Best Fun Things to Do at Night in Columbia, SC

Top Destinations Oct 27, 2023

As the capital and second largest city in South Carolina, Columbia offers visitors a vibrant nightlife scene filled with unique attractions, delicious dining options, and lively entertainment. From historical sites that come alive after dark to trendy pubs and music venues, Columbia has something for everyone to enjoy once the sun goes down.

This extensive guide covers some of the most memorable and significant activities for nighttime fun in Columbia, SC. We'll take you through top restaurants that serve up specialty cuisines into the late hours, detail hotel options ranging from luxurious to budget-friendly, and highlight can't-miss nightlife hot spots, organized by region of the city for easy navigation. Whether you're a local looking for a new experience or a visitor taking in the best of Columbia after hours, this list has you covered.

Downtown Columbia

Downtown Columbia offers a diverse mix of nightlife attractions, from unique theater performances to lively bars and concert venues. Many of the city's top restaurants are also located downtown, making this area a convenient one-stop destination for evening entertainment.

Source: Metro Reality Group

Vista & Main Street

The Vista serves as Columbia's downtown arts and entertainment district. Centered along Gervais Street, this vibrant area comes to life at night with people flocking to its many restaurants, bars, theaters, and art galleries.

Trustus Theatre

For off-Broadway style performances in an intimate setting, visit the Trustus Theatre (520 Lady Street). This professional theater company puts on contemporary comedies, dramas, and musicals in their 130-seat black box theater. Enjoy a cocktail at the bar before the show or dessert during intermission. With performances scheduled Wednesday through Saturday nights, Trustus Theatre is a great option for nighttime entertainment in the Vista.

Trustus
Source: Trustus

Music Farm Columbia

Catch live music from acclaimed artists at Music Farm Columbia (1022 Senate Street), a popular concert venue housed in a restored 1930s warehouse. With general admission and reserved seating available, you can get up close to the stage or grab a spot on the balcony overlooking the dance floor. They host bands and musicians across genres like rock, indie, country, hip-hop, and more, so check their calendar for upcoming shows. There's a full bar to enjoy during the performance too.

Pearlz oyster bar

For the freshest oysters and seafood in Columbia, head to pearlz oyster bar (936 Gervais Street). Shuckers are busy at work in the open kitchen preparing over 25 varieties of raw, steamed, and chargrilled oysters sourced from both coasts. Complement your oysters with a cocktail or glass of wine from their extensive list featuring over 50 wines by the glass. The contemporary industrial decor provides a lively ambiance. With discounted oysters during happy hour too, pearlz is a top downtown dining option at night.

Pearlz oyster bar
Source: Flickr

The Grand

Step back in time with dinner and drinks at The Grand (1621 Main Street), located inside a historic Grand Army of the Republic hall from the 1870s. The sophisticated bar offers craft cocktails and an impressive selection of bourbons and scotches. Choose from dishes like the tenderloin filet stuffed with bleu cheese, seared scallops in lemon caper sauce, or their popular Grand chicken cordon bleu. With live jazz piano music nightly, the atmosphere is classy yet cozy.

Bourbon

For whiskeys, cigars, and late night revelry, Bourbon (1214 Main Street) is a popular below-ground spot on Main Street. With over 160 varieties of bourbon and 40+ single malt scotches, you'll find a drink to whet your palate. Their cigar list features over 20 top brands as well. Sip classics like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds or try a tasting flight at the bar. The kitchen is open until midnight too, serving Cajun and Creole inspired small plates and entrees like jambalaya pasta and blackened mahi sandwiches.

Main Street

Lined with historic commercial buildings, Main Street offers an array of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues that come alive after dark.

Bohemian Bull

For late night comfort food and drinks, look no further than the Bohemian Bull (2017 Devine Street). Inspired by gastro pubs, this laid-back restaurant serves elevated versions of bar food until 1 am on weekends. Sink your teeth into specialties like duck fat tater tots, bison sliders with blue cheese, or their mouthwatering B.E.L.T. - candied bacon, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and pimento cheese on Texas toast. With 20 beers on tap, Bohemian Bull is a go-to spot for ending the night on a tasty note.

