Lexington, South Carolina is a charming southern town with plenty of fun activities and attractions to enjoy year-round. But winter brings a special ambience, from holiday festivities to bundling up for outdoor adventures. Here are 15 of the top things to do for an unforgettable Lexington winter getaway:
Lexington County Museum
Immerse yourself in local history at the Lexington County Museum, located in a stately brick building that was once the local library. Permanent exhibits here chronicle the city’s development over time, from early Native American relics and fossils to artifacts from 18th and 19th century plantation life, textile mills, and the Civil War era. You'll see everything from vintage clothing and furniture to war memorabilia and antique musical instruments. Don’t miss their particularly impressive collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia too, with over 1,000 artifacts related to the iconic soda company, which got its start just a few towns over in Columbia.
In December, get into the holiday spirit with their special Christmas exhibit. Decked out for the season, it highlights Christmas decorations, toys, and traditions from the Victorian era to the 1950s. Kids can check out Santa's workshop and write letters to Mr. Claus himself.
Robert Mills House and Gardens
One of Lexington’s most iconic landmarks, this early 19th century mansion was designed by noted architect Robert Mills, designer of famous buildings like the Washington Monument. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Robert Mills House now serves as a museum filled with Mills' original furnishings, family portraits, and decor. Tour the historic home and gardens daily for a glimpse into upper class life in the antebellum South.
The sprawling grounds are also a treat, where you can take a quiet stroll past the formal gardens, oriental garden with moon bridge, and peaceful pond area with benches. During the annual Holiday Lights event each December, the gardens come aglow on select nights with over 100,000 dazzling lights along the pathways and trees. Visitors sip hot chocolate and take festive photos amid the magical glow.
Lexington Historic District
Take a peaceful stroll or drive through blocks of historic homes, churches, and buildings in downtown Lexington's expansive historic district. Notable sights include the 18th century Dodson's Tavern, quaint preserved Victorian house museums, and historic churches with stunning stained glass windows.
Be sure to stop by the Lexington Visitors Center to pick up a map and join one of their guided walking tours of the district. Knowledgeable guides will share details on the centuries-old architecture and lore while hitting major landmarks. Free self-guided tour pamphlets are also available if you'd rather explore independently.
Escape into pristine natural wilderness with a brisk hike, bike ride, or leisurely stroll along Lake Murray. This massive 50,000 acre reservoir has over 600 miles of shoreline and 40 different parks dotted with fishing piers, boat ramps, picnic shelters, playgrounds, and hiking trails.
Rent a pontoon boat or fishing boat from one of the many marinas for a peaceful winter cruise on the open water. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on remote islands and coves accessible only by boat. Be sure to catch panoramic vistas of the winding lake from spots like Dreher Island State Park, which sits on the lovely western shoreline.
Lexington Medical Center Athletico
When winter weather puts outdoor activities on hold, head indoors to the Lexington Medical Center Athletico for top-notch fitness and therapy services. This impressive complex houses a three-court gymnasium, indoor track, over 100 cardio and weight machines, exercise studios, saltwater pool, and cafe.
Day passes grant access to all facilities and equipment. Register for classes like yoga, Zumba, cycling, and aquatic fitness inspired by the fun resort-style environment. The pristine space and variety ensure an invigorating workout escape from the cold.
Columbia Museum of Art
Revel in art from celebrated painters like Monet, Renoir, and Warhol at the Columbia Museum of Art in downtown Columbia, just 20 minutes from Lexington. Spanning three floors, expansive galleries display over 7,000 works including Southern contemporary, Asian art, Renaissance pieces and more.
Don't miss standouts like Van Gogh's 1887 Still Life: The Blue Enamel Coffeepot. Interactive kids' rooms, glass art demos, and seasonal exhibitions make for engaging visits. The on-site restaurant Cafe Nisa is perfect for grabbing lunch.
South Carolina State Museum
Discover over 100,000 artifacts and exhibits chronicling South Carolina’s natural and cultural history at the SC State Museum, located just across the river in Columbia. Interactive galleries like the 4-story digital “Windows to New Worlds” dazzle visitors with surround-sound and 360° animation.
Other highlights include a replica of the CSS Hunley Civil War submarine, the nation’s largest collection of Catawba Indian pottery, and the famous “Best Friend of Charleston” locomotive. The convenient parking, on-site cafe, and planetarium add to the attractions for a full day out.
