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24 Hours in the Vista Neighborhood: Columbia, SC

From live music to art to beer, what to do in Columbia’s Vista

If you’re in Columbia, South Carolina at some point you’ll visit the Vista, the city’s arts and entertainment district. A neighborhood with tons of restaurants, nightlife and entertainment options in the heart of downtown and on the edge of the University of South Carolina campus, the Vista of today actually owes its success to artists and galleries.

Hand blown glass at One Eared Cow in Vista, where "Travels with Darley" recently filmed

Hand blown glass at One Eared Cow in Vista, where “Travels with Darley” recently filmed

In the 1970s, the neighborhood was nothing more than abandoned warehouses, but artists found the empty buildings to be full of light and offer inexpensive rent for studios. Since then, the neighborhood has blossomed but still keeps its artistic aesthetic. Thanks to good leadership, most of the historic buildings in the district have been preserved and are models of adaptive reuse.

The South Carolina Arts Commission recently named the neighborhood an official cultural district in the state, so whether you’re enjoying a concert in a small venue at Music Farm, checking out a show at one of the neighborhood’s art galleries or strolling down Lady Street to check out our public art sculptures, the Vista’s entertainment options abound. Read on for our hit list for a perfect 24 hours in the Vista.

Adluh Flour Mill, an iconic symbol of Vista that is listed on the National Register of Historic Properties

Adluh Flour Mill, an iconic symbol of Vista that is listed on the National Register of Historic Properties

Eating Out in the Vista
There are more than 80 restaurants and bars in the Vista, and picking a spot for dinner is tough. One of the original Vista restaurants, Motor Supply Co. Bistro is open for lunch and dinner, and its chef-driven, handwritten menu full of dishes made with local products, changes daily.

Live Music
From live big shows at Colonial Life Arena to a performance by the South Carolina Philharmonic at the Koger Center, Vista has music tastes covered. Check out the concert schedule at Music Farm, for touring indie bands in a great atmosphere.

vista-columbia-sc-nighttime

Close proximity to the South Carolina State Capitol and University of South Carolina, Vista features a diverse cuisine and an eclectic atmosphere.

Sweet Treats
Before bed, how about dessert? Check out Kaminsky’s, which is open late. With its signature spiked milkshakes and sinful cakes, this spot’s dark, cozy interior is the perfect place for a nightcap.

Where to Stay
With plenty of accommodations options, you can’t go wrong with a hotel in the Vista, but we might suggest the new Hyatt Place, located right on Gervais and in walking distance of the whole neighborhood, and Main Street, too.

Breakfast Fare
In the morning, don’t miss the omelets at Le Peep, which offers simple, delicious breakfast fare and bottomless cups of coffee.

Art Hop
The Vista has plenty of galleries. ifART and its owner Wim Roefs represent artists from all over the world. Each month, Roefs puts together a new captivating show. Want to see artists at work? Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 is home to several painters, sculptors and mixed media artists and their studios. These artists welcome visitors and the gallery always has an interesting show.

Many art galleries in Vista are located in old warehouses

Many art galleries in Vista are located in old warehouses

Vista Shopping
Ready to shop? BP Skinner is the place for men. The clothier offers custom suits and an array of colorful ties as well as several options for casual wear. Across the street, Carol Saunders Gallery offers everything from unique gift items to David Yurman jewelry and Annie Glass dishware.

Ready for a break?
Occo Skin Studio was recently named Columbia’s best place for pedicures and manicures. They also offer facials, massages and more in the most beautiful space.

Stroll down Lady Street to check out two large sculptures the Vista has installed in the last couple years. This spring, the Vista will get one more sculpture, another piece by a local artist.

Need a bite to eat?
Grill Marks is a new spot in the Vista offering delicious burgers and shakes. Don’t miss the french fry sampler or the burger of the day.

Beer Tasting
With so many options for grabbing a drink in the Vista, it’s hard to choose. We love World of Beer, which has tons of beers on tap, including many local South Carolina brews. And soon enough, you’ll be able to try Twisted Spur Brewing, the Vista’s own microbrewery opening in February in the 700 block of Gervais St.

To see a complete list of what the Vista has to offer, visit the Vista Guild’s website.

About the author: Katie Alice Walker lives in Columbia, South Carolina and is a public relations consultant. In her spare time, she’s into arts, books, dining, style and travel.

2 Comments

  1. Jaki Redden

    September 19, 2016 at 2:57 am

    Great Content, I have been living in Columbia, SC for years. The Vista has certainly exploded. I enjoy every thing from the live jazz bands, to the various dining choices for the night. No matter if you want a great seafood dish or you would rather try some fresh sushi from Tsunami’s, your covered.

    • Darley

      September 19, 2016 at 11:46 pm

      Thanks! We loved exploring the Vista and Columbia. So much to do and lots of hidden gems!

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