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The District

Discover music, art and good reads in downtown Columbia, Missouri

written by Jackie Tucker


My husband, Jake, and I are massive music fans. The 9th Street Summerfest in Columbia, Missouri, is one of our favorite music festivals of the year. We buy our tickets early, clear our calendars and drive two hours from St. Louis to enjoy warm summer nights filled with all our favorite music. Last year, we tried something new. Instead of just heading downtown for the concert in the evening, we had decided to make a day of it. As many times as we had been to Summerfest, we had never taken the time to explore the surrounding downtown area of Columbia—The District.

“Why have we not done this before?” I remembered Jake asking as we wandered down streets filled with sidewalk cafes, art studios and gorgeous old buildings.

Maybe it was the freedom of a summer day with no set agenda, or maybe it was the anticipation of the concert later, but the city seemed to be giving off a warm, energetic vibe that I was embracing wholeheartedly.

A good story

“Jake, look!” I pointed out a store window full of books.

I can’t pass up a good bookstore, and I could tell there was something special about Yellow Dog Bookshop. From the adorable name to the two children who were laughing as they walked out of the shop with their parents, I knew we had to go inside.

As Jake held the door open for me, he said (a little overdramatically), “All this happened, more or less.”

It was a running joke between us. I have this quirky knack for remembering the first lines of famous novels, and Jake always tries to one-up me. As I walked in, I responded with one of my favorites from Pride and Prejudice. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Jake grinned as he browsed through a stack of books on a table by the door. He picked one up and cleared his throat.

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

“All right, you win!” I laughed. It’s hard to compete with Dickens.

I made my way along the rows of shelves filled with everything from new releases to beloved childhood favorites. The smell of old books and the soft shuffling of pages took me back to afternoons spent at the library after school. And then, I saw my favorite book as a little girl—The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It wasn’t new, but it was in excellent condition. On the inside cover an inscription read, “To Anna: I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did (and still do). Love, Aunt Sarah.”

And even though I already had three copies of the book, I bought this one, too.

Local art scene

A few blocks away we discovered the Columbia Art League, a gallery of work from talented national and local artists. The art was eclectic and vibrant, a reflection of The District itself. There seemed to be something for everyone—paintings, sculptures and even handcrafted items. It was a visual feast that ranged from contemporary art to funky folklore.

“I don’t understand it, but I like it.” Jake admired a rather psychedelic painting with a turtle in front of a cityscape on a bright blue background. “It looks like it should be an album cover.” Jake is a graphic designer, and I could see his mind spinning with ideas. It was fun to watch his creative process at work.

As we explored the rest of the art in the gallery, I began to appreciate the fact that local artists created all these pieces. While I am certainly no artist myself, I do enjoy it and admire organizations such as the Columbia Art League that involve national and local talent and give emerging and accomplished artists a place to showcase their work together.

Music and lyrics

We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling the streets of The District, delighted by the lovely shops and restaurants around every corner. After a quick bite to eat at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, we made our way to The Blue Note. A crowd was filling the streets around the outdoor stage and the excitement was growing.

The Blue Note was the perfect spot for live music performances, small with a great bar. Jake and I discovered a couple of our favorite new bands there. It’s standing room only by the stage and the balcony seating is where it’s at if you want a great view. The intimate venue had amazing acoustics, but for 9th Street Summerfest, they took the party outside so more people could get in on the action.

Jake and I made our way to the stage, weaving in and out of the crowd. The energy was contagious. The band hit the stage and we joined in with all the other screaming fans. This may have been what we came for, but Columbia had delivered more than just a great concert and we certainly looked forward to returning in 2018.

Discover The District in Columbia.

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Downtown Columbia (The District) is full of great restaurants and delicious treats – here are 10 meals that Instagram users have shared over the past month. Warning: reading this while hungry will make you more hungry.

Cafe Berlin | 220 N. 10th St.
opens in a new window@thestephyp Dixie Benny! Home made cornbread, ham, poached eggs, and vegetable gravy! #bestbrunchinawhile”

Sake Japanese Bistro | 16 S. 10th St.
opens in a new window@elizabethinpink Mmmm sushi dates are fun”

Coley’s American Bistro | 15 S. 6th St.
opens in a new window@lonawood Hands down best place in CoMo! Love the food, drinks, atmosphere and music!  #hereeveryweek #okaymultipletimesaweek #summertime  opens in a new window@coleysbistro

Chinese Wok Express | 422 E. Broadway
opens in a new window@blackgrits Getting our #pho on! #vietnamese #photogenic #beefpho #beef”

Seoul Taco | 1020 E. Broadway
opens in a new window@watertheodds Seoul Taco”

