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Columbia (Missouri)

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Columbia [12] is a bustling college town halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City.


It is home of the University of Missouri, Columbia (better known as 'Mizzou') as well as two other post-secondary institutions: Stephens College and Columbia College. In a recent survey 'Livability' ranked Columbia Missouri #4 of their Top 10 College Towns 2013 [13]

Columbia is in the Midwest.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The city is accessible from Interstate 70, exit numbers from 121 east to 130. From the north and south, use U.S. Highway 63.

If you choose to drive, it'll take about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours from/to St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)(112 miles), and about 2 hours and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes to/from Kansas City International Airport (MCI)(150 miles). Long-term parking is around $8/day at St. Louis airport and around $5 at Kansas City airport.

By plane[edit]

Columbia Regional Airport (COU) [14], is a small regional airport approximately 10 miles south of the city along Hwy 63 which currently offers two daily flights to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Chicago O'Hare (ORD) by way of American Airlines service which began in February 2013. In addition to commercial air traffic, COU accommodates general aviation and charter flights.

By bus[edit]

  • Megabus, [15]. Low-cost carrier offers service once-daily service to Columbia from Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Fares start at $1 when ordered well in advance. Bues stop at the bus loading area behind Wabash Station, which is located at East Ash Street and North 10th Street.
  • Greyhound, [16]. claims to provide service to Columbia, however, the station moved in December 2013, 5 miles west of the main city limits, to an area known as Midway. Its new address is: 6401 HWY 40 W Columbia, MO 65202. This station is not served by Columbia Transit.
  • MO-X [17] (pronounced 'moe-ex') operates an airport shuttle service that does door-to-door pick-up/drop-off from town to airport (St. Louis and Kansas City airports) & vice versa for about $50 each way, $94 round trip. It takes approximately two hours to reach St. Louis airport (STL) and a a half hour longer for Kansas City airport (MCI).
  • Shuttle 63 [18] is a fairly new service that provides shuttle service from various areas of Columbia to Jefferson City, MO. Roundtrips are $12, or $6 way.

Get around[edit]

There is a public transit system (bus), but the downtown area is very small, so you can easily get around on foot. The public transit system is meant to get people from the outskirts to downtown rather than around downtown.

A new proposal called CoMo Connect [19] will change the routes imporving access around columbia.

Columbia Transit provides bus, ParaTransit and University shuttle service. The bus schedule and maps are available at [20]. Grocery stores, shopping and most local attractions can be reached via bus routes.

See[edit][add listing]

The Columns on the Quad of the University of Missouri[21] campus are the second-most photographed landmark in Missouri, right behind the St. Louis Arch.

While on the Quad, visit the the Museum of Art and Archeology, [22] which has a fascinating collection of everything between ancient Southeast Asian sculpture to paintings by famous Missourians.

Also on campus, close to the Quad, is the Ellis Library, which houses the State Historical Society of Missouri. [23]

The interesting and unique architecture of the Columbia Public Library, located just west of downtown at the corner of Broadway and Garth Avenue, is a sight to see. While you're there, enjoy a good book and a cup of coffee from the coffee bar located in the lobby.[24]

The award winning Shelter Insurance Garden is located off of Ash Street, just before Stadium Boulevard. The gardens feature many different types of plants and flowers, along with beautiful sculptures, ponds, and a historic schoolhouse (circa 1800s).

Do[edit][add listing]

Katy Trail State Park [25] is a great outdoor resource for bikers and joggers. The MKT Nature and Fitness Trail starts in downtown Columbia (accessible near Providence and Locust and at Providence and Stewart). It stretches about 9 miles from downtown Columbia to McBaine. There the MKT connects to Katy Trail State Park, which travels across Missouri from St. Charles to Clinton following old railway lines. Several of Columbia's parks also connect to the MKT, including Flat Branch Park, Forum Nature area, and Hinkson Woods Natural History Area. There are plans to use federal grant money to extend this trail system further.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, [26], 7 miles south of Columbia, offers outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, caving and so on. Devil's icebox in the park is a great getaway during the hot summer days. A short walk will take you to the mouth of the cave and the chilled air will cool you off.

