Tailgating in Columbia, South Carolina for the Gamecocks
GatorTailgating.com is doing a series of articles on where and how to tailgate at all of the Gator Football away games. This article details where and what to look out for in Columbia, South Carolina for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Go Gators!
1. Where are the good and bad areas of town for motels to stay in the night before/after the big game?
Most of the really nice hotels are near the Vista, but they are sold out months before football season. Try the Hilton, the Hampton Inn, or the Springhill Suites in the Vista if you want fancy and pricey.
You can also try the Marriott or the Sheraton in the Main Street district. There is also the Courtyard Marriott, the Clarion, The Inn at USC, Claussen's Inn, the Whitney Hotel, and the Holiday Inn Suites in Columbia as well. All of the above are in the downtown area so you'd be close to places to go out and not be too far from the stadium.
If you have to, you can look up hotels in Harbison which is just 10 minutes outside the city if Columbia is sold out everywhere you look.
Do not stay on or near Two Notch Road if you can help it, as that is the area of town with a higher crime rate.
2. What are some attractions in Columbia that a visitor shouldn't miss?
For the family travelers, you won’t want to miss the State House where you can see the places that it was hit by actual cannon balls from the Civil War. Directly in front of the Statehouse, you will also see the controversial Confederate flag still flying. In addition to the Statehouse, there is the State Museum if you’re into history, the Riverbanks Zoo, and Edventures Children’s Museum as well. Frankie’s Fun Park is another option with putt-putt, video games, and go karts for kids.
If you’re going up to Columbia for a little different type of fun, don’t miss the Vista or Five Points areas, depending on your style. The Five Points area is a younger college bar scene full of drinking establishments with cheap drink specials. The Vista is a little more upscale and is where most mature college students and young adults spend a lot of their time. There are too many different types of bars, clubs, and restaurants in the Vista to name them all, but there is surely something there for almost everyone.
3. Where should a visiting fan go to eat before leaving Columbia?
ESPN has featured Yesterday’s in Five Points during a USC game before, so that has gained popularity. Also in Five Points is Groucho’s, which is a really good local sandwich shop that has been there since the 50’s. Pawley's Front Porch (also at Five Points) was features on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and has great food too.
Maurice’s Bar-B-Q is also a local favorite that many will tell you to stop by before leaving. If you’re in the Vista, don’t miss the Liberty Tap Room for their great food and wide variety of beer. Rockaway’s Athletic Club has the perfect loaded burger that will send your mouth home watering too.
Lou Holtz used to have a game day tradition to get a milkshake at Zesto’s before every game, so that would be a famous stop too. If you’re tailgating and don’t have a grill, you can walk to Bernie’s Chicken and get some good food before going into the stadium as well.
4. Is there an area or a part of Columbia that the visiting fans usually congregate/tailgate/park?
A lot of away fans park off of Shop Road. I’m not sure why, but it happens every game. Parking on the North side of the stadium (around the fair grounds) is much nicer than anywhere else. Also, they have re-opened the Farmer's Market beside the Fairgrounds, and it's really nice to park too.
5. How much should we expect to pay for a parking spot (preferrably unblocked so there's enough room to setup tents, tables, and a grill to tailgate)?
A normal charge to park is anywhere from $10-25 depending on how close you are to the stadium.
For RV parking, contact the Fairgrounds in Columbia at http://scstatefair.org/throughout-the-year/rv_information.php. They sell out quick, but they have a huge area for Motorhomes and RVs to park within walking distance of the stadium.
6. Are there any special rules we should know about tailgating on or off campus, open-container policies we should be forewarned about, or anything of the sort?
The same open container policy that is in most cities around the Southeast applies in Columbia as well. Just keep your alcohol in a cup and you shouldn’t have any trouble unless you’re overly intoxicated and causing problems.
7. Any gameday traditions we should not miss while in Columbia? (i.e. we have the Gator Walk, Auburn has Toomer's corner, etc.)
Don’t miss the Gamecock’s stadium entrance. It reminds me of Ric Flair, a lifelong Gator fan.
8. Is there anything else you would advise fans of before heading to Columbia to tailgate?
Use the port-o-potties. You will get ticketed for urinating in the bushes!
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