Columbia is a university city that offers vistas, landscapes, and a friendly community. It is located 30 minutes north of Jefferson City, close to the center of Missouri.
Columbia, a sizable city with more than 120,000 inhabitants, strikes the ideal balance between a tonne of interesting things to do and a small-town atmosphere. The vibrant and scholarly atmosphere at the University of Missouri makes Columbia one of the best cities in Missouri to live and visit.
The culture of Columbia echoes powerfully at the University of Missouri’s Francis Quadrangle. The stunning campus extends beyond the Quadrangle and offers a variety of educational and cultural opportunities to the general public.
The surrounding natural area, which cries out to be explored, is what makes Columbia unique outside of the academic attractions. Columbia offers a variety of outdoor activities, from Shelter Gardens to underground caverns, and more.
See our list of the top things to do in Columbia, Missouri, to learn where to go, and what to explore.
- 1. Sample Some of Columbia’s Finest Wines and Beers
- 2. Enjoy the Peaceful Environment at Shelter Gardens
- 3. Pies from Peggy Jean’s Pies are Delicious
- 4. Visit David R. Francis Quadrangle
- 5. The Candy Factory is a Great Place to Get Sweet Treats
- 6. Cosmo Park Is a Great Place to Spend a Day in the Outdoors
- 7. Visit the Columbia Art League to See Amazing Exhibits and Displays
- 8. Enjoy the Picturesque View at the Stephens Lake Park
- 9. Visit the Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary to Stroll Around and Gaze at the Wildlife
- 10. Snap Pictures at the incredibly unique BoatHenge
- 11. Enjoy the Outdoor Pursuits at Grindstone Nature Area
- 12. Tour the Museum of Art and Archaeology
- 13. Watch a Movie at Ragtag Theater
- 14. Visit the George Caleb Bingham Gallery to View the Expertly Curated Exhibitions
- 15. Explore Finger Lakes State Park on ATVs and Dirt Bikes
- 16. Explore the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
- 17. The Mizzou Botanic Garden has some Unusual Gardens
- 18. Enjoy Delicious Pizza @ Shakespeare’s
- 19. View Incredible Wildlife at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
- 20. Music Lovers Must Tour the Blue Note
- Best Places to Eat in Columbia MO
- Best Places to Stay in Columbia MO
- When are You Planning Your Trip to Columbia MO?
1. Sample Some of Columbia’s Finest Wines and Beers
Although it might not seem like it, Missouri is well-known for its wineries and breweries. It used to be the second-largest wine-producing state in the entire country.
Missouri boasts around 130 wineries, with Columbia having a considerable share of them.
Among the most well-known wineries in the area are Les Bourgeois Vineyards, Dale Hollow Winery, and Serenity Valley Winery.
There are many breweries in Columbia where you may sample wonderful craft beers produced by regional breweries.
The city’s top breweries include Broadway Brewery, Bur Oak Brewing Company, and Logboat Brewing Co.
One of the incredible things to do in Columbia MO for couples, a visit to these wineries and breweries will allow you to experience some of the best beverages that Colombia has to offer.
2. Enjoy the Peaceful Environment at Shelter Gardens
Shelter Gardens is a thriving botanical display next to the Shelter Insurance Corporate Office on the west side of the city.
There are waterfalls, rock gardens, and a model one-room schoolhouse in this public area. Additionally, there are thousands of blooms and over 300 different tree species in the gardens.
One of the top places to visit in Columbia MO, the Shelter Gardens is available to the public every day of the year and has no admission fee.
It is well-liked by everyone who appreciates the leisurely stroll alongside the picturesque setting. Shelter Gardens is at its most convivial on Sundays in June and July, when the Shelter Gardens Concert Series is in full force.
Shelter Gardens take on a different hue with each passing season. The garden blooms to its fullest in the spring and summer, which is debatably the best time of year to visit Missouri CO.
Address – 1817 W Broadway, Columbia, MO 65218
3. Pies from Peggy Jean’s Pies are Delicious
After a hearty lunch, you’ll most likely crave something sweet.
Peggy Jean’s Pies is a favorite among residents who adore their delectable pies, making it the ideal location to go for dessert.
You can pick from a wide variety of mouthwatering pies there.
