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Fun is free at UofSC - 12 free outings in Columbia

Fun outings don't have to be pricey! We gathered a list of 12 things you can do on or around campus for free!

So, you’re looking for fun, exciting things to do within the University of South Carolina and Columbia community. But, of course, you’re a college student and funding isn’t, well, top-tier right now. We get it!  

Luckily, we’ve mastered the art of exploring free things to experience around Columbia. The best part is, these things never get old – they’re the type of things you’ll want to take your family to when they visit from out of town.

There’s no need to skip out on a weekend of fun because of money. Try out one of these 12 things … or all of them!

1. Soda City

Every city has a little, local farmers market, but not every city has Soda City. Like most farmer markets, this one offers your typical fruit and veggie stands, but it also has so much more – like local art and trendy, thrifted and vintage clothing. The best part? Spending money is optional! You can enjoy Soda City every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. free of charge. Gather some friends, walk around Main Street and pet cute pups while you’re at it.

2. Thursday After Dark

This is a UofSC exclusive program that offers a variety of fun events! Every Thursday evening, Carolina Productions puts on a different activity for students to partake in. From Laser tag and drive-in movies to goat yoga, every event looks different! Take a study break, check your event calendar and plan a relaxing or adventurous evening at Thursday After Dark.

3. West Columbia Interactive Art Park

Here is your chance to see beautiful art from local artists. This park offers unique pieces like interactive drums to the perfect photo-op with stunning murals. It’s right on the historic State Street across from West Columbia Riverwalk. Two free adventures in one day? We think so!

4. West Columbia Riverwalk

When you’re done checking out the art at West Columbia Art Park, jump over to the riverwalk! West Columbia Riverwalk is one of the most relaxing, free things that you can do in the Columbia area. It offers a beautiful view of the Congaree river where you can take an afternoon walk or bike ride. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic or an evening Eno hang.

5. Free Yoga

If you enjoy yoga or you’re looking to get into it, we know a place where you can experience a full class for free three times a week! Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evening at Strictly Running on Devine Street, you can attend a full, hour-long yoga class. The classes vary from beginner to difficult based on the instructor, but no matter which class you attend, you can always move at your own pace.

6. Lunchbox on the Patio

This is for all you music junkies! Another event by Carolina Productions, this takes place every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the Russell House patio. What is it? Live music! It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a Wednesday lunch.

7. Hip Hop Wednesday

When you’re done listening to live music at Russell House, walk a few steps over to Greene Street to enjoy Hip Hop Wednesday! Grab your friends and head over to hear a live DJ play hip hop classics. Dance, communicate and connect!

8. Lake Murray Dam

While this is a few minutes outside of Columbia, it’s still an experience worth listing. The Lake Murray dam offers a 1.5 mile walk across Lake Murray with beautiful views. It’s the perfect sunny day activity and even gives you the opportunity to get your daily steps in!

9. Tapp’s Outpost

So, you love art? Well, you’ll love Tapp’s Outpost! Tapp’s houses the studios of different local artists in Columbia. The space allows visitors to come in and view some of the current art that’s being worked on by its artist. While they occasionally have paid events, they often have free ones where you can experience full exhibitions.

10. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

This one isn’t always free, but when it is, it’s worth the trip! Every Friday during the months of January and February, Riverbanks offers free visits to Columbia residents. If you go to UofSC, that includes you! So, be sure to mark a Friday or two off of your calendar during these months and go see your favorite animals!

11. Russell House Basement

Did you know that the basement in Russell House is basically a game room for students? From pool to foosball, it’s the perfect, free gathering place for you and your friends to have a game night!

12. South Carolina State House

We couldn’t forget the South Carolina State House! The SC State House offers free guided and self-guided tours. Not only is the building beautiful, but it gives you the opportunity to walk around and see some of South Carolina’s historic monuments.


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