Shakespeare’s | 220 S. 8th St., 3304 W. Broadway Business Park Ct., 3911 Peachtree Dr.
opens in a new window@jasvii007 Old college days haunt. opens in a new window@kaysite opens in a new window@socalfoodiebears opens in a new window@cotraveler #shakespearspizza #mizzou #columbiamo”

Eleven Eleven | 1111 E. Broadway
opens in a new window@1111columbia Our dinner special tonight is a parmesan crusted pork chop with bacon fennel relish and roasted shallot potato purée”

Glenn’s Cafe | 29 S. 8th St.
opens in a new window@capri_su.n Catfish Sandwich. I think I like Cajun food”

Addison’s | 709 Cherry St.
opens in a new window@drewjkoch Had this delicious filet today: topped with fried onions and blue cheese, on a bed of mashed potatoes. #delicious #CoMo #columbiamo #bright #yum#food #steak…”

Main Squeeze Natural Foods Cafe | 28 S. 9th St.
opens in a new window@stephcahail I’m spending my last few days in Columbia eating at my favorite restaurants. My first stop is at The Main Squeeze! #bittersweet #salad#thefinalnomdown”

Now that you’re starving, pick one of the featured restaurants and grab a bite to eat.

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It’s hot outside but the real thing heating up opens in a new windowThe District this week will be the annual Dog Days sale!

DogDaysCVB

This yearly event will offer deep discounts on clothing, jewelry, home accessories, art and more from your favorite shops in The District. On July 25th-28th, The District is the place to be to snag great deals and enjoy summer in Columbia.

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If you’re going to be in Columbia this December 31st, make sure to head down to The District to take in all the action at opens in a new windowFirst Night Columbia. This festive family event begins at 6:30 at venues throughout The District.

With a robust entertainment program, music is a huge component at First Night. Stop by the Columbia Art League Gallery for guitar and banjo music, First Presbyterian Church serves as the rock venue and the Missouri Theatre plays host to an array of acts ranging from Ironweed Bluegrass to classical rock by The Beethovens. All the venues are within close walking distance, making it easy to hop from spot to spot.

First Night Columbia celebrates more than music. Calvary Episcopal Church will be home to the Children’s Art Area, City Hall will have children’s entertainment and First Christian Church is the teen venue for the evening. You’ll also be entertained by street performers as you move from place to place.

Stay out late so you don’t miss the People’s Processions (an impromptu parade) from the Missouri Theatre to Courthouse Square. The new year rings in with cheers and a fireworks show. Definitely a can’t-miss highlight from this family evening out.

Make your plans now to attend First Night Columbia. Get your admission buttons now at The ARC, Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and Gerbes Supermarkets prior to the event or get them that night at First Presbyterian Church, First Christian Church or the Missouri Theatre. Bring the entire family for a night of festive family fun and welcome 2013!

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For those of you who have a long shopping list this holiday season, look no further! Columbia is home to endless options for everyone on your list! We’ve collected a few ideas for how you can spread joy throughout the season and thought it was only appropriate to share in Christmas carol form. And now, our 12 Columbia Gifts

Twelve Bottles for Drinking

Stop by opens in a new windowTop Ten Wines in The District and get their expert help in selecting a case of wine! Whether you gift the whole case or use each bottle as a hostess gift at all the holiday parties you’ll attend, the staff at Top Ten Wines will assist you in assembling a delicious variety of wines from around the world.

Eleven Tickets for Concerts

opens in a new windowThe Blue Note is truly a Columbia landmark. Past performers have ranged from Johnny Cash to the Dave Matthews Band to Snoop Dogg and there’s always a great lineup on their opens in a new windowcalendar. With shows featuring They Might Be Giants, Calexico, Keller Williams and more coming up the the next few months, treat your friends with tickets for a night at The Blue Note.

Ten Classes of Yoga

Help someone in your life find their center with an Anytime Pass to opens in a new windowAlley Cat Yoga. The pass has no expiration and gets them into 10 classes, making it a thoughtful and very flexible gift. Who knows, maybe they’ll even invite you to join them.

Nine Stocking Stuffers

Have lots of stockings to stuff? Head to The District and stop by opens in a new windowThe Mustard Seed. Featuring jewelry, accessories and other handmade treasures from around the world, you’ll look like the best santa ever.

Eight Bites of Chocolate

A Columbia favorite for over 30 years, the opens in a new windowCandy Factory is now making artisan chocolates for their Prestige Collection. Pick up an 8-piece box for your favorite chocoholic and watch them marvel at the beauty (and taste!) of these treats.

Seven Super Shirts

Have lots of cousins you need to buy presents for? Are all those cousins Mizzou fans? Pick them up some black and gold gear at the opens in a new windowMizzou Bookstore opens in a new windowTiger Spirit, opens in a new windowJock’s Nitch or opens in a new windowRally House. You can stock up and take care of those cousins in one easy stop.

