Dining is an Experience at Alodia’s Cucina Italiana

Alodia’s Cucina Italiana

Authentic Homestyle Italian

Phone: (803) 724-2808

Irmo: 2736 North Lake Drive


Lexington: 101 West Main Street


Website: Alodias.com


It’s been written many times, how food brings families
together. And nothing paints a more accurate picture
than a dining experience at Alodia’s Cucina Italiana!
From the moment you walk in the door and are greeted by friendly staff , to the smells wafting from the kitchen, to the glean in your server’s eye when they tell you the daily specials- Alodia’s is offering you more than lunch or dinner. They’re providing you a trip to Italy free of the hassle of travel!


Named after owner Adam Huneau’s great grandmother, the skillfully crafted dishes are taken from the pages of her recipe book. Each made from scratch entree, inspired by the family lineage is prepared with the best quality ingredients with the pastas handcrafted with love by “Mama Nanette”.  From the classic favorites like Shrimp Scampi, Veal Marsala and their sumptuous Eggplant Parmigiana, to the newer favorites, like their Mushroom Crespelle or Tuna Carpaccio, there’s plenty on the menu to get your mouth watering! Not to worry, their exquisitely stocked bar features exclusives wines, local craft beers and hand-made cocktails.


Plan your visit, Monday through Saturday for lunch from 11 to 3 or dinner from 4 to 10 pm Monday through Thursday; 11 pm on Fridays and 10:30 pm on Saturdays. Their Sunday hours start with brunch at 9:45 to 2pm and dinner from 5 to 9pm.


What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?

Garlic, of course!


Fall Favorites

Fall is my favorite time of year; the weather is perfect.  The days are warm and the nights are cool.  With three kids it’s hard to make my way to all of my favorite things to do during the season, but here’s my list to share. Hope you can find time while you’re visiting or if you’re local now’s the time to check out a few new spots.


Dinner at Home Team

It’s football season and barbecue season. Home team, a new restaurant that opened in the Five Points area of Columbia, is booming. The barbecue, brisket and ribs are fabulous!  Ask for the white sauce and be sure to order their signature drink, the Game Changer.  It will definitely change up your night.



Sunset Cruise on Lake Murray

Even though the summer season is over, Lake Murray is beautiful throughout the year and the fall sunsets are alluring. I recently learned from a wise man that as days grow shorter, the skies at sunset glow with the most spectacular hues of pinks, reds and oranges. Find a way to get out there, rent a boat from one of our suggested suppliers or plan a sunset tour on a captained yacht! Check out the photo I took last week; I know you’ll agree it’s stunning!



Pick Your Pumpkin at the Farm

There’s just something special about taking the family to pick out your pumpkin for the porch and picking it from a local farm is the best. Head to my favorite spot, Lever Farms in Pomaria. Besides pumpkin picking, they have fun games around the farm that will entertain your crew. I love the hayride around the property and the fall photo ops.


Event You Don’t Want to Miss

Weekends are busy but if I had the time, I would visit all of these upcoming annual fall events that make our region shine…Columbia’s Greek Festival, the Irmo Okra Strut, Oktoberfest in Newberry, the 150thBirthday celebration of the SC State Fair, Newberry Harvest Festival at Enoree River Winery and Boo at the Zoo.  Considering adding a few of these to your fall.  Hope you will add them to your calendar, and post your photos with the hashtag VisitLakeMurray.



Happy fall ya’ll…stop by and see us at the Lake Murray Country Visitors Center, 2184 North Lake Drive, Columbia.


By: Jayne Baker

Food, Drinks and Love with Scott Benny’s

Scott Benny’s American and International Cuisine
Chef: Chef Jen Reynoso and Scott Benny
Phone: (803) 724-2808
Address: 420 McNulty St, Blythewood
Website: www.scottbennys.com
Established: 2009


When Scott Benny’s rolled into town, their mobile food truck was stocked with tasty and finger licking cuisine that is consistent with their slogan “Get a taste of royalty”. The well thought dishes consist of distinct and savory ingredients that will have your taste buds calling for Mercy. It has always been a plan for Scott Benny’s to expand their brand into a brick and mortar establishment and now that plan is being brought to fruition.

