Known as Famously Hot for a variety of reasons, Columbia (www.columbiacvb.com) is hotter than ever as a winter destination. South Carolinas capital offers shopping, dining, museums, events and more, making a packed multi-day visit easy to plan.
The Columbia Museum of Art (www.columbiamuseum.org) welcomes Americas best-known living photographer, Annie Leibowitz, and her exhibit Pilgrimage through Jan. 5. Unlike her magazine and advertising assignments, this exhibit is filled with images taken simply because she was moved by the subject.
If history is more your thing, dont miss the Tutankhamun: Return of the King exhibit at the State Museum of South Carolina (through March 23; www.museum.state.sc.us). Tuts Tea Party, a special Egyptian-themed afternoon tea party for children (and children at heart) on Dec.21 will feature crafts, party games and a full kids tea party.
Family escapes this winter at Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden (Nov. 23-Dec. 30; www.riverbanks.org),with nearly 1 million twinkling lights, countless animated images, a Jingle Bell Bonfire and more. Head to Main Street Ice at Boyd Plaza (Nov. 28-Jan. 20; www.columbiacvb.com) to cool down on the 50-by-63-foot ice skating rink. And be sure to ring in the New Year at the Famously Hot New Year celebration (www.famouslyhotnewyear.com) on Main Street.
If shopping is on your to-do list, check out Mack Home (www.mackhomecolumbia.com), featuring an eclectic mix of rare décor pieces for your city home, mountain lodge, or beach house manor. If gifts are your goal, Mack Home also offers one-of-kind jewelry, funky objects and luxe accessories. Update your winter wardrobe with a new woolen sweater or outdoor gear at downtowns classic Mast General Store (www.mastgeneralstore.com). Or check out the Junior League of Columbias Holiday Market (Dec. 5-8; www.jlcolumbia.org) for homemade creations for everyone on your gift list. Mark these shopping dates on your calendar: Mingle and Jingle on Main (Dec. 5; www.firstthursdaysonmain.com) and Devine Night Out (Dec. 12; ww.devinestreetcolumbiasc.com).
If all this shopping has made you hungry (and thirsty), head to Bourbon (www.bourboncompany.com), Columbias next great food and spirits destination. Opening in early November along Columbias Main Street, the menu will focus on a range of Cajun-Creole influences while offering bourbon tastings and classes. Other Columbia favorites include The Oak Table (www.theoaktablesc.com), Terra (www.terrasc.com) and Motor City Supply Co. Bistro (www.motorsupplycobistro.com).
Events to be on the lookout for this winter include Songs of Life Festival: A Melancholy Beauty (Nov. 3; www.songsoflife.org), Vista Lights (Nov. 21; www.vistalightssc.com), Historic Columbia Foundation's Holiday House Tours (Nov. 22-Dec. 31; www.historiccolumbia.org), Palmetto Health Foundations Festival of Trees (Nov. 23-24; www.festivaloftreescolumbia.org) and Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park (Nov. 27-De. 31; ww.icrc.net).
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