40 Things to Do in Columbia, MO

“Missouri, it’s not that bad.”  I’ve heard this catchphrase and seen this laptop sticker oh-so many times.  This Midwestern state doesn’t get the best rap, but I’ve grown more fond of it over the years.  From hiking trails to antique shops, Missouri has more to offer than first meets the eye.

40 Things to do in Columbia MO by Round Trip Travel.png

Columbia sits smack dab in the middle of Kansas City and St. Louis and is known for its student population at Mizzou.  You may just be bopping through CoMo or in town for some good ole SEC football and in need of some ideas to see the sights of Mid-Missouri.  Here’s 40 of ’em for you:

Hiking & Nature:

  1. Devil’s Icebox – This shaded hike leads to a cave you can explore.  Bring a flashlight and shoes that can get wet.
    Rock Bridge State Park Missouri
  2. Grindstone Nature Area Loop – Another good spot to hike with great cliff views.
  3. Eagle Bluffs Overlook Trail – This hike is further out and is in the middle of nowhere, but I’ll cherish that hike for one of the most beautiful Columbia sunsets I’ve seen.
  4. Capen Park – This spot is ideal for its close proximity to Mizzou.
  5. Pinnacles – A Columbia classic, the Pinnacles feature huge rocks you can climb with a creek below.
    The Pinnacles Columbia MO Hiking.jpg
  6. Peace Park-This small park is right on the edge of campus and a great spot to sip some iced coffee on a warm day.
  7. Finger Lakes – Although not in Columbia, it’s only a short drive to this serene spot to take a swim.
  8. Rocheport – Also not in Columbia, this quaint town sits right along the Katy Trail.  We rented bikes from Meriwether Cafe and Bike Shop and rode along the river.
    Meriweather Cafe and Bike Bakery Rocheport Missouri Columbia Katy Trail
    Processed with VSCO with f2 preset


  1. Fretboard – Connected to an art gallery, this coffeehouse has a cute back patio and hosts live music regularly.  Don’t forget to ask for the coffee ice cubes!
  2. Lakota – This spot is reminiscent of a ski lodge and sits on the main stretch of downtown Columbia via 9th Street.
  3. Shortwave – Tucked away in Alley A, this cozy spot is an ideal spot to study and discuss life.
    Version 4
  4. Kaldi’s – Easily my favorite coffeeshop in CoMo, this local spot oozes the word “granola” and is a popular spot for both business meetings and study dates.
  5. The Grind – If you’re looking to get away from downtown and want to find parking without meters, this place gives you space to spread out and sip some java.


  1. Andy’s – I think it’s impossible for me to say no to Andy’s custard.  Some of my favorites: the Ooey Gooey (crushed almonds, Heath bar, caramel creme) and peanut butter ice cream with a hot fudge “jackhammer” drilled down the middle.
  2. Sparky’s – There’s no better word than unique to describe this local ice cream shop.  Its quirky artwork and out-of-the-ordinary flavors make this place one to remember.
  3. A Little More – This Asian-inspired eatery serves rolled ice cream – yum!


  1. Flat Branch – Another local favorite with great outdoor seating.
  2. Cafe Berlin – I’m never not in the mood for Cafe B gluten-free French toast.  Full of character and high-quality food.
    Cafe Berlin Columbia MO
  3. Nourish – If you have dietary restrictions or like eating clean, this place is for you with its whole menu being free of gluten, soy, corn and refined sugar.
  4. Bangkok Gardens – Because we all need a bowl of quality pad thai.
  5. Broadway Brewery – Perfect spot for a date night with ambience.
  6. Uprise – By day, this dive functions as a bakery with a full menu of coffee drinks, sandwiches and salads; by night, it transforms into a bar.  (Oh, and it’s connected to a record store!)
  7. Shakespeare’s – Another Columbia classic, this pizza place can’t be skipped for its iconic local status.
  8. Broadway Diner – This joint might be cramped and not terribly fancy, but Broadway Diner has a full breakfast menu that’ll make your mouth water.
    Broadway Diner Columbia MO
  9. Las Margaritas – Mexican food in more variations than you thought existed, and all with a pretty lake view.
  10. 44 Canteen – American-style tacos with a lively atmosphere.
  11. Addison’s – The go-to for a night of apps and drinks.

Things to Do

  1. Rag Tag – A cozy movie theater experience with couches for seats and both big-name and indie films.
  2. The Roof – For the best view of Columbia, head here for a swanky menu and rooftop experience of the town.
    The Roof Broadway Hotel
  3. Helmi’s – The sweetest greenhouse you ever did see with cats, chickens, birds and other animals scampering about.  
    Helmi's Greenhouse Columbia MO
  4. Vintage stores on Broadway – Take a blast to the past with a smattering of vintage and consignment shops along Broadway.
  5. Yellow Dog Bookshop – A dusty little shop on 9th Street full of – you guessed it – books.
  6. Skylark Bookshop – Another bookstore to peruse on 9th Street.
  7. Papa’s Cat Cafe – Because coffee and cats should always go together.
  8. Breakout CoMo – Choose from several escape room experiences to make your stay in CoMo a bit more suspenseful.
  9. Iron Tiger – Because we all could use another piercing or tat.  (Mom or Dad, I’m sorry if you’re reading this…)
  10. Eastside Tavern Karaoke – Nothing says Friday night like belting out Shania Twain with all your best gal pals at this karaoke night.
  11. Veranda Antique Mall – I can and already have spent hours in this store perusing old magazines, typewriters and knickknacks.
  12. First Fridays – Head over to the North Village Arts District on the first Friday of every month for open art galleries, live music and food.

Columbia isn’t a crusty, old Midwestern town with nothing to do.  Whether it’s thumbing through a bookstore or sipping a mocha mint latte at Uprise, there’s no shortage of things to do in Mid-Missouri.

For more ways to maximize your travel experience (and learn from my embarrassing mistakes.

{What did I miss?  Share your favorite CoMo spots in the comments?}

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