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Welcome to Columbia, home of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks! If you’re heading to town to catch a game at USC, here’s what you need to know about where to stay, eat, drink, and tailgate. First, a few key facts:

  • SEC Team: University of South Carolina Gamecocks
  • Coach: Shane Beamer
  • Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium
  • Fun Fact: South Carolina has retired four numbers from use — 38, 2, 37, and 56.

SEC All-City Guide


Whether you tend to prioritize ambiance or charm when booking accommodations, Columbia, SC’s got you covered.

Graduate Hotel Columbia South Carolina
Eclectic, colorful touches can be found throughout the Graduate Hotel, allowing for plenty of perfectly Instagram-worthy moments. Image: Graduate Columbia

Graduate Columbia

1619 Pendleton Street, Columbia, SC 29201 • (803) 779-7779

The Graduate Columbia is a boutique hotel nestled right near the University of South Carolina campus. The fun colors and chic decor give the hotel a fun ambiance.

Courtyard by Marriott

630 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29201 • (803) 799-7800

Courtyard by Marriott is adjacent to campus and steps away from Williams-Brice Stadium, so you can leave your car with the complimentary parking and walk to your tailgate.

Hilton Columbia Center

924 Senate Street, Columbia, SC 29201 • (803) 744-7800

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a stay at Hilton Columbia Center is sure to be a memorable experience. The onsite pool is an added bonus to escape the South Carolina heat.



If you’re looking for a bite to eat ahead of the game, or perhaps items to pick up for your tailgate (including adult beverages), here are some of your best bets located near campus.


1332 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29201 • (803) 254-5400

Camon serves up fresh sushi in a cozy environment. The tranquility of this space may be a welcome respite during a weekend of game festivities.

Food Gallery

3702 River Drive, Columbia, SC 29201 • (803) 771-0790

A stop at Food Gallery kills two birds with one stone. This classic Southern meat-and-three is known for its oxtails, turkey wings, and killer collard greens. It happens to also be attached to a liquor store, so you can stock up on alcoholic beverages before the big game.

The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli

2617 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29223 • (803) 465-4947

Bacon maple and strawberry cheesecake cinnamon rolls are specialties at The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli. Plus, this Columbia bakery is willing to cater homemade cinnamon rolls, sandwiches, and chips for your tailgate.

Mr. Friendly’s

2001 Greene Street Suite A, Columbia, SC 29205 • (803) 254-7828

Mr. Friendly’s serves elevated Southern dishes in a casual atmosphere in the heart of Five Points.

Village Idiot Pizza

2009 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29205 • (803) 252-8646

The name itself makes Village Idiot Pizza intriguing. Beyond pizza (also promised in the name), this eatery offers late-night food, drink specials, and trivia.



If you’re in the market for a pre- or post-game drink, here are a few hotspots to check out — equally well-suited to celebrating or drowning your sorrows.

Exterior of Art Bar, a local bar in Columbia, SC
“Escape the ordinary” at Art Bar, one of Columbia’s more eclectic local bars. Image: Facebook

Art Bar

1211 Park Street, Columbia, SC 29201 • (803) 929-0198

Art Bar offers everything from delicious cocktails to live music, dancing, and karaoke. The second you step foot inside, you’ll notice the bar’s artsy vibe as the ceiling is covered in twinkling lights.

The Bird Dog

715 Harden Street, Columbia, SC 29205 • (803) 799-0611

Located in the Five Points neighborhood, The Bird Dog serves drinks in mason jars, ensuring each guest experiences authentic Southern charm. They also offer happy hour daily from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The Grand

1621 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201 • (803) 726-2323

The Grand is a festive spot with retro bowling lanes, classic games, comfort food, and a self-serve tap room.

Tin Roof

1022 Senate Street, Columbia, SC 29201 • (803) 771-1558

A popular college town haunt, you can never go wrong with a visit to Tin Roof. The bar offers happy hour specials daily, stellar bar food, and lots of live music.



A number of public and private parking spots are converted to tailgate stations on gameday. Many of the prime parking spots, though, are reserved, so be sure to look for public areas to set up your tent — or reserve a spot yourself. Here are a few tips:

  • Tailgating can be casual. If you have food, friends, and a lawn chair, you can have your own pre-party.
  • Gamecock Park is a popular tailgate spot that typically has fun pregame activities.
  • The South Carolina State Fairgrounds, located near the stadium, often opens up its parking lots for tailgating.
  • The area around the tunnel entrance to Williams-Brice Stadium is often bustling with fans enjoying food, drinks, and fun before the game.
  • Stop by the Gamecock Village, where you can find games, giveaways, and live music.
  • If you’re lucky, a small contingent of the Carolina Band may end up in your tailgate area before kickoff. It’s called the “tailgate takeover.”
  • Tailgate Group: If you’re looking to buy a package where all you have to do is show up, Tailgate Group is who you should go through.


  • A South Carolina staple, pimento cheese is a must at your tailgate.
  • You’ve got to seek out the Cockabooses. These old train cars converted to over-the-top tailgates are privately owned, but definitely worth seeing.
  • Wear garnet and gold, but don’t feel the need to dress up too much. Focus your attention on staying cool in the Columbia heat.

Go Gamecocks!

Click HERE for the complete SEC City Guide!


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About the Author
Millie Kirkland

Millie Kirkland is a former SB intern who makes time for the things she loves with the people she loves: good food, long runs, yoga, adventures and cooking.