Whenever you visit Peggy Jean’s Pies, try the peach praline, rhubarb, cherry, dutch apple, or pumpkin pies.
|Address:||503 E Nifong Blvd Suite C, Columbia, MO 65201|
4. Visit David R. Francis Quadrangle
The David R. Francis Quadrangle, which lies in the middle of the University of Missouri (Mizzou) campus, is an important cultural landmark for the institution.
One of the top things to see in Columbia MO It is still a popular hangout for students and locals alike and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Quad exudes academic appeal and its foundational history speaks for itself. It is surrounded by red-brick structures and has the aesthetically stunning Jesse Hall.
The six imposing columns in the center of the grassy area are among the Francis Quadrangle’s most recognisable structures. The original Academic Hall burned down in 1892, and these striking remnants are the only ones still standing.
The quadrangle provides access to other notable locations in addition to the columns’ aesthetic value. The original tombstone of Thomas Jefferson is located on the east side of the lawn and is always worth inspecting during a visit to the Francis Quadrangle.
The entire campus and its environs offer a wealth of educational opportunities and extracurricular pursuits, including Missouri basketball and football games.
|Address:||410 S 6th St, Columbia, MO 65211|
Check Out: Best Things To Do in Columbia, SC
5. The Candy Factory is a Great Place to Get Sweet Treats
One of the top Columbia MO attractions, the Candy Factory is a locally owned and operated candy store that creates a wide variety of candies with a focus on chocolate.
The shop sells a wide range of delicious goodies, from different candies to chocolate-covered fruits.
Visitors can watch the confections being made while they are accessible, and they can spend hours perusing the many sweets.
The crew knows a lot about chocolate and candies in general.
Since they offer wonderful décor and expertly crafted treats for each season, it is a great place to visit throughout the holidays.
|Address:||701 Cherry St, Columbia, MO 65201|
6. Cosmo Park Is a Great Place to Spend a Day in the Outdoors
Cosmo Park is Columbia’s largest municipal park, and is among the top things to see in the city.
It has many sporting facilities spread across a 533-acre area, including a skateboard park, football field, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a golf course, and more.
There are numerous hiking, walking, and cycling trails. The park serves as the venue for the State Sports Tournament Games, an annual competition for amateur athletes in the city.
If you’re looking for family or group activities in Columbia Missouri amidst the outdoor setting, you will undoubtedly appreciate having a picnic here while enjoying the gorgeous vistas of Cosmo Park, which is very well-maintained.
|Address –||1615 Business Loop 70 W, Columbia, MO 65202|
7. Visit the Columbia Art League to See Amazing Exhibits and Displays
The Columbia Art League, often known as CAL, is the beating heart of Columbia’s vibrant arts and culture, located in the heart of the city.
The exhibits at CAL change with the seasons and are frequently connected to local and regional artists.
The CAL gallery is free to enter, there are guided tours available in advance. If you are interested in artistic and in person activities in Columbia MO, head to this venue to marvel at the artwork all created by the locals artisans.
The Columbia Art League offers summer camps for children as well as adult classes.
The institution also runs a programme called Community Exhibit that exhibits local artwork in nearby businesses.
Every June, CAL holds an event called Art in the Park in Stephens Lake Park, bringing even more artwork to the streets.
|Address:||207 S 9th St, Columbia, MO 65201|
8. Enjoy the Picturesque View at the Stephens Lake Park
What to do in Columbia MO for some outdoor pursuits?
Stephens Lake Park, located just east of the city center, is another place to enjoy some fresh air in Columbia.
The highlight of the park and source of 11 acres of water is the named Stephens Lake. The park offers access to non-motorized boats, a seasonal swimming beach, and fishing opportunities.
Using the paved trail that circles the water is another well-liked activity at Stephens Lake Park. Along the trail, there are several beautiful vistas and waterfalls.
In addition, Stephens Lake Park has an outdoor amphitheater, a pavilion within, and picnic table shelters.
The ideal sledding hill and ice skating chances at Stephens Lake make it a popular destination in the winter.
|Address:||2001 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201, United States|
9. Visit the Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary to Stroll Around and Gaze at the Wildlife
The Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary serves as both a special park dedicated to preserving Columbia’s heritage and beautiful landscape, as well as an urban wildlife sanctuary for local flora and fauna.
