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Parks

We checked out the photos posted around Columbia to find out what people are Instagramming the most, and there are definitely some favorite spots! Take a look at our list of ‘must-Instagram’ places in CoMo:

The Columns

Duh, right? Mizzou’s opens in a new windowiconic Columns are the 2nd most photographed spot in Missouri – so obviously it’s a can’t-miss for any Instagrammer visiting CoMo.

City Hall

City Hall is a beautiful building but to make it even more Insta-worthy, there’s this unique  opens in a new windowKeys to the City sculpture in front commemorating Columbia’s history.

CoMo trails

We have 60+ miles of trails, and the MKT has even been voted the 2nd opens in a new windowbest urban trail in the nation. Lucky for us we also have a great Parks and Recreation department to keep the trails in good shape and looking beautiful.

Festivals

While not exactly a ‘place,’ Columbia is home to so many awesome  opens in a new windowfestivals like Roots N Blues N BBQ, opens in a new windowTrue/False Film Fest, Art in the Park, Citizen Jane Film Fest, the Heritage Festival, Unbound Book Festival, and more.

Capen Park

opens in a new windowCapen Park provides picture-perfect views from the bluffs, and who doesn’t want to Instagram fall colors, a bluff-top sunrise, or cute pups on a hike? (We know there are daredevils out there but we do not recommend getting close to the edge.)

Memorial Union

The tower of Memorial Union was completed in 1926 as a tribute to students who lost their lives in World War I. One of opens in a new windowMizzou’s many traditions involves always tipping your hat and whispering when walking underneath the tower to honor the fallen soldiers. The tower is popular on Instagram because of the gorgeous architecture (and it reminds Harry Potter fans of Hogwarts, so there’s that, too).

Columbia’s Skyline

From parking garages, The Roof, hot air balloons… you name it, photos of Columbia from above are another ‘must-have’ for Instagram.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

opens in a new windowRock Bridge is kind of like our hidden secret: not many visitors know about the caves, natural rock bridge, sinkholes, and everything else that can be found in the park. There are eight major trails for you to explore – but definitely check out the plank trail that takes you to Connor’s Cave (Devil’s Ice Box is currently closed to protect the bats) and by the rock bridge for great photo opportunities.

Food from Local Restaurants

Nachos from opens in a new windowAddison’s, ice cream from opens in a new windowSparky’s, opens in a new windowHarold’s Doughnuts, Shakespeare’s Pizza, etc. We have so many opens in a new windowdelicious restaurants – foodies (and Instagrammers) rejoice!

Public art

Columbia is full of random art – opens in a new windowtraffic box art, wall murals, opens in a new windowstorm drain paintings, sculptures, and more. Learn more about our public art and how to take a self-guided public art tour from the opens in a new windowOffice of Cultural Affairs.

Honorable mention: The Big Tree

opens in a new windowThe Big Tree is just south of Columbia off of Route K, and is worth the short drive or bike ride. If you have never seen it, you’re probably thinking, “what’s the big deal about a tree?” We think the photos speak for themselves, but if you want stats: this tree is the largest bur oak tree in Missouri, and is around 350 years old, 90 feet tall, and has a circumference of 287 inches. It has survived floods, lightning strikes, and the occasional vandalism, and locals and visitors love stopping by The Big Tree for picnics and photos. Just trust us on this one.


What do you think? Did we include everything or did we miss something? Tag us on opens in a new windowInstagram and use #ShowMeCoMo!

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Parks are probably best known for playgrounds, walking trails, and ball fields and courts. Next time you’re in Columbia, be sure to check out some of the more unexpected activities you can enjoy in one of the opens in a new windowcity’s beautiful parks.

TOSS A DISC

albert oakland disc golf course

Looking for an alternative to just throwing a disc back and forth? Check out opens in a new windowAlbert-Oakland Park and try your hand at one of two disc golf courses. Set among beautiful ponds, trees and creek beds, these challenging courses are not your average walk in the park.

GO FOR A SWIM

stephens lake park swimming beach

Columbia may not be anywhere near an ocean but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a great swimming beach. Head to opens in a new windowStephens Lake Park to cool off with your family – the beach has no lifeguard so stick to the Spraygrounds if you’re worried about the little ones.

