Fun for the whole family

It’s that time of year again. Time for our families to descend upon Columbia and UofSC in droves, calling before you’ve even gotten out of class to say that they’re here and asking where to park. They’ve been waiting for this day since August, but what are you going to do with them? Don’t stress; impress them with these options.

Friday night

If your family signed up for a Family Weekend package, make sure that they check-in at the Russell House to pick up everything they’ll need for this weekend. (Don’t worry, if they don’t come until Saturday. Check-in will also be happening that morning.) After check-in, swing by the president’s welcome reception to meet the first family and snack on yummy hors d’oeuvres before dinner.

Show them a good time with a great meal, by taking them to some of the many fantastic dining options downtown has to offer like the Blue Marlin, Motor Supply Co., Cola’s or Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Once they’ve gotten their to-go boxes, head back to campus for Rock the Roost at Strom. Relax around the pool, nibble on some dessert and finalize the family plans for Saturday so things go off without a hitch.


Feeling fit? The Family Weekend 5K is a great way to get some early morning exercise and energy before the big game. To give your parents a real taste of Columbia, take them to Soda City Market where they can munch on avocado toast and buy some souvenirs.

Since this year is a noon game against Missouri, tailgating will be starting early. Gamecock Park has 200 tailgating spots available on a first-come-first-serve basis for $40 on gameday. The State Fairgrounds also has spots available for the day for $30. Make sure your spot is stocked up on food by picking up a Chick-fil-A nugget tray, a Bojangles’ jumbo tailgate special or some fried chicken and sides from Publix.

Too much pre-planning? The Family Weekend Tailgating Party starts at 9:30 a.m. and will have plenty of tailgating food. There will also be performances by the Carolina Band, cheerleaders and an appearance by Cocky to entertain you before kickoff.

When football is over — hopefully resulting in a Gamecocks win — take some time to explore the city even more before dinner.

Sightseeing and shopping on Main Street, in the Vista or Five Points is always a good idea. Or if your family is itching for some new Carolina gear, take them to the UofSC bookstore after the game since the gameday shuttle drop-off point is right there. A walk around campus or the South Carolina Statehouse can also be a good way to unwind following an exciting day. Don’t forget to head back to the hotel before dinner to freshen up.

Speaking of dinner, a more casual restaurant might be better for tonight. We suggest Mellow Mushroom, Pawleys Front Porch or California Dreaming and Kaminsky’s or Nonnah’s for dessert.


Sunday=Brunchday in Columbia and we’re not complaining. Di Prato’s, The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli, The Gourmet Shop and Café Strudel all have great brunch menus and a relaxed atmosphere. Your family can even brunch and bowl at the same time if they decide to go to The Grand. But if you want to stay on campus, Top of Carolina in Capstone has food with a fabulous view. Check to see if reservations are still available.

Finally, end the weekend in the perfect way by celebrating the arrival of fall with a trip to the Clinton Sease Farm pumpkin patch. And if you really want to test the strength of those family bonds, try the corn maze.

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