Chef Scott Benny is bringing his family’s dream of opening a restaurant to Blythewood. The new family style restaurant will feature an array of American and International favorites from fully loaded hot dogs, fries or nachos, tacos, Philly Cheese Steak or Chicken, to Pad Thai, “man burgers”, hot island and bacon swill burgers, gyros and Oxtails! All of our featured items can be adapted to accommodate a vegetarian choice.  The eclectic menu is sure to suit the tastes of all who venture in.



“It’s heart warming and comforting to know that the dream my husband Benjamin J. Whipper III, had is finally coming to fruition”, stated Mimi Whipper, Scott Benny’s business partner, Momager and local Realtor.  “The love of good food, family and friends is what we’re looking forward to continuing through my husband’s dream and son’s hard work.”

Watch for the opening of Scott Benny’s American and International Cuisine coming  Fall 2019 and be sure to grab a bite from Scott Benny’s Food Truck when you see the bright red mobile kitchen.


Who is your Chef inspiration?
Chef Jenny: “I have 2: first and foremost my mom. On my island, it is part of our culture to teach young girls to cook. I wouldn’t be cooking if it wasn’t for my Mom putting me there. Second: Scott Whipper, he saw in me what I did not see. He challenges me to better myself and think outside the box. He has always believed in me.”


What cocktail pairs best with the dish you prepared?
Chef Scott: Polynesian Pineapple Punch, come on in and try it!

The Region’s Jazz Roundup


Do you dig jazz? Do you enjoy the sultry sounds of a live performance while enjoying your favorite cocktail or dining establishment? The jazz scene in the Lake Murray Country region is in swing! Many local restaurants have musicians weekly and the locals and visitors are planning their dining days around the designated Jazz nights.


This weekend, the 2nd Annual “Great Day in Columbia Jazz” event is coming, August 18th taking place on the South Carolina Statehouse steps.  The jam session begins at 8pm.  On August 23rd, saxophonist Dave Koz and Friends will spend the evening at the Koger Center for the Arts. And, then on August 24th, the Main Street Latin Festival will feature jazz and the South Carolina Jazz and Masterworks Ensemble will be performing at the Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College. More jazz continues at Harbison Theatre on October 11th when the Harlem 100, a show celebrating the best of NYC jazz, will be on stage. WOW!  This region is jazzing it up!


Here’s a weekly roundup of jazz you can explore…


Most Mondays, Gervais and Vine restaurant in The Vista, has pianist Louie Hehman playing old standards and new favorites in a mellow, yet memorable style.  Louie generally plays from 6-9pm.


Most Tuesdays, Lula Drake on Main Street in downtown Columbia hosts an awesome jazz duo usually featuring guitarist Amos Hoffman.


Most Wednesdays, Saluda’s Restaurant in Five Points has live jazz from their balcony by Robert Gardiner.


Most Thursdays, Robert Gardiner and Friends are at the Bistro on the Boulevard restaurant in Irmo. Robert Gardiner is the founder of the South Carolina Jazz Masterworks Ensemble and President of the South Carolina Jazz Foundation.


-Most Fridays, Travinia Italian Kitchen in Lexington hosts jazz artists Dante Lewis and J. Michael.


Visit colajazz.com and scjazz.org for more information about jazz events in the region.


8th Wonder Cuisine


Chef:Chef Brittney Moore
Phone: (803) 904-1638
Website: 8thwondercuisine@gmail.com
Style: Traditional Southern
Established: June 6, 2017


Armed with determination, her family history of down-home southern favorites and a “must-do” attitude, self-taught Chef Brittney Moore entered Charleston’s Chef Battle and took home top prizes including People’s and Judges Choice.


Brittney’s love for cooking started at a young age on the family farm in Sumter. Under the tutelage of her grandmother, mother and father, Brittney developed her skills in the kitchen and was soon dressing hogs. As she grew her comfort in the kitchen, she took her family recipes one step further- adding just a few extras- turning a delicious meal into a culinary masterpiece.


