Established in 1821, Columbia, Missouri is the principal city in a five-city metropolitan area.
As a Midwestern college town, this burgeoning city is Missouri’s most populous.
The town boasts three major college campuses which set the scene for arts and culture aplenty.
As a result, there are so many fun and exciting things to do in Columbia, MO.
Known for its public art scene, its bustling downtown, and its surrounding forestry and rolling hills, Columbia is a great place to visit.
If you’re looking for fun and unique things to do in Columbia, you won’t be disappointed.
From world-class restaurants to museums by the mile and outdoor recreation to tons of live entertainment, there’s something for everyone.
Furthermore, Columbia has a rich history that serves as a muse for many educational attractions.
A deep concern with agriculture and plant and wildlife preservation is the further inspiration for fun things to do in Columbia.
Check out some of the many ways you can make indelible memories during a trip to Columbia, Missouri.
Things To Do In Columbia, MO
1. Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
Situated near Columbia, Missouri, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is a top setting for outdoor adventure.
One of the biggest draws to the park is that it’s an incredible geological preserve.
Within the park, you can explore and climb magnificent rock formations.
Two of the park’s most popular features are Rock Bridge and Devil’s Icebox Boardwalk; the latter is a double sinkhole that reveals glimmers of underground streams and the former is a unique rock formation that creates a natural bridge leading to the Devil’s Icebox.
Other park features include small springs, underground streams, numerous small sinkholes, and restored grasslands.
These specifications make a scenic backdrop for the many hiking trails that are also popular attractions.
Besides the many beautiful hiking trails, other park activities include birdwatching, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.
One of Columbia’s best outdoor points of interest, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is one of the few free things to do in town.
Address: 5901 South Highway 163, Columbia, MO 65203, United States
2. Shelter Gardens
This magnificent botanical garden is one of the many picturesque things to see during your visit to Columbia, Missouri.
Shelter Gardens is a 5-acre expanse containing magnificent plant and floral installations.
Surrounded by charming stone walls and gorgeous wrought iron benches, the gardens are a lovely space to while the day away.
Shelter Gardens is home to hundreds of varieties of trees and shrubs as well as thousands of colorful annuals and perennials.
A top spot to visit with outdoor enthusiasts, botany lovers, and even children, Shelter Gardens is open 7 days a week from dusk to dawn.
During these hours, the gardens are open to the public for picnicking, strolling, and relaxing.
Tours of the gardens are self-guided, however, extensive species lists are available for identifying exhibits.
During the summer months, the gardens host musicians for al fresco entertainment.
One of the most beautiful points of interest in the town, a visit to Shelter Gardens is highly recommended.
Address: 1817 W Broadway, Columbia, MO 65218, United States
3. Mizzou Botanic Garden
Situated on the scenic campus of the University of Missouri in Columbus, Mizzou Botanic Garden is home to thousands of species of plant life.
A hub for education, research, and observation, the garden is packed with exhibits that feature local plant life.
As the seasons change, so too do the exhibits, so return visits are recommended.
Tours of the garden are self-guided, however, plants are marked with descriptive markers so that you can connect with the plants you’re observing.
While some of the plant life is sourced from on-campus greenhouses, most others are purchased from local vendors.
Each year student gardeners plant between 600 and 1,000 new plants, so the landscape is ever-changing.
Throughout the park, there are lovely trails for meandering, a charming wildlife pond, a recreation trail, and the picturesque Tiger Plaza that features a serene waterfall and pool.
With so many lovely things to see in one place, it’s no wonder Mizzou Botanic Garden is a popular Columbia attraction.
Address: University Ave, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
4. The Missouri Symphony
If you’re looking for something great to do at night, consider a visit to The Missouri Symphony.
A center for musical education and entertainment, it was founded in 1970 to provide symphonic music to locals.
Situated in the city’s downtown theater district, the symphony is perfectly located for a date night.
Under the leadership of the same conductor for more than 20 years, The Missouri Symphony is home to an incredible bevy of musicians.