CATCH A FISH

stephens lake park fishing columbia mo

Nine spots in Columbia are perfect for taking your fishing pole and spending a quiet afternoon trying to reel in a big one. Check out the full list of opens in a new windowpark fishing lakes and pick your perfect spot. Many lakes are stocked by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

GET ON A ROLL

Cosmo Skate Park - P and R FB

Have a daredevil or two in your family? Check out the opens in a new windowColumbia Skate Park in Cosmo Park. Completed in 1999, the park has an elaborate street course designed to entertain and challenge skaters, whether they are beginners or experienced. The Skate Park is free to use and is open 6:00 a.m. until dusk each day, attracting skaters from across the country, even hosting a demonstration from world famous Tony Hawk.

CHECK OUT THE VIEW

capen park, columbia mo

You might be surprised to find the bluffs and scenic overlooks of opens in a new windowCapen Park hidden right in the middle of town. Rock climbers and hikers will appreciate the rewarding views.

BOND WITH YOUR PUP

twin lakes recreation area dog park

Columbia has three fenced opens in a new windowdog parks and two leash-free areas – perfect for letting your fur-kids run free and make new friends. Check out  opens in a new windowTwin Lakes Recreation Area, which has three separate fenced-in dog parks – one for the winter (to keep dogs safe from falling through ice), one for small dogs only (no taller than 18 inches at the shoulder), and Lakeside Dog Park, which can be used by all dogs and has access to the lake.

If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, Columbia is exactly What You Unexpect. And if the beaten path is what you’re looking for, we have some of those, too. Find out more about CoMo’s trails.

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Spring is arriving, and that means more time in the great outdoors! Check out a few of our favorite parks and trails below, and find out what you shouldn’t miss out on.

MKT Trail

What to do: The MKT Trail is a CoMo favorite. Walk, run, bike – even work out at the fitness stations located at the Stadium and Forum trailheads. The trail stretches for 8.9 miles from Flat Branch Park in downtown Columbia until it reaches the Katy Trail near McBaine

Don’t miss the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at Battle Garden, located at the Stadium trailhead. The structure includes eight columns, each of which holds an excerpt from King’s writings.

Cosmo Park

What to do: Cosmo Park has something for everyone – trails, soccer and football fields, tennis and volleyball courts, a skate park, an off-leash area for dogs, playgrounds, a mountain bike trail, and more. Pack a lunch and take a break in one of the park’s nine shelters.

Don’t miss the newly-renovated Steinberg Playground, which includes an updated version of a beloved past favorite, the rocket ship, along with dinosaur features, a tire climbing area, slides, swings, and other play structures. The playground is the largest in Columbia’s park system and will keep the kids entertained for hours.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

What to do: You can hike, bike, and even horseback ride (Gans Creek Trail) through Rock Bridge Memorial State Park’s 20+ miles of trails. With so many trails, you’re certain to find one suited to your level of adventure.

Don’t miss the park’s natural karst features. While Devil’s Icebox cave is currently closed to protect the bats that inhabit it, you can explore Connor’s Cave from May through September. Be sure to check out the natural rock bridge that gave the park its name.

Twin Lakes Recreation Area

What to do: Twin Lakes Recreation Area can be used for non-motorized boating, fishing, and jogging, and includes a playground and shelter area. In the summer months, take the kiddos to Little Mates Cove swim area to cool off.

Don’t miss the off-leash dog parks – Lakeside Dog Park for dogs of all sizes and Paws Pond Dog Park for small dogs. Your pooch will love making new friends and swimming in the lake.

Finger Lakes State Park

What to do: Activities at Finger Lakes State Park include hiking, mountain biking, fishing, boating, and camping. Finger Lakes is one of only two ATV parks in the state park system – you can use the 5.25 mile trail or explore the 900 acres of open riding area designated for ATVs. The park offers both basic and electric campsites, and showers are available April-October. Also available to park users are a swimming beach and boat ramp.

Don’t miss the 4.5 mile water trail on Peabody Lake. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent from the park office March 15 – November 15.


Get out there and enjoy CoMo’s awesome opens in a new windowparks and trails.