Stephens Lake Park [27] Located at 2001 E. Broadway (Broadway and Old Highway 63), Park Hours: 6 am - 11 pm. Swimming area, spray park, Amphitheater, fishing, non-motorized boating, paved loop trail (1.7m / 2.74km), event shelter rental, winter sports, free WiFi.

Finger Lakes State Park, [28].

Ragtag Cinema [29] is an unusual fusion of a high-minded arthouse cinema with a playful, lively beer hall. Showing the best national, international, and locally created films.

Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site, [30].

Capen Park [31] Capen Park is well-visited by the local climbing community which is located near the intersection of College Ave (SR. 763) and Stadium Blvd (SR. 740) for those arriving by car, but may be accessed via Columbia's trails for those who choose to walk, jog, or bike.

The Blue Note historic theater [32], located on North 9th street in the downtown area. This is a small theater that accommodates around 800 people. This venue always features top new music acts. Regardless what type of music you like, it features acts from country, ska, rock, alternative, indie, metal, comedy, hip hop, blues, etc. Some top acts that have visited the Blue Note include 311, Megadeth, Snoop Dog, Blues Traveler, Public Enemy, Ice T, Red Hot Chili Peppers. It also showcases local favorites like Gravity Kills and The Urge. Enjoy the dance floor and drinks from the extensive bar. Minors are also welcome, however some shows have a small surcharge. During the summer months, The Blue Note presents it's 9th Street Summerfest outdoor concert series [33]

Cooper's Landing [34], located at 11505 Smith Hatchery Road Columbia, MO 65203. This stretch of land on the Missouri River is a lovely place to go hiking, walking, or to eat Thai food. Often there is a local musical artist performing. It's a 10 minute drive from south Columbia and is located on the Katy Trail.

Events & Festivals[edit]


  • True/False Film Festival [35] occurs during the first weekend of March, sometimes the festival begins the last couple of days of February; it is a documentary film festival showcasing local, regional and international films.


  • Salute to America [36] honors those who have and currently serve in the United States Armed Forces. This event occurs each Memorial weekend and includes a Living History Program, Airshow, Honored Guest Banquet and Memorial Day Parade through downtown Columbia.


  • Art in the Park [37] is a family fun weekend that welcomes in artisans from all over the country to Columbia's Stephens Lake Park.


  • Show-Me State Games [38] is the largest Olympic-style state games competition in the nation with over 40 sports offered. The Show-Me Games are usually held the 3rd and 4th weekends of July. These games are for all age groups with a mission to promote health, fitness and family fun.


  • University of Missouri Football [39] brings in fans and alumni from all over the globe for a weekend of celebration and competition. The University of Missouri joined the South Eastern Conference (SEC) in July of 2012 after being in the Big 12 conference for many years.
  • Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival [40] began in September 2007 as a 'gift to the city of Columbia' from Boone County National Bank who that year was celebrating it's 150th Anniversary. This star-studded music festival continues to grow and after the first 6 years of the festival taking place in downtown Columbia, it will now be held in Stephens Lake Park beginning in 2013.
  • Columbia Heritage Festival [41] is a wonderful event where visitors will be taken back to the traditions of the past. See artisans and tradesmen dressed in 19th century attire demonstrating their trades and selling their wares. Enjoy entertainment on two stages including music, dancing and storytelling. Saturday Evening Ghost Stories are sponsored by the Mid-Missouri Organization Storytellers. Tour the Historic Maplewood Home and the Walter’s Boone County Historical Museum and Village.


  • University of Missouri Football [42] brings in fans and alumni from all over the globe for a weekend of celebration and competition. The University of Missouri joined the South Eastern Conference (SEC) in July of 2012 after being in the Big 12 conference for many years.


