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27 Fun Things to Do in Columbia, MO for Adults

27 Fun Things to Do in Columbia, MO for Adults

Columbia, Missouri, is a great destination for adults looking to explore the vibrant Midwest. Whether you’re already in the area or taking a road trip through town, there’s plenty to do here that will make your stay enjoyable and memorable. From attending the True/False Film Fest to exploring Stephens Lake Park, here are 27 fun things to do in Columbia, MO for adults to get into.  


1. University of Missouri Campus

Founded in 1839, University of Missouri (Mizzou) has been around for over 180 years! With its beautiful buildings, grand fountains, and sprawling 1262-acre campus grounds, it’s no wonder why this school was named one of America’s most beautiful campuses by The Princeton Review. 


Don’t miss the statue of Thomas Jefferson and his original tombstone (an obelisk that he designed) in front of the Chancellor’s Residence.

You don’t have to be a student or alumni to appreciate what this institution has to offer—take a few hours out of your day to walk around and enjoy the sights. Best of all, it’s free!  


2. True/False Festival

Since 2003, independent filmmakers from all over come together for an amazing four-day event called theTrue/False Film Fest. This annual festival, which sells around 60-70K tickets, hosts screenings and panels dedicated to documentary filmmaking from all over the world with special awards handed out at the end. 


During the event, there are also art installments and special touches, like a city-wide parade and massive food truck frenzy.

If you’re into film or even just looking for something unique to experience during your time in Columbia, this is definitely worth checking out! 

3. Eat at Harpo’s Restaurant

If you’re looking for great food near the University of Missouri campus, then look no further than Harpo’s Restaurant—a family-friendly spot serving up delicious burgers, sandwiches, & salads that will satisfy any craving! A specialty of the house is the smoked Mac & cheese, which I agree is darned tasty. The white cheddar cheese curds are popular, too. Plus, Harpo’s has weekly specials, too. 

Harpo’s outdoor patio is perfect for those sunny days where you just want nothing more than good food and good company. 

Fun Fact: Since 1971, this family-friendly eatery has been Mizzou’s #1 bar & grill for 50 years.


4. Ragtag Cinema

Located in downtown Columbia and affiliated with True/False Film Fest, Ragtag Cinema offers daily screenings of independent films from all over the world as well as classic favorites. 

Whether you want an afternoon escape from reality or an evening filled with art house cinema and craft beer (yes, please!), Ragtag Cinema is sure to provide you with a great experience. Plus they offer discounts on Wednesdays so everyone can join in on the fun!  


5. Dinner at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing

Columbia is known for its vibrant food scene – so why not take advantage? Flat Branch Pub & Brewing is located near Memorial Park in downtown Columbia and offers delicious pub fare with award-winning craft beer brewed on-site.

There are draft root beer, ginger ale, and fantastic cream soda, for non-drinkers and kids.

Flat Branch Pub’s menu features classic favorites like burgers and sandwiches alongside daily specials crafted from fresh ingredients sourced locally whenever possible – making it an ideal spot for dinner with friends or date night with someone special!

The toasted raviolis caught my attention, a food Missouri is known for. Boy, did they deliver! My order came with spinach con queso, pico, sour cream, and guacamole. Yum!


6. Stephens Lake Park

No trip to Columbia would be complete without checking out Stephens Lake Park—the largest park in town offering a variety of activities like paddle boating on their lake or walking along trails lined with trees.

There are also plenty of grills and picnic shelters if you’d like to cook up something delicious while enjoying nature at its finest.

7. Shelter Gardens

The Shelter Gardens are located in central Columbia and feature over 250 varieties of plants and flowers on a sprawling 10-acre landscape. The gardens were established in 1935 by local businessman William Henry Branson and his wife Mary Jobe Branson as part of their philanthropic efforts. 

Today, the gardens are open daily from sunrise to sunset and offer visitors a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Visitors can take advantage of free guided tours, which run every Wednesday morning from April through October.

The one-room schoolhouse at Shelter Gardens is so darling! There is also a remarkable memorial tribute to the Vietnam Veterans, a waterfall, giant sundial, and stream, plus a well-labeled rose garden. 


Fun Fact: Mizzou is also a designated botanic garden with themed gardens dotted around campus.

8. Art & Archaeology Museum

The Art & Archaeology Museum boasts over 2000 artifacts from around the world and features both permanent collections and rotating exhibitions highlighting various cultures throughout history.


Founded in 1941 by professor John A. Larson with support from local organizations such as Lions Clubs International, the museum has been providing educational experiences for generations of visitors.

Admission is free to all guests, so if you’re looking for something unique to do during your visit, be sure to check out this incredible destination with artifacts from six continents!  Don’t miss the Eichenberger Cast Collection, housing some of the world’s most famous pieces. 