Six Warm Cookies

Perfect for the neighbor, coworker, friend or any other loved one, opens in a new windowHot Box Cookies will deliver fresh  delicious cookies right to their door. From traditional chocolate chip to snickerdoodles, the recipient of these treats will be sure to think warm thoughts of you as they devour these cookies. Don’t forget to order cold milk to go with them!

Fiiiiiiiive Perfume Oils

Need something for those favorite girls in your life? Head over to opens in a new windowMakes Scents and have them whip up a custom blend perfume oil for each one! Their experts have plenty of experience in combining scents ranging from cupcake to fig to peppermint to create a scent that truly reminds you of your girlfriends. And trust us, every time they use it, they’ll think of you.

Four Classy Cookbooks

For the cooks and kitchen lovers on your list, head to  opens in a new windowTallulah’s. This beautiful kitchen and home store has an array of cookbooks for cocktails, cakes and anything in between. You can also pick up mixing bowls, utensils and other goodies to help make their newly found recipes come to life.

Three Music Events

A trio of tickets to the opens in a new windowUniversity Concert Series will be just as exciting in a stocking as it will be wrapped up under the tree. Give someone a ticket to three different events or send their whole family for a night out. Coming up in February, audiences can be delighted by DRUMline Live, Garth Fagan Dance Company, Shrek the Musical, Boyz II Men, Hair and more!

Two Pairs of Earrings

Stop into opens in a new windowPoppy to check out handmade jewelry from nationally acclaimed artists and pick up a stunning pair of earrings for your mom…and one for yourself.

And a Tent for the Entire Family

Enjoy dreams of warmer weather and promises of outdoor adventure with a tent the entire family can enjoy on your next camping journey. Pick up the perfect pop up at the opens in a new windowAlpine Shop and grab lots of other outdoor gear while you’re there!

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We hope you’re ready to get out there and shop now, but we’ll have little gift guides leading all the way up through the holiday season. Keep checking back to discover new Columbia treasures!

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While the weather in Columbia isn’t nearly as cold as usual this time of year, it will still be time to celebrate the season this Friday at the annual Living Windows Festival.

Living Windows Friday December 7th 6-8 pm

From 6:00-8:00 p.m. this Friday, Columbia’s downtown area, The District, is turned into a winter wonderland. Participating businesses will be staging live performances of popular holiday scenes in their windows. This annual festival is a celebration of the holiday season and marks the beginning of extended holiday hours for many businesses in The District.

Live window displays are the main feature of the evening´s festivities, but festival goers are invited to enjoy many other activities throughout the evening, including:

  • Open houses
  • Holiday treats and refreshments
  • Carolers and other holiday music
  • Free carriage rides through downtown
  • Live nativity scene
  • A visit from Santa Claus (Stop by the Landmark Bank to see our visitor from the North Pole-and don´t forget to bring your camera!)

Here’s a preview of what some of the shops in The District have planned for Friday:

Artlandish Gallery 
A Merry Jolly Artful Holiday Open House

Bluestem Missouri Crafts
Living Christmas Trees

Calhoun’s
Gigi and Her Girl

Candy Factory
Live Saxaphone player & refreshments

Glik’s
North Pole Sewing Lab

Makes Scents
A Very Brady Christmas

Maude Vintage 
Holiday After Hours

Poppy
Hipster Holiday

PS: Gallery
Polar Express

Slackers CDs & Games
Nightmare Before Christmas

Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream 
Holiday Night Fever

Rally House 
Celebrate the Holiday’s with the Tigers

Tallulah’s
Winter Wonderland

You should also be sure to stop by our new Visitor Center in City Hall (corner of 8th and Broadway) to check out our new space and join in some holiday cheer. Bundle up (maybe) and head down to The District and take in the sights at Living Windows!

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The Candy Factory has been a Columbia treasure for over 30 years. If you’ve never been to this charming corner shop, there’s no better season to stop by and immerse yourself. During the holiday season, The opens in a new windowCandy Factory has something for everyone on your list.

Located at the corner of 8th and Cherry, you can’t miss The Candy Factory welcoming you in to explore. During the holidays, beautifully decorated Christmas trees adorn the entryway and table after table is piled high with every imaginable type of treat.

Fill your basket with stocking stuffers like Katys, which begin with a bed of fresh pecans, almonds or cashews drenched with a layer of the Candy Factory’s mouth-watering secret recipe caramel, and finally topped by a pool of pure milk, dark or white chocolate. The Candy Factory also offers an array of chocolate covered goodies ranging from peanuts to cookies to potato chips. For true chocolate lovers, gift them with the Ultimate Chocolate Pizza. Rich, pure chocolate with fresh cashews, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, walnuts, raisins, and marshmallows creates an extraordinary deep dish. It’s then topped it with even more fresh whole nuts and cherries and drizzled with a white chocolate finale.

