It’s Winter! 20+ Things to Do in Columbia, SC

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You’re looking for things to do this winter in Columbia, SC? The holidays have come to an end, and January and February stretch out in front of you long and cold-ish and boring.

But, there’s so much to look forward to! The winter season offers lots of unique opportunities and things to do in Columbia. Plus, there are some seriously epic winter day trips nearby. You can read that as “Yes, there are day trips for snow tubing near Columbia, SC.” So, have no fear. We have loads of ideas to keep your winter lively and put a bounce in your step that’ll last all the way to Spring. The only thing you’ll have to do is figure out which Columbia, SC winter activity you want to do first!

Winter Activities to Do in Columbia, SC

Winter Planetarium Shows at SC State Museum

We love the South Carolina State Museum for its huge amount of exhibits and hands-on learning. In the winter, they offer a live sky planetarium show where your family can learn about the constellations, stars, and planets that make up Columbia’s winter sky. How cool is that!? Shows are about 30 minutes and should run through all of the cold months. Book your planetarium tickets Live Sky Tour online in advance if you want to be sure to get in at your chosen time!

Additional shows currently available at the Planetarium are Arora, Mars, James Webb Space Telescope and We Are Stars. You can book your tickets at the link above.

Dine-Out, Literally: Heated Outdoor Dining in Columbia, SC

We have ideas for great family restaurants in Columbia, and we also have a huge kids eat free list, but what restaurants let us dine outdoors no matter the weather?

Who has a heated outdoor dining space in Columbia, SC?

Restaurants with outdoor dining in Columbia, SC

Check out this list of heated outdoor dining options we found, or, if you’re bringing the kids along, here are a couple of restaurants and breweries from our big Columbia family restaurant list that also have heated outdoor dining!

Family-Friendly Heated Outdoor Dining in Columbia, SC

  • Home Team BBQ Classic BBQ with a kids’ menu, plus a patio with panels that keep it toasty.
    • Location: 700 Harden Street, Columbia, SC 29205 – 803.724.3900
    • Hours: Sunday through Friday from 11 am – 12 am (midnight)
      Saturday from 11 am to 2 am
  • Cantina 76  The Devine Street location offers a heated outdoor dining space and all the delicious Mexican-inspired cuisine you could hope for.
    • Location: 2901 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29205 – 803.708.6004
    • Hours: Sunday from 11 am – 9 pm, Monday – Wednesday from 11 am – 9:30 pm, Thursday – Saturday from 11 am – 10 pm
  • Steel Hands Brewing Co. Load up the kids for pretzels, sandwiches, and nachos around the fire pits outdoors at Steel Hands Brewing Co.
    • Location: 2350 Foreman Street, Cayce, SC 29033 – 803.708.9864
    • Hours: Monday – Closed, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 pm – 8 pm, Thursday from 3 pm – 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 12 pm – 11 pm, Sunday from 10 am – 8 pm 
  • Upper Crust The Gourmet wood-fired pizza place is in the process of setting up dome dining for these cold winter months. The domes will be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. They also serve brunch and offer “take and bake” pizzas if you prefer dining at home. Check back for official dome completion update!
    • Location: 843-4 Polo Road, Columbia
    • Hours: Monday – Closed, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 am – 3 pm, Thursday from 10 am – 8:30 pm, Friday from 10 am – 9 pm, Saturday from 10 am – 8:30 pm and Sunday 10 am – 2:30 pm
  • Backstreets Grill of Columbia Enjoy the beautiful outdoor atmosphere here while dining on soup, salad, choice meats and seafood!
    • Location: 2400 Devine Street, Columbia
    • Hours: Monday – Friday 11 am – 10 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:30 am – 10 pm
  • Publico Kitchen + Tap Located in Five Points, Publico serves Latin-Asian inspired cuisine, craft beer, margaritas, tacos and Sunday Brunch. They have heaters on the patio as well as heated dome dining available for reservation. They also offer an extensive and festive mocktail menu, vegan menu and most uniquely, a VIP (Very Important Puppy) Menu – Yes, puppy menu! They have a menu specially for dining with your dog! The puppy portion sizes are served based on weight and all profit from the VIP menu go to help a local rescue.
    • Location: 2013 Greene Street, Columbia
    • Hours: Monday through Saturday 11 am – 10 pm
  • Publico at Bullstreet Features Latin-Asian inspired dishes including tacos, ramen, salads and sandwiches. They also offer a vegan and brunch menu plus the VIP Menu (Very Important Puppy) incorporates your dog as part of your family while dining here! They have heaters on their patio to keep you warm in these cold winter months!
    • Location: 2180 Boyce Street Suite A, Columbia
    • Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11 am – 11 pm, Friday & Saturday 11 am – 12 am
  • BOKU Kitchen & Saloon Serves Pan-Asian cuisine and uses locally sourced ingredients. They have heaters on their outdoor patio to warm you up while you enjoy outdoor dining.
    • Location: 916 Gervais Street, Columbia
    • Hours: Monday-Wednesday 11 am – 10 pm Kitchen, 11 pm Bar
      Thursday & Friday 11 am – 11 pm Kitchen, 1 am Bar
      Saturday Brunch 11 am – 3 pm, Dinner 4 pm – 11 pm Kitchen, 1 am Bar
      Sunday Brunch 11 am to 3 pm, Dinner 4 pm – 10 pm, Kitchen, 11 pm Bar
  • Market on Main Voted 2023’s Best Place to Dine Outdoors, they have a Jumbotron TV outside, live music and offer dome dining on their outdoor patio! They allow your dog to dine with you on the outdoor patio and offer a variety of family friendly events throughout the year. Specializing in gourmet Americana cuisine, this restaurant provides an atmosphere the whole family, even Fido, will enjoy!
    • Location: 1320 Main Street #150, Columbia
    • Hours: Monday – Closed, Tuesday & Wednesday 11 am – 10:30 pm, Thursday through Saturday 11 am – 12 am, Sunday 10:30 am to 9 pm