Carolina Opry Theater
For family-friendly entertainment, check out the hugely popular Carolina Opry variety shows at their 1,800-seat theater in Myrtle Beach. Conveniently, Lexington residents can now catch the same Vegas-style productions much closer at the new Liberty Theatre in North Myrtle Beach.
Productions like the Christmas Show, Good Vibrations, and One: The Show promise singing, dancing, comedy, and special effects galore. Ticket+dinner packages available for a total night out just over an hour from home.
Lexington County Blowfish Baseball
Cheer for the hometown team with affordable fun at a Lexington County Blowfish baseball game! Part of the summer collegiate Coastal Plain League, the Blowfish play at historic Lexington County Baseball Stadium. Home games run from May through July.
Enjoy an all-American evening of hot dogs, cold beer, raffles and family fun at “The Graf." Get the best seats at field level or spread out a blanket for a picnic on the grassy slopes lining the outfield fence. Fireworks shows after Friday games really make for a spectacular night out.
Catch a Concert at Colonial Life Arena
Lexington is conveniently located just 12 miles from Columbia's huge Colonial Life Arena, which hosts major concerts, shows, and events year-round. The 18,000-seat arena draws top-tier acts from Elton John and Chris Stapleton to Cirque du Soleil and Disney on Ice.
Upcoming country stars often make tour stops here too before hitting the big stadiums, making it a great place to catch rising talents in an intimate setting. The venue is located downtown with parking garages and dining nearby.
Festivals and Events
Christmas in Cayce-West Columbia
On the first Friday in December, the sister cities of Cayce and West Columbia come alive with free holiday fun during the annual Christmas in Cayce festival. Activities include carolers, concerts, food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, carnival rides, train rides, and of course, photos with Santa! Musicians take the stage in the early afternoon, with the main event being the Tower of Power R&B concert starting at 6 pm. Stick around after dark for the evening Christmas parade winding through the park, complete with colorful floats, dancers, and lights.
Lexington Christmas Parade
Bundled up with family and friends, hit downtown Lexington's Main Street on the first Saturday evening of December to watch the area's biggest and most festive nighttime parade. Lexington lays claim to hosting South Carolina's oldest holiday parade, a tradition since 1939. Today, it features over 100 brightly decorated floats, marching bands, dance troupes, and crowds eagerly awaiting Santa rolling in on the final float.
Arrive early to grab hot chocolate and cookies from vendors near the Old Mill. If you can, reserve a spot at one of the restaurants or bars along the route for an elevated viewing experience. Be sure to dress warmly and bring blankets, folding chairs, and glow sticks to fully take part in the merry atmosphere.
Polar Express Train Ride
All aboard the magic of the Polar Express this winter in Lexington! This beloved Christmas tradition lets families take a one-hour train ride with the Lexington Railroad Company to meet Santa and his elves. Kids are encouraged to wear pajamas for the night journey, which includes reading the classic Christmas tale, enjoying hot chocolate and cookies, caroling, and receiving a special gift from Santa himself.
The Polar Express departs from Virginia Avenue Station in Lexington every November and December, starting the day after Thanksgiving. Make reservations early, as this sought-after excursion often sells out. Check the schedule for special extras like story time with Mrs. Claus and frosting cookies in the train's cafe car.
Lexington Wine Walk
For grown-up fun, check out Lexington’s popular Wine Walks held on Saturday afternoons in January and February. These lively events allow you to sample fine wines from six different participating venues throughout the downtown historic district. Lexington restaurants, bars, galleries, and retail shops all take part.
Tickets to the Wine Walk include a souvenir glass so you can visit each stop for wine tasting portions from places like COA, Southern Tailgate BBQ, and Wine World. You'll also receive a charm engraved with that month's year to add to a bracelet or necklace as a memento. Relax with live music at many of the stops as you explore downtown.
Saluda Shoals Park
One of Lexington's largest parks at over 500 acres, Saluda Shoals Park is a scenic gem located along the Saluda River. The park features 5 miles of wooded hiking and biking trails, including the wheelchair accessible “Sensory Trail” dotted with braille information panels. Cool winter days are perfect for wandering the wetlands boardwalk loop, keeping eyes peeled for egrets, wood ducks, and beavers.
Rent a canoe or kayak from the boathouse and paddle along the peaceful open waters of Lake Saluda for picturesque views. History buffs will appreciate the preserved ruins of an old textile mill and covered bridge from the 1800s. Be sure to save time for the scenic riverside picnic areas too.
