Like most college students, I spent much of my junior and senior years of high school touring college after college with my twin brother. By the time we were finished, my brother and I had toured 14 — yes, 14 — different schools. With so many college tours, my family and I found ourselves with plenty of downtime between our travels. Not knowing what to do in so many different college towns, our main way to kill time was playing Yahtzee, and we played Yahtzee for hours.
Little did we know how much there is to explore around campus. From places to see, food to eat, and Instagram pictures to take, there is so much to do! With so many options, here is a list of things I would have loved to do when my brother and I toured a few years ago.
1. Tour the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center
One part of campus that is outside of your tour is the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center. My family and I actually toured the fitness center when we visited, and it was really great to explore all that the gym has to offer. From indoor and outdoor pools, sand volleyball courts and an extensive variety of workout equipment, Strom is a great resource for exercising and relaxing. Walk-in tours are available throughout the week and can be relatively quick if you are pressed for time.
2. Explore the grounds around Williams-Brice Stadium
Because the stadium is off-campus, you won’t be able to check out “Willy B” during your tour. However, you can explore the grounds outside the stadium, including Gamecock Park, on your own time. The grounds are a great place to walk around and relax, and you can see where tailgates are hosted on game day.
3. Visit the South Carolina State House
The South Carolina State House is a great off-campus location to explore. Home to the Governor’s office and the House and Senate chambers, visitors can participate in free guided and self-guided tours Monday through Friday. Hours for tours vary by legislature sessions, but walk-ins are welcomed. In addition to a tour, visitors can walk around the State House and look for the six bronze stars located around the building. Each star marks where cannons struck the State House during the Civil War.
4. Check out the West Columbia Riverfront Park and Amphitheater
If you want to soak up Columbia’s sunshine and outdoor scene, head on over to West Columbia’s Riverwalk. Though it requires a 10-minute drive, the park offers plenty of hiking and paved biking trails for one’s leisure. The park overlooks the Congaree River and accommodates all levels of physical access. The Riverwalk is a great place to have a picnic and take in the natural beauty that Columbia has to offer. The paths make up eight miles total and include historical markers about the area. The park is open daily from dawn until dusk.
5. Get some Gamecock gear
One thing I was repeatedly told throughout my college search was to get a shirt or item from every school I liked. Understandably, this included South Carolina. The Russell House Bookstore is a great on-campus option for all of your Gamecock gear. If you are over by the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness center, Barefoot Campus Outfitters is the way to go. They have great and unique options, not to mention you can get t-shirts cut and cropped into different styles (even dresses)!
6. Get some photo-ops
Without fail, the obligatory campus visit photo will have to occur at some time or another, so why not pick a great spot? One iconic photo spot on campus is the Cocky statue by Greene Street. A great pose to use is the “spurs up” sign in your picture. If you want another good shot, take your picture by the fountain in front of Thomas Cooper Library. The lighting is great, and the fountain is right in the heart of campus. Both of these spots are really popular with current and prospective students alike.