For Free Times, Columbia is the center of the universe. We live in it. We eat and drink in it. We write about it.

But sometimes, we leave it.

As spring draws near and our thoughts turn to travel, we’ve put together this small guide to exploring five nearby metropolitan areas. It’s themed around four things we like: civil rights history, craft beer, barbecue, and minor league sports. But because the Midlands is home, we’ve also included options here in the center of the Palmetto State. Hope you’re inspired to get on the road — or at least get out about town. — Eva Moore

The Shoulders of Giants: A Civil Rights Tour

Quaff Quaff Pass: A Craft Beer Tour

That’ll Do, Pig: Barbecue and Other Important Eats

Root, Root, Root: A Minor League Sports Guide

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