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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Today we’re introducing a new weekly blog post called Friday Favorites, which will just be a collection of a local’s favorite places/things around town. Starting it off will be CVB marketing coordinator, Rachel (me!), so check out my favorites below:

Favorite Pizza: G&D Pizzaria

G&D

Not only is this my favorite pizza, it’s also my favorite restaurant. My mom has been going since she was in high school so I guess I was just born to love G&D. They offer DELICIOUS pizza, steaks, Greek specialties, and more. I’ve been told they even have a gluten-free pizza option! G&D is a local favorite, and I hope that you’ll stop by if you’ve never been! (Mizzou football head coach, Gary Pinkel, is constantly spotted there, too!)
2101 W. Broadway 
573-445-8336

Favorite Columbia trail: Forum Nature Area

Forum Nature Area

It’s not as popular as trails like the MKT or Hinkson Creek, and that’s partly why I love the trail at Forum Nature Area. And nature area it is – I constantly spot wildlife when I’m there. I’ve had turtles and rabbits cross my path, deer watch me as I struggle to run and then give up to walk, ducks and geese and even swans hang out on the lake… The MKT also has a trail head here so maybe that’s why it is overlooked. There are no bicycles allowed but I’ve seen many a dog on a leash, and it’s the perfect place for a long walk.
2701 Forum Blvd.
573-874-7460 

Favorite Columbia gift: Chocolates from The Candy Factory

Candy Factory

I received these truffles for Christmas, and they really must have known who they were dealing with because I LOVE chocolate. The Candy Factory always has the coolest gifts, including unique gift baskets, sugar free chocolate, and chocolate-covered potato chips.
701 Cherry St.
573-443-8222

Favorite place for family fun: Going Bonkers

Going Bonkers

My niece and nephew (and every other kid) love this place, and I love it because I get to climb around with them. Adults love giant play-places, too! There’s also arcade games, food, and a quiet room for the parents to watch their kids from. It’s the perfect place for a rainy day!
3812 Buttonwood Dr.
573-499-0366

Favorite local team: Mizzou Tigers football team

MU Football

I grew up tailgating and going to the Mizzou football games, and of COURSE I chose the University of Missouri after graduating from high school. There’s something about the sea of black and gold that just fills my heart with pride, and I always love the Tigers, win or lose! People from all over the country flock to Columbia for game days, especially after joining the SEC. I actually love talking to visitors who are here to cheer for the opposing team (and not just because it’s part of my job!). It’s great seeing how much people love Columbia whether their team wins or loses, and I hope that my fellow locals feel the same way!

Favorite diner: 63 Diner

63 Diner

Another favorite from my childhood, and sometimes (okay, most of the time) I even order my childhood meal: grilled cheese with fries and a chocolate milkshake. The whole diner is covered floor to ceiling with typical 50’s decor, including a statue of Elvis. Oldies play over the speakers and the servers wear poodle skirts. What’s better than that?
5801 Hwy 763 N
573-443-2331

Favorite park: Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Rock Bridge State Park

(Photo courtesy of Missouri Division of Tourism)
I’ve been making trips to Rock Bridge for years and never get sick of it, although I do miss not getting tired from all the steps on the Devil’s Icebox trail. I’m constantly taking pictures of wildlife or unique flowers, and I love exploring all the trails. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t think Connor’s Cave is awesome! If you would like to have a guided tour of Devil’s Icebox, just give them a call to set it up. Definitely a highly recommended place to see in Columbia.
5901 S. Hwy 163
573-449-7402

Favorite dessert in The District: yogoluv

Yogoluv

All I really have to say about yogoluv is that it never disappoints. Fill your cup with one of many flavors and cover it with your choice of toppings – fruit, syrups, candy and cookies, etc. I could lie and say I go for the healthy choice and get fruit but let’s be honest: I head straight to the cookie dough, Oreos, and Butterfingers. Prices depend on the weight of your masterpiece, so I sometimes I have force myself to go easy on the toppings.
201 S. 9th St.
573-777-9694

Favorite season in Columbia: Autumn/Fall

Fall in Columbia

(Photo of Flat Branch Park)
Some people may not realize it but Missouri has great scenery, and I’d have to say it’s best in the fall. Fall also means Mizzou football, beautiful weather (well, for the most part, it is Missouri after all), and great Columbia festivals. It’s the perfect time to check out some of our beautiful parks and trails or enjoy the patio of your favorite restaurant.

What do you think? Let us know if you check out any of my favorites, and keep your eye out for a new “Friday Favorites” next week!