One of the fun things to do in Columbia MO for adults where visitors to the nature preserve can see wildlife, particularly raptors, in their natural habitat.
The park’s amenities include three well-liked walking and hiking routes, a picnic shelter, and restrooms.
Skateboarding is permitted on the concrete Scott’s Branch route that runs between Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary and Dublin Park.
Strollers are welcome on this year-round, open-access route.
|Address:||3300 W Rollins Rd, Columbia, MO 65203, United States|
10. Snap Pictures at the incredibly unique BoatHenge
Stonehenge is a famous landmark in England, but in Columbia, BoatHenge is a replica built of painted boats.
It is made up of six boats that are upright and stand along the Katy Trail to resemble England’s Stonehenge.
Similar to the prehistoric monument, each boat measures an average of 13 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 3 feet deep.
Easily the most eccentric attraction in the city is and is one of the best places to visit in Columbia.
Directions – Navigate to Cooper’s Landing using the directions. Boathenge is immediately west of there, on the other side of the bridge. It is by the side of the road.
|Address:||2001 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201, United States|
11. Enjoy the Outdoor Pursuits at Grindstone Nature Area
Grindstone Nature Area offers the ideal urban retreat. And is conveniently close to both the University of Missouri campus and the center of Columbia.
One of the top Columbia MO attractions, the Grindstone is a very well-liked destination for locals to take their canine pals. Grindstone Nature Area, one of Colombia’s two leash-free places, is open for dogs and owners to explore all 199 acres.
The paved Hinkson Creek Trail, which is well-liked by bikers, is the only place in the Grindstone Nature Area where dogs must be kept on a leash.
Regardless of whether you have a dog, Grindstone Nature Area offers a beautiful setting to pause and take in Columbia’s changing seasons.
The park also features a planned picnic area with lovely scenery to enjoy and a number of paths where you may trek, cycle, run, or walk while taking in Columbia’s natural beauty.
|Address –||2011 Old 63 S, Columbia, MO 65201|
12. Tour the Museum of Art and Archaeology
The University of Missouri runs the Museum of Art and Archaeology, which showcases a diverse collection of works that date back thousands of years.
The museum is located on campus, just north of downtown Columbia.
The Museum of Art and Archaeology offers free admission, and visitors are sometimes taken aback by the sheer volume of exhibits that may be discovered there.
The Museum of Art and Archaeology collection includes both permanent regional displays and historical artwork from antiquity.
One of the best things to do in Columbia Missouri where the docent-led tours are available at the museum and provide further information about the artwork.
The museum hosts weekly events such as speaker series, workshops, and an Ad Hoc Film Series.
|Address:||115 Business Loop 70 W, Columbia, MO 65211, United States|
13. Watch a Movie at Ragtag Theater
Ragtag Cinema, a local independent non-profit, serves as the headquarters of the non-profit Ragtag Film Society.
They aid local productions, film festivals, and other activities that advance the media arts.
To choose which films to screen each month, the film group reviews films from all across the country and the world.
Twelve movies or events are normally shown at the cinema each month, and they represent a wide range of ideas, races, and cultural backgrounds.
One of the best things to do in Columbia MO for couples where the visitors are welcome to eat anything from Uprise or get a drink from the bar while watching their movie.
|Address:||10 Hitt St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States|
14. Visit the George Caleb Bingham Gallery to View the Expertly Curated Exhibitions
In the University of Missouri’s Fine Arts Building, there is a gallery for modern art called the George Caleb Bingham Gallery.
It showcases numerous exhibits and works of art created by regional artists. The gallery is open to everyone.
Visit the Bingham Gallery to see well-curated exhibitions by Columbia artists.
|Address:||Fine Arts Bldg, A125, Columbia, MO 65201|
15. Explore Finger Lakes State Park on ATVs and Dirt Bikes
Finger Lakes State Park, located just over 10 miles north of downtown, offers a wide range of outdoor pursuits.
Finger Lakes was a coal mine for the Peabody Coal Company before it became a popular vacation spot. Following the end of mining operations, the Mark Twain Mine was recovered and transformed into what is today the natural reservoir that attracts over lakhs of visitors every year. .
Visitors to the Finger Lakes can now take advantage of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails, water sports, and a natural setting thanks to these initiatives.