Throughout the year, you can catch incredible concerts, shows, and showcases.
Periodically, the society hosts wonderful music festivals too.
If you’re planning a visit to Columbus, be sure to secure tickets for The Missouri Symphony before your arrival.
One of the coolest places to go when you’re in Columbus, The Missouri Symphony should top your shortlist.
Address: 29 S 9th St Suite 211, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
5. Columbia Civic Orchestra
If you’re in the market for cultured things to do in Missouri, check out the Columbia Civic Orchestra.
With symphonic music played by volunteer musicians, each show is truly a labor of love.
One of a few free things to do in town, the orchestra is accessible to everyone no matter the budget.
Established to inspire a love for classical music in local musicians, it’s evolved into a place that brings audiences of all ages together.
Besides orchestral music, the Columbia Civic Orchestra hosts dance shows, other musical genres, and choral music too.
Throughout the year, it hosts shows such as sing-alongs and theatrical performances as well as live, online performances for those unable to make it to the theater.
Whether you’re a seasoned symphony-goer or want to check out something new, the Columbia Civic Orchestra is one of the best Columbia attractions.
Address: Columbia, MO, United States
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6. Shryocks Callaway Farm
This family-owned and -operated farm was established in 1889 in Columbia, Missouri.
Since its establishment, Shryocks Callaway Farm has been a working farm; it only began opening for tours, visitors, and activities in 2002.
Currently, the farm grows three main crops: corn, wheat, and soybeans.
If you visit during harvest, you can pick your own produce.
A wonderful place to spend a few sunny hours, the farm is a great place to visit.
Besides touring the inner operations of the farm, there are many entertaining activities to partake in.
A 16-acre corn maze is exciting to navigate, and the giant jumping pillows are a great place for children to blow off steam.
Additionally, the farm rents out campfire spaces for intimate evenings spent under the stars.
If you are traveling with a large party, you can also reserve large picnic areas for parties.
One of the loveliest places to go when you’re in Columbia, Missouri, be sure to make time for the Shryocks Callaway Farm.
Address: 2927 County Rd 253, Columbia, MO 65202, United States
7. Columbia Culinary Tours
Calling all foodies!
Columbia Culinary Tours is a wonderful way to chow down on local cuisine.
These tours allow guests to experience all the tasty flavors of downtown Columbia.
Columbia Culinary Tours are walking tours that are guided by knowledgeable locals.
Depending on the tour you choose, you’ll meander from place to place, sampling local cuisine from specialty food shops as well as popular restaurants.
Though you only taste samples from each pitstop, by the end of the tour, you’ll have consumed enough food to comprise an entire meal or more.
Some of the tour choices include a dessert tour, a flavors tour, and private tours.
There is also an out-on-the-town tour that makes for a great date night; you’ll sample food, drink, and historical sites on a 2 ½ hour, evening tour.
The tour peppers tidbits of history as well; guides will point out historical sites and local landmarks as you travel from one eatery to the next.
If you’ll be in town tonight, consider booking with Columbia Culinary Tours.
Address: Columbia, MO, United States
8. Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
This nature and wetlands preserve is one of Colombia’s most popular outdoor attractions.
If you’re traveling with nature lovers, you won’t want to miss an opportunity to visit Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area.
The area surrounds the beautiful Missouri River which sets the scene for nature and wildlife observance aplenty.
Composed of more than 4,000 acres of scenic and undisturbed forestry, Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is the perfect place to spend a few hours outdoors.
The park consists of miles of hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and birdwatching opportunities.
The park’s river and shallow natural pools make a great place for wading and light watersports.
The park is a hotspot for wildlife observation including shorebirds, ducks, pelicans, and beyond.
The marshes of Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area provide these and other animals a year-round habitat to call home.
One of the most beautiful places to visit when you’re in Columbia, Missouri, Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is a must-do.