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Parks are probably best known for playgrounds, walking trails and opportunities to frolic. Next time you’re in Columbia, be sure to check out some of the more unexpected activities you can enjoy in one of the city’s beautiful parks.

Toss a Disc

Beautiful Disc Golf course in Albert-Oakland Park

Looking for an alternative to just throwing a disc back and forth? Check out Albert-Oakland Park and try your hand at one of two disc golf courses! Set among beautiful ponds, trees and creek beds, these challenging courses are not your average walk in the park. Try your hand at this growing sport and you may leave Columbia with a new favorite hobby!

Catch a Fish

Fishing is one of the many activities for the whole family at Stephens Lake Park.

Nine spots in Columbia are perfect for taking your fishing pole and spending a quiet afternoon trying to reel in a big one. Check out the full list of opens in a new windowpark fishing lakes and pick your perfect spot. Many lakes are stocked to make your fishing time even more exciting! There’s nothing like a relaxing few hours enjoying your time in Columbia with family.

Get on a Roll

Catch some air at Cosmo.

Have a daredevil or two in your family? Check out the opens in a new windowColumbia Skate Park in Cosmo Park. Completed in 1999, the park has an elaborate street course designed to entertain and challenge skaters, whether they are beginners or experienced. The Skate Park is free to use and is open 6:00 a.m. until dusk each day, attracting skaters from across the country, even hosting a demonstration from world famous Tony Hawk.

If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, Columbia is exactly What You Unexpect. We’ll see you at the park!

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One of Missouri’s most popular features is the Katy Trail, a statewide trail that connects west to east, with a short spur called the MKT that lands you right in downtown Columbia. Once you’re here, there are so many other trails to explore it’s tough to know where to start! Here are a few options sure to be a hit.

opens in a new windowBear Creek Trail

BCTCollage

With multiple access points, Bear Creek Trail winds nearly five miles through northern Columbia and connects two of the city’s most popular parks, Cosmo and Albert-Oakland. The trail is crushed limestone and runs through wooded areas, wetlands, open spaces and residential neighborhoods. The trail also follows the general direction of its namesake water system, Bear Creek.

opens in a new windowRhett’s Run

RRCollage

Have mountain biking on your mind? Head to Rhett’s Run. This 2.4 mile dirt run is a challenging one and was designed by  Brian Stickel and John Bailey of Mountain Designs, key course designers for the 1996 Olympic mountain bike courses. The trail originates in Cosmo Park and runs through 75 acres of beautiful wooded area.

opens in a new windowCounty House Trail

CHTCollageCounty House Trail is a two-mile long trail in the southwest area of the city that extends from Stadium Blvd. at College Park Drive to the MKT Trail at Twin Lakes Recreation Area. It is an 8-foot-wide concrete trail with a gravel side path between Stadium and the Twin Lakes Recreation Area entrance. Once inside Twin Lakes Recreation Area, the trail routes through the parking lot and around the lake where it connects to the the MKT Trail on the southeast corner of the park.

These are just three options of dozens here in Columbia. Check out the list of community and neighborhood trails and pick one to explore every time you visit Columbia!

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Looking for some activities the whole family can enjoy while you’re visiting Columbia this summer? Of course you are! Fortunately, summer in Columbia means hot weather and cool activities for kids of all ages. Here are a couple of summer favorites that heat up Columbia summers.

The Family Fun Fests!

Kids of all ages love the Family Fun Fests!

Mark the third Wednesday of the month on your calendar for the Parks and Recreation sponsored opens in a new windowFamily Fun Fests! Each month from 6-8 p.m., Flat Branch Park is transformed, with a new theme for each month (June is Explore Outdoors!) for kids of all ages. Entertainment for the entire family will feature music, special performances, and art and hands-on activities.

Outdoor Movies in the Park!

Grab a chair, a blanket and…don’t forget your family! Outdoor Movies in the Park take advantage of Columbia’s ample green space and show movies after dark in the park.  The next movie is coming up Friday, June 8th…The Muppets! It’s only $2 per person and concessions are available. Don’t miss the chance for quality family time in a quality setting.

These are just a couple of great examples of family fun you can have when you visit Columbia, but make sure you check out of opens in a new windowcalendar of events before you come. You never know what might be heating up in Columbia!

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