Franchise Bohemian Bull
Source: Franchise Bohemian Bull

The Senate

For an only-in-Columbia experience, grab a cocktail at The Senate (1027 Senate Street), a restaurant and bar housed within a former Capital City bank c. 1929. Marvel at the original 30-foot handpainted ceiling dome and crystal chandelier before selecting a uniquely crafted concoction like the Honeysuckle Mule with vodka, honeysuckle, lemon, and ginger beer. Their upscale takes on Southern comfort foods like fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits make The Senate a singular culinary and visual experience.

Tin Roof

Tin Roof (1022 Senate Street) offers live music in a high-energy environment nightly. Local artists and tribute bands take the stage as patrons enjoy beers from the extensive tap list and cocktails like beloved Tin Roof "Roofies." The covered patio provides outdoor space for enjoying the shows. With a tagline "cold beer, live music," it's a popular bar for experiencing Columbia's local music scene after the sun sets.

The Congaree Vista

Named for the Congaree River, this vibrant part of downtown encompasses restaurants, shops, art venues and more along Gervais Street.

Andy's Deli

For quick late night bites, visit Andy's Deli (808 Harden Street), a long-standing Columbia institution open 24/7. Their extensive menu has something for every craving, from piled-high sandwiches and cheesesteaks to burgers, gyros, wings, salads, and breakfast served all day and night. Pop in for a hot pastrami on rye or slice of cake after the bars close. The casual diner atmosphere makes Andy's a popular around-the-clock spot with college students and late shift workers.

Rockaway Athletic Club

Combining a restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue, Rockaway Athletic Club (2719 Rosewood Drive) offers fun for all ages. Play a round of bocce ball on one of their indoor courts while enjoying a beer or signature cocktail like the "Rockaway Mule."Sample inventive dishes like the General Tso's Cauliflower or Rockaway's Best Burger while listening to live music on certain nights. With activities, games, and a laid-back gastropub vibe, it's a great spot for a memorable night out.

Rockaway Athletic Club
Source: Rockaway Athletic Club

Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Alehouse

Sample locally crafted brews at Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Alehouse (900 Main Street), boasting an ever-evolving beer menu. Sip mainstay ales like the Monk's Pain Belgian-Style Abbey Ale or rotating seasonal IPAs in the laid-back taproom. When hunger strikes, order wings, pizzas, sandwiches, and other pub grub to complement your pint. There's trivia on Tuesday nights and live acoustic music on Wednesdays for added entertainment while you sip.

Five Points

Columbia's popular Five Points district provides an eclectic mix of restaurants, dive bars, and shops. Located near the University of South Carolina campus, this diverse neighborhood comes alive at night as students, artists, musicians, and more converge to eat, drink, and be merry.

Pawley's Front Porch

For delicious Southern cuisine in a lively setting, dine at Pawley's Front Porch (827 Harden Street). Taste Lowcountry classics like shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, and chicken bog as you listen to live local music on the spacious front porch. The sweet tea cocktails add quintessential Southern flavor. With frequent live acts and a rustic, festive environment, it's the perfect introduction to Five Points' vibrant nightlife.

Pawley's Front Porch
Source: Pawley's Front Porch

Yesterday's Restaurant & Tavern

For a retro dining experience, step into Yesterday's Restaurant & Tavern (2031 Devine Street), housed inside a converted gas station with decor paying homage to the 1970s. From macaroni and cheese to chicken fried steak, you'll find traditional comfort foods made from scratch. Their happy hour specials like $4 margaritas and $6 appetizers from 4 - 7 pm also make Yesterday's a solid early evening choice. Stick around later for DJs and dancing on weekend nights in this vintage chill spot.

The Whig

The classy exposed brick interior and creative craft cocktails at The Whig (1200 Main Street) have made it a Five Points go-to since 2005. Sip local and small batch liquors in drinks like the Rose Colored Glasses with gin, rosé, grapefruit, and honey. Complement your beverage with upscale pub fare like duck leg confit poutine, Vietnamese meatballs, or the wildly popular Whig burger topped with pimento cheese, bacon jam, and a fried green tomato. Their inviting covered patio offers outdoor seating too.

