Let your family enjoy a trip back to the '90s for Christmas.
The 1890s, that is.
Plan a visit to Kensington Mansion
, in lower Richland County
, about 25 miles from downtown Columbia
. There you will be transported to a Victorian Christmas inside the spectacular Italianate Revival home that was finished in 1854.
By 1890, Christmas celebrations were becoming popular, and inside the 12,000-square-foot home you'll get a feel for what the holiday celebrations were like. Kensington Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places. It's decked out for Christmas through Jan. 14, with special holiday tours each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The tours begin at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The mansion is closed on Christmas Eve. Tickets are $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $2.50 for children 10 and older. Children younger than 10 are free. The mansion is on U.S. 601, 6 miles south of U.S. 76/378 in southeastern Richland County.
Kensington isn't the only historic spot in the Columbia area dressed up for the holidays and open to visitors. The Robert Mills House
, Hampton-Preston Mansion
and Mann-Simons Cottage
in downtown Columbia are each decorated for the season, too. Visitors will learn about South Carolina holiday traditions, commonly prepared Christmas dishes and the social scene in the city in the 19th and early 20th centuries at these homes, operated by the Historic Columbia Foundation
(The favorite parts of the tours for my kids were always the faux food that's part of the displays of holiday feasts. Looks good enough to eat!)
The tours from through Jan. 2, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays (the last tour begins at 3 p.m.). On Sundays the tours run from 1-5 p.m., with the last tour starting at 4 p.m.
And one of my favorite Columbia area holiday events is the breakfast with Santa
, from 8-11 a.m. Dec. 17 at the Hampton Preston Mansion at 1615 Blanding St. There's a continental breakfast in the Carriage House, a tour of the mansion, the chance to make a holiday craft and have your picture taken with Victorian Santa Claus. Reservations are required and can be made by email here
or calling or call 803-252-1770, ext. 24.