15 Things to Do in Columbia Missouri Now

We were guests while visiting Columbia Missouri.

What is it about university towns like Columbia Missouri that makes them so vibrant and unique? Maybe it’s the youthful influx of students every year. Or perhaps it’s the energy and creativity. Have you ever noticed how university towns just seem connected and alive?

Columbia Missouri is just that kind of space. This Central Missouri city is fun, creative, and flavourful with many reasons to visit and explore this destination. The art alone is worth the trip, as is the food. Art, food, youthful culture, outdoor activity and wineries? Do you really need to hear more?

Things to Do In Columbia Missouri

Columbia Missouri was our first stop on a five-day trip through Central Missouri recently. We arrived via St. Louis and immediately drove to Columbia Missouri. My youngest daughter and I spent the first two days of our trip to central Missouri exploring Columbia.

Here’s what we loved and recommend.

What Did WE Do?

Stay at the Broadway Hotel in downtown Columbia –

This Doubletree by Hilton one of a kind location is great as a launching pad for exploring the rest of the city. A few other things I loved about it – the art in the lobby, the mural on the way in, and the Roof, of course. Also this is clearly labelled an Autism Friendly hotel. I inquired about that because accessibility and accessible travel, as well as special needs health issues are all topics that matter to me and my readers. The Broadway is an autism friendly employer. That matters. I’d like to see that designated sign on other hotels and hospitality businesses.

Bird Scooters –

This is an idea whose time has come. Download the app, add your credit card to it. Pick up a Bird scooter and make your way around the city. Then drop it off anywhere else throughout Columbia. Oh listen, I know they are in many US cities now, but for us from Canada where we have yet to get these, they were brilliant and fun too.


The university campus at University of Missouri is a gorgeous destination with several historical and memorable structures and statues. University of Missouri’s Quad is lovely and a great spot for pictures if you are travelling as we were throughout the region. The entire campus is a designated botanic garden. There is a mix of architectural styles here. We took some time to poke around and take photos.

Rocheport –

Visit Rocheport for the trails, food and cycling too. This tiny space consists of about 240 people and is picturesque, while also being the trailhead for the Katy Trail. Historical area that dates to 1839. When we were there it was wrestling with flooding and sandbags were still in place. FYI fun fact they also have a donut festival yearly. Check it out if the timing is right.

The Katy Trail –

The Katy Trail runs 240 miles along the banks of the Missouri River. While a section of it was flooded this season and couldn’t be ridden, it’s worth checking the conditions when you visit and then making a plan to explore and ride the trail if conditions are good. In fact, the Katy Trail is the country’s longest rails to trails project.


Rent a bike –

from the nearby Meriwether Cafe and cycle shop. ALSO, try the fried green tomato sandwich. My first time sampling this treat and I really enjoyed it. Fresh tomatoes are always juicy and hold flavour well, but there was an additional level of tastiness here.

Les Bourgeois Winery –

Pop in for a tour and while there sample the wines of course in the tasting room. Manager Grace is exceptionally informed about Missouri wines.

Ernie’s –

Get breakfast at Ernie’s, a quirky spot with a lot of history, this is walking distance from The Broadway. Voted best of Columbia for breakfast by readers of Inside Columbia magazine every year since 2008 when it began. Look for evidence of Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould who used to frequent Ernie’s in the 1940s when his daughter was a student at Stephens College.

Sparky’s Ice Cream Parlor –

Get a slushy boozy milkshake. SO good! You need to try this. I had Bailey’s in a milk shake and it was memorable, as is the eclectic, bizarre and perhaps also slightly terrifying art in the restaurant. The ice cream its homemade. They have a regular restaurant and a very small seating area out front on a patio. As we walked by and looked curiously inside the restaurant, a current customer eating their ice cream indicated we’d be nuts if we didn’t run right in and get some. Also notable – LGBTQ+1 friendly space.

Go hiking in the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park-

Gorgeous trails that are varying lengths for all hiking and cycling abilities.

Shop The District –

Here you can find miles of shops that you might not find anywhere else. Lots of Mizzou merchandise and also cute secondhand book stores and novel art and artisan goods.

Cafe Berlin –

Have breakfast here at least once when you visit Columbia Missouri. I recommend the breakfast burrito because it is hearty and a good price too. In fact, I ordered something different like eggs and sausage and I immediately wished I’d ordered the burrito when I saw it on my daughter’s plate. Luckily, she shared some.

The Katy Trail Missouri

Shakespeare’s Pizza –

We had the meatlover’s pizza and it was loaded with pepperoni and all kinds of spectacular sausage. My favourite meat lover’s pizza anywhere.

The Food –

So many amazing foodie destinations here too. Great section of fine dining restaurants (Sycamore, The Wine Cellar and Bistro, The Barred Owl Butcher & Table)

Art Walk –

Take a stroll through the downtown area and spot the gorgeous murals. This actually surprised me. I would never have guessed Columbia Missouri was an artistic space but the public art will impress you from the beautiful mural inside the foyer of The Broadway to the murals throughout the core. That

Columbia Missouri is Worth a Look

Columbia Missouri is a vibrant city to visit, if ever in Central Missouri. Take a day to explore Rocheport, then jump right into the foodie scene. Memories are made over food often and Columbia Missouri has plenty of that waiting.

Our Five Day Itinerary

We arrived via St Louis Airport and headed straight to Columbia. After two days there we were off to Lake of the Ozarks for some outdoor activity, like fishing, helicopter rides and a golf lesson too. Then our final stop was in Fulton Missouri.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


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