sunset!

There are SO MANY fantastic places to walk and enjoy fresh air, but some of our date night favorites include Saluda Shoals, Columbia Canal & Riverfront Park, West Columbia Riverwalk, and the SC State House grounds. 

Be sure to check out our review of the Riverwalks

Saluda Shoals Park along the river

12. Get Destructive at Trash the Smash Room

Overall the romantic, mushy gushy date night ideas? Here’s one that is quite the opposite! At Trash the Smash Room you will be able to smash, crash, and demolish as many things as your heart desires! There are different sessions and rooms to accommodate the number of people you’re going with, so this one would make a fun group date night out with some other couples. One important thing to note is that closed-toed shoes are REQUIRED!

13. Visit the Melton Observatory

This one is free! On Monday nights with clear skies, the Melton Observatory on the USC campus opens up to the public for free. Learn from the knowledgeable staff and get a chance to look through the observatory’s huge telescope.

14. Visit Riverbanks Zoo

It’s not the usual date idea, we know. But if you have a few daytime hours to spend together, heading to the zoo can be a great way to spend that time. Visiting the Riverbanks Zoo as a couple, sans kids, is a totally different experience. Grab a coffee, stroll, you may even get a chance to actually read the exhibit signs and learn something new since you won’t be chasing around the kiddos.

15. Tube the Saluda River

Ready for a fun, hot-day, water activity? Grab your partner and head down to Palmetto Outdoor for some tubing down the Saluda River. Cost ranges from $15 – $85 depending on the type of tube you choose. They offer this activity May through September as long as the weather and water levels permit. Reservations can be made online the day before. Walk-ups are welcome for cash only. They also offer other activities such as kayaking and canoeing. There are fun rapids to enjoy, but there are also calm spots along the way. So bring a camera and enjoy taking in some of the beautiful scenery. Don’t forget a dry bag and some snacks! Check out their what to bring/not to bring list here.

16. Transmission Arcade & Bar

Class arcade games mix with burgers, salads, wings and adult beverages at Transmission Arcade and Bar on Main Street in Columbia. Relive your youth for a few hours with some classic arcade games and good food.
Transmission Arcade & Bar Menu
1712 Main Street, Columbia


Lula Drake Wine Parlour

BONUS idea! Check out Lula Drake Wine Parlour. It’s the perfect spot for some wine, small plates, and good conversation.

Bring along a favorite game or deck of cards, you won’t be rushed!

Lula Drake Wine Parlour in Columbia, SC

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Date night restaurants in Columbia, SC

Want Something More Traditional?

If a fine dining experience is more your thing: 16 Romantic Restaurants for Date Night in Columbia, SC

Free & Cheap Date Ideas: Columbia, SC

Looking for something less expensive? We get it. Family budgets are tight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a fun time out together.

  • The Melton Observatory is free to visit.
  • The South Carolina State Museum offers $1 admission on the first Sunday of every month.
  • The Columbia Museum of Art offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month.
  • In conjunction with the first Thursdays at the Columbia Museum of Art, you can also enjoy live music free at Boyd Plaza. Bring some snacks, or purchase something to eat at the on-site food trucks.
  • You can enjoy live music for free at several places throughout the capital city including parks and breweries. Check out Jazz on the River for free jazz concerts at West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater.
  • Grab a coffee and head out to enjoy the Soda City Market or any of Columbia’s Farmer’s Markets.

Where in Columbia, South Carolina do you like to go for date night?

Want more ideas? Plan a day trip!

Kayla Simmons
About the Author
Kayla grew up right outside of Charleston, SC and is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina. She has lived in Columbia for a combination of 5 years. Kayla has a background working with special needs children, but now enjoys nothing more than being a stay-at-home mom of two. She enjoys keeping her kids busy by finding unique play spaces and events, involving them in hands-on activities and watching them learn about the world through play. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercise and spending quality time with her family and friends.

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