Looking for an amazing drive-thru light display? Holiday Lights on the River in Columbia, SC may be just what you are looking for. This display features millions of lights along the 3-mile route, with themed sections of the display, lots of animation and family activities like a winter tube slide, hayride and Santa! Here’s everything you need to know about Holiday Lights on the River in Columbia, SC.
Holiday Lights on the River: The Details
The three miles of holiday lights that make up Holiday Lights on the River, make this display one of the largest in the Midlands of South Carolina and well worth the drive from the Upstate. You’ll find creatively themed sections of the display that make this drive-through light experience unique including sports-themed lights to enjoy, plus dinosaurs, trains, fairytales, snowy trees, and armed services.
Here’s a little sneak peek at what you’ll see at Holiday Lights on the River:
It was by far the best drive through display I’ve seen. Lots of movement and animation.
Holiday Lights on the River runs from November 23rd through December 31st, 2023.
Hours are 6 pm to 10 pm
Go early, and plan to wait in line, especially on the weekends
The cost is $25 per car / $50 per 12-15 passenger van / $75 for 15+ passenger vans
Your ticket includes the additional activities
Activities at Holiday Lights on the River
Admission to Holiday Lights on the River includes several activities you can stop and enjoy. However, if you choose not to stop, the lights themselves are still well worth the admission fee.
Winter Wonderland tube slide
Laser light show
Letter writing station to Santa
Santa visits November 24th and 25th, December 1st and 2nd, December 8th and 9th, and December 15th though the 23rd, 2023. Photo packages are an additional cost.
Are you looking for free Christmas things to do in Columbia, SC? The holidays may drain your pockets when it comes to gift-buying and hosting parties, but these free events, parades, and tree-lighting ceremonies will help you feel a little more jolly, merry, and bright! There is also the added bonus of your kid getting to see Santa around town. Check out our list of the best free events in the Columbia area to get the holiday season started.
Looking for more to do during the holidays? Check out our super festive holiday guide!
December 1, 2023, 6 pm to 8 pm 201 North Avenue, Cayce (Cayce Riverwalk)
Live music, refreshments, and festive Christmas Caroling all along the Cayce Riverwalk! Local church choirs and musicians will be spread throughout the first half-mile. Parking will be available at Brooklyn-Cayce High School.
December 2, 2023, 6 pm to 9 pm Cayce Historical Museum
Take in the sights and sounds of Christmas at the Cayce Historical Museum’s “Christmas Olde and New”. Rooms of the museum will be decorated for Christmas along with live entertainment and refreshments. There will also be an outdoor Christmas market!
Experience historic Christmas decor, with period decorations and demonstrations. There will be light refreshments that are historically accurate to the 19th century, such as hot cider and gingerbread. There will be blacksmithing on-site, cooking demonstrations, and more!
Head downtown for the 70th annual Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade to enjoy the state-broadcasted parade! There will be marching bands, local churches, drill teams, and decorated floats before Santa Claus comes to town! The parade will start at the intersection of Sumter Street and Laurel Street and will head toward the USC Horseshoe and Senate Street.
This wildly popular parade features ANYTHING, as long as it’s covered in lights! The parade starts at 5:30 sharp at the front of the Cayce Municipal Complex and will travel down 12th Street until ending at Highway 1 and 12th Street in West Columbia. Crowds are large, so arrive early and plan ahead!
Select Saturdays and Sundays from November 26th through December 23th, 2023 All Regal Cinema Locations
Enjoy these classic holiday films at your local Regal Cinemas for only $5! November 26, 2023- Elf December 2nd, 2023- Polar Express December 3rd, 2023- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation December 10th, 2023- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
November 21, 2023, from 6 pm to 8 pm Saluda Shoals Park East 6071 St Andrews Road, Columbia
For $5 per person, you can explore the park on a 2-mile nighttime walk as it is decorated in festive light displays along the river. Children 2 and under are free.
Totally Free Christmas Activities Worth the Drive
Day trips are sweeter when they are filled with free things to do. If the free Christmas events and things to do we already listed aren’t enough for you, try one of these awesome, and totally free, holiday events within just an hour or two of Columbia.
See Santa at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops. You’ll leave with a totally free 4×6 professional quality photo and some fun treats, plus enjoy some activities while you’re there! Head up to Greenville, SC for the nearest Cabela’s.
Greenville’s Festival of Trees is a not-to-miss Upstate event. Visit beautifully decorated trees throughout Downtown Greenville hotel lobbies, especially the Hyatt on Main Street. It’s totally free.
