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A Weekend Getaway in Columbia, MO

What You 'Unexpect' in CoMo is More Than Just a College Town

Article by Mindy Hargesheimer

Photography by Mindy Hargesheimer

I must admit, as a University of Kansas alum, I should likely not admit to paying a weekend visit to Mizzou's home turf, but thanks to some wanderlust, some enticing research on the local experiences offered, and an invitation from the Columbia CVB, it was a no-brainer to line up an agenda packed with the sights and sounds of this destination a short two-hour drive from Kansas City!

CoMo's tagline is What You Unexpect: I expected the college campus to be at the forefront of the visit, but I didn't expect the sophistication of restaurants, breweries, hotels, and more from this Missouri town. I've outlined each place I visited that I highly recommend you add to your Columbia, Missouri bucket list!

*For additional photos, videos, and Midwest experiences, visit @kansascitybucketlist on Instagram and

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First Fridays Art Walk: First Friday is a free art crawl on the first Friday of each month! From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., galleries, shops, and businesses will be open with music, art demonstrations, children’s activities, refreshments, and much more in the North Village Arts District. @northvillageartsdistrictcomo

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voco The Tiger Hotel: Modern comfort meets historic charm at voco The Tiger Hotel, a beloved Columbia landmark that captures the magic of the Roaring Twenties. You’ll find us below our famous neon Tiger sign in the heart of downtown, well-placed for boutique shopping and right next to the University of Missouri. You can jog or cycle on the MKT Trail, and you’ll find 7 state parks within a 15-minute drive. Discover the taste of the South in Glenn’s Café, or order dirty martinis served speakeasy-style at our in-house bar, Vault. Missouri hospitality is what it’s all about at Twain, with all drinks sourced in the Show-Me State, Missouri. @vocothetigerhotel

Glenn’s Cafe: Cajun, Creole, American, we really don’t like to limit ourselves. Our roots are firmly in New Orleans but Glenn’s menu is a little piece of Southern Americana wrapped up in a Midwest comfort food tradition. From our slow-cooked seasoned prime rib cooked daily to seafood gumbo and blackened redfish, there really is something for all tastes at Glenn’s. @glennscafe

Twain: Missouri BBQ and Taproom: Every beer from our rotating tap list, every fine spirit on our shelves, and every bottle of wine we pour is made right in the state of Missouri. Twain also boasts house-smoked meats that are made fresh daily, house-created spice blends, and from-scratch sides like baked beans, house-cured pickles, and true southern collard greens - even the bread is baked on-site. 

Vault: Vault is located on the lower level of voco The Tiger Hotel. This modern speakeasy is known for its award-winning cocktails and inviting lounge. Vault is a great place to take that special someone but also a cool, quiet place to hang out with friends. 

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Columbia Farmers Market: Columbia Farmers Market is a year-round producer-only farmers market! Shop local, with everything produced within a 50-mile radius of Columbia and over 85 local farmers, producers, and artisans. The market is deeply involved in the community, regularly hosting musicians, artisans, non-profit groups, educational opportunities, and many other special events. @columbiafarmersmarket

The District: Downtown Columbia: The District is bound by three college campuses and encompasses 50 square blocks downtown. These blocks contain more than 300 individual properties, over 5000 residents, and over 600 businesses, non-profits, and government entities in Columbia, Missouri. @thedistrictcomo

Skylark Bookshop: Skylark is a fiercely Independent Bookshop. We strive to always find new ways to celebrate literature and our community. Some books give us knowledge and perspective; others simply give necessary space to breathe. Putting the right book into the right hands is a deeply meaningful act. We believe that we can find that book for everyone who walks through our doors. We embrace enjoyment, entertainment, and the beauty of Skylark Bookshop. @skylarkbookshop 

Main Squeeze: Eco market featuring hundreds of products made from sustainable materials like bamboo, coconut, wood, and wool, plus a Refillery to help reduce single-use plastics, and slingin’ 100% fruit smoothies, a selection of vegan candy and snacks, and Oso Cremoso, my plant-based ice cream brand. @mainsqueezecolumbiamo

Shortwave Coffee Alley A: Nestled in the vibrant alley, this spot radiates a fantastic vibe, surrounded by a tapestry of diverse restaurants and shops. Immerse yourself in the cozy ambiance featuring custom wood furniture, inviting benches, and unique tables lining the walls. The journey to this locale isn’t just a visit—it’s an adventure, inviting you to savor the essence of Shortwave Coffee from its very roots. @shortwavecoffee

Flat Branch Pub & Brewing: The pub occupies a 1927 brick warehouse and offers a diverse menu and award-winning hand-crafted beers on tap. Enjoy your stay in the upscale industrial setting of our restaurant, on our spacious outdoor patio, or belly up to Columbia’s friendliest bar. Try traditional pub favorites like Catfish and Chips or Bratwurst and Kraut, or perhaps our signature Charbroiled Romaine Salad. After dinner, one of our many single-malt scotches or small-batch bourbons may be just the thing to wrap up an excellent evening. @flatbranchpub

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The Arcade District: Situated in a walkable area, our locale boasts a retro-style arcade, distillery, vinyl record store, and two restaurants. This carefully curated mix creates an inspiring backdrop, ideal for entrepreneurial endeavors.  Additionally, the Arcade District annually hosts musical events in our Sentinel Park venue, further enriching the creative atmosphere. @thearcadedistrict

Logboat Brewing Co.: Here at Logboat we brew the beers we like to drink. We constantly try to innovate and push ourselves to brew new, unique, and interesting beers to keep things fresh and exciting. Beer is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family in a social setting. We try our best to provide both a great atmosphere for enjoying our craft, as well as an engaging, educational experience to become better acquainted with the Logboat brand. @logboatbrewing

Barred Owl Butcher & Table: Our fare is inspired by Missouri's bounty and the changing of the seasons. Every dish and cocktail we produce is guided by our conscious and constant effort to source responsibly and prepare food deliciously. @barredowlbutcher

Uprise Bakery: The Bakery offers full-flavored artisan and whole-grain breads, homemade soups, specialty sandwiches, and pastries. Fresh bread is made Monday through Saturday. They have a full selection of spirits, wine and, craft brew, and their espresso bar features beans exclusively from Broadway Roasting Company, in Westport Kansas City. @uprisebakery

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Cooper’s Landing: Looking for a spot to launch your boat, rest your head for the night, or spend some quality time with your friends and family? Cooper’s Landing offers all of this and more! We’re a year-round full-service marina, campground, store, and live music venue on the banks of the Missouri River and right off the Katy Trail. @cooperslandingmo

BoatHenge: Initially seen following the hundred years’ flood of 1993, this series of painted boats in a lawn adjacent to the Katy Trail along the Missouri River is the work of anonymous artists.  

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And that's a wrap! Columbia, Missouri is another hidden gem for road trip magnificence!

Additional ideas for experiencing some of Columbia's best destinations and experiences not pictured here include:

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Businesses featured in this article