Finger Lakes State Park features more than 70 miles of trails to explore on a motorbike, a four-wheeler, or an ATV, making it one of only two state parks in Missouri that welcome off-road riders.
In addition to the various off-road trails and motocross track, Finger Lakes has a number of its namesake water outlets where visitors can go swimming, fishing, non-motorized boating, and scuba diving.
The state park offers canoe and kayak rentals, and there are numerous fishing locations spread out over the vast region.
The state park also provides basic and electric campsites that come with up-to-date bathroom amenities, allowing you to extend your stay in the Finger Lakes.
|Address:||1505 Peabody Rd, Columbia, MO 65202|
16. Explore the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is a wonderful natural retreat and a shining example of a lush Missouri setting, located five miles south of the center of Columbia.
Rock Bridge is characterized by forest and grasslands that have been restored on the surface, as well as striking karst features underground. This state park offers fun in a variety of ways with both sides to explore.
The Gans Creek Wild Area Trail System offers hikers eight miles of trails through a secluded section of the park.
There is a permanent orienteering course at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park where both individuals and groups can hone their map-reading abilities.
The Devil’s Icebox and Natural Rock Bridge are a popular sight at Rock Bridge Memorial, hidden beneath the extensive route networks. Visitors can pass through a 63-foot-high natural rock bridge to get to the Devil’s Icebox’s double-sinkhole entrance. The Icebox provides entrance to two cave networks.
One of the caves is the complicated Devil’s Icebox Cave, which has at least 7 miles of documented corridors and can only be toured with park rangers.
The 150-foot-long Connor’s Cave is accessible to thoughtful tourists throughout the year. It is located directly across the underground entrance from Devil’s Icebox Cave. There are no incorrect turns to be made here.
|Address:||5901 South Highway 163, Columbia, MO 65203|
17. The Mizzou Botanic Garden has some Unusual Gardens
The Mizzou Botanical Garden is a popular destination for University of Missouri students, faculty, and staff looking for a relaxing environment to study or unwind.
Its goal is to support the University of Missouri’s efforts to expand economically and in the areas of research, extension, and teaching.
Every year, new plants are added to the garden, which changes on a regular basis.
The botanic garden features several unusual gardens, including the Arctic Tulip, Hummingbird, Eastern Lily Gardens, and the Native Kansas Pine Collection.
The gardens are scattered throughout a large campus area and provide access to the Columbia Recreation Trail.
|Address –||University Ave, Columbia, MO 65201|
18. Enjoy Delicious Pizza @ Shakespeare’s
Shakespeare’s Pizza, a Columbia tradition since its founding in 1973, is renowned for its tangy décor and fresh, excellent pizza.
To accommodate a wide range of patrons, the restaurant also has vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free alternatives.
You can order a personalized pizza with the crust, cheese, toppings, sauce, and other ingredients of your choice.
When you eat at Shakespeare’s Pizza, be sure to sample the marinara, vegan, and meats lover’s from the menu.
19. View Incredible Wildlife at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
This huge conservation area, which is located on the southwest outskirts of the city, is an excellent location to get away and see some wildlife.
Eagle Bluffs provides essential wetlands along the Missouri River and Perche Creek and spans over 4,000 acres of bluff-lined terrain.
While each season is beautiful, the fall foliage at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is simply breathtaking.
Parts of Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area are traversed by Katy Trail State Park, the nation’s longest rail-line. This offers guests the primary route for exploring the park.
The park also features a 300-year-old tree which is the main highlight here.
Remember to bring binoculars for better viewing and spotting animals from a distance.
|Address:||Star School Rd, Columbia, MO 65203, United States|
20. Music Lovers Must Tour the Blue Note
In case you’re looking for some enjoyable group activities in Columbia MO, the Blue Note should be the first stop for anyone hoping to get a taste of Columbia’s collegiate and artistic milieu.
This long-standing business is close to campus and is one of the best music venues in the state. The Blue Note’s marquee includes a diverse selection of artists, including well-known bands, up-and-coming local performers, and a spectrum of alternative events.
A 1920s vaudeville theater serves as home to The Blue Note. Visits to the Blue Note are enjoyable in part due to the ambiance and acoustics. The other part is the passionate audience of Mizzou students and Columbia community residents that encircle the stage.
The Rose Music Hall, a popular venue for live music in the area, is only down the street from the Blue Note. It frequently welcomes regional and local bands for a more private performance. Tickets for both venues are available online.