Today, Brittney brings her favorite creations to local residents and vacationers who are looking for great food with little effort on their part. 8thWonder Cuisines provides catering and personal chef services to folks from Columbia to Charleston. Consider making your life more tasteful, put 8thWonder to work- for a special event, holiday catering, romantic dinner for 2 or family sized meals for a week. You’ve got to eat and she loves to cook!



Who is your Chef inspiration?


“My chef inspiration is Chef Mashama Bailey, the Executive Chef and Co-owner of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia. I first heard of her through a Netflix series called “Chef’s Table”.  As I watched her tell her story about her upbringing, I realized that though our age is not similar, our upbringing was. She learned to cook from her grandmother and mother as did I. I have a Bachelors degree in Human Services, she has a degree in Social Work but we both went back to our true passion which was cooking. She served as a personal chef for years until the opportunity came for her to be a co-owner and executive chef. Her cooking style is very similar to mine. We both love southern cuisine and we both have the passion to make it appealing to others. I’ve never met her but one day I will. I will make a trip to Savannah just to see her at The Grey.”

5 Things To Do With Dad For Father’s Day On Lake Murray

Father’s Day On Lake Murray

It’s time to celebrate Dad this weekend and there’s no better way to do so than plan something fun and memorable. Not only is it a great time to rent a boat and go fishing – they’re iconic summer activities. Show Dad that you appreciate him by planning an unforgettable weekend in Lake Murray Country. From the lake shore to the distillery, Lake Murray has everything you need to show Pops just how much he means to you.

What to do for Father's Day in the Columbia, South Carolina area. #LakeMurray #ColumbiaSC #SouthCarolina #Travel #FathersDay #FathersDayGuide

5 Things To Do With Dad For Father’s Day

Practice That Swing

Set up a tee time for dad, if he loves spending time on the golf course! Several Lake Murray area clubs offer amenities that are designed with families in mind. Consider signing Dad up for a private lesson or a group clinic where he can work on that swing. Then cap off the day with lunch at the club’s restaurant.

Golden Hills Golf & Country Club (803) 957-3355

Cobblestone Park Golf Club (803) 714-2620

Relax On The Water

There are so many ways to enjoy the beauty of Lake Murray. Give Dad a day on the water by renting a boat or taking a tour. From tubing to birding, there’s no better time than to get out on the water. You’ll get the best views, a bit of sun and you can even dock for dinner at one of the lakeside restaurants.

Better Boating Rentals (803) 407-2929

Lake Murray Tours by Lake Murray Boat Rentals (803) 530-3713

Father's Day in Lake Murray, Lake Murray Father's Day Plans, Lake Murray South Carolina

Sip And Savor Regional Flavors

Sample moonshine from the good ‘ole days and toast to Dad this weekend, at the Hollow Creek Distillery. Take a trip to their famous red barn to samples of their family’s moonshine creations that have been around for generations. From Peach to Peppermint, there’s a moonshine flavor for Dad to sip on.

Hollow Creek Distillery (803) 470-6010

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Give Dad A Great Gift

Need a last-minute gift for Dad? We’ve got you covered! The Lake Murray Souvenir Shoppe has several times that Dad would love.  Check out the store located inside the Lake Murray Country Visitors Center.

Lake Murray Souvinir Shoppe  shop with us at 2184 North Lake Drive, Columbia

Father's Day in Lake Murray, Lake Murray Father's Day Plans, Lake Murray South Carolina

Take Dad Fishing

We’re proud to be home to world-renowned fishing spots. Let an expert guide Dad to the best locations on Lake Murray. There are plenty of experts who can plan an excursion that designed for the type of fishing you’re interested in.

Catch 22 Striper Guide Service (803) 600-8078

Captain Michael Murphy (770) 605-6373

Taylor Outdoors (803) 331-1354

Rocky Bottom Guide Service (803) 924-0370

Father's Day in Lake Murray, Lake Murray Father's Day Plans, Lake Murray South Carolina

Let us know how you’re spending Father’s Day!

