Columbia is a planned city in Howard County, Central Maryland. It differs strongly from most notions of what constitutes a "city," as the planner divided the densely populated, but decidedly suburban in character, city into ten "villages," each of which are divided into several neighborhoods, leaving the city with a less obvious center.
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (IATA: BWI) is approximately 12 miles from Columbia. As noted below, Howard Transit operates bus service between the airport and Columbia.
Columbia is easily accessible from both I-95 and US-29, which run parallel to each other near Columbia. From either of these roads, exit at either Route 32, Route 175, or Route 100. Route 175, which is called Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, connects to the city center and the Mall in Columbia.
The closest train station to Columbia is BWI Rail Station, from where Amtrak and MARC Train operate service to Washington DC and Baltimore.
Howard Transit offers hourly bus service on its Silver Route from the Mall in Columbia to BWI Airport and the BWI Rail Station, where further connections are available to Washington DC and Baltimore. At BWI Airport, catch the Silver Route bus outside Pier E, the International Terminal, on the lower level.
Dillon Bus Service operates commuter buses between Columbia and Washington DC and Silver Spring during weekday rush hours.
A well-kept network of walking paths winds through Columbia, mostly in wooded natural areas.
Travel within Columbia is mostly done by car, although the city was originally planned as a pedestrian and bicycle friendly group of villages.
Streets are winding and hilly; cyclists should bring their eighteen-speeds.
Howard Transit operates several bus routes through the villages and connect to some adjacent communities. Most bus routes are hourly, with limited service on weekends.
For those interested in town planning and intentional communities, Columbia's layout and village centers preserve a good deal of James Rouse's 1960s-era vision of a diverse and harmonious setting open to residents of all backgrounds. Harper's Choice Village Center and Wilde Lake Village Center (which was the first to be built) have interesting small shops and public spaces.
- The Maryland Museum of African Art, (downtown off Route 175), .
- Columbia Art Center, (Long Reach), .
Concerts and theater
- Merriweather Post Pavilion, . A large ampitheatre that hosts many concerts and festivals.
- Toby's Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road, (toll free: 1 800 888-6297), . 6:00PM for evening shows (5:00PM on Sundays) and 10:30AM for matinees. Box Office hours are 10:00AM to 9:00PM, daily. Award-winning musicals, with dinner!. (39.2089,-76.8585)
Festivals and events
- Lakefront Summer Festival, . Free outdoor movies and concerts every day during the summer.
- Symphony of Lights Festivities, (Symphony Woods), . Annual drive-through festival of lights open at night from late December to early January. Proceeds benefit the Howard County General Hospital.
- Wine in the Woods, . An annual wine festival during mid-May.
- Second Edition Books & Music, 6490 Dobbin Rd, . a nifty little used book store in the same shopping center as the MVA Express. You'll find books, CDs, DVDs, and vinyl.
- The Mall in Columbia, 10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy, . one of the largest malls in the area and sports several higher-end department stores such as Nordstroms and Lord & Taylor. Great for fine gifts and luxery items. Includes a movie theatre and several restaurants.
- Columbia's Best Deli, 6490 Dobbin Rd. true to it's name. Great for vegetarians too!
- Maiwand Kabob, 5467 Harpers Farm Rd, . The best kabobs in Maryland.
- Pars Market LLC, 9400 Snowden River Parkway # 109 (Columbia, MD 21045), ☎ 443-259-0002, . Best Ethnic Market in Columbia, Great Selection of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Foods (39.176617,-76.836966)
- Sushi King Columbia, 6490 Dobbin Rd, . voted best sushi restaurant in the area in 2010 and have absolutely delicious specialty rolls.
- Azul 17, 9400 Snowden River Pkwy #127 (located off of Snowden River Parkway), ☎ 410.309.2749, . a tequila bar and restaurant featuring more traditional Mexican cuisine than the usual TexMex. The drinks are original, the desserts decadent, and the guacamole is to die for!
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Columbia, 5485 Twin Knolls Road, Columbia, Maryland, 21045-3247, USA, ☎ +1 410 997-1060, . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 PM.
- Hampton Inn Columbia, 8880 Columbia 100 Parkway, Columbia, Maryland, 21045, USA, ☎ 1-410-997-8555, . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM.
- Hilton Garden Inn Columbia, 8241 Snowden River Parkway, Columbia, Maryland, 21045, USA, ☎ 1-410-750-3700, . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 PM.
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Columbia, 8320 Benson Drive, Columbia, Maryland, 21045-3116, USA, ☎ 1-410-872-9200, . checkin: 4:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 PM.
- Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel (Sheraton Columbia), 10207 Wincopin Circle, ☎ +1 410 730-3900, . Just completed a $12 million renovation, set in 12 acres of woods overlooking Lake Kittamaquandi. Outdoor pool, 24-hour fitness center.
- SpringHill Suites, 7055 Minstrel Way, ☎ +1 410 290-7896, . checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm. Suites with microwave, mini-fridge, large work desk, free internet, flat screen TV. Guests have access to free parking, free hot breakfast, indoor pool and fitness center. $130.
- Sonesta ES Suites Columbia, 8844 Columbia 100 Parkway, ☎ 410-964-9494, . This hotel offers easy access to I-95 and I-70. Each suite offers 450 to 750 square feet and features complimentary wireless access, fully equipped kitchen and separate living room.