20 Things To Do In Columbia MO

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Although Columbia is the fourth most populous city in the state of Missouri, it isn’t a destination that often gets linked with tourism. As the home of the primary campus of the University Of Missouri, it’s often thought of as nothing more than a student town. The university undoubtedly dominates the city and its economy, but Columbia still has more than enough to make it worthwhile to visit.

Columbia has options for all tastes, from art galleries and museums to beautiful parks, rivers and historic locations. These things to do in Columbia, Missouri, will give you an idea of your options.

Columbia, Missouri

20 Things To Do In Columbia MO

1- Uncover History At Boone County History & Culture Center

things to do in columbia mo Boone County History & Culture Center at night
If you’re looking for things to do in Columbia (MO), start by visiting the Boone County History & Culture Center.

First opened as Walters Boone County Historical Museum & Visitors Center in 1988, the Boone County History & Culture Center is a complex with multiple buildings covering all aspects of art, culture, and history in the region through the years.

It has a museum exhibiting 1000s of historical artefacts, a gallery displaying works of art, a range of historical buildings like the Easley Store, Gordon Collins Log Cabin, Maplewood House, and McQuitty House.

There are frequent events like book readings and concerts.

There simply isn’t a better place to truly get to know the city of Columbia and its surrounding area.

Boone County History & Culture Center is at 3801 Ponderosa Street, Columbia, 65201.

2- Learn About Historical Art At The Museum Of Art

The Museum Of Art And Archaeology is an establishment run by both the University Of Missouri and the Missouri Arts Council.

While the building itself is modern in design, it is filled with exhibits that are artistically and culturally significant to the region.

Over 14,000 artefacts and works of art are displayed across the site’s five different galleries, giving you a fabulous opportunity to explore the area’s past.

Rotating exhibits on loan add elements of Eastern, Greek, and Roman cultures to the equation for you to enjoy.

Museum Of Art And Archaeology is at 115 Business Loop, 70 W, Columbia, 65211.

3- Watch The Region’s Best Young Athletes Compete

The Mizzou Arena and Memorial Stadium are neighbouring sports venues that serve as homes to the University Of Missouri’s Missouri Tigers athletics programs.

They are the perfect stop for anyone who wants to watch some top-level entertainment or support the city’s collegiate athletes.

Mizzou Arena is a 15,000-seater indoor arena used by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, while Memorial Stadium is a 61,000-seater outdoor venue used by the men’s football program.

Both are also arenas for other events, such as concerts and both amateur and pro wrestling.

Mizzou Arena is at 1 Champions Drive, Columbia, 65203.
Memorial Stadium is at Stadium Boulevard, Columbia, 65203.

4- Appreciate Architecture At J.W. Blind Boone Home

missouri map
Visiting Missouri and wondering what to do in Columbia? Start with these 20 attractions.

Built in 1890, the J.W. Blind Boone Home was the personal residence of legendary African American ragtime musician John William “Blind” Boone.

Listed on the U.S National Register Of Historic Places since 1980, the City Of Columbia has faithfully restored the property.

From the tours and small events held here to the architecture itself, the property is a great way to either learn more about a famed historical musician or see how a prominent celebrity of the times would have lived in the area during his era.

J.W. Blind Boone Home is at North 4th Street, Columbia, 65201.

5- Be Amazed At The Museum Of Anthropology

The Museum Of Anthropology is an ethnographic museum that focuses heavily on the history of Native American people in the region.

Its exhibits include artefacts like tools, clothes, everyday items, and a considerable archery collection, boasting models, statues, and informative displays.

Several pioneer exhibits are present as well, ensuring visitors can obtain the complete picture of how the city would have been in the years up to and around its formation.

The Museum Of Anthropology is at 1020 lowry Street, Columbia, 65201.

6- Explore Finger Lakes State Park

Finger Lakes State Park is a 1,128-acre outdoor recreation area on the city’s outskirts, established in 1973.

Located on a former coal mine site, it is one of the two most popular locations in the state for using off-road vehicles like ATVs and dirt bikes.

With several small streams and lakes, it is also extremely popular for boating, bike riding, camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, kayaking, picnicking, scuba diving and swimming.

Finger Lakes State Park is at 1505 Peabody Road, Columbia, 65202.

7- Pay A Visit To The University Of Missouri

fun things to do in columbia mo University Of Missouri at night
As it’s a university town, one of the top things to do in Columbia is to check out what’s happening at the University of Missouri.

As a well-known college city, the University Of Missouri is undoubtedly the centrepiece of Columbia.

Founded in 1839, the university covers almost 20,000 acres (8093 ha) and is the oldest university in the country west of the Mississippi River.

From its various historical buildings and programs to a wide range of performance, history, and culture centres, visitors can take a tour of the campus, enjoy some entertainment and education, and get a sense of what the city of Columbia is truly all about.

University Of Missouri, Columbia, 65211.

8- See The Artefacts At The State Historical Society

The State Historical Society Of Missouri Center For Missouri Studies was opened on the 10th of August 2019 to mark the 198th anniversary of Missouri gaining statehood.

Located on the University grounds in Downtown Columbia, it is among the best places to learn about the state.

You will find galleries, exhibits, libraries, classrooms, labs, reading rooms, viewing rooms, and an event room, where you can learn everything there is to know about Missouri.

There is a decent gift shop, worth visiting if you’re looking for a token or souvenir to remind you of your visit.

The State Historical Society For Missouri Studies is at 605 Elm Street, Columbia, 65201.

9- Combine Education And Exercise At The Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area

The Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is a nature preserve located in the floodplains of the Missouri River.

It takes its name because of the iconic bald eagles that nest there and the bluffs along the river’s edge.