Address: Star School Rd, Columbia, MO 65203, United States
9. Columbia Art League
The Columbia Art League is a local non-profit that brings Columbia’s colorful art scene to life.
A hub for visual arts and education, the Columbia Art League provides high-quality arts experiences to all those who walk through its doors.
If you’re looking to forward your experience in the arts, consider scheduling classes, geared toward children and adults, taught by experienced instructors.
Some of the class options include jewelry-making, photography, basketry, and sculpture among others.
If you’re coming to Columbia Art League to enjoy the incredible art displays, you’re in for a treat.
Current exhibits broach art mediums such as paintings, sculptures, and woven textiles.
An amazing community exhibit features works of local artists.
Gallery tours are open to the public for both self-guided and guided tours, however, guided tours must be pre-arranged.
The admission fee for entry is nominal, so the Columbia Art League is one of the few cheap things to do in town.
Address: 207 S 9th St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
10. Stephens Lake Park
This Columbia, Missouri park is one of the most beautiful places to go in the US.
Established in the early 19th century, Stephens Lake Park is a beautiful locale that spans more than 100 acres.
Within the park, visitors can enjoy the property’s magnificent arboretum and gorgeous lake.
One of the many unique facets of the park is that it’s also home to many historical structures built from slave labor.
Within the park, there are so many fun and free things to do.
The lake is a great place to swim, kayak, and fish.
The park is also home to an amphitheater where you can catch live music events all summer long.
Other park features include picnic tables, a soccer field, firepits, playgrounds, and gardens.
The park is also a great place to visit during the winter months; during this time you can ice skate on the frozen lake and enjoy sledding upon one of the park’s lovely knolls.
Address: 2001 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
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11. The Blue Note
The Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri is a premier music venue and one of the city’s coolest places to visit.
Situated in the city’s historic district, The Blue Note was established in 1980 and has been a Columbia mainstay ever since.
If you’ll be visiting Columbia this weekend, be sure to check out The Blue Note’s events calendar; you never know who is headlining.
Past performances have included incredible country bands, comedy shows, and amazing tribute bands.
If you’re wondering what to do in Columbia for date night, add a show to your plans.
Although The Blue Note doesn’t serve food, it’s surrounded by amazing local restaurants to visit before or after your show.
Be sure to visit the Merch Store to grab a commemorative shirt or keepsake.
One of the coolest tourist attractions around, The Blue Note is a must-do.
Address: 17 N 9th St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
12. The Candy Factory
The Candy Factory in Columbia, Missouri is the city’s finest purveyor of chocolates.
Established more than 40 years ago, the factory is a local institution.
The Candy Factory makes everything from custom chocolates to seasonal specialties.
It’s known for its epic gift baskets that make great gifts and souvenirs.
Specializing in chocolate-covered strawberries and themed baskets, The Candy Factory is a must-do on your Columbia itinerary.
Besides visiting the factory to shop the shelves of divine confections, The Candy Factory will also work with guests to make handcrafted and unique recipes too.
One of the few places in the country that allows you to customize your chocolates, The Candy Factory is the perfect attraction for the sweet tooth in your travel party.
No matter what you fancy, there’s something for every palette; from truffles and pretzels to toffees and cookies, The Candy Factory has it all.
The perfect pit stop for a midday sweet treat, The Candy Factory is one of the coolest places to visit.
Address: 701 Cherry St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
13. Mareck Center for Dance
If you’re looking for places to see in Columbia with a flair for the performing arts, be sure to visit the Mareck Center for Dance.
This dance company is an outstanding collection of the best in local dancers.
Known for its contemporary style of ballet, the company provides world-class, edgy choreography that’s a far cry from the stuffiness of traditional ballet companies.
Mareck Center for Dance is a local gem as it’s the only professional dance company in the area.
Performances feature athletic and technically challenging numbers that will wow even the most seasoned audiences.
The company partners with new choreographers each season to deliver original performances at each show.
Mareck Center for Dance has dozens of original compositions in its arsenal making each show something new and incredible.