Address – 17 N 9th St, Columbia, MO 65201
Best Places to Eat in Columbia MO
Although Columbia, Missouri, is mostly a college town, it is unquestionably a top destination for foodies. With the steady influx of new students, the town’s eateries must strike a delicate balance between global cuisines and its iconic culinary institution, some of which have stood since the late 19th century. With our guide to the greatest restaurants, explore the city and its delectable culinary traditions and trends.
Murry’s offers jazz concerts five nights a week, with an a la carte menu to peruse as you listen. With their fine-dining rendition of a soul food menu that combines the finest of home cooking with a gourmet flair, the waiters clearly want to create a living room environment, and they have succeeded. You’ll keep returning to Murry’s for more shows and food because of the restaurant’s welcoming atmosphere.
CC’s City Broiler
One of Columbia, well-known steakhouses, CC’s City Broiler, is housed in what was formerly an abandoned bus station. This is accomplished through excellent meat selection and preparation, including their USDA Prime Steaks cooked over a live oak fire. It is served with an impressive wine list that includes more than 100 wines. All of this is without mentioning the excellent seafood selection and the many additional delicacies they have to offer.
Stone Public House
With its impressive collection of the top international imported craft beers and expanding whisky and wine lists, this American take on a British-themed bar has quickly become one of the town’s most popular hangouts. It features American bar classics like reubens, burgers, and truffled eggs alongside a variety of British favorites including chicken and chips, steaks, and welsh rarebit.
The chefs at Sycamore are dedicated to utilizing the best local ingredients that come from local producers in and around the Katy Trail. This is true not only of the food but also of the drinks, which are crafted by the in-house bartender and frequently feature locally produced syrups and juices to perfectly compliment the minimal but wonderfully structured menu.
Best Places to Stay in Columbia MO
Going to college towns makes you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. You may get the identical feeling in Columbia, which is where the University of Missouri is located.
You become more familiar with this close-knit community as a result of its youthful vibe, bustling downtown, and fun activities.
Furthermore, this Missouri city in the center has well-known landmarks that will pique your interest in its colorful past.
If you’re looking for a calm place to escape, lush green parks are a great option. Whatever length of stay you desire, Columbia’s housing options can help you make the most of your experience.
Planning can indeed be very stressful, but we’re here to help.
Check out this list of the top hotels in Columbia as you relax to see which one best meets your needs.
The Tiger Hotel
The Tiger Hotel is not just an opulent accommodation destination but also a legendary landmark in Columbia. 1980 saw its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel’s renovation guarantees a premium atmosphere in each of the guest rooms and suites, ranking it among the best places to stay in Columbia. If you’re searching for a fantastic evening experience, there’s no need to travel far. Here, you have a choice of a chic speakeasy, a warm pub, or a great bar with fantastic live entertainment.
Holiday Inn Executive Center Columbia
Due to the benefits it offers, Holiday Inn has always been one of the top hotels in Columbia for families. On trips with the family, some kids even get to stay and dine for free. You can congregate there to watch tense championship games at a fashionable sports pub and restaurant. This inexpensive lodging also puts you closer to the Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area. Bring the family there to enjoy some downtime while watching sports, playing golf, skating, biking, or running. If you’re traveling with your family, nothing beats a fun weekend getaway.
Drury Inn & Suites Columbia Stadium Boulevard
The hotel’s affordable facilities will keep you there even after the accommodation rates have won you over. A hearty breakfast of eggs, waffles, and sausages is served here to start the day. Don’t worry; it’s included in the deal, so there are no additional costs.Take a plunge in the hot tub before bed to properly relax your body.
Wingate by Wyndham Columbia
You’re in luck since Wingate by Wyndham has some of Columbia, Missouri’s most affordable hotel rates. You will enjoy this accommodation even more because of the extensive list of freebies it offers, including meals, internet access, parking, and many other considerate extras. It occasionally offers a manager’s reception where you may enjoy complimentary food and soft drinks.
When are You Planning Your Trip to Columbia MO?
After reading our list, hopefully you found something that piqued your interest. Columbia is a beautiful place, and we’d like to share some of that beauty with you. We’re lucky enough to live in one of America’s most wonderful cities, so get outside and enjoy it!