What To Do At Lake Murray During The Summer

Summertime means the days are longer and there’s even more time to pack in some fun with the family. The warm weather is the perfect excuse to head outdoors, take advantage of local events and celebrate the season’s patriotic holidays. Lake Murray has plenty to offer this summer and we’re sharing some of our favorites. Whether you’re planning as a local or traveling into the area, we’ve got you covered for summer fun!

We’re so lucky to have 650 miles of beautiful shoreline around Lake Murray that’s the center of many local events. It’s a gorgeous backdrop for dining, provides a great space for water sports and, for generations, South Carolinians have flocked to the annual 4th of July fireworks show.

In the water or around the water, these summer events should be on your family’s bucket list.

What to do in Lake Murray Country, South Carolina, during the summertime! Everything is better on the water. #LakeMurray #SouthCarolina #Fishing #BassFishing

What To In Lake Murray: Summertime

Go On A Guided Fishing Trip

One of the best daytime adventures is a guided fishing trip on Lake Murray. It’s home to world-class bass fishing and the location of many fishing tournaments. Get in on the action and plan an excursion with one of the many local fishing guide companies. Even young anglers can get in on the action and learn the ropes. You might even witness the Purple Martins returning to Lake Murray’s Dolittle Island, where thousands of the birds nest each summer. Call the Visitor Center, (803) 781-5940, to get a list of fishing guides ready to take you out. Hint hint: it’s also makes a great gift for Dad on Father’s Day!

Lake Murray Guided Fishing, Lake Murray Fishing, What To Do Summer Lake Murray

Rent A Boat

If you’re looking beyond fishing and want to take advantage of your own explorations, consider renting a boat for a day. Lake Murray offers many rentals options to accommodate your party. You can spend all day long doing everything there is to do on the water: tubing, swimming, exploring, birding, all fishing – all at your own pace. Thinking of something smaller? Jet skis are a great way to see the lake areas and jump along the water.  Call the Visitor Center, (803) 781-5940, for a complete list of boat rentals.

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Dine On Lake Murray

There’s nothing like enjoying a cocktail and watching the sunset along the lake. We’re lucky to have seven restaurants that are located directly on the water. Some of these favorite waterfront restaurants even let you dock and dine! Check out Lake Murray Country’s complete restaurant guide for more information about waterside restaurants.

Shop The Lake Murray Souvenir Shop

Stop by the Lake Murray Souvenir Shoppe, located inside the Lake Murray Country Visitors Center (2184 North Lake Drive, Columbia), and find some great treasures. From local finds to one-of-a-kind gifts, you can show your Lake Murray pride. If you have out-of-town guests traveling into the area, it’s the perfect place to find a commemorative item. My personal favorite is the wooden cutting board with the lake outline. Grab a sneak peek of merchandise or save time at the online Souvenir Shoppe.

Attend The Boat Parade & Fireworks Show

Get a head start on your 4th of July celebration with the annual Boat Parade & Fireworks Show taking place on June 29th. The boat parade is viewable from the SCE&G park sites at the Dam, the walking path on the Lake Murray Dam, and by boat. It’s fun to register your boat and decorate it. Participants get creative and it’s definitely a sight to see – kids love it! Best of all? It’s a FREE event. At the end of the day, watch the fireworks spectacular launched at Dreher and Spence Islands that provides entertainment set to patriotic music. Mark it on your family calendar and make it a tradition!

Lake Murray 4th of July, Lake Murray Events

Enjoy The Sights, Sounds & Tastes Of Soda City Market

What are you doing on Saturday? Heading to Soda City Market, of course. 

The Soda City Market, held on Main Street weekly, is Columbia’s largest street market.  It’s open every Saturday morning, rain or shine, 9 a.m. –1 p.m., year-round.  There are between 5 and 7,000 visitors to Soda City Market on a regular Saturday.  The market averages 150 vendors a week and around a dozen food trucks. A vendor list is posted on the Soda City Facebook page weekly. 