  • Citizen Jane Film Festival [43] is a independent film festival whereas the films are produced, directed, screen-written or the lead role is a woman. These films are viewed at Stephens College [44], the second largest all woman's college in the U.S.
  • University of Missouri Football [45] brings in fans and alumni from all over the globe for a weekend of celebration and competition. The University of Missouri joined the South Eastern Conference (SEC) in July of 2012 after being in the Big 12 conference for many years.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Downtown Columbia is a major area for shopping and restaurants. Downtown Columbia, sometimes referred to as "The District" [46] is centered on the corner of Broadway and Ninth Street, and extends for several blocks in each direction. Locally owned stores, a variety of restaurants, theaters, parks, and the nicely landscaped campuses of the area colleges are all within walking distance from the downtown area.

Columbia Mall [47], located on Stadium Boulevard at Interstate 70, is the largest mall in the mid-Missouri area, and contains many of the typical mall stores available around the country.

There are also new shopping developments available south of the mall on Stadium Boulevard.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Don't forget to stop by Shakespeare's Pizza [48] on 9th and Elm. Some seriously good pizza and a goofy collegetown-like atmosphere.

Booches on 9th Street has great burgers, supposedly the best burger in the nation. No known link to prove the claim, but they have a piece of newspaper framed on the wall that says so. One thing is sure, they really have great burgers. They go to church on Sundays.

9th Street Deli [49] has good sandwiches. It also features an interesting outdoor patio if you go through the door by the restroom.

Addison's - An American Grill, [50] a locally owned restaurant located at 709 Cherry St. is an affordable restaurant featuring "Americana" type food: unique sandwiches, burgers, pastas and a few slightly more expensive entrees. Has a good bar and beer selection and very comfortable atmosphere. One of the local favorites is the "crab rangoo dip" appetizer.

Bangkok Gardens[51], is a local favorite for Thai food. Located on the corner of Ninth St. and Cherry, is located close to campus. Atmosphere is refreshing and the cooks let you order your food on a "hotness scale of 1 (low) to 10 (very hot). It is also known for serving water out of their signature tin cups.

Cafe Berlin International, focuses on organic options. Everything from coffee to salads is offered in organic options along with fresh squeezed juices. The breakfast menu contains tried and true favorites along with a variety of international options. Lunch is served as well.

Chim's Thai Kitchen, located at Cooper's Landing[52] in nearby Easley, Missouri, and another option for Thai food. The food is served out of a trailer parked by the Missouri River, and there is often a band playing on summer nights which makes for a very fun filled evening.

  • Churchill's Italiano, 2200 I-70 Drive SW, 573-445-8531, [1]. Sicilian Chef Ignazio Gianfranco Munna serves up Italian and Mediterranean cuisine available anywhere in Columbia. Call ahead for reservations.  edit

Ernie's is a great 50's themed diner located at 10th and Walnut, open for breakfast and lunch. Very crowded on weekends so be prepared to wait.

Murry's located close to the corner of Green Meadows and Providence, is a locally owned restaurant with a flair for Jazz. During most evenings, there is a live Jazz piano and occasionally has a live Jazz band play (participates in the "we always swing" Jazz series[53]) The atmosphere is kind of dark, crowded (due to it's popularity). The food is usually excellent with a menu that ranges from the inexpensive (sandwiches and burgers) to more higher end entree's.

Sophia's, [54] is a locally own restaurant (by the same group that owns Addisons) located on South Providence Rd. The higher mid-range restaurant offers an excellent atmosphere, and a menu that features many diverse pastas, some unique to the area. Sophia's also has decent wine options and an excellent dessert menu.

