Things To Do In Columbia

There’s plenty of college town to go around in Columbia. Home to the legendary University of Missouri, this city maintains a small town feel and the energy of a progressive, growing metropolis. Between the university campus, the downtown District, and the expansive nature preserves, Columbia has no shortage of things to do. If you’re in town for a game, a new student, or a lucky Missouri resident looking for a fun afternoon, check out these fantastic things to do in Columbia, MO.

Columbia has a little something for everyone. The heart of the city, the District, is full of food and shopping fun. The surrounding nature preserves offer adventure for city dwellers looking for a fresh air escape.

The best things to do near Columbia include:

  • Spelunking in Connor’s Cave
  • Exploring the Mizzou Botanic Garden on campus
  • Off-roading or mountain biking at Finger Lakes State Park
  • Learning about cultures at the Museum of Art and Archaeology
  • Touring Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Shelter Gardens is one of Columbia’s secret treasures. Located next to the Shelter Insurance headquarters, the garden features a vast array of trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials, as well as a stream, pond, and waterfall.

Here’s some cheap things to do near Columbia:

  • Look back in time at the Boone County History & Culture Center
  • Explore The District, the downtown center of Columbia
  • Take advantage of the free wifi at Flat Branch Park
  • Fish in the largest park at Cosmo park, the city’s largest park
  • Admire the Darwin and Axie Hindman Discovery Garden in Stephens Lake Park

The Francis Quadrangle, commonly called “The Quad,” is the historic center of the Mizzou campus. The Quad is bisected by six iconic pillars and lined by a number of halls and buildings that together create a National Historic District.

Popular attractions near Columbia include:

  • The charming Maplewood Farm at Nifong Nature Park
  • Picturesque Greek columns in front of Jesse Hall
  • Vibrant green Francis Quadrangle on the University of Missouri’s campus
  • The sensory plot for the visually impaired at Shelter Gardens
  • A one mile trek on the Mike Deak Walking

Columbia is no stranger to art, ensuring there’s always something new to see. June brings around the annual Art in the Park festival at Stephan Lake Park. Be sure to stop by the kiosks run by local artists and drop the kids off at the Kids Art Spot.

Check out these other exciting activities in Columbia:

  • Watch a movie at the Goodrich Forum 8 movie theater
  • Sign up for a fitness class at Activity & Recreation Center
  • BBQ at the Twin Lakes Recreation Area
  • Picnic at the Grindstone Nature Area with your pooch
  • Demolish high scores on the arcade games at Bonkers

The District is Columbia’s downtown area centrally located to the entire city and surrounded by three colleges, ensuring that there’s plenty to do when the sun goes down. True to the “shop local at CoMo” vibe, the district is full of locally owned restaurants, shops, and galleries.

Looking for nighttime activities in Columbia? Check out:

  • Empire Roller Rink’s nightly public sessions
  • The Blue Note concert venue to see touring artists
  • Mizzou After Dark, MU’s number one activity hub for students
  • G & D Steakhouse for a quick bite for dinner
  • The Missouri Symphony concert series, Hot Summer Nights

Mizzou is just the start of the spectator sports in Columbia. Show-Me State Games is an Olympics style competition for kids of all ages to compete in a variety of sports. Bring your sporty youngster to watch games like soccer, pickleball, mountain biking, and track and field.

Family-friendly things to do in Columbia include:

  • A trampoline lover’s dream at Sky Zone Columbia
  • An expansive splash park at Albert Oakland Park
  • More swimming at the Albert-Oakland Family Aquatic Center
  • Bumper cars, bowling, and laser tag at Lazer Lanes
  • Chocolate covered Strawberries and The Candy Factory

Symphonies make for a great date idea in Columbia, even in today’s age. In fact, classical music has made a comeback in Columbia thanks to The Missouri Symphony Society.

Some other date night ideas in Columbia involve:

  • Tropical Liqueurs and their creative frozen drinks
  • Ragtag Cinema and the independent films they screen
  • The Wine Cellar & Bistro and their hearty list of libations
  • Rose Music Hall and the concerts by touring and local artists
  • Columbia Star Dinner Train and their one-of-a-kind dining experience

Columbia’s status as a college town ensures there’s many things to do for friend groups of all sizes. Take the whole squad to some of the city’s more unique attractions, like the Museum of Anthropology, the Living Canvas gallery, and the Historic Costume Gallery.

The top group activities in Columbia include:

  • Playing a game of soccer or football at Gans Creek Recreation Area
  • A mural party hosted by Wildy’s World
  • Watching the Mizzou Tigers at Faurot Field Memorial Stadium
  • Riding go karts or playing mini golf at Midway Golf Complex
  • Hiking with your friends at Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary

Done with the sun? Move the city exploration to indoor areas. The University of Missouri’s Museum of Art and Archeology is free to the public. Located in Mizzou North, the museum holds both permanent galleries and changing exhibits, with an emphasis on Greek and Roman Art.

The best things to do indoors in Columbia:

  • Browsing the retail store at The Mall in Columbia
  • Having a picnic at Flat Branch Park
  • Learning calligraphy at a Poppy workshop
  • Painting pottery at Mud Room Studio
  • Restoring your body at Riversong Spa and Salon

Thanks to its many state parks, Columbia is a natural fit for people looking for outdoor activities. Spend some time at Audubon Columbia Nature Sanctuary, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, and the Grindstone Nature Area.

Here’s some of the top outdoor activities in Columbia:

  • Cliff and bluff climbing at Capen Park
  • Hunting deer and rabbit at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
  • Escape the corn maze at Skyrock Callaway Farms
  • Play a round at Perch Creek Golf Club
  • Picnic at the Grindstone Nature Area with your pooch

Columbia’s best kept secrets are waiting to be uncovered. Whether it’s a coffee shop, a hidden-away Instagram spot, or a hole-in-the-wall bookstore, the city is yours to explore.

Try these must-see places near Columbia, MO:

  • Try a local beer at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing
  • Ride the giant tiger statue in Tiger plaza
  • Check out local regional artist at Poppy
  • Snap a photo of the rock “M” in the Memorial Stadium north zone
  • Hear Big MO, the largest bass drum in the world, in the Mizzou marching band