If you’re interested in showstopping activities that the whole family can enjoy, be sure to secure tickets today, tomorrow, or this weekend.
Address: 110 Orr St #102, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
If you’re in search of unique stuff to do during your visit to Columbia, Missouri, look no further.
BoatHenge is an interesting art installation that appeared following the hundred years’ flood of 1993.
Situated adjacent to the Missouri River and the Katy Trail, BoatHenge is the work of an anonymous artist.
At first glance, BoatHenge looks like a bunch of carefully planted, erect boats sprouting from the ground.
Legends have it that the boats either fell from the sky on the first day of spring or grew from the ground.
Eerily reminiscent of the prehistoric rock formations in England, BoatHenge, like Stonehenge, draws visitors from far and wide.
The sprouted boats, painted on a lawn along a hiking trail, are a fun scene to happen upon as you explore local nature.
A unique photo opportunity, BoatHenge is easily accessible and a nice way to spend an hour outdoors.
One of the coolest art installations around, BoatHenge is a must-see.
Address: Columbia, MO 65203, United States
15. Boone County Farmers Market
Boone County Farmers Market is the best place in town to immerse yourself in local agriculture.
This market is open year-round with varying hours depending on the season.
Product availability varies, also depending on the season, but always features fresh and locally-grown fruits, vegetables, flowers, and plants.
Local farmers growing seasonal produce such as strawberries, peaches, corn, pine trees, and other goods can all be found peddling their wares on any given day.
Besides fresh produce and the like, you can find amazing goods such as locally made preserves, kettle corn, and other yummy treats too.
Additionally, some of the awesome farmers host educational talks where you can learn about local agriculture, produce, and farm life.
A great way to spend a morning near Columbia, the Boone County Farmers Market is highly recommended.
Address: 2300 Bernadette Dr, Columbia, MO 65203, United States
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16. Warm Springs Ranch
This world-renowned farm is one of Columbia’s most fun tourist attractions.
Best known as the official breeders of the Budweiser Clydesdales, the ranch sits on more than 300 acres of rolling hills in Missouri.
Established in 2008, Warm Springs Ranch is home to a foaling barn, a veterinarian laboratory, and 10 spectacular pastures.
The ranch is home to nearly 70 Clydesdales ranging in age from foal to stallion.
Warm Springs Ranch provides educational tours and wonderfully curated experiences that bring you face-to-face with its incredible stock of Clydesdales.
These guided tours will teach you all about the breeding process and how Clydesdales are raised.
The three tour types include a Wheels & Reigns Excursion that brings you behind the scenes with the Clydesdales, a VIP Tour which is more immersive, and a walking tour that will reveal the Clydesdale luxury trailers and a historical beer wagon as well as Clydesdales of all ages.
Address: 3118 25270 MO-98, Boonville, MO 65233, United States
17. Logboat Brewing Company
If you’re looking for something fun to do today, pay a visit to Logboat Brewing Company.
The chill vibe, tasty craft beers, and gorgeous setting are just a few of the things that make Logboat Brewing Company one of the best Columbia attractions.
Undoubtedly, the beers are the big draw to the brewery; each of the selections offered here is crafted with innovative recipes making each one new and exciting.
Some of the tasty brews offered at Logboat Brewing Company include robust IPAs, flavorful lagers, and mild ales to name a few.
Although the brewery doesn’t serve food, they often host food trucks, so there’s no telling what you might stumble upon during your visit.
With both indoor and outdoor seating as well as tons of fun garden games, it’s no surprise Logboat Brewing Company is a Columbia hotspot.
Address: 504 Fay St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
18. Museum of Art & Archaeology
Situated within the University of Missouri, the Museum of Art & Archaeology is a fun place to visit when you’re in town.
With a penchant for forwarding artistic and cultural heritage, this museum has so much to share with you.
Tours of the museum are open to the public and are led by knowledgeable students who put each work of art and artifact in its context for you.