  • Sports Zone, 2200 I-70 Drive SW, 573-445-8383, [2]. Sports Zone Restaurant and Grill's casual upscale atmosphere encourages everyone to relax and have a great time while catching sports action on high definition flat screen TVs placed strategically throughout the restaurant.  edit

For the vegetarian traveler, there are several options: Main Squeeze, [55] on 9th Street, is the only vegetarian restaurant in central Missouri, and it's quite popular with the lunch crowds. The cafe also recently started serving breakfast. The Root Cellar, [56] on Broadway, serves up local foods and produce, but is not entirely vegetarian.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Atrium Lounge, 2200 I-70 Drive, [3]. A comfortable lounge to get a coffee during the day or a drink at night.  edit

Flat Branch[57] is Columbia's original micro-brewery, serving a plethora of house made brews and a few home-made sodas. It offers a wide variety of tasty food items for reasonable prices. Can be crowded.

The Heidelberg (a.k.a. the 'Berg), [58] is a bar/hangout close to campus that is enjoyed by many young students. Has a nice outdoor patio on the second floor. Go toward the restroom, and you'll find the stairs going up. Has good happy hour deals (e.g., buy one appetizer, get one free). It was burned down in October 2003[59] but has opened again.

Quinton's, Ninth Street. Good happy hour deals with some exceptional sandwiches, and there is never a cover. Best jukebox in the state.

  • Broadway Brewery, 816 East Broadway, [4]. Local Brewery, started by some of the same folks from the Root Cellar. Solid selection of house brews, along with a good sampling of non house beers, and a menu showcasing locally grown and raised food stock. $$.  edit
  • Sycamore, 800 E Broadway (Corner of Brodway and 8th), (573) 874-8090, [5]. 11AM-2PM, 5PM-10PM. Combining local ingredients, swanky atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable wait staff, along with a heaping dose of excellent management. One of the true gems of Columbia's culinary scene. Dinner can be a bit pricey, but lunch is a steal for the quality. Rotating taps from all over the world and a wide selection of local and not so local wine, along with monthly beer and wine dinners.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Nearly every national hotel chain has a location in Columbia, with more being added seemingly all the time. It is quite common for hotels in Columbia to be booked full on University of Missouri football weekends.


  • Holiday Inn, 2200 I-70 Drive, S.W. (at the Stadium exit right off I-70 and just minutes away from the University of Missouri campus), 573-445-8531, [6]. Pet Friendly Hotel.  edit
  • Comfort Suites, 1010 W. Business Loop 70, (573) 443-0055, [7]. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 11am. Indoor heated pool and wireless high-speed Internet access. From $79.  edit
  • Ramada Inn, 901 Conley Rd, (573) 443-4141, [8]. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 11am. Outdoor pool, free breakfast, wireless high-speed Internet access. (38.9594,-92.2932) edit
  • Hampton Inn Columbia, 3410 Clark Lane, Columbia, Missouri, 65202, 573-886-9392, [9]. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm. Features free hot breakfast, high speed internet in every room, fitness center.  edit
  • Hilton Garden Inn Columbia, 3300 Vandiver Drive, Columbia, Missouri, 65202, 573-814-5464, [10]. checkin: 4pm; checkout: 12pm. Features cooked-to-order breakfast, 24-hour Pavilion Pantry®, and a microwave and refrigerator in each room, 24 hr business center, fitness center, complimentary WiFi and 12,000 sq ft of meeting/event space  edit
  • Hampton Inn & Suites Columbia (at the University of Missouri), 1225 Fellows Place, Columbia, Missouri, 65201, 573-214-2222, [11]. checkin: 4pm; checkout: 11am. Located next door to the University of Missouri. Features Hampton's free hot breakfast, free high speed internet in every room, fitness center and 24 hr business center.  edit

Stay Safe[edit]

Columbia’s crime rate is similar to that of other Midwestern College Towns, both the violent crime rate and property crime rate are slightly higher than the national average. In addition to the Columbia Police Department The University of Missouri operates a campus police unit. Some residential neighborhoods on the north side of town have a reputation for gun violence, generally endemic to the African-American community. Columbia was the first city to decriminalize marijuana in 2004.

Get out[edit]

Routes through Columbia
Kansas CityBoonville  W noframe E  O'FallonSt. Louis
OttumwaKirksville  N noframe S  AshlandJefferson City

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