An important resting point for migratory birds, the area is a great place to go for a walk and do a little bird watching or nature spotting.

Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, Columbia, 65203.

10- Embrace The Great Outdoors In Cosmo Park

Cosmo Park is the largest park in the city of Columbia and one of its primary spots for outdoor recreation.

Covering 533 acres (215 ha), the park has facilities to keep the whole family active, including a kids’ play area, golf course, roller hockey rink, skate park, and sports complex for baseball, softball, and tee-ball.

There are options for everyone with fishing ponds, football fields, hiking and nature trails, horseshoe pits, soccer fields, remote control car circuits, tennis courts, and volleyball courts.

Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area is at 1615 Business Loop, 70 W, Columbia, 65202.

11- Walk The Riverfront Trail To The Lewis And Clark Historical Site

Walk the Riverfront Trail to the Lewis And Clark Historical Site, an educational site and historical marker on the bank of the Missouri River, located a few miles outside the city.

Hike or bike along the river to follow in the footsteps of these legendary explorers.

With informative posts detailing this section of their journey and pictographs carved into the rock, it is a great way to enjoy exercise, history, and the natural beauty of the landscape, all at the same time.

Lewis And Clark Historical Site, Rocheport, 65279.

12- Explore The Historic District

free things to do in columbia mo
You’ll find a few fun and free things to do in Columbia Missouri for a quick visit.

On the grounds of the University Of Missouri, you will find the David R. Francis Quadrangle Historic District.

“The Quad”, as it’s also known, contains many of the university’s most iconic monuments and is a charming place for a stroll.

With “The Columns”, the Original Grave Marker Of Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Garden, Triangle Floral Display Garden, and Francis Memorial, there’s plenty to do and see in a tiny area.

David R. Francis Quadrangle is on South 9th Street, Columbia, 65201.

13- Pay Your Respects At The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Garden

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Garden is a park dedicated to the memory of the legendary civil rights leader.

It has monuments and landscaped gardens honouring him, as well as beautiful hiking and nature trails leading away from the garden.

The garden provides a fabulous opportunity to pay your respects or reflect while enjoying the serene, natural surroundings.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Garden is at 800 West Stadium Boulevard, Columbia, 65203.

14- Make The Most Of The Missouri River

Cooper’s Landing Campgrounds & Marina is the best option for anyone who wants to make the most of the Missouri River during their stay.

There are plenty of great launching points for a boat to set sail from.

Facilities include campsites, picnic areas, a bar, a live music venue and more, where you can spend a relaxing day or two enjoying the water and views of the river.

At Cooper’s Landing Campgrounds & Marina is at 11505 Smith Hatchery Road, Columbia, 65203.

15- Snap Some Photos In The Shelter Gardens

The Shelter Gardens are a fabulous botanical garden that covers five acres (2 ha) and boasts a range of attractions to cater to everyone.

You have a range of beautiful plants and flowers to enjoy, a stunning Vietnam Veterans Memorial ideal for history buffs, and the Garden For The Blind, a sensory garden that ensures visually impaired visitors enjoy their trip.

The Columbia Center For Urban Agriculture is also nearby.

The Shelter Gardens is at 1817 West Broadway, Columbia, 65218.

16- Have Some Fun At The Missouri Theatre

things to do in columbia mo this weekend
Watching a show is one of the fun things to do in Columbia mo.

The Missouri Theatre is a stunning building constructed in 1928 using a combination of Baroque and Rocco architectural styles.

The primary residence of the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, the building is used to host many of the city’s most stylish, elegant performances.

With additional performances by the University Of Missouri School Of Music and a selection of other art institutes, it is a great place to see some incredible performances in an iconic building that listed on the United States National Register Of Historic Places since 1979.

The Missouri Theatre is at 203 South 9th Street, Columbia, 65211.

17- See Wildlife At Three Creeks Conservation Area

Covering 1,500 acres, Three Creeks Conservation Area is the site where Bass Creek, Bonne Femme Creek, and Turkey Creek meet.

Its landscape is synonymous with the surrounding Ozark Mountains, boasting rugged terrain filled with caves, green spaces, springs, sinkholes, and woods.

It is an incredibly popular destination for camping, fishing, hiking, and nature watching.

Three Creeks Conservation Area, Columbia, 65201.

18- Hike In Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is a 2,273-acre (919 ha) geological preserve.

Named after a karst formation known as the Rock Bridge, the park boasts a range of other geological features, including sinkholes, an underground stream, and a network of 12 caves.

Another claim to fame is the park is the only known location of a flatworm species known as the pink planarian.

It is an extremely popular destination for biking, caving, hiking, and horse riding.

5901 South Highway 163, Columbia, 65203.

19- Appreciate The Columbia Art League

The Columbia Art League is an establishment dedicated to the progression of art in the city.

Hosting regular art courses and workshops while boasting a large exhibition area to display students’ work, it is an excellent spot for art fans to appreciate and support the work of upcoming artists.

207 South 9th Street, Columbia, 65201.

20- Admire Local Art

Located on the University Of Missouri grounds, the George Caleb Bingham Gallery is named after an artist known as “The Missouri Artist”.

Designed to host works by students and faculty members, as well as various visiting art exhibits, it is the best opportunity to enjoy the finest pieces the university has to offer.

The University Of Missouri, Fine Arts Building, A125, Columbia, 65201.

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Steve Burden is an avid traveller and experienced writer. As a former pro wrestler, Steve used to travel frequently for work throughout the USA and Europe. Having spent the last decade travelling all over the world in search of new sights and experiences, he has turned his love for travel into a new career helping others decide on the best places to visit, as well as what to see when they get there.