Notably, the museum has both permanent and rotating exhibits that broach subjects and themes such as Greek pottery, lighting, weather, Greek and Roman societies, and Renaissance prints.
The museum is also home to African, Ancient Americas, coins, antiques, Asian, and paintings collections.
The Museum of Art & Archaeology also hosts special programming for families and children, so check out the website before your visit for upcoming programs.
One of the most fun ways to learn about history, art, and the world around you, the Museum of Art & Archaeology is a must-do.
Address: 1020 Lowry St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
19. Blind Boone House
This incredible historical home is one of the most fun Columbia attractions to visit.
Once home to legendary ragtime musician John William “Blind” Boone, the house stands as a memorial to the pianist who was born to slave parents.
Nicknamed “Blind” because his eyes were removed when he was a child to alleviate “brain fever,” Boone went on to be a piano virtuoso.
As an adult, Boone married Eugenia Lange with whom he set roots in the home that now stands as a museum in his honor.
Today, the home that was purchased by the Boones in the 1880s has been preserved to reflect the times during which they lived there.
The home looks just as it did when the famed musician and his family resided therein.
The home boasts its original woodwork, an incredible fireplace, and other original features.
The Blind Boone House is also filled with art, decor, furnishings, and other artifacts that reflect Boone’s life.
Address: N 4th St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
20. The Tiger Hotel
If you’re looking for one of the best places to vacation when you come to Columbia, book a stay at The Tiger Hotel.
This upscale, contemporary hotel is not just beautiful and centrally located, but it’s also loaded with amenities that will make every moment of your vacation dazzle.
Built in 1928, the hotel has been a mainstay ever since.
Many times over, it’s received awards and glowing commendations for its wonderful accommodations.
A perfect marriage of historical charm and brand consistency, the hotel delivers excellence on all levels.
Rooms and suites are decked out with luxurious beds, stocked mini bars, bath/shower combos, private patios, and so much more.
Additionally, the hotel is home to multiple restaurants, lounges, and cafes serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, nightcaps, and beyond.
Service is impeccable, accommodations are luxurious, and the location is perfect.
You’ll experience nothing but fun and relaxation during your stay at The Tiger Hotel.
Address: 23 S 8th St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
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21. Finger Lakes State Park
The Finger Lakes State Park is the answer for what to do in terms of outdoor recreation.
This beautiful public park comprises nearly 1,200 acres of untouched forestry in Columbia.
One of only two MO parks that allow off-road vehicles, there is so much fun to be had at this park.
The park has many riding trails and motocross tracks as well as lovely hiking trails too.
Other great ways to enjoy the park include swimming, fishing, and canoeing; the park features a unique water trail that’s a must-do.
Finger Lakes State Park is also home to camping grounds with group tent areas, RV hookups, shower houses, picnic shelters, and a playground.
Other park features include mountain bike trails, a boat launch, an amphitheater, and an explorable cave system.
Whether you come to camp and fish or boat and ride, Finger Lakes State Park is the perfect setting for outdoor recreation in Columbia, MO.
Address: 1505 Peabody Rd, Columbia, MO 65202, United States
22. Serenity Valley Winery
Another lovely way to spend a day in Columbia is at the Serenity Valley Winery.
Of all the things to do in Columbia, this may be the most picturesque and serene setting as its name suggests.
If you’re looking for a tranquil outdoor setting to enjoy your favorite varieties of wine, be sure to make time to visit Serenity Valley Winery.
Situated adjacent to a gorgeous lake that provides the backdrop for beautiful sunsets, the winery is one of the most peaceful places in Missouri.
Of all the amazing Columbia attractions, Serenity Valley Winery is a showstopper.
When visiting the winery, you’re invited to meander the property, wine glass in hand, and enjoy a relaxing day sipping incredible boutique wines.
While you’re allowed to pack a picnic lunch, the winery also sells cheeses and meats.
Best of all the winery is both pet and family-friendly.
