Columbia, Missouri: A College Town of Hidden Gems

In World

I am from Missouri. Or, as many foreigners I have met pronounce it, “Misery”. Yes, thank you for your apologies. But, in all honesty, although this Midwest state is not known for its thriving metropolises or magnificent landscapes, I have learned that there is beauty in this state that will always hold a special place in my heart. In regards to Columbia, Missouri, or as residents call it “Como”, I spent four spectacular years in this city experiencing so many firsts. I rented my first home here, lived with my first roommates, and it was my first real exploration alone in a new city just out of high school. This city taught me so much about myself and what I like. So without further ado, here is the ultimate guide to making Columbia, Missouri everything it can be for you.

To-Do’s Signature to Columbia:

  • The Seven (Unofficial) Traditions of Mizzou: Columbia is home to the University of Missouri, which brings a large variety of fun, young events to the city. But, and of course I am not recommending all of these due to their illegal behavior at points, if you’re looking for a little adventure and want a good tour of the campus along the way, the seven traditions at Mizzou would be a good start!

    Mizzou Homecoming Game 2015

  • Check out upcoming events and concerts at The Blue NoteThere is almost always something going on at The Blue Note and what is better is you will often be surprised by the famous bands for as cheap as $20
  • Get the college experience with a pregame and Mizzou football game: Ask any student in Columbia, they will tell you Mizzou football is a must-see if you are visiting during the season. Don’t feel like spending the money? Luckily, many broke college students have the same idea so the bars are swarming with fans during games and give a truly exciting atmosphere.

    The Pinnacles

  • Watch an Indie film at RagTag CinemaSip on some wine on a comfy couch while checking out the newest independent films.
  • Hit the Trails: The surround area of Columbia is swarming with trails for the fellow outdoorsman! In fact, Missouri was names “Best Trails State” in the United States by American Trails.
    • Devils Ice Box: A 2.4 mile loop trail located in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Devils Ice Box is great for any level hiker. Explore the double sinkhole entrance to Devils Icebox and Conners Cave for a special treat!
      The Big Tree at Sunset

      The Big Tree at Sunset

    • Pinnacles Youth Park: My personal favorite, The Pinnacles is a breathtaking hike if you are not afraid of a little bit of heights. Climb this geographical wonders to take in a wonderful view of the Silver Fork Creek Valley.
    • Finger Lakes State Park: A 2.3 mile loop trail (rated difficult) as well as a variety of outdoors activities available such as off-roading, fishing, and swimming. I highly recommend renting a canoe for a day on the Lake!
    • The Creeks Trail: A beautiful 6.8 mile, moderate trail accessible year round
  • Visit the “Big Tree”: Although a little farther out in McBaine, Missouri you will find the largest Bur Oak tree in the nation as well as the largest tree in Missouri. Estimated to be over 350 years old, under this shady old man is a great place to spend your afternoon.
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Restaurant Favorites 

Columbia is full of unique and authentic restaurants awaiting your tastebuds! Here is a list of some of the most infamous as well as personal favorites of mine.

  • Cafe Poland: This cozy little treasure is a great place for truly authentic Polish food. Every time I have stopped in, the elderly owner takes your order and then made my homemade signature dish right then and there. Great place to come and relax as well!
  • Chim Thai’s: If you’re looking for Thai food, it is a Columbia secret that this is the place to go. Although not the most fancy or elegant restaurant, it’s another family owned, quality restaurant.
  • India’s House: I could truly never get tired of going to India’s House. The food is amazing and I highly recommend the lunch buffet! Don’t forget your 15% discount with a student card!
  • Cafe Polland

    Cafe Polland

    Shakespeare’s Pizza: Shakespeare’s is  Columbia, Missouri landmark known for its popular pizza and unconventional decor. Not a personal favorite of mine but ask almost anyone else and they’ll tell you Shakespeare’s is a must!

  • Booches: Founded in 1884, Booches is known for their signature burgers served on simple wax paper. These burgers were rated top 10 best burgers in America by USA Today in 2000, but make sure you get more than just one of these delicious specimens for dinner, you’ll need it!
  • Cafe Berlin: This eclectic joint is perfect if you’re looking for a weekend brunch. With games, a wide menu variety, and often a folk band jamming out in the background, I’d recommend this place for any and all curious Como visitors. But remember to call in first, this place is in high demand!

How to Go Out the Entire Weekend on Almost Nothing 

Columbia, Missouri knows it’s demographic: broke college student. Here is a cumulative schedule of a perfect boozed-week for shocking prices! Just remember not to kill your liver just because your wallet is happy!

  • Monday: McNally’s Irish Pub- $1 pints of Coors Light or Killian’s Irish Red. No Cover.
  • Tuesday: 1839 TapHouse- Flip Night! Every time you order another round, your server flips a coin and you chose Heads or Tails. Landed on your choice? Drinks are free! No Cover.
  • Wednesday: The Fieldhouse- Pay $5 for your first pitcher of Coors or Long Islands and every one after is a penny! $5 Cover. Get there early, the line can get crazy!
  • Thursday: Roxy’s- Pay your $5 cover and the rest of the night you’ll have bottomless well drinks and PBR
  • Friday: Shiloh Bar and Grill: Domestic bottles for $2, Long Island Ice Tea for $4, and select shots for $2. $5 Cover
  • Saturdays: Tonic- $1 Domestic bottles and $1 shots! $5 cover.
  • Sunday: Campus Bar and Grill- known for it’s previous name by the locals, “Big 12” is known for they $1 ¼ lb Burgers, $1 fries and $5 pitchers. It’s the perfect place to watch the game.


Inquire about volunteer opportunities with these events as well to get in for free!

  • Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival: September 30th- October 2nd

    • Enjoy an array of life music including roots, blues, gospel, country, folk, bluegrass, rock, and soul while chowing down on local and regional BBQ. This festival is a great mix of culture, music, and food and has had some famous musical appearance included The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Punch Brothers, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and so many fantastic others.
  • Citizen Jane Film FestivalNovember
    • “The Citizen Jane Film Festival, an intimate, four-day film festival celebrating and showcasing the work of female filmmakers from around the world”. This is a wonderful opportunity to check out some amazing international films and even meeting some of the influential filmmakers!
  • True/False Film Fest: February 
    • Another wonderful film festival to explore some famous, upcoming documentaries with a follow up after the film with the stars!
  • Peddler’s Jamboree: May 28th and 29th
    Spend the weekend biking and stop along the way to enjoy some great music, drinks, and food along the trail!


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