Groucho's Deli

Satisfy late night cravings until 3 am on weekends at Groucho's Deli (611 Harden Street), home of the famous "Stiffler." Piled high with turkey, muenster, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a sub roll, the Stiffler has reached local legend status. Other deli sandwiches, burgers, wings, and appetizers are served in generous portions as well, making Grouch's a welcome sight after the bars close.

The Art Bar

For a creative dive bar experience, The Art Bar (1211 Park Street) serves craft beers and handcrafted cocktails amidst a changing gallery of work from local artists. Dance the night away as resident DJs spin eclectic beats. Other nights feature live musicians or comedy shows. The quirky, artsy vibe makes the Art Bar a one-of-a-kind watering hole.

Rosewood

The trendy neighborhood of Rosewood hosts an array of popular restaurants and charming historic buildings housing unique shops and entertainment options.

Rosewood Market

Grab Texas-inspired barbeque till late in a casual setting at Rosewood Market (2501 Rosewood Drive). The sprawling indoor/outdoor space includes a bar mixing creative cocktails like the Hibiscus Sour and Mexican Mule. Line up at the counter to order mouthwatering brisket, sausage, ribs and more off the smoker. Live music on weekends from bluegrass to blues pairs nicely with the smoky, savory flavors.

Rosewood Market
Source: Yelp

Sauced Pizza Bar

For artisanal NYC-style pizza made with fresh, quality ingredients, visit Sauced Pizza Bar (2401 Rosewood Drive). Great for a late night bite, they serve pies like the Bed Stuy with vodka sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, and hot honey until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Don't miss their rotating craft beer selection and creative cocktails too, like the cucumber jalapeno margarita. The laid-back atmosphere is perfect forsampling savory slices into the night.

Blue Tapas Bar

Blue Tapas Bar (1001 Gervais Street) provides a hip spot for small plates and handcrafted cocktails in the heart of Rosewood. Their menu takes you on a flavor journey through tastes of the Mediterranean, Asia, and South America with tapas like bacon wrapped dates, Peruvian ceviche, and Korean barbecue meatballs. Sip a Paloma, Mojito, or Southside cocktail inside the trendy modern lounge or on the patio under bistro lights.

Publico Kitchen & Tap

For a cool indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar, Publico Kitchen & Tap (2013 Greene Street) dishes up eclectic New American plates and a rotating tap list. Savor dishes like the brisket tacos with salsa verde or ricotta gnudi with brown butter sautéed corn while seated at the marble bar or scattered high tops. Their weekend brunch is popular too. The string lights lining the covered patio create a festive atmosphere to unwind over drinks and sharable plates.

Devine Street

Running from downtown toward the northeast suburbs, Devine Street serves as an eclectic nightlife corridor filled with diverse dining, shopping, and entertainment.

Yoghut

For an unconventional late night snack, stop into Yoghut (5910 Garners Ferry Road), combining self-serve frozen yogurt with do-it-yourself toppings alongside Asian soups and rice bowls. Create a customized sweet or savory treat at any hour - their colorful shop is open until midnight every night except Sunday. With free Wi-Fi, it's a great low-key hangout spot too.

Tradd's

For upscale Southern fare and craft cocktails in an elegant setting, Tradd's (1332 Bush River Rd) delivers. Tucked away on Bush River Road, this white tablecloth restaurant utilizes seasonal and local ingredients in dishes like shrimp and grits, braised short ribs, and their popular filet with blue crab butter. Complement your meal with a cognac or whiskey from their extensive menu. With romantic lighting and live piano music, it's a refined option for date night on Devine.

Columbia Craft Brewing Company

Sample locally made beers at Columbia Craft Brewing Company (920 Gervais St), open late into the night on weekends. Their core beers range from the refreshing Spyke Kolsch to bold Congaree Red Ale alongside rotating seasonal taps. Grab a flight to taste them all including limited small batch releases. When hunger strikes, order a brick oven pizza or soft pretzels and nachos to soak up the brews. Outdoor seating and food trucks add to the lively taproom environment.

