Whether you and your partner have three small children or one large dog, the everyday activities that come with either can cause the tender time with your loved one to become a bit bland. A romantic weekend trip to the"Famously Hot" Capital City has just the right amount of spice for the two of you to kick it up a notch.
Downtown Columbia offers a wide variety of accommodations for your getaway, but few rival Hotel Trundle, a 41-room boutique hotel located in three half-century-old Main Street area landmarks -- the Rose Talbert paint store, Powell Furniture Company and Western Auto. Rooms in the hotel have modern furnishings, but retain elements of its historical origins, from pressed tin ceilings to exposed brick walls adorned with graffiti.
After you arrive in Columbia and get settled in to your hotel, head over to the Hampton Street Vineyard, recipient of a "Best of Award of Excellence" honor from Wine Spectator Magazine. With an expansive wine list and a menu that changes quarterly based on each season's offerings, this restaurant offers pairings for even the most experienced palate.
Walk over to Crepes and Croissants on Sumter Street for a quick but tasty breakfast, then make your way over to the Riverfront Park & Historic Columbia Canal for a stroll on one of the walking trails that offers wonderful views of the river.
With paved bicycling paths and Palmetto Trail access, the park is a popular place to spend a morning working up an appetite with your significant other. For a romantic lunch, pack a picnic basket and blanket and set up along the river for a beautiful lunchtime view. If picnicking is not part of your plan, head to Five Points for a creative burger combination at Pawleys Front Porch.
After you've finished lunch, no matter where you've decided to eat, take a trip around Five Points for some of the best shopping in Columbia. Once you've picked out a nice gift basket or a bottle of champagne from The Gourmet Shop, head back uptown to Tapp's Art Center to check out the latest exhibits from some of Columbia's best and brightest artists. With 32 artist studios on two floors, Tapp's is free of charge for you to enjoy some of the region's newest exhibits.
If you're feeling adventurous, take a can't-miss excursion to The Big Mo - Monetta's Drive-In Theatre - just a short drive away from Columbia. The Big Mo is one of three remaining drive-in movie theatres in South Carolina and a great place to get cozy with your partner. The shows start at dusk, so be sure to make your way out to Monetta in time to grab some popcorn and soda for two!
For dinner, set your sights on the Congaree Vista for some of the finest dining Columbia has to offer. Grab a table at the Blue Marlin, a local favorite for some of the best seafood in town. Whatever you decide on, a must-order is the shrimp and grits. The grits are made locally at the Adluh Flour mill, not even a block from the Blue Marlin. After dinner, take a stroll around the Vista for some of Columbia's hottest nightlife hangouts.
With the weekend and the romantic retreat coming to a close, definitely check out the South Carolina State Farmers Market on your way out of Columbia. Take a walk around the state's largest marketplace that showcases locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as regional favorites brought in by vendors from all over the state.
If you decide to enjoy an early dinner before leaving Columbia, take a drive over the Congaree River by way of the Gervais Street Bridge into West Columbia to Al's Upstairs Italian Restaurant. Al's Upstairs - voted "Most Romantic" in Columbia - offers a cozy but not crowded atmosphere and a spectacular view of the city's skyline. The chef's specials are a can't-miss list of fine Italian cuisine, and the wine list features some fantastic Italian favorites to end your trip on a great note.