Watch Free Holiday Movies at NCG Cinemas. The nearest NCG Cinema is in Spartanburg, SC. So, if you’re heading up to the Upstate for one of the previously mentioned events, catch a movie while you’re there!
Are you wondering how you’re going to keep the kids busy this Thanksgiving Break in Columbia, SC? Need ideas on what to do after the big meal? We’ve created a large list of events and activities that your whole family will enjoy – extended relatives included. From Thanksgiving Day races to seasonal shows and lights, ideas for the outdoors, and everything in between, you and your loved ones will have several great ideas on how to enjoy Columbia this Thanksgiving.
Things to do in Columbia for Thanksgiving
You’ve double-checked your ingredients, deep-cleaned the baseboards, and made sure there are enough chairs, but now you’ve got to figure out how to keep everyone sane. Finding events that appeal to the whole family can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help take some of the pressure off.
If you are looking for resources and services in Columbia, SC to help your family flourish, then we can help! Our growing collection of reader-recommended services, family-minded resources, and researched listings in convenient guides to the Columbia, South Carolina area will help make your life easier.
Services and Resources for Columbia, SC Families
These researched and reader-recommended services and resources are great for the Columbia area family! Life can be hectic, especially with growing kids and careers. As we continue to add to our list, feel free to recommend your favorite places and services you utilize regularly that help make your life more manageable.
Mighty Kidz, a Columbia, SC area therapy clinic, works with neurodiverse children to help them flourish.
Enchanted Closet has adorable kid’s clothes, profile silhouette art, and pastel portrait sessions for kids.
Guides and Listings for Columbia Families: Find The Information You Need, in One Place!
These guides offer valuable information for whatever your family may need. With information about Columbia, South Carolina organizations and businesses, including their contact information, addresses, and the locations they service, you won’t have to look far to find what you need.
Are you looking for holiday pies in Columbia, SC? Whether you need a delicious dessert for your holiday gathering, or just want a scrumptious slice as a special treat for yourself, you can find the perfect pie at these local bakeries.
Many of the bakeries below sell pie throughout the year but take special preorders for holidays and special events. Reach out to them through their contact information before heading to their shop to ensure they have the pie you need!
930 Gervais Street, Columbia | 803.550.9979 If you are looking to purchase a whole pie or by the slice, then the pie selection at Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe is just what you need. Whole pies start at $32 each, and there are currently several options on the menu. You can order classic pies like apple, cherry, and coconut cream in addition to more decadent options like chocolate mousse and tollhouse pie. If you are in need of a holiday pie, bourbon pecan may be the perfect fit. You can preorder for pick up, or head into the shop for a slice of your favorite pie for $6.50. Preorders require a 48-hour notice.
9704 Two Notch Road, Columbia | 803.736.2253 If you have a preference for the pie you want, Tiffany’s Sweets, Eats, and Meeting Place can make it! They pride themselves on creating their pies with original recipes. A few of the options that Tiffany’s has are apple, boysenberry, key lime, and pecan. They even offer quiches, so you can experience the savory side of the pie world while complimenting your holiday meal!
501 Meeting Street, Columbia | 803.977.0034 The menu at Always Original Bakery is constantly changing, but consistently offers pies! They can create anything that you need, including gluten-free, eggless, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and sugar-free options upon request. It is best to contact them ahead of time if you are looking for a specific type of pie or need it for a special occasion.
3307 North Main Street, Columbia | 803.563.5009 This small, family-owned bakery sells lots of delicious treats, including pie! Main Street Bakery currently has three pie choices listed on its website, including coconut pie, pecan pie, and sweet potato pie. The pecan pie is the only pie listed as a whole pie order through their online ordering system, but I am sure with enough time ahead they can make full custom pies from what they offer. The deadline to order pies for Thanksgiving 2023 is November 11 so get your orders in ASAP!
2507 Devine Street, Columbia | 803.673.6374 Silver Spoon offers tons of baked goods that are sure to make your holidays extra sweet. Thanksgiving preorders will begin on Saturday, November 18th, 2023 at 2 pm and pickup is November 21st, 2023 from 2 pm – 6 pm.