9. Museum of Anthropology

The Museum of Anthropology is part of the University of Missouri’s campus in downtown Columbia. Featuring hundreds of archaeological artifacts from ancient cultures around the world, this museum provides visitors with an immersive experience into human history through its interactive exhibits and educational programs geared towards adults.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about ancient civilizations or take a journey through time without leaving town, then this is definitely worth checking out on your next visit!  

FYI: Both museums are housed in a Mizzou North building. Admission is free. 


10. Drinks at The Roof at The Broadway

If you’re looking for an upscale bar experience during your visit to Columbia then look no further than The Roof at The Broadway – located atop one of downtown’s most popular venues (Doubletree by Hilton)!

This rooftop lounge serves up craft cocktails along with small plates meant to share while boasting breathtaking views across town – making it perfect for happy hour drinks or late night conversations under the stars!  


11. Nearby Auto World Museum

If you’re looking to get away from it all while still staying close enough to explore downtown Columbia then consider visiting Auto World Museum – located just outside town in Fulton, but still within driving distance!

This unique museum showcases vintage cars from the 1800s to the 1980s, as well as rotating exhibitions that highlight different makes and models – making it great spot if you’re looking go back in time or just appreciate some classic rides!

Expect to find a 1982 DeLorean Coupe, 1907 REO Touring, 1915 Studebaker Touring, 1931 Rolls Royce Phantom II, and many more. 


12. Visit The Columns (Francis Quadrangle)

The Columns is a historical site located on the University of Missouri campus. This stunning quad is made up of four limestone buildings surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful archways.

Each building was constructed in the 1800s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a stroll around the grounds for an afternoon of peaceful reflection or explore one of the many buildings that make up this architectural marvel. 


13. Attend the Treeline Music Fest

Roots N Blues is now the Treeline Music Fest, an annual event held in late September or early October that features some of the best musical talent from around the country. Attendees can find a variety of musical genres (around 30 artists) at this festival including blues, rock, jazz, folk and more.

Aside from music, visitors can also browse through vendors selling handcrafted goods or grab some grub at one of many food trucks parked nearby. The 2022 line-up included Chaka Khan, Jon Batiste, Tanya Tucker, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Larkin Poe to name a few.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or just want to experience some great music, Treeline Music Fest has something for everyone! 

Photo from Treeline Music Fest IG page.

14. Enjoy a Mexican Meal at Las Margaritas

Las Margaritas is a local favorite for Mexican cuisine. They offer delicious authentic dishes such as tacos, burritos and quesadillas as well as classic Tex-Mex favorites like fajitas and enchiladas. The restaurant also has a full bar with an extensive selection of tequilas so you can complete your meal with your favorite margarita! 


15. Eat Dessert at Hot Box Cookies

Hot Box Cookies is a bakery located downtown that specializes in freshly-baked cookies delivered right to your door! Choose from their wide selection of flavors including classic chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, M&M and more.

You can even order “cookie cakes” which are decorated with colorful frosting and sprinkles – perfect for birthdays or any special occasion!  

Photo from Hot Box Cookies IG page.

16. Have Breakfast at Ernie’s Cafe

if you’re looking for breakfast spot in Columbia then look no further than Ernie’s Cafe! This cozy art-deco diner, Columbia’s oldest full-service restaurant, serves up traditional American breakfast classics such as pancakes and eggs, as well as delicious omelets made with fresh ingredients. The omelets and biscuits & gravy are both off-the-hook! 

They also have an extensive lunch menu featuring soups, sandwiches and salads – all made from scratch using local ingredients whenever possible! 


17. Wander The District

For those who love to shop local then The District should be at the top of your list when visiting Columbia MO! This vibrant shopping district includes over 100 small businesses over a 50-square-block area offering unique items such as clothing boutiques, jewelry stores and art galleries – all within walking distance from each other.

It’s also home to several popular restaurants so you can easily turn your day into night without ever having to leave this trendy part of town!  


18. Columbia’s Public Art Trail

Downtown Columbia’s Public Art Trail is a great way for adults to explore the city and enjoy its impressive public art installations. The trail has 30 accessible pieces of artwork that span from historic views of downtown Columbia to interactive pieces like “Lightning in a Bottle” and “Keys to the City.”

It’s free and open year-round and provides visitors with an opportunity to get closer with the city’s culture through visual storytelling. 


19. UTV Ride at Finger Lakes State Park

Hitting up Finger Lakes State Park on your visit is an absolute must if you’re looking for outdoor adventure! Not only can you enjoy hiking trails and biking paths, but you can also rent UTVs (utility terrain vehicles) from the park!

