I've been making an effort to get outside and walk at least 3 miles every day that I can. The weather has been cooperating for the most part aside from two days of rough weather this past week. I decided it might be a nice idea to take advantage of a rare Saturday off to make a trip up to Columbia to visit Riverbanks Zoo and switch up my Greeneway walking routine. By the time we left the zoo and botanical gardens on Saturday we'd racked up over 5 miles!
I wasn't kidding when I mentioned that every time we head out of town we have to grab a bagel somewhere. Augusta is lacking cool bagel / coffee shops. Our first stop in Columbia was the Wired Goat downtown in the Vista. After fueling up with hot lattes, we drove over to the zoo. We haven't made a trip to Riverbanks since construction completed on their new parking lot bridge and seal exibits. We arrived just before 10 and the parking lot was already filling up! I ordered our tickets online to save a few dollars and skip the lines upon arrival. We immediately found a spot at the new seal exhibit so that we could watch the trainers demonstrate their techniques. Naturally, everyone left the show at the same time and headed right towards the kangaroos and gorillas so we ended up quickly circling around to see the lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!... but seriously, how funny is it that they're all in a row?!). We finally got to see the tiger out walking around but unfortunately the lion was already a bit sleepy. The brother bears were cuddling when we walked by the first time but we were able to catch them awake and lounging in a giant hole in the sun later on in the day.
The elephants and giraffes are always my favorite animals to see. They're both so grand and beautiful! I've never seen the zoo so busy. It was like everyone in South Carolina had the same idea as us to get out in the cool, breezy weather. We skipped the line to feed the giraffes and kept making our way around to see the different animals. We stopped for a quick lunch in Tuskers restaurant. They've come a long way from the old Burger King! After walking through the aquarium and birdhouse, we crossed the Saluda river bridge and rode the tram up to the botanical gardens. Not everything was in bloom this go around, but we got lots of ideas for how to make our future vegetable gardens look beautiful and expertly arranged. It was our first time seeing Waterfall Junction. We didn't bring swimsuits to splash around with the kids but we did sit out on the deck of the farmhouse and admire their veggie gardens. I spent quite some time envisioning how we could recreate their farm scene in our backyard while still having ample space for the dogs to roam around. I'm eager for our next trip to the zoo so that we can check a few things off our bucket list like feeding the bears and maybe even ziplining across the river!
We headed back to downtown Columbia to visit their Half-Moon Outfitters location in Five Points. It was huge! I tried on a few loungewear pieces but didn't settle on anything. Before we left we made sure to check out a restaurant that our friend used to work at called Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Ale House. Alex grabbed a few beers and we split a veal bratwurst with cherry mustard and blue cheese / horseradish Brussels sprouts and cheese pierogies with mushroom and tomato coulis. Both dishes were amazing! The food was a lot fancier than I imagined from the old world pub vibe of the space. Hunter-Gatherer is basically on the USC campus so definitely pop in if you're looking for a good brew pub on your next visit to South Carolina's capital.