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Friday Favorites

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Hope everyone is having a great week! Today’s favorites come from CVB Senior Administrative Assistant, Billye Clemons.

Columbia is loaded with lots of free activities to do all the time. Having four kids, three still at home and one at the Naval Academy, I’m always watching our budget, so the more free stuff we can do the better, and Columbia has lots to offer! Here is a list of my favorites, complete with an insider tip on what to bring for each:

Fire in the Sky:

Fire in the Sky - P and R fb

(Photo courtesy of Columbia Parks and Recreation)

One of my favorite events! We spend our time before dark at Flat Branch Park enjoying the craft activities provided by Parks & Rec, which change a little bit each year, but have included temporary tattoos, making sparkling hats, wind socks, streamers and my 4-year-old’s favorite, the bounce house, all while listening to live music. We also stock up on the kettle corn – the wait in line is worth it. Then… dark comes.  Tune your radio to 102.3 BXR and listen to the patriotic music while you watch an AMAZING fireworks display that can be seen from almost anywhere downtown. Don’t forget to wear red, white and blue.

Salute to Veterans Air Show: 

The roar of the engines, the smell of the smoke, and the excitement of that one jet that always sneaks up behind you and scares you when you aren’t expecting it. I love a good air show. They have police dogs doing demonstrations, the US Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights with their Black & Gold canopies and their impressive team aerodynamics… all these things make me feel patriotic. I love every minute of it. Don’t forget your sunblock!

Movies in the Park: 

Movies in the Park - P and R FB(Photo courtesy of Columbia Parks and Recreation)

The 2nd Friday of the month from May to August, Columbia P&R hosts Movies in the Park. We bring a comforter and our own popcorn in a brown paper bag like my mom used to when we went to the drive-in. Movies are displayed on a large blow up screen at Flat Branch Park. The movies are older and usually something we’ve already seen, but the experience of seeing them outside, on a blanket, under the stars is something all my kids love. Bring insect repellent, though!


Spraygrounds at Stephens - P and R FB

(Photo courtesy of Columbia Parks and Recreation)

Hot and humid outside? I take my kids to Stephens Lake Park spraygrounds. My four-year-old enjoys the spraygrounds with water shooting high in the sky, to tickle her toes or her nose. She also loves playing in the sand leading into the swimming beach, where my older kids love to swim. Don’t forget your beach toys and again, sun block.

Shelter Gardens: 

Shelter Insurance(Photo courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism)

A beautiful way to spend an afternoon (or morning if you are an early bird). Spend time walking along the path looking at beautiful flowers, bushes and trees.  Sunday evenings in June and July you can catch a local band playing in the cedar gazebo.  There is also a waterfall, rock garden, Vietnam Veterans memorial and other features to enjoy. You can take your time so if you are with someone with little legs who gets tired fast, there is no rush. Bring your camera!

9th Street Summerfests: 

Randy Houser - Blue Note Flickr(Photo from Randy Houser Summerfest courtesy of The Blue Note)

One place I don’t usually take my kids. I save this one for me, mostly. I did take my son to see Darius Rucker when he was here (I still might call him Hootie). Get there early if you want to be up close! It gets hot and crowded, but it’s a live show with bands that are great and unique. I always leave feeling like I’ve experienced music that I wouldn’t on my usual favorite radio channels. Bring a personal fan.

Family Fun Fests: 

FFF circusopens IMAGE file (Photo of “Circus” Family Fun Fest)

Held every third Wednesday of the summer months in Flat Branch Park, the Family Fun Fests feature different family-friendly activities. This month the theme is “Summer Fun.” Check it out for yourself on July 16th, 6 pm. Bring your bathing suit and let the kids hit the spraygrounds at Flat Branch Park while you’re there.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park:

Rock Bridge State Park

(Photo courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism)

Along with the usual hiking and biking, every Saturday and Sunday through August 31st you can participate in 15 minute tours of Connor’s Cave. Show up between 1 and 4 PM, and park volunteers will assist you once you make it to the cave. Be sure to call ahead of time, though, since weather and a shortage of volunteers could interfere with the tours – 573-449-7400. Bring your sense of adventure.

Art in the Park:

A Columbia favorite since 1958! Stroll through Stephens Lake Park in early June and check out work by more than 100 artists. There is something for everyone.  Buy art to take home with you or let the kids make their own! The festival features entertainment, kid’s activities, and live music. Bring your wallet. This event is free, but there is cool stuff to buy.