13 Best Places and Things To Do in Columbia, Missouri

Columbia, Missouri, often referred to as “CoMo,” is a vibrant city in the heart of the state. Home to the University of Missouri, Columbia offers a unique blend of college town energy, cultural diversity, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, there are plenty of exciting places to explore and things to do in Columbia. Here are some of the best attractions and activities to consider:

1. Rock Bridge Memorial State Park


Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Bridge_Memorial_State_Park

Located just south of Columbia, Rock Bridge State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. It features scenic hiking trails that wind through limestone gorges, caves, and natural rock formations. The highlight of the park is the Devil’s Icebox, a large cave system with a stream running through it.

2. Shelter Gardens

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For a peaceful escape, head to Shelter Gardens, a beautifully landscaped botanical garden in the heart of Columbia. The garden spans 5.5 acres and showcases a variety of plants, flowers, and water features. It’s an ideal place for a leisurely stroll, picnic, or simply enjoying the serene surroundings.

3. Stephens Lake Park

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Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephens_Lake_Park

Situated just minutes from downtown, Stephens Lake Park is a popular recreational area. The park offers a beautiful lake for fishing and boating, as well as walking trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas. During the summer, the park hosts live concerts and outdoor movie nights.

4. Francis Quadrangle

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Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Quadrangle

The Francis Quadrangle was established in the late 19th century and named after David R. Francis, a former Missouri governor and university benefactor. It has been a focal point of the University of Missouri campus since its creation. The quadrangle features a mix of architectural styles, including neoclassical and Gothic Revival. Many of the buildings surrounding the quadrangle were constructed with limestone, giving them a distinctive appearance. Notable buildings include Jesse Hall, the David R. Francis Quadrangle Fountain, Switzler Hall, and the columns of the original Academic Hall, which was tragically destroyed by fire in 1892.

5. Museum of Art and Archaeology

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The museum’s collection spans over 14,000 objects, representing a wide range of artistic styles and periods. It encompasses artworks from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as European paintings, Asian art, American art, and contemporary works. The collection also includes ceramics, sculptures, textiles, and decorative arts. The museum’s ancient art collection features artifacts from various civilizations, providing insights into their cultures and histories. Visitors can explore Egyptian sarcophagi, Greek and Roman sculptures, Etruscan pottery, and other archaeological finds. These exhibits showcase the artistic achievements and societal developments of ancient civilizations.

6. Finger Lakes State Park

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If you’re up for some outdoor adventure, Finger Lakes State Park is worth a visit. Located a short drive north of Columbia, this park features off-road vehicle trails, fishing lakes, picnic areas, and camping facilities. It’s an excellent spot for hiking, biking, or enjoying a day out in nature.

7. Columbia Art League

Image Source: https://columbiaartleague.org/

If you’re interested in art, be sure to visit the Columbia Art League. This non-profit organization hosts rotating exhibits featuring local and regional artists. The gallery is located in the vibrant North Village Arts District and also offers art classes and workshops.

8. Grindstone Nature Area


Image Source: https://www.como.gov/parks/grindstone-nature-area/

Grindstone Nature Area is situated on the southeast side of Columbia and covers approximately 200 acres of land. It is easily accessible and provides a tranquil retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. The nature area features several well-maintained trails that wind through diverse landscapes, including woodlands, prairies, and wetlands. These trails offer opportunities for hiking, walking, trail running, and birdwatching. The paths are clearly marked, making it easy to navigate and explore the area.

9. Cosmo Park


Image Source: https://www.como.gov/parks/columbia-cosmopolitan-recreation-area/

As the largest park in Columbia, Cosmo Park offers a range of recreational activities. It features sports fields, playgrounds, a sprayground for kids, a lake for fishing, and even a network of walking and biking trails. The park is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and families looking for a day of fun.

10. Lions-Stephens Park


Image Source: https://www.como.gov/parks/lions-stephens-park/

The park offers a range of features and amenities for visitors to enjoy. These may include picnic areas with tables and grills, playgrounds for children, open green spaces for recreational activities, walking paths for strolling or jogging, and benches for relaxation. Lions-Stephens Park may include sports facilities such as basketball courts, tennis courts, or soccer fields. These provide opportunities for sports enthusiasts to engage in friendly games or organized activities.

11. Museum of Anthropology

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The Museum of Anthropology houses a diverse collection of artifacts and cultural materials from around the world. It encompasses objects and exhibits related to archaeology, ethnography, and physical anthropology. The collection includes items such as ancient pottery, tools, textiles, masks, sculptures, and other cultural artifacts. The museum offers both permanent and temporary exhibits that showcase different aspects of human culture and history. Permanent exhibits often focus on specific regions, civilizations, or cultural themes, allowing visitors to gain insights into the diversity of human experiences. Temporary exhibits may cover contemporary topics or feature loaned artifacts from other institutions or private collections.

12. Indian Hills Park


Image Source: https://www.como.gov/parks/indian-hills-park/

Indian Hills Park is situated in southwest Columbia, Missouri. The park covers a substantial area and provides ample space for outdoor activities and relaxation. The park features a playground area with various equipment for children to enjoy. It offers swings, slides, climbing structures, and other play structures. Additionally, Indian Hills Park provides picnic areas equipped with tables and grills, making it a great spot for family gatherings, picnics, and outdoor meals.

13. Missouri United Methodist Church

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Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_United_Methodist_Church

The United Methodist Church follows a Wesleyan theological tradition and emphasizes the importance of personal faith, social justice, and outreach to the community. Each local United Methodist church within the Missouri Annual Conference operates independently while adhering to the broader teachings and governance structure of the UMC.

These are just a few of the many attractions and activities that make Columbia, Missouri a fantastic place to visit or call home. With its blend of cultural offerings, natural beauty, and lively atmosphere, CoMo has something to offer