I do love a downtown! For as long as I can remember, the idea of “going downtown” held kind of a mystical appeal. When I travel, my first choice is always to stay “downtown.” Whether it’s Hartsville or Detroit, Charleston or Providence, I want to feel the energy from the city I’m visiting, and downtown is almost always where that energy originates.
Growing up in Columbia, I remember downtown as a magical place with department stores, movie theaters and restaurants. It was where we went for parades, special meals and weekly church services. Fast forward 30+ years, and I’m thrilled to see that magic is back – and there’s something for everyone.
I no longer make new year’s resolutions but I do try to set a few intentions. This year, my intentions focus on “more” – so here are few downtown “mores” I plan to take advantage of in 2017.
More Nick. Over the years, I’ve come to love the Nickelodeon as more than just a place to go to catch the latest flick. It’s an experience and a destination. Chain theaters can’t replace the local flavor, diverse programming and great staff intros before each showing.
Plus, as I discovered last summer, it’s also a great place to learn something. My first Nick class was basic photography. This winter, I’m back for more taking a podcasting class. There are lots classes to choose from. Plus, being a Nick member gives you great discounts.
More lunches: I work downtown and have a frequent bad habit of ordering in or hopping in the car to head to the Chic-Fil-A drive-through. In 2017, I’m getting out to walk and do more downtown lunches. Villa Tronco’s half pizza special, Drip’s decadent grilled cheese, Zoe’s tomato soup, Main Street Public House’s chili are just a few of my favorites. Plus on foot, I can justify a stop at one of our two new Main Street bakeries – Blue Flour or Allie and Eloise – for a cookie to nibble on while walking back to work.
More shopping: During the 2016 holiday season, downtown became my go-to for Christmas shopping. The Columbia Museum of Art shop, Mast General Store, Yoga Masala’s boutique, Uptown gift shop, the Trinity Cathedral bookstore, the Nest at the Marriott, the State House gift shop and, of course, the weekly Soda City Market offer locally sourced, cool interesting gifts, clothes and specialty foods. No more chain stores for me in 2017.
More parking options: I often hear people lament there’s not enough parking in downtown Columbia. Admittedly, I’ve circled blocks myself more times than I can count only to then find I have no change to feed the meter when a space comes open.
In 2017, I’ll be making quick work of downtown parking by pulling into the garage at Taylor and Sumter to use the easy self-pay boxes. Or, when I’m lucky enough to nab that street spot, I’ll be using the parking app which has eliminated the need for those pesky quarters. On Saturdays at Soda City, I’ll get there on my bike and use one of the plentiful bike racks along Main Street.
So for downtown Columbia in 2017….here’s to more!