Soda City Market, Columbia South Carolina, Lake Murray Country Events

You can find everything you need to nourish your brain, body, and belly, which is Soda City Market’s theme. The Soda City Market is a microcosm of Columbia, a melting pot of cultures, an inviting community experience and a visitor must do.  

With over a dozen food trucks at the market, it’s a fantastic way to kick off the weekend, enjoy breakfast, brunch or lunch. My favorite go to are the Mimosas; I grab one when I arrive and start to browse. 

Soda City Market, Columbia South Carolina, Lake Murray Country Events

For visitors, the market is a great spot to find souvenirs to bring back home. Everything sold at the market is unique, handcrafted and produced in South Carolina.  Worried about parking?  Don’t worry!  It is free on Saturdays. Parking spots can be found on Assembly Street, adjacent side streets and there are parking garages on Lady and Taylor Streets. 

Soda City Market, Columbia South Carolina, Lake Murray Country Events

So, why is it called the Soda City market?  Columbia is often shortened to ‘Cola’, an abbreviation first created by the U.S. Postal Service. From Cola, the market came up with “Soda City,” a moniker which resonates well with locals. Since coining Soda City and changing the market’s name, over one hundred other entities have now included the Columbia nickname in their own business names, projects, etc.

All Images ©Shell Suber

Budget Friendly and Fun Staycation Packages
 in Lake Murray Country

Summertime is just around the corner and now is the time to plan your trip.  It can be overwhelming finding the destination and the cost can be mind blowing.  Travel doesn’t have to be exotic…it can be close to home.  We have the perfect, budget-friendly staycation route – travel close to home while creating memories. Here’s a list of 7 Staycation packages; there’s a package for you and every interest. 

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1. Family Fun Package – Enjoy a fun-filled vacation in Columbia, SC, and Lake Murray Country! Head to the wild side at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden with over 2000 animals and cool off at Waterfall Junction.  This package gives you the option to purchase the Cool Pass, which includes admission to the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, EdVenture Children’s Museum and the SC State Museum. There is even more to do as you tour historic sites in downtown Columbia, including the SC State House and grounds.  

2.  Outdoor Adventure Package – Whatever you want – we’ve got it!  You can hike, bike, kayak, tube, paddleboard or canoe on one of our three rivers. Palmetto Outdoors will show you the way! SC is home to the Congaree National Park where you can fill your day with hiking along the boardwalk, paddling in the flood plains or walking the wilderness trails. Later in the day, take in a Blowfish Baseball game or a movie outside at the Big Mo Drive In!

3. Millennials Package – Talk about a great package! This has everything you could possibly want!  Explore Columbia, SC and Lake Murray Country by taking in nature on one of Columbia’s three rivers, enjoy food tour tastings and then strike out at a Columbia Fireflies Baseball game. Emerce yourself in Columbia’s nightlife as you explore breweries, music, arts, and restaurants in the Vista. There are an array of coffee shops and brunch options to get you going in the morning as you stroll along Columbia’s river walk. If your stay goes into the weekend, don’t miss Soda City on Main Street, every Saturday morning, as it hosts an array of vendors and of course, food!

4.  Lake Enthusiasts Package – Fish with the finest guides or explore Lake Murray on a boat tour or on your own. Leave your tackle box at home as Dreher Island State Park offers a loaner program that will help you hook the big catch! You can swim and picnic at the Lake Murray Park Sites, and enjoy the sunset from the Lake Murray Dam Walkway. The options are endless to enjoy the beauty of Lake Murray and you will understand why it is called The Jewel of South Carolina!

Lake Murray Staycation Ideas, Columbia South Carolina Staycation Ideas, South Carolina Staycation

5.  Backroads & BBQ Package – Y’all come taste the best BBQ with every sauce imaginable and enjoy the backroads along the way with many historic sites. Spend the afternoon teeing off at Golden Hills, Timberlake or Cobblestone golf courses. Antique your way through Ridge Spring and Newberry. Don’t miss the Little Mountain Antique Mall, where you can also enjoy lunch in their café. Take in a show at the Newberry Opera House. Experience dinner in Ridge Spring at Juniper’s with South Carolina Ambassador Chef, Brandon Velie.  Then, take home a fresh pecan pie from The Nut House and Country Market. Truly a unique experience for home of the best BBQ!

