Guest Author - Amanda Masoner
From the start of the year to the finish there is always something going on in Columbia, Missouri! While it is well known for its impressive colleges, the town has so much more to offer to the public than many realize.
The True/False Film Festival in early spring (late February through early March) plays a myriad of documentaries for the serious film critic and those just wanting to support creativity. It began in 2004 and has been an annual event ever since. There are six locations downtown that show the films throughout the week.
In June the Art in the Park festival draws artists and spectators alike to gather in Stephens Lake Park and wander throughout the area to witness the work of skilled hands.
And for the music lovers out there Columbia has several events for you. There is the Summer Music Festival. There is also, the John William “Blind” Boone Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival which honors the city’s own “Blind” Boone who was a 19th century pianist and ragtime music composer.
But don’t feel like the only time to come around is during festival time! There is plenty to do. The 43-block District in downtown Columbia is home to funky shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. If a promenade is more your style the District is still the place to be with live music in the streets ranging from folk to classical!
And while you’re in the mood for walking you’ve got three campuses to choose from which are teeming with college students, history, and great architecture. There is the University of Missouri, Stephens College, and Columbia College. You shouldn’t feel too overwhelmed in this homey town of less than 100,000.
For those, like myself, who love to be outdoors hiking and exploring the non-man-made scenery, there are many parks and trails to choose from. The MKT Nature and Fitness Trail seems to be the most popular for everything from walking to biking. The trailhead is at 4th and Cherry streets and the trail takes you to Katy Trail State Park.
If you’re living/staying near the south end of town there’s also the trails at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. Capen Park offers rock climbing for the more adventurous types!
Food options vary, of course-it is a college town! Grand Cru (at 2600 S. Providence Rd.) invites you in with its indoor fireplace in the winter and invites you out in the summer with outdoor dining! And don’t forget the District for many more dining options. The pizza place to hit up is Shakespeare’s Pizza (if you feel like mingling with some college students).
There are many choices of places to rest your head as well. It all depends on the reason for your visit. Columbia offers hotels, bead and breakfasts, and several inns so don’t feel tied down to just one!
Whatever your style is-there is plenty to keep you busy and entertained in this young, little city near the Missouri River!