Address: 1888 Co Rte 342, Fulton, MO 65251, United States
23. Shakespeare’s Pizza
If you’re wondering what to do for lunch or dinner in Columbia, check out Shakespeare’s Pizza.
In business for more than 50 years, this restaurant is a local institution.
Since its opening, Shakespeare’s Pizza has mastered the craft of pizza making.
Offering a variety of pizza types including vegetarian, meat lovers, and build-your-own choices, the pizza is simply delectable.
With each pizza, you have the choice of white or whole wheat crust, and crust thickness is your choice.
Shakespeare’s Pizza is hyper-aware of food allergies, comprehensively listing all ingredients and offering gluten-free options.
What’s more, Shakespeare’s Pizza has a full-service bar where you can belly up for cocktails and pizza.
The bar often hosts live music, game nights, and other fun events.
A great spot for the whole family, Shakespeare’s Pizza should top your list of Columbia eateries.
Address: 225 S 9th St, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
24. Peggy Jean’s Pies
Established from humble beginnings, Peggy Jean’s Pies got its start from two lifelong friends making homemade pies in their kitchens.
When one of the two friends passed away, the bakery quickly became a mother-daughter operation that is still in business today.
One of the yummiest things to do in Columbia, Peggy Jean’s Pies is now a city mainstay with the best sweets in town.
Each delectable pie at Peggy Jean’s Pies is handmade and crafted with the same family recipes since day one.
If you’re planning a visit to Columbia, consider booking one of Peggy Jean’s Pies’ famous pie-tasting events.
Each pie tasting features six three-inch pies that allow you to enjoy some of the bakery’s best-loved confections.
Some of the wonderful pie flavors that Peggy Jean’s Pies is known for include American Apple, Blueberry, Gooseberry, and Old Fashioned Peach.
They also turn out excellent tarts and savory pies such as pot pies and quiches.
Address: 503 E Nifong Blvd Suite C, Columbia, MO 65201, United States
25. Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary
This nearly 100-are park is one of the best things to do in Columbia in terms of getting outdoors.
A picturesque preserve showcasing native plants and wildlife, it’s a great place to take in all the natural wonders in MO.
Founded in 1993, the park is home to incredible bird life such as bald eagles, the red-headed woodpecker, blue jays, and the northern flicker.
Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary also runs a deer migration program, so there are always sweet deer milling about.
The sanctuary is peppered with lovely hiking trails and nature loops; the trails are all beginner-level, so they’re suitable for all ages.
The park has many wonderful amenities including public restrooms, picnic shelters, and fun playgrounds.
If you’re looking for a great space for outdoor recreation, be sure to check out Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary.
Address: 3300 W Rollins Rd, Columbia, MO 65203, United States
26. America’s National Churchill Museum
Set on the campus of Westminster College where Winston Churchill delivered his famous “Sinews of Peace” speech, America’s National Churchill Museum is a historical mecca.
The speech, which evoked the famous line “An iron curtain has descended across the continent,” signified the start of the Cold War.
As such, the location has been historically commemorated since the speech’s famous delivery.
If you’re interested in an incredible historical experience, add a visit to America’s National Churchill Museum to your plans.
This national historic site includes The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, a museum with permanent Churchill exhibits, and the Clementine Spencer Churchill Reading Room.
Each of these sites can be visited during your tour of America’s National Churchill Museum.
Significantly, the museums include more than 10,000 exhibits of documents, artwork, and artifacts associated with Churchill.
A wonderful way to learn about our nation’s history, America’s National Churchill Museum is a must-see.
Address: 501 Westminster Ave, Fulton, MO 65251, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Columbia, MO
With so many wonderful pursuits to enjoy in Columbia, how will you choose?
No matter the attractions you add to your itinerary, you’re sure to have a blast in Columbia, Missouri.
This history-rich college town is rife with amazing eateries, incredible museums, artsy entertainment, glorious nature sites, and so much more.
Whether you’re planning a family vacation or an adults-only getaway, Columbia has it all!