9 Best Places and Things To Do in Columbia, Tennessee

Columbia, Tennessee, known as the “Mule Capital of the World,” is a charming city that offers a mix of history, natural beauty, and cultural experiences. Located in Maury County, Columbia is steeped in Southern charm and provides visitors with a range of attractions and activities.

1. Historic Downtown Columbia

Columbia, Tennessee courthouse square

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Begin your exploration in the heart of the city at the Historic Downtown Columbia. The area is filled with beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings, including the Maury County Courthouse and the Athenaeum Rectory. Take a stroll along the streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and antique stores. Don’t miss the Columbia Arts District, where you can find local artists showcasing their work.

2. James K. Polk Ancestral Home

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History enthusiasts should not miss a visit to the James K. Polk Ancestral Home. This museum and historic site provide insights into the life and presidency of the 11th U.S. President, James K. Polk. Explore the beautifully restored main house, gardens, and outbuildings while learning about Polk’s significant contributions to American history.

3. Maury County Park

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For outdoor enthusiasts, Maury County Park is a must-visit. The park offers a variety of recreational activities, including walking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and sports fields. It’s a great spot to relax, have a family outing, or enjoy a leisurely stroll amidst the natural beauty of the area.

4. St. John’s Episcopal Church

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Marvel at the architectural beauty of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This picturesque church, built-in 1842, features stunning stained glass windows and intricate woodwork. Visitors are welcome to attend services or explore the church’s tranquil grounds.

5. Maury County Archives

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Delve deeper into the history of the region at the Maury County Archives. This repository holds a wealth of historical records and artifacts, providing a valuable resource for genealogical research and learning about the area’s past. The knowledgeable staff can guide you through the archives and help you discover fascinating details about Columbia and its inhabitants.

6. Chickasaw Trace County Park

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Chickasaw Trace County Park is a popular outdoor destination located just outside Columbia, Tennessee. This 300-acre park offers a range of recreational activities and natural beauty, making it an ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts. The park features an extensive network of trails that cater to both hikers and mountain bikers. The trails wind through diverse landscapes, including woodlands, open fields, and along the banks of the Duck River.

7. Historic Elm Springs

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Historic Elm Springs, also known as the Elm Springs Headquarters, is a significant historic site located in Columbia, Tennessee. It is the former headquarters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), an organization dedicated to preserving and honoring the memory of Confederate soldiers. Built in 1837, Elm Springs is a Greek Revival-style mansion that served as the headquarters for the SCV from 1992 to 2021. The house has witnessed numerous events and discussions related to the heritage, history, and commemoration of Confederate soldiers.

8. Athenaeum Rectory

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The Athenaeum Rectory, located in Columbia, Tennessee, is a historic building that holds significant cultural and educational value. It is part of the larger Athenaeum complex, which includes the Columbia Academy and the Columbia Arts District. The Athenaeum Rectory was constructed in 1837 as a residence for the president of the Columbia Athenaeum, a renowned educational institution. The Athenaeum was one of the first colleges for women in the United States and played a significant role in women’s education during the 19th century.

9. Saint Catherine Church

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Saint Catherine Church, also known as St. Catherine Catholic Church, is a religious institution located in Columbia, Tennessee. Saint Catherine Church has a rich history that dates back to the mid-19th century. The church was established in 1851 to serve the Catholic community in Columbia and the surrounding areas. Over the years, the church has played a significant role in the spiritual and social life of the Catholic faithful in the region.

Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or culinary delights, Columbia, Tennessee, has something to offer every visitor. Explore its rich heritage, immerse yourself in the local culture, and enjoy the warm hospitality of this charming Southern city.