Parents: don’t forget to keep a close eye on kids around outdoor heaters and fireplaces. Both can get very hot and accidents can happen quickly!

Chase the Snow: Day Trips Snow Tubing and More

I know. We aren’t likely to see many snowflakes in Columbia. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t head out on one (or two) totally epic winter day trips and chase after that snow.

Snow Tubing Near Columbia, SC

Go skiing, go snowboarding, go snow tubing. You can do it all just a couple of hours away in Western North Carolina. You’ll want to start here: 13+ Places to Ski, Snowboard, and Snow Tube: North Carolina & Beyond

If snow tubing is your aim, check out Black Bear Snow Tubing in Hendersonville, NC. We just visited and had a blast. It makes an amazing family day trip!

Sliding down in a tube at Black Bear Tubing
Black Bear Snow Tubing

Sledding: Where is there snow?

Last but not least, if you’d rather just go see some snow and maybe find a good hill to sled down, you are in luck. Load up that sled. Here are spots in Western North Carolina where you can sled and go play in the snow! from our sister site, Kidding Around Greenville.

Outdoor Ice Skating

Head up to the Whitewater Center in Charlotte for epic outdoor ice skating. They have several skating spaces and ice trails, it’s much more than an oval rink! Skating is open through mid-February. Find out all about it in our Whitewater Ice Skating Review!

Ice skating at Whitewater Center

Things to Do Inside

Have you seen our Indoor Guide to Columbia? It has all the ideas for family fun indoors.

This winter we recommend:

Children's Area in Richland County Libraries

The Weather is Beautiful: Go Outdoors

So, we may have to travel to see that snow, but that probably means things are looking pretty temperate and sunny out there, perfect for some outdoor winter activities. Columbia, SC has a whole heap. That means you can go for a hike or explore the zoo comfortably and not even break a sweat. Anyone who has been to the zoo in the middle of July knows what we’re talking about.

Free Winter Things to Do in Columbia, SC

Build projects with your kids for free at Home Depot. The Free Kids Workshops at Home Depot are awesome.

February 3rd, 2024: Valentine’s Basket
March 2nd, 2024: Butterfly house

Or, head to Lowe’s Home Improvement Store for their free kids’ kits. Here’s a sneak peek at January’s project. My First DIY Toolbox

Winter Events in Columbia, SC

Check out these winter-themed events happening over the winter months in Columbia. If you’re looking for more activities and events, don’t forget to check out our full Columbia events page.

Things to do Columbia, SC

Looking for more?

Don’t miss our huge list of things to do in Columbia, SC

Winter Break from School

Our winter break bucket list will fill that school break with lots of family fun.

About the Author
Maria Bassett is a former school orchestra teacher, turned homeschool mom. She and her husband homeschool their 3 sons and 1 daughter, who range from 4th grade through 9th grade. Believing children learn best when they are engaged and having fun, this family loves to take their homeschool on the road, around Greenville and beyond.

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