902 Sumter Street, Columbia | Purchase a pie Every November, The University of South Carolina’s School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management Department annually hosts Pie Day. Students perfectly bake hundreds of McCutchen House Chocolate Walnut Pies or Tomato Pie Kits to sell to the public for their holiday feasts. For 2023, pies can be picked up on Friday, November 17th, Monday, November 20th, or Tuesday, November 21st in the parking lot of McCutchen House. The pies have to be preordered through a form, and you must bring your receipt to pick them up. All pies are handmade, and can even be frozen if you want to buy multiple ones to enjoy later. Prices are $13 to $15 per pie
Bonus: Thanksgiving Cakes from Kalleigh’s Kakery
Columbia, SC Kalleigh’s Kakery is a locally-owned bakery that offers pies for the holidays. Be sure to get your orders in quickly to reserve your sweet treats. There are several pie flavors and other desserts to choose from!
Have you been to Leo’s Landing at Saluda Shoals in Irmo, SC? Are you looking for a modern park that is more than just your typical swing and slide set-up? Whether you’re looking for a new go-to park or somewhere special to visit every once in a while, Leo’s Landing inclusive playground at Saluda Shoals park is sure to be the perfect place to exceed all of your expectations! This playground features all-inclusive play equipment, covered picnic shelters, and several safety features that will make your outing a great one!
Are you on the hunt for restaurants offering Thanksgiving dinner in Columbia, SC? With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you might be looking for ways to make your day a bit more manageable. At Kidding Around Columbia, we know that cooking up a big meal can be both overwhelming and time-consuming. So whether you’re looking for a restaurant with dine-in options on Thanksgiving Day or even if you just need to pick up an already prepared turkey and/or extra sides we’ve got you covered!
Here’s where to get that roasted turkey, masked potatoes, cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin pie for your Thanksgiving dinner.
Please be aware that reservations for dining-in and catering orders should be made well in advance. To make things easier, we have provided phone numbers for each of the following restaurants. Be sure to give them a call!
Some restaurants have not yet released their 2023 Thanksgiving menus. We will be updating this piece with menu information as it is announced! Check back soon!
What Restaurants are Open on Thanksgiving Day in Columbia, SC?
Address: 2100 Bush River Road Phone number: 803.744.2200 Thanksgiving Details: Columbo’s will be offering a buffet-style Thanksgiving dinner. Complete with all of your family’s favorites from seafood to turkey with traditional sides and everything in between. Columbo’s at Doubletree by Hilton
Address: 1221 Main Street #150 Phone number: 803.563.5066 Thanksgiving Details: TBA Hall’s Chophouse
Hampton Street Vineyard
Address: 1207 Hampton Street Phone number: 803.252.0850 Thanksgiving Details: At Hampton Street Vineyard you will have your choice of starters, salads, soups, main entrees, and extra sides. This is a French-influenced cuisine and the restaurant recently won the Wine Spectator award. Hampton Street Vineyard
Chain Restaurants Open for Dine-In on Thanksgiving Day
Address: 401 Main Street Phone number: 803.254.6767 Thanksgiving Details: California Dreaming will open at 10:30 am on Thanksgiving Day! They will be serving from a HUGE list with all of the traditional favorites – turkey, ham, veggies, casseroles, stuffing, gravy, your choice between pumpkin or pecan pie, and more! Adult meals are $28.95 and kids meals will be between $12.95 and $13.95. California Dreaming
Addresses & Phone Numbers: 5901 Fairfield Road – 803.714.1545 342 Harbison Boulevard – 803.781.7422 2415 Sunset Boulevard – 803.939.0528 Thanksgiving Details: This year for Thanksgiving, Denny’s will have Ready-to-Serve Thanksgiving & Dressing Dinners. These will include all the classic Thanksgiving options – turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and more. The dinner will serve up to 4 people. You will also have the option to add a pumpkin or pecan pie to your order!
Address: 5300 Forest Drive, Columbia Phone number: 803.787.4446 Thanksgiving Details: The holiday buffet at Golden Corral will be open from 11 am – 7 pm and include their holiday turkey, ham and a new holiday roast beef, plus all the traditional sides. You can also order a holiday meal to go to enjoy at home with the family that serve 6 – 8 people. Golden Corral holiday menu
Thanksgiving Details: Don’t forget about breakfast this Thanksgiving! Select IHop locations will be open for Thanksgiving and serve pancakes, seasonal treats, and more. There are several locations all throughout the Columbia area – be sure to call ahead to your closest IHop and verify they will be open.
Address: Multiple Lizard’s Thicket locations in Columbia Thanksgiving Details: Open Thanksgiving Day from 6 am to 5 pm! They will be serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert options from their normal menu. There are several Lizard’s Thicket restaurants all throughout Columbia.