For those fancy folks in your life, The Candy Factory now offers artisan chocolates, which combine delicious chocolate with beautiful art. You can also please those old-fashioned candy lovers with everything from jelly beans to candy buttons. The Candy Factory also has other gift items including stuffed toys, wine stoppers, ornaments and more to add a little something special to your holiday.

While you’re there, be sure to ask if you can go upstairs and view The Candy Factory kitchen. The adorably decorated hallway gives visitors a peek into how the candy is made, making it a must see for all ages.

This holiday season, experience a little magic (and a big sugar high) with a visit to The Candy Factory. We’re sure you won’t want your first visit to be your last!

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Looking for some Halloween fun in Columbia!? If you’re not planning on hiking through the neighborhood trick-or-treating, here are some fun ideas to have a frightfully good time.

Be as happy as this pumpkin!

Halloween Special Events

Halloweenie in The District October 26th from 4 pm – 6 pm
Are you teeny? Then come to opens in a new windowHalloweenie! A safe and fun time for the little ones, come down to The District and trick-or-treat at your favorite stores and restaurants. Everyone starts handing out candy at 4 pm and the festivities are usually over by 6 pm.

Tiger Night of Fun- Halloween Event – October 31st from 6 pm – 8 pm
At the Hearnes Center Fieldhouse, 600 N. Stadium Boulevard
6th grade and under admitted. Free admission.

Don’t miss the annual free alternative to going door-to-door Halloween night for candy! opens in a new window Tiger Night of Fun will feature games, activities and plenty of treats! Bring your parents, join us and have a great and safe time! Wear your costume and bring your trick-or-treat bag. We’ll have a screaming good time!

Trunk or Treat – October 31st from 3 pm – 5 pm
At Woodhaven Office, 1405 Hathman Place
Bring your family out for this fun event presented by the men and women with developmental disabilities supported by Woodhaven. Go “trunk-or-treating” in a safe and fun environment and have the opportunity to play games and participate in other fun activities.

Spooky Places

opens in a new windowFearfest Haunted House
Mid-Missouri’s largest haunted attraction sitting on 49 acres! Includes Sarah’s Legend, Slash Masters Asylum, Zombie Safari Paintball experience!

Open Thursdays & Sundays from 8 – 10 pm, Friday & Saturday 8 pm – midnight and Halloween 8pm – 10 pm

opens in a new windowNecroplanet
The world is dead. Society has collapsed. Law and order have been replaced by chaos and survival. NecroPlanet is nationally recognized as one of the best haunted attractions in Missouri and is conveniently located near all three college campuses and downtown Columbia. It features three haunted attractions: The Pit, Chaos in 3D and the legendary Necropolis, back for its eighth season! Come experience ultimate terror this Halloween season! The apocalypse isn’t coming…it’s here!

Local Treats

opens in a new windowThe Candy Factory 

A Columbia tradition for decades. Stock up on all your favorite delicious treats for the season. From handmade truffles to traditional favorites to chocolate covered potato chips, your sweet tooth will be delighted!

opens in a new windowTreats Unleashed 
Give your dog a ghoulishly delightful treat this Halloween with one of our personalized jumbo pumpkins! They’re sure to do any trick for this treat! Please allow 24 hours for your special, handmade treat. They have a great selection of adorably spooky Halloween treats that your pet is sure to LOVE!

opens in a new windowSparky’s Homemade Ice Cream 
Fall flavors: Pumpkin Pie, Rice Krispie Treat, Caramel Apple, Chai – Be sure to check in daily as the flavors change often!

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If you’re going to be in Columbia this Friday, we have just one question for you…are you ready to get Artrageous?

Artrageous Fridays are a quarterly event that celebrate the vibrant and ever-growing art scene in Columbia. From 6:00-9:00 in the evening, opens in a new windowThe District and the opens in a new windowNorth Village Arts District as well as Columbia’s college campuses highlight all of the artistic opportunities that Columbia has to offer. Businesses from galleries to shops to banks all open their doors to art enthusiasts to expose them to music, dance, theater, pottery, painting and more!

Participating venues will have artists on hand, activities you can enjoy and, of course, plenty of art for sale. You can also enjoy art while you eat at some of The District’s most fantastic local restaurants. Each stop will offer a unique, inspiring experience all centered around the arts. So come on down and get Artrageous!

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4th of july Fire in the sky flyer.

This year’s opens in a new windowFire in the Sky has a whole new look…and a whole new location! Enjoy hands-on activities for kids, fantastic music and, of course, a huge fireworks show. All of this in the vibrant, exciting setting of downtown Columbia. Free to all, this patriotic evening of fun is not to be missed. What’s your favorite part of Fire in the Sky?

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