Two weeks before my fifth birthday, I moved to Columbia, Missouri (http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/) for my dad’s new job. Typical of friendly Midwesterners, neighbors we had just met threw a birthday party for me so that we would feel at home. My family and I recognized right away that Columbia was a warm, welcoming city and that we were going to love it there. Now eleven years later, I’ve grown up in Columbia and have come to understand why it consistently ranks near the top of the lists of best cities (http://www.forbes.com/places/mo/columbia/). I invite you to come enjoy all the city has to offer.
Columbia is a relatively small town with a population around 100,000, but it offers big-city quality entertainment. Each September, Columbia hosts the Roots ‘n Blues ‘n BBQ Festival (http://rootsnbluesnbbq.com/), a fantastic outdoor experience where dozens of world-famous artists perform during the weekend event. Five stages are set up around downtown with lots of food trucks in between so that you can grab great barbecue and drinks as you walk between performances. This year’s line-up includes the Black Crowes and Blues Traveler, among others. There are plenty of other excellent music options for you to choose from throughout the year, especially at The Blue Note (http://www.thebluenote.com/), where artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, and the Dave Matthews Band have performed.
Another great Columbia event is the True/False Film Fest (http://truefalse.org/), an innovative four day festival dedicated to non-fiction films. The downtown area has an eclectic mix of movie venues to host the documentaries and commentary by the directors themselves. The atmosphere is electric and the topics are stimulating and varied, so nobody leaves disappointed.
When you come to Columbia, be sure to bring your bike because the city is very bike-friendly. There are bike lanes on all major streets and the locals love biking and running on the M-K-T Trail, or the Katy Trail for short. Originally, a part of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railway, the trail is an abandoned section of the route that has been paved over for recreational use.
A big part of life in Columbia revolves around the University of Missouri (http://missouri.edu/). Founded in 1839, Mizzou educates over 30,000 students annually and has the Tigers, perennial greats in collegiate wrestling, softball, and football. Tailgating for the Mizzou home football games is an all-day affair, with fans even going back to their tailgates during the game halftimes, all decked out in black and gold. My favorite football experience was running onto Faurot Field after upsetting the #1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in 2010 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoTS0jYZc-k). The university has a beautiful campus with the gothic style Memorial Union, the domed Jesse Hall, and of course, “the columns.” Six ionic 140 feet tall columns are all that remain from the first building on campus, Academic Hall, which was destroyed in a fire in 1892. Now they are a part of a very special tradition as each fall, incoming freshman walk through the columns before classes begin.
When you get hungry, you should definitely try Shakespeare’s Pizza. Shakespeare’s is a local favorite for its delicious flavor and lively atmosphere. While you wait for your pizza you can watch the cook throw the dough and children can get a small ball of dough to start perfecting their toss. After dinner, head over to Randy’s Frozen Custard for dessert. The city has plenty of great, local restaurants to suit every taste.
Don’t take my word for it; come see for yourself what a gem of a city Columbia is!
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