With mid-Missouri summer scorchers in our midst, getting out and enjoying the sunshine can be daunting when you don’t know where to go. We’ve compiled a fun and easy guide to help you break down the hottest (not literally) things to do around town this summer. From family-friendly bike rides down the scenic Katy Trail to a romantic trip for two along the Missouri River, we have the information you need to plan a summer filled with unique activities in Columbia.
Places to visit
Bike the 2.75-mile loop on the Kelley Branch Mountain Bike Trail within the rugged portion of the park that’s closed to off-road vehicles. Take in the sights, such as a small waterfall, old mining bridge and the occasional deer or beaver spotted along the wooded landscape.
Directions: Take U.S. Highway 63 North to Peabody Road, and take a right. The Finger Lakes State Park is located at 1599 E. Peabody Haul Road in Hallsville.
Take a friend or group to enjoy the calm atmosphere of the newest spot along the Missouri River Wine Trail. Soak in a relaxing evening by watching the sunset over the peaceful Serene Lake, enjoy a complimentary wine tasting or host a wine-making party to create your own delicious variety. To schedule a visit, call 573-642-6958.
Directions: The winery is located east of Columbia in Millersburg, Missouri, south of Little Dixie Lake Conservation Area and near the intersection of state highways MO-J, MO-F and MO-WW.
Take an afternoon to enjoy the views of the historic Missouri River at Cooper’s Landing. Well known among locals, Cooper’s is a full-service river port and boat marina that offers camping, hiking, fishing, boating and live entertainment during the spring and summer months.
Directions: From downtown Columbia, take Providence Road south until it turns into Route K, continue on and turn left on Old Plank Road. Then follow signs to Cooper’s Landing. Check out cooperslanding.net for upcoming events and live performances.
Don’t feel like driving all the way to the Lake of the Ozarks for an on-water experience? Rent a rowboat at Little Dixie Lake, and explore the 205-acre lake (there is a $5 honor system charge for the first-come, first-served rentals). Bring your own safety equipment, as only boats and oars are provided.
Directions: Located just west of Kingdom City, Little Dixie Lake is 10 miles from Columbia. Take Interstate 70 West to Route J, and exit south to Route RA. The main Little Dixie Lake parking area is off Route RA at the junction with Route J in Millersburg.
Things to see
Take an after-dinner stroll through the award-winning five-acre garden. On Sunday evenings in June and July, the garden hosts Concerts in the Gardens, where local bands provide live music for music-lovers and horticulture enthusiasts alike.
Details: Conveniently located next to the Shelter Insurance’s corporate offices at 1817 W. Broadway, the garden is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to dusk and has a free parking lot for easy access to the family-friendly grounds.
Get the family together, or schedule an entertaining date for a train ride that reminds its passengers of a bygone era. The Columbia Star Dinner Train operates on weekends only for trips along the scenic mid-Missouri countryside that include a candlelit, four-course, gourmet meal.
Details: Located in outer Columbia at 6501 N. Brown Station Road. Call 573-474-2223 for more information on pricing and to book an old-fashioned ride.
Take a tour of the once-largest prison in the United States, and learn the building’s haunting 168-year-old history. The history tour includes a guided lesson on the site’s history, famous inmates, escape attempts and much more. For the brave, there are also ghost and paranormal tours available starting July 1.
Details: The original history tour is two hours long and costs $12 per person. Those interested in attending must be at least 10 years old. The penitentiary is located at 115 Lafayette St. in Jefferson City.
New in town
Let your creative side merge with cocktail hour at Paint the Town, a hands-on painting studio with a full bar and scheduled group parties or open paint sessions for walk-in guests. The business provides the canvas and apron and encourages you to uncork your artistic side.
Details: Paint the Town is situated in the Broadway Shops strip mall between Tan Co. and Massage Envy Spa at 2703 E. Broadway, just west of the Old Highway 63 and Broadway intersection. The interactive paint studio has been open for business for less than a year.
Welcome back to Columbia, Glenn’s Café! The New Orleans cuisine-inspired restaurant originated in Columbia but relocated to Boonville until the summer of 2013, when owner Stephen Cupp brought Glenn’s back home. The rich and spicy seafood gumbo is a favorite among many.
Details: Now residing a few blocks from its original location, Glenn’s Café is situated within the Tiger Hotel building at 29 S. Eighth St. in downtown Columbia.