Swamp Rabbit Trail
The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a popular 22-mile multi-use greenway trail network winding through forests, wetlands, parks, and downtown areas. Well suited for walking, jogging, cycling, and even rollerblading, it connects Greenville to Travelers Rest, SC. Sections winding through the Lake Conestee Nature Park area make for brisk and scenic winter hikes and bike rides.
In Cayce, extend your activity by connecting to the 3-mile Timmerman Trail, which runs along the Congaree River. All along the way, stop for hot drinks or snacks at one of the adorable trailside cafes and shops in cities like Greenville and Travelers Rest.
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
See exotic animals from penguins to giraffes at one of America's top zoos, right in Columbia. Riverbanks has over 2,000 animals, as well as interactive exhibits, animal shows, train rides, and luscious botanical gardens spanning 170 acres. It's an ideal outdoor winter activity for families, especially during the holidays when extra seasonal magic sparks events like Boo at the Zoo and Zoo Lights.
The zoo's scenic grounds, with stone paths winding past waterfalls and quiet benches, make for leisurely walking even on cold days. Step inside climate-controlled reptile houses and aquariums to warm up while admiring alligators, giant sea turtles, pygmy hippos, koalas, and other rare creatures. With so much to see and do, you can easily spend an entire day or weekend exploring Riverbanks.
Shopping and Dining
For cool winter nights under the stars, catch a concert at Lexington's premier outdoor music venue. The Icehouse Amphitheater hosts events year-round in their open-air pavilion and sloping lawn that can accommodate up to 4,200 people. Winter headliners have included major acts like Lindsey Stirling, 311, and Kenny G over the years.
Bundle up with blankets, sweaters, and jackets to stay warm in the reserved seating or on the lawn. Bring along snacks or buy food truck bites like gourmet hot dogs, tacos, and barbecue on-site. The sound and light shows never fail to dazzle crowds at this unique venue.
Sandstorm Volleyball Courts
Boasting 30 indoor sand volleyball courts, Sandstorm Volleyball Center in Lexington is one of the largest facilities of its kind on the East Coast. It's a great place to get active with friends on winter days and nights. Rent a court any day of the week for group games and practice. Score keepers and ball carts are provided for your convenience.
Competitive leagues and pick-up games for all levels run year-round for both adults and juniors if you're looking for a regular team. Grab a smoothie or power bowl after working up a sweat at their snack bar, Courtside Cafe. Sandstorm also hosts volleyball camps and lessons.
Lexington Medical Center Shops
Looking for unique, locally made art, clothing, jewelry, home goods, and gifts? Make a stop at the charming Medical Center Shops connected to Lexington Medical Center. With 25 specialized boutiques and eateries in a pedestrian-friendly outdoor plaza, you'll find diverse Lexington-area brands and wares.
Shops range from upscale clothing boutiques to crafty, budget-friendly stores with handmade candies, soap, and accessories. Highlights include children’s toys at The Wee Shop, Southern-themed home decor at Posh, and handcrafted jewelry at Adorn. Grab lunch or coffee at spots like Boardwalk Burgers.
Foodies can savor high-end regional Southern cuisine in a contemporary fine dining spot with rustic elegance. Chef Mike Davis uses locally sourced ingredients at Terra to craft dishes like duck cassoulet, shrimp and grits with Benton's bacon, and their signature fried green tomatoes topped with crispy oven fried oysters.
The menu has plenty of options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. An extensive wine list and creative craft cocktails complement the entrees. Save room for indulgent desserts like the bourbon pecan pie, served warm with vanilla ice cream. This award-winning eatery does require more formal dress. Reservations recommended.
These two sister restaurants connected by a staircase provide a fun dining experience with the lively tastes of Asia. Downstairs, Miyo’s offers hibachi grills and sushi in a high-energy environment. Grab a seat at one of their hot cooking tables and watch the chef's dazzling moves as they grill steak, scallops, and veggies before your eyes.
Upstairs is M Vista, which focuses on elevated Pan-Asian entrees like miso sea bass, duck pad thai, and filet mignon with ginger teriyaki. Make a night of it by starting with Miyo's showmanship before heading up to M Vista's sleek bar and dining room. For a group outing, reserve one of Miyo's hibachi grills well in advance.
The Red Horse Public House
An intimate British-style gastropub located in a historic downtown building, Red Horse serves up hearty European fare alongside a staggering 150+ craft beers. Savor poutine topped with braised short rib, cast iron salmon with lentils, fish and chips, and their famed Palmetto Cheeseburger with pimento cheese, fried green tomato, and bacon.