6.  Civil Rights History Tour – Columbia’s Main Street has been the stage for a number of defining moments during the Civil Rights Movement of 1963. Columbia has captured this history and invites you to explore these significant markers by taking a tour through Columbia SC 63. There is also the option to tour all historic sites in downtown Columbia through Historic Columbia. After your tour(s), enjoy shopping and dining in the Vista in downtown Columbia.   

7.  Special Needs Package – Enjoy the region’s top attractions! This vacation meets your accessible needs as you explore attractions and the great outdoors. Saluda Shoals Park offers a brand new all-inclusive playground for all ages and abilities. Lake Murray has an accessible fishing dock located at the north entrance of the Lake Murray Dam and an accessible walkway across the dam. You even have the option to sign up for a fishing guide! Sounds like it is time to pack a picnic and get busy!

The perfect staycation is within your reach.  If you are a local, it is time to get out and visit the museums and take the tours that out of towners flock to.  And, if you are a visitor, make a plan to visit Capital City/Lake Murray Country in Columbia, SC. These staycation packages are budget friendly and fun!  Book today at StaycationWeekColumbiaSC.com or call (803) 781-5940. 

7 Tips For Planning A Budget-Friendly Spring Break

There’s so much build up and hype about taking your kids on a memorable Spring Break, but that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. Instead of scrambling to find a room in one of the mainstream destinations, you can save money and create a unique vacation by thinking outside the box.

While we’re obviously quite fond of Lake Murray Country, we’ve got the family attractions to back it up! Whether you already call Lake Murray home, or it’s a short getaway from where you live, it’s the perfect Spring Break destination that doesn’t cause planning stress.

You don’t have to think about dining 180 days in advance or pay for an over-priced hotel room that’s not centrally located. No matter what your Spring Break budget allows, Lake Murray Country has an option for your family.

Tips for planning your family's spring break, without breaking the bank!

7 Tips For Planning A Budget-Friendly Spring Break

Focus Your Vacation Time – When you only have a week for vacation time, it’s best to focus your vacation down to a particular area or city. Airline connections to major cities are cheaper and, if you’re staying in the heart of the city, many attractions are within walking distance. Columbia, South Carolina is home to the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, The South Carolina State Museum and EdVentre Children’s Museum.

Dive Into Voluntourism – A popular trend involves skipping the tourist spots on spring break and budgeting a little time to help those in need. Students involved in these kinds of trips offer hours of service to help areas in need. These helpful journeys have been dubbed voluntourism.  With last year’s hurricane season, South Carolina still has some areas in need of rebuilding. It’s a great way to teach kids about acts of service and helping the community.

Use Coupon Websites To Plan Meals – There are some great coupon websites that allow you to purchase vouchers for a variety of things from restaurant gift cards, to local and nearby businesses. While you are planning the details of your upcoming adventure type in the zip code of your destination and see what kinds of deals pop up. You will be able to plan your cheapest meals and even find fun, nearby and affordable places to check out.

Look For Hotel Room Alternatives – To avoid paying premium prices for hotel rooms, look at alternatives to hotel rooms in your destination. Camping in Conagree National Park is an adventurous option for families that are looking to connect with nature. You can make reservations online, then just set up your tent and hammock for a relaxing alternative to the typical hotel room.

Find Group Rates – If you can travel with extended family, look for destinations that offer group rates. Many museums and sporting events offer group rates for larger parties. It’s a great way to save money and still visit top attractions.

Spend Time On The Water – One of the biggest gems of our region is Lake Murray. There are so many great activities that families can do together around the water. From swimming to fishing and hiking, many of these activities are budget-friendly. If you do feel like splurging a bit, consider an hourly boat rental and explore the 500 miles of shoreline.

Check Our Event Calendar – When you’re planning your Lake Murray vacation, check out our event calendar. There are many free family events, like festivals, that happen year-round. It might be worth your budget to see what are the upcoming events planned in region.