For an ultra-hip fine-dining experience, look no further than The Broadway Hotel’s restaurant, Eleven/Eleven, which opened in April. Named after its street address, the modern spot’s menu features American cuisine available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Details: Like its name, Eleven/Eleven is located at 1111 E. Broadway, next to The FieldHouse in The District.
Weather permitting, hike the half-mile Devil’s Icebox Trail to explore the Devil’s Icebox Cave, and view the immense cave system, rock bridge and other scenic spots along the more than 20 miles of trail that span the 2,272-acre park.
Details: A mere 10-minute drive from downtown Columbia, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park provides ample free parking next to the trailhead of the Devil’s Icebox Trail, located off South Providence Road/MO-163 S.
See an independent film at Columbia’s renowned art house theater where every film shown in the intimate two-screen theater is sure to evoke conversation and film-guru debate. This indie retreat also houses Uprise Bakery and Ninth Street Video.
Details: Ragtag Cinema and its sister businesses are located downtown, just south of Broadway at 10 Hitt St., with metered parking nearby as well as ample spots in the adjacent Cherry Street Parking Garage.
Déjà Vu Comedy Club
Get a group together at The Vu for a night filled with standup comedy, party fowls and great entertainment. This adult-only venue has been a principal player in Columbia’s nightlife and has been bringing in nationally acclaimed, live standup comedy to town since it was established in 1975.
Details: The Vu is open Thursday through Saturday. Tickets are required, so check dejavucomedy.com for upcoming show information.
Booches, it seems, is as iconic to Columbia as Truman the Tiger. Grab a brew, a round of pool or lively sports conversation at the local favorite, which opened in 1884 as a restaurant and pool hall. For good eats, order a no-frills burger served on wax paper straight from the grill.
Details: Booches is located at 110 S. Ninth St. in Columbia and is open every day of the week except Sunday.
For those unfamiliar with the famous MKT Trail, go on a guided 12-mile bike trip that will educate participants on details of this local treasure.
Details: The monthly roundtrip rides are from 6 to 7:45 p.m. with upcoming rides scheduled on Wednesday, June 25 and Wednesday, July 30. Cyclists meet at the Flat Branch Park playground and must be at least 18 years old and wearing a helmet.
Hike the Pinnacles Trail, a roundtrip distance of two miles, through craggy rocky bluffs and scenic streams to the top of the highest ridge, which tops out at 75 feet high. The estimated hiking time is around one and a half hours, so be sure to bring a water bottle and wear appropriate footwear when taking on this rugged fortress.
Details: From the intersection of U.S. 63 and I-70 in Columbia, go 13.9 miles north on U.S. 63. Turn right on Pinnacles Road, and keep right at the T. Go straight for 0.6 miles into the parking lot for the area.
Bike the famous Katy Trail, starting from Rocheport, located just 13 miles northwest of Columbia. If you’re not the proud owner of a bike, you can rent one at the Trailside Café and Bike Shop, open April through October, for $7.50 per hour or $30 per day. For double the fun, bring a buddy, and rent a tandem bike.
Details: From Columbia, drive west on I-70. Take Rocheport exit 115 north approximately two miles, and turn left onto Pike Street. The Trailside Café and Bike Shop is located on the left at the end of the street with a free parking lot located directly next to the trail entrance.
Climb the 45-degree wall, and explore numerous caves at the family-friendly indoor rock-climbing oasis. Both experienced and beginning climbers are welcome.
Details: The gym offers a first-day, introductory $15 fun pass to explore the facilities and a “Kids that Rock” one-night pass for young adventurers ages 11 and under. Take I-70 East to the St. Charles Road at Lake of the Woods exit. Turn right on St. Charles Road, and the Bouldering Garden is located on the left.
Take a guided river cruise of the Missouri River’s scenic byways and mid-Missouri landscapes. Experienced fisherman and boat builder Drew Lemberger will be your personal guide on a romantic sunset trip or interactive fishing cruise. Prices vary depending on type of cruise and can include a stop at Les Bourgeois Winery following the one-of-a-kind experience along the Missouri River.
Details: Based in Rocheport and close to I-70, the tour overlooks Les Bourgeois Winery and vineyards. Call Drew at 573-881-6160, or email him at [email protected] for more information on scheduling a personalized river cruise.
Download a Printable PDF checklist: Columbia Home Summer Checklist