Time and time again, visitors are delightfully surprised by what Columbia has to offer. From picturesque parks and clever cuisine to amazing art and superb shopping, visitors find that Columbia is ‘more than a college town’ and ‘surprisingly sophisticated.’
Home to the University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College, Columbia is a vibrant college town with urban amenities. Concerts, music festivals, film festivals, food and art festivals take place in Columbia throughout the year. “The District” is a cool shopping and entertainment area located in downtown Columbia. Great green spaces, including public spaces, city parks and the 225-mile Katy Trail attract outdoor enthusiasts year round. Columbia is consistently on the “best small cities” lists.
Columbia has a lot to offer in a fun, friendly and eclectic setting. In The District, part of Columbia’s historic downtown, visitors will find an impressive number of chef-owned and operated restaurants championing local farms and ever-changing seasonal menus, as well as a number of ethnic eateries and vegetarian-friendly options. And being a college town, there are several alumni favorites including nationally renowned pizza places, burger joints and pool halls. The District also is home to locally owned boutiques, bars, vintage shops, bookstores, coffee shops, classic diners and much, much more.
A pride in preservation of green space and a diverse park system with over 70 city parks and trails provide numerous recreation opportunities around Columbia. Columbia connects to the Katy Trail State Park via the MKT Trail. Both the nine-mile MKT and the 225-mile Katy trails were built on the bed of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. As the longest, non-motorized segment of the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail, the Katy Trail offers modern day explorers a unique way to discover the Missouri River Valley. There are several canoe outfitters that offer guided and non-guided canoe and kayak excursions on the Missouri River and its tributaries. The Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is 4,286-acres known for shorebird and migratory game bird viewing, making it one of the best birding locations in Missouri.
Columbia residents are enthusiastic patrons of the arts with a number of semi-annual art and music festivals including the Artrageous Fridays art crawl, Art in the Park, and a number of free or affordable concert series. The District and the tri-campus areas are home to many artists, many of which have studios and galleries open to the public. Columbia’s active lifestyle includes a number of high quality festivals throughout the year. The festival season kicks off New Year’s Eve with Columbia Eve Fest, and in March the True/False International Film Festival, an innovative, nationally acclaimed event celebrating the art of independent documentaries and films, takes over downtown Columbia. The Memorial Weekend Salute to Veterans offers the largest free air show in the Midwest. For more than 50 years, on the first weekend in June, Art in the Park has been mid-Missouri’s largest juried outdoor fine arts fair with visual artists, hands-on activities and live music. The J.W. Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival in mid-June spotlights America’s unique music genre, bringing in some of the nation’s most renowned “raggers” and “jazzers” to Columbia. In September, celebrate your roots at the Roots N’ Blues N’ BBQ Festival, which features some of the biggest names in blues, country, folk and bluegrass, and the third weekend of September brings the Heritage Festival. In October, the Citizen Jane Film Festival takes over Stephens College campus as well as Columbia’s downtown.
We like to think of Columbia as a cool neighborhood in a big city, with a young vibe, an active buzz and an engaged community. We’re also a friendly and welcoming place, with a thriving downtown and an abundance of cultural opportunities. We truly believe the experiences you have, the people you meet and the memories you take with you will all exceed your expectations. We’re Columbia…What You Unexpect!