Rio Brazillian Steakhouse
Address: 410 Columbiana Drive Phone number: 803.708.3151 Thanksgiving Details: Rio Brazillian Steakhouse will be open from 12 pm to 8 pm with all the traditional Thanksgiving options, plus their regular menu. Make reservations in advance! Rio Brazillian Steakhouse
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
Address: 294-A Senate Street – within Hilton Hotel Phone number: 803.212.6666 Thanksgiving Details: TBA Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
Where to Get Catered Thanksgiving Meals in Columbia, SC
The following restaurants are offering full meals as well as individual items to add to what you may already have planned. This is a fantastic option that combines the best of both worlds – enjoying Thanksgiving in the comfort of your own home while also taking advantage of convenience and being able to save on time.
Poogan’s Southern Kitchen
Address: 4605 Forest Drive, Suite 1 Phone number: 803-745-8220 Thanksgiving Details: Here you can order full dinners, sides, or even whole pies. Poogan’s Southern Kitchen will have turkey, prime rib, green beans, corn, biscuits, sweet potato pie, pecan pie, and more! They will also have a sit-down option available for $75/adult.
Addresses & Phone Numbers: 2300 Legrand Road – 803.699.5389 253 Forum Drive – 803.788.2052 2208 Bush River Road – 803.731.0672 1140 Kinley Road – 803.732.2835 Thanksgiving Details: They’ve done all the preparations, all you’ll have to do is heat it and serve. At Cracker Barrel you can order complete feasts that serve up to 10 people as well as individual holiday pies. Get your orders in now! Cracker Barrel
Address: 5300 Forest Drive, Columbia Phone number: 803.787.4446 Thanksgiving Details: Order a holiday meal to go to enjoy at home with the family! You can order a whole roasted turkey, ham, or roast beef, or you can order individual holiday meals. The restaurant will also be open for Thanksgiving with it’s holiday buffet. Golden Corral holiday menu
Address: Multiple Lizard’s Thicket locations in Columbia Thanksgiving Details: Order pans of Lizard’s Thicket’s vegetables, sides, and desserts for your Thanksgiving table! You can get mashed potatoes, cobblers, mac and cheese, cole slaw, yams and lots more! Here’s Lizard’s Thicket’s holiday take-home menu. They are also open Thanksgiving Day from 6 am to 5 pm, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert options from their normal menu.
Address: 702 Crosshill Road Phone number: 803.764.1231 Thanksgiving Details: Midwood is offering a variety of smoked meats along with all of the delicious sides that make up a true Thanksgiving meal. All orders must be placed by November 24th and picked up by November 27th. Midwood Smokehouse
Spotted Salamander Cafe & Catering
Address: 1531 Richland Street Phone number: 803.556.2197 Thanksgiving Details: At Spotted Salamander, you will be able to choose from several takeout options. They’ve got ham, turkey, delicious deviled eggs, and so much more! Spotted Salamander Cafe & Catering
What about pies and desserts?
Order your Thanksgiving pies and desserts from Columbia area bakeries.
Are you on the hunt for a delicious coffee shop in or around the Columbia area? We gathered a large list of our favorite coffee shops, most of them locally owned, near Columbia, SC. Our list includes coffee shops in Irmo, Blythewood, Chapin, Cayce, and Lexington, too!
Whether you’re in need of a midday pick-me-up or even a staple coffee shop to add into your morning routine, we’ve got you covered! Grab your favorite drip coffee, cold brew, or maybe something fancy like a rose cardamom latte. Yum. Or, just grab some coffee beans for later. These places are serving coffee, but you’ll also find some with treats, small plates, and cafe-style breakfast and lunch.
Looking for the best place to rent a bounce house near Columbia, SC? Whether you call them bouncy houses, inflatables, or blow-up castles, these inflatable bounce houses provide hours of entertainment for birthday parties, school activities, festivals, and church gatherings. Kids love jumping, and mom and dad like when the kids burn all that energy off. So if you’re looking to rent bouncy houses or jump castles near Columbia, SC, we’ve made your search easier by giving you a list of the best places to rent them.
Here’s where to rent bounce houses, inflatables, dry slides, inflatable water slides, combo bounce, and obstacle courses around Columbia, SC.
Have you ever been to the South Carolina State Fair in Columbia, SC? This year, the fair will be in town from October 11th to October 22nd, 2023. The SC State Fair is an exciting fall tradition that dates back over 150 years ago!
Each year, the fair brings in thousands of people from all around the state who enjoy all of the great things it has to offer – games, prizes, rides, food, and animals just to name a few! Whether this is your first year attending or if you’ve been to the State Fair in the past, keep reading as we will walk you through how to save money on tickets, what to expect inside, where to park, what to bring with you, and more!