South Carolina Trips December 08, 2022
by AnneMarie The Unassuming Town Of Irmo, South Carolina, Is One Of America’s Best Hidden Gems For A Weekend Getaway
Did you know weekend getaways can be good for your physical health? The benefits for mental health seem more obvious, but since getting away helps relieve your stress levels there can be a positive impact on physical health, too. Add in a destination where you can be near water, also found to be stress-relieving, and you’ve got a win-win situation. And we’ve got just the place for you to consider for your next quick trip. Lake Murray, the Purple Martin Phenomenon, and the Okra Strut are just a few of the reasons the town of Irmo, South Carolina is one of the best weekend getaways in America.
On Christmas Eve in 1890, the town of Irmo was incorporated by the South Carolina General Assembly following the opening of the Columbia, Newberry, and Laurens Railroad. It was named after two officials of the railroad, Mr. Iredell and Mr. Moseley, and has grown steadily through the years, from the tiny town of 500 people it had become in the early 1970s to a population of over 11,000 people according to the most recent census.
The marker is located at the intersection of Woodrow Street and Columbia Avenue, erected in 1989 by the town.
Irmo is about 12 miles from Columbia and borders Lake Murray’s eastern shore, offering many things to do, including water activities and lakeside places to stay overnight. You will adore The Getaway VRBO, beautiful inside and out with an outdoor kitchen with two grills, a fireplace, and a firepit for maximum enjoyment of your time by the lake.
If you visit during the summer from the end of June to the beginning of August, you may be able to experience the Purple Martin Phenomenon, when the birds return each year to Bomb Island in the middle of Lake Murray to roost before migrating to South America. Throughout the time you’re anchored near the island, the birds will cycle through periods of flying around and settling into the trees on the island.
This Lake Murray Purple Martin roost is believed to be the largest in North America, and possibly even the world. The peak time for viewing them is middle to late July, and the best time is between 7:00 p.m. to about 9:15 p.m. If you don’t have a boat you can either rent one from a place like Better Boating Rentals or find a company that provides a Purple Martin Tour, such as Lake Murray Cruises. It’s quite an experience, especially for nature lovers.
Another fun Lake Murray activity is going on a Spirit of Lake Murray dinner cruise. The Spirit will be returning to the lake after a break starting in 2019. It has since changed ownership and is undergoing major renovations. Follow
The Spirit of Lake Murray Facebook page
Another seasonal event,
the Okra Strut, takes place annually at Irmo Community Park on Church Street in the fall, which is a two-day celebration featuring live bands on both Friday and Saturday evenings, a Saturday morning parade (the largest in the entire state of South Carolina!), along with arts, crafts, rides and amusements, and lots of festival food throughout the day Saturday.
The event started as a way to raise money to open what is now the Irmo branch of the Lexington County Library system but has become an annual tradition. It is free to the public thanks to sponsors, but individual fees apply for rides, amusements, food, and drinks.
Irmo has a town park on Carlisle Street, the perfect place for a picnic or just a few moments of peace and quiet by the running brook. It has the feel of a secret garden with a stunning water lily pond with three huge koi, lots of dragonflies, a few frogs, and a turtle.
Saluda Shoals is another great option for outdoor adventure just outside of Irmo on Bush River Road. It’s a 480-acre park located along the banks of the Saluda River offering a multitude of opportunities and amenities, including tennis courts, boat ramps, trails, and a splash playground during summer months.
If you enjoy the arts, you don’t want to miss Harbison Theater at Midlands Technical College, where you can watch a variety of types of shows live or on-screen, including dance, musical, and drama.
For some shopping fun, stop by Simply Southern Gifts on Friarsgate Boulevard.
If you want to venture outside of Irmo, there is also an abundance of shopping on Harbison Boulevard and downtown Columbia.
And don’t worry … we haven't forgotten about the food, starting with your morning cup of Joe, of course. Loveland Coffee offers the convenience of a drive-through kiosk on Saint Andrews Road if you want to grab a cup on your way somewhere or head to the cafe on Carlisle Street if you’d like to sit down and perhaps have a bite to eat with it.
For tasty Southern cooking, go to Lizard’s Thicket, also on Saint Andrews Road. It’s a local chain serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s a drive-through option if you'd rather get it to-go.
And for a classy restaurant with live music nightly, Bistro on the Boulevard is a must.
The fried pork chop served on butternut squash risotto with haricot vert and plum apple butter is out of this world!
Visit the website or Facebook page for each event or establishment for more information and to plan your trip:
The Getaway VRBO listing
Better Boating website
Lake Murray Cruises website
Irmo Okra Strut’s website
Irmo Okra Strut Facebook page
Saluda Shoals Park’s Facebook page
Harbison Theater at Midlands Technical College
Simply Southern Gifts
Loveland’s Coffee website
Lovelands Coffee Facebook page
Lizard’s Thicket website
Lizard’s Thicket Facebook page
Bistro on the Boulevard website
Bistro on the Boulevard Facebook page
If The Getaway VRBO is not available, there are plenty of other homes in Irmo to consider. Find your perfect Irmo, South Carolina VRBO weekend getaway home at VRBO.com.
Have you ever visited Irmo, South Carolina? What did you most enjoy about it? Share with us in the comments below!
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