There is also a playground, pump track, motocross track, and fishing holes. This is great fun for adults who want an adrenaline rush while exploring the park’s rugged landscape in style. Perfect for groups or couples looking for an off-road adventure on the 71 miles of trails!  

Admission to the state park is free, but an off-road vehicle permit will cost you $5 for the day. Riders must have age-appropriate vehicles with them. Campsites (tent and RV camping, with a shower house) are also available for a minimal fee. Kayak and canoe rentals are also available from mid-March to mid-November.


20. Peruse Crane’s County Store

Located on Old U.S. Highway 40 in Williamsburg since 1889, Crane’s Country Store offers everything from “boots, bullets, britches and bologna.” Missouri’s biggest outfitter has a hodgepodge of treasures inside, such as name brand clothing, high-end toiletries, gourmet foods, gun accessories, and camping gear.

A small deli also serves $1 bologna sandwiches and other tasty offerings. 


21. Lunch at Marlene’s

This popular restaurant (beside Crane’s County Store) serves up classic American fare like burgers and fries plus some Mexican-style dishes too—all made fresh with quality ingredients daily!

The fruit cobblers at Marlene’s are insanely good, while the cheeseburger was perfect in every way.


22. Skylark Bookshop

For over 45 years, Skylark Bookshop has been a beloved part of downtown Columbia culture. This independent bookstore offers an impressive selection of new books, used books, vintage books, rare books, and other unique finds.

You can also find magazines, newspapers, cards, stationary products, bookmarks, and more! Take some time out of your day and browse their shelves for something special or pick up a book as a souvenir from your trip to Columbia! 

23. Visit The National Churchill Museum

The jaw-dropping National Churchill Museum is one of the areas most popular attractions. This museum honors Sir Winston Churchill—the iconic British Prime Minister—and celebrates his legacy with interactive exhibits about his life, leadership, and legacy. It offers the most extensive Churchill collection in the country.

You can also explore artifacts related to Churchill’s time in office, including original artwork and documents from his famous speeches. 


There is also St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury; an 18th-century redesigned Christopher Wren Church relocated from London and restored, piece by piece, in Fulton. As I drove into town, I immediately thought of Harry Potter from the glow of the chandeliers in the hand-cut glass windows.

Before you leave, don’t miss the eight segments of the Berlin Wall arranged for a beautiful photo opportunity. 

Fun Fact: Fulton was voted one of America’s Coolest Small Towns by Budget Travel. Both Presidents and Prime Ministers have visited there. 


24. Eat and Rent Bikes at Meriwether Cafe & Bike Shop

Meriwether Cafe & Bike Shop is a great spot for lunch if you’re looking for something casual yet delicious. This cafe offers fresh salads, sandwiches, burgers and more made with locally sourced ingredients, whenever possible.


I loved the Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese and Tomato Bisque combo. I cannot imagine anything coming out of this kitchen would be less than exceptional. If you’re feeling adventurous after lunch, rent one of Meriwether’s bikes and explore downtown Columbia by bike!


25. Ride The Katy Trail

One of the most popular activities for adults visiting Columbia is riding along the Katy Trail in Rocheport—a scenic stretch along the Missouri River between St Charles and Clinton offering stunning views along its 95-mile route.

biking -on-the-katy-trail-with-a-cave

You can rent bikes from Meriwether Café & Bike Shop (listed above) or bring your own wheels – either way there’s plenty of options available no matter what kind of bike ride you prefer! Be sure not miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience when visiting beautiful Rocheport.  


26. See Downtown Murals

When it comes time for some downtime after all that riding along The Katy Trail , be sure not miss out on seeing some gorgeous murals throughout downtown Columbia! These colorful pieces are scattered throughout different parts of downtown making them easy to find – just look up as you walk around town!

From abstract designs featuring bright colors & shapes – they’re definitely worth checking out if art appreciation is your thing!  


27. Stay at the Drury Plaza Hotel

If you’re looking for a place to stay during your trip, consider booking a room at the Drury Plaza Hotel Columbia East. This hotel offers guests an array of amenities that make it easy to relax after a day spent exploring all that Columbia has to offer.


Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast each morning or kick back with free popcorn and soda in the evening hours. Plus, each room comes equipped with free Wi-Fi so you can easily stay connected during your visit. 



Exploring Columbia is always an adventure – whether it’s riding along the Katy Trail or seeing local murals , there’s tons to do & see here no matter what kind activity interests you have in mind! So go ahead & start planning now – it will not disappoint!


Thanks to the Columbia CVB and Fulton/Callaway County Tourism for hosting our trip. Accommodations, tickets, and some meals were provided. As always, reviews and opinions are 100% mine and unbiased.

For more information on the fun things to see and do in Columbia, head to

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