Columbia Craft Brewing Company
Source: Columbia Craft Brewing Company

Red's Ice House

For cold beer and hot grill fare, Red's Ice House (528 Decker Boulevard) is a neighborhood staple. Order juicy burgers, chili dogs, wings, and other bar eats to pair with regional drafts at picnic tables inside or on the pet-friendly patio. Established in the 1950s as a general store, the laid-back ambiance draws locals and college kids craving cold beverages and late night grilled delights.

Victor's Bistro

For an intimate fine dining experience open late, visit Victor's Bistro (639 Harden Street), featuring European inspired cuisine in a quaint cottage. Savor French fare like escargots, coq au vin, and bouillabaisse as well as German specialties such as schnitzel and sauerbraten. With a seasonally inspired menu, first-rate service, and excellent wine list, it's a top choice for a sophisticated dinner that lingers into the night.

Hotels

Columbia offers an array of overnight accommodations to rest up between nighttime adventures. From historic gems to standard chains, these options provide proximity to key attractions.

The Inn at Claussen's

For a boutique stay in a former bakery dating to 1903, The Inn at Claussen's (2003 Greene Street) charms with just 39 rooms offering either traditional or modern decor. Unwind at the nightly happy hour with included beer, wine, and hors d'oeuvres in the lobby. Their convenient Five Points location puts you close to dining and nightlife.

The Inn at Claussen's
Source: KAYAK

Graduate Columbia

The Graduate Columbia (700 Lincoln Street) provides a boutique experience inside a restored 1960s motor lodge. Rooms pay homage to local history with decor inspired by notable Columbia figures. Grab a craft cocktail by the palm tree lined pool or play games like corn hole outside. Free bikes make exploring downtown easy by day or night.

Hilton Columbia Center

In the heart of downtown, the upscale Hilton Columbia Center (924 Senate Street) connects to the convention center. Guests enjoy scenic views from their spacious rooms along with onsite dining and an indoor saltwater pool. The hotel also houses upscale rooftop bar The Summit, providing amazing city vistas.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Columbia - Downtown

A solid budget-friendly choice near key attractions, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Columbia (501 Taylor Street) offers free breakfast and WiFi along with an indoor pool and fitness center. Standard queen rooms or larger suites with seating areas are available, some including microwaves and refrigerators.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Columbia - Downtown
Source: Booking

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Columbia Downtown/The Vista

In walking distance to the Vista's restaurants and nightlife, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Downtown (822 Gervais Street) impresses with stylish modern decor. Along with the convenience of downtown, enjoy amenities like an indoor pool, free breakfast, and fitness center during your stay at attractive nightly rates.

Nightlife Beyond Downtown

While downtown Columbia shines as a nightlife hotspot, vibrant after-dark attractions extend beyond the city center into surrounding neighborhoods. Discover more great options for dining, drinking, and entertainment within a short drive.

Harbison Area

The Harbison area provides a hub of chain retailers, restaurants, and entertainment east of downtown.

Bravo Cucina Italiana

For Italian fare in a lively trattoria setting, Bravo Cucina Italiana (278 Harbison Boulevard) fires up pizzas, pastas, and more until 11 pm weeknights and midnight on weekends. Their Garden Bar salad and antipasti stations add affordable starters to prolong your meal. Extensive wine and beer lists complement the flavorful regional cuisine that warms up the room on late nights out.

Carolina Ale House

With 40-plus TVs and a menu running late, Carolina Ale House (277 Columbiana Dr) is a top Harbison spot to catch live sports while downing pub favorites like wings, pizzas, burgers, and nachos. Daily drink specials make it easy to unwind over beer, wine, or cocktails into the evening. Outside seating and free live music amp up the energy on weekends.

Frankie's Fun Park

For family-friendly after-dark fun, Frankie's Fun Park (140 Parkridge Dr) offers bowling, mini golf, go karts, laser tag, bumper boats, and arcade games until 10 pm on weekends and 9 pm on weeknights. Refuel at their pizzeria, pub, or ice cream counter when energy winds down. It's a lively spot for good times after the sun sets.