Cozy up near one of the fireplaces in the charming, rustic-chic interior or grab a patio seat outside. Live music plays on weekends if you want to get your groove on after dinner. Check Red Horse's event calendar for beer tastings and trivia nights too.
Lexington is home to over 10 local craft breweries pumping out unique ales, lagers, and small batch beers. Head to spots like Twisted Spur Brewing for live music and trivia nights with award-winning IPAs and porters on draft. Sample flights showcasing experimental beers at Steel Hands Brewing, housed in a cool repurposed service station.
Or sip Belgian and German styles in the Biergarten at River Rat Brewery, known for their Steel Hands collab “Shoofly Funk” brewed with apple cider and licorice. Many provide brewery tours if you want to learn more about the beer making process.
Carnivores will delight in an evening at the Griffin Chophouse for USDA prime cuts of steak and seafood alongside live piano music. Fresh oysters, crab cakes, and their colossal 20-ounce ribeye appease any red meat craving. Or try surprises like the coffee-rubbed filet mignon or bourbon glazed salmon.
The classy decor with exposed brick pairs nicely with their club-like bar slinging craft cocktails. Treat your tastebuds to shareable sides like creamed spinach and truffle fries from the a la carte menu. Reservations recommended for this upmarket steakhouse.
For casual counter-service lunches, make a stop at Rosewood Market, a corner shop slinging up stacked sandwiches, salads, and Lowcountry specialties. Order at the counter, then grab patio seating for brisk but sunny winter days.
Sink your teeth into regional flavors like their fried green tomato BLT, shrimp po' boy, and pimento cheese with bourbon bacon jam. Daily specials like chicken pot pie and fried catfish keep locals coming back. Save room for a slice of their ridiculously rich chocolate pecan pie too.
You can't talk Lexington cuisine without mentioning Shealy's Bar-B-Que, the legendary smoked meat joint that's been firing up hickory-smoked pork, chicken, ribs, andhash since 1953. Still housed in their original humble building, it's as old school as it gets.
Choose pork or chicken plates with sweet tea and buffet sides like hash and rice. And don't skip out on trying their family's signature vinegary mustard-ketchup Shealy’s Bar-B-Que Sauce, sold by the bottle. Save room for peach cobbler too!
Where to Stay
Inn at USC
For weekends visiting the USC campus, check out the luxurious Inn at USC. This higher-end hotel sits right on campus, perfect for taking in a game or campus sights. Guests rave about the sophisticated and contemporary rooms, stellar service, rooftop pool deck, and central location near shopping and dining.
Valet parking, shuttle service, and cooking classes add nice touches. Room rates can be pricey during big events, but more affordable deals emerge during slower winter months. Be sure to book early for major game weekends.
Hampton Inn Lexington
For reliable mid-range accommodation, look no further than the Hampton Inn Lexington. With well-appointed rooms, free breakfast buffet, indoor saltwater pool, and location along busy I-20, it's a solid chain option near downtown and Lake Murray.
Kids will get a kick out of swimming in the pool and careening down the water slide. Ask for a lake view room to wake up to vistas of sparkling blue Lake Murray. You're also only 10 minutes from Riverbanks Zoo and airport.
An affordable motel choice close to the lake, Econo Lodge starts at just $55 per night during winter. While basic in decor, rooms do come equipped with mini-fridges, microwaves, coffeemakers and free Wi-Fi access. The outdoor pool is even open for use during Lexington's mild winters if you want to go for a brisk dip.
A complimentary continental breakfast with pastries, cereal, waffles and coffee is served daily too. It's only a quick drive to attractions like the Columbia Museum of Art and Riverbanks Zoo from this budget-friendly spot.
For a local, personalized experience, browse Airbnb listings in the Lexington area. You'll find everything from cozy log cabins tucked away in pine forests to modern loft apartments downtown. Options range from private rooms in homes to entire sprawling residences that are ideal for families or groups.
Whether you want lakefront views or a wine country escape, Lexington's Airbnbs offer unique places to stay you won't find anywhere else. Experience southern hospitality while interacting with Lexington locals.
No matter your interests, Lexington offers memorable activities and attractions to fill a winter vacation. Immerse yourself in history, culture, and nature. Get into the holiday spirit at beloved festivals and events. Savor mouthwatering cuisine with a side of good 'ol southern charm. With this guide, you now have a wealth of ideas to make the most of winter fun in Lexington, South Carolina!
And that covers even more things to fill your winter getaway in the heart of South Carolina's charming Lexington country! From kayaking and culture to breweries and barbecue, you'll find southern hospitality and scenic adventure around every corner.