Northeast Columbia/Sandhill Area

Northeast Columbia encompasses quiet suburban neighborhoods along with commercial developments like the Sandhill and Pontiac areas, home to many dining and entertainment options.

Miyo's Forest Acres

Find peak freshness at Miyo's Forest Acres (3250 Forest Dr, Suite 101), a contemporary sushi restaurant utilizing innovative methods like stunning fish immediately after being caught. Their modern lounge stays lively into the night as patrons enjoy specialty rolls, yakitori, ramen bowls, and Japanese whiskies. Karaoke in private rooms ups the energy on weekends.

Red Lobster

For seafood in a casual setting, Red Lobster (746 Fashion Dr) serves up their famous cheddar bay biscuits alongside shrimp, salmon, and lobster tail pastas until 10:30 pm weeknights, 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Daily lunch specials provide budget values while kids eat free on weekdays. It's a reliable spot for seafood cravings past nightfall.

Social Bar & Lounge

Social Bar & Lounge (850 Spartan Boulevard) in the Sandhill area provides a chic spot for craft cocktails, wines, and beers alongside sharable plates of classed-up bar fare like truffle fries, filet sliders, and barbeque bacon meatballs. Gather on the patio by the fire pit, in the dining room, or the ultra modern bar until late.

Social Bar & Lounge
Source: FourSquare

Lexington

Neighboring city Lexington, located about 20 minutes west of Columbia, hosts an array of eclectic local restaurants and watering holes within walking distance in their historic downtown area.

Icehouse Amphitheater

Adjacent to the Icehouse restaurant, the Icehouse Amphitheater (107 W. Main Street) programs live music in a covered outdoor space holding up to 1,200 people. Regional and national rock, country, and more acts take the stage. Check their calendar for upcoming concerts and events. Bring chairs or rent them onsite. Food and drinks are available for purchase too.

Icehouse Amphitheater
Source: Lake Murray

Hex on Main

For offbeat craft cocktails made with unusual ingredients, step into kitschy Hex on Main (116 E. Main Street). Their Dragon's Blood includes Italicus rosolio, hibiscus, blood orange, and dragon fruit, while the Witch's Brew melds Empress 1908 gin with butterfly pea flower tea, lemon, honey, and lavender bitters. Daily drink specials and trivia nights make sipping on the Hex's eclectic patio a one-of-a-kind experience.

Oak Barrel Tavern

Boasting sweeping views of Lake Murray, Oak Barrel Tavern (1060 Old Cherokee Road) charms with craft beers and elevated pub grub on their patio, rooftop lounge, and within the cozy brick interior. Sip bourbons, local brews, and signature cocktails alongside duck fat fries, wood-fired pizzas, burgers, and chargrilled oysters from an extensive late-night menu. Live music on weekends completes the lively lakefront setting.

The capital city truly comes alive when the sun goes down, with options for memorable nights out in neighborhoods throughout Columbia and surrounding towns. Use this guide to make the most of your after-dark explorations around the Midlands region!

Oak Barrel Tavern
Source: Obtavern

Conclusion

With its diverse array of nightlife options, Columbia offers something to entertain every taste once the day fades to night. From historical sites and cultural attractions to live music venues, craft cocktail bars, and restaurants serving up hearty late night comfort food, South Carolina's capital city provides plenty of memorable ways to experience the best of Southern hospitality after sunset.

Following this guide's neighborhood-by-neighborhood breakdown of the top things to do at night, you're armed with expert recommendations ranging from 5-star hotel stays to budget-friendly motels, upscale Southern cuisine to takeout you can grab on the run, and unique local haunts beyond just the downtown scene.

Whether you seek chic rooftop revelry, downhome blues in a dive bar, an evening of theater under the stars, or even mini golf and go karts with the family, Columbia truly comes alive after dark. So next time you're looking for great nocturnal adventures in the heart of the Midlands, consider this list your playbook for an unforgettable night out in South Carolina's vibrant capital.

Tags