The University of Missouri campus borders downtown Columbia (The District) that is a thriving area home to many independent shopping venues, art galleries, public art and parks. It boasts a lively nightlife of music, theatres, comedy, and clubs. Visit the Columbia Visitor’s Guide online for more information on local attractions.
Just minutes from Columbia scenic natural venues abound. In central Columbia, right next to campus, you can get on the beautiful tree-lined MKT trail for a walk that leads to several destinations and local parks. The Forum Nature Area Trail winds through 108 acres including a small demonstration wetland habitat. It reconnects to the MKT Trail near Twin Lakes Recreation Area. Just south of town, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park gives visitors the chance to hike through a scenic environment – and peek into Missouri’s underworld. Visitors can see a large cave system with its rock bridge, sinkholes, a spring and underground stream at the Devil's Icebox.
Any spelunkers among you, will be pleased to know that we have beautiful and expansive limestone caves (more than 6,000 caves) throughout the state, some within easy driving distance from Columbia. Some caves that can be visited are rather touristy (e.g., Meramec Caverns), but others have been maintained in a more natural state (e.g., Onondaga). These caves are privately owned and tours are available. Visiting the caves makes for a good outing with children. Other karst geological features (e.g. springs, sinkholes, natural bridges, canyons) are also common.
Missouri also has many rivers; rafting and canoeing are very popular summer activities for locals and visitors alike. The Missouri Ozarks (wooded hills and highlands that cover most of southern Missouri) are quite beautiful and include many hiking trails. Glades (rocky, arid, limestone/dolomite clearings on hilltops), left over from the last glaciation, contain relict populations of collared lizards, among the few that can be found outside of the southwestern USA!
If you prefer cities, St. Louis is only 2 hours away by car and has a world class zoo, art museum, and science center; general entrance to all three institutions is completely free – yes, that is correct, there is no entrance fee (thanks to civic-minded St. Louis taxpayers!). The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the leading centers for global plant research, but also contains a great variety of exquisitely beautiful gardens with trails and walkways, as well as a tropical rainforest “climatron”. There is a small fee to enter “the garden.
Should you stay in St. Louis overnight, our Muny Opera presents professional musicals every evening, in an outdoor setting in Forest Park (the second largest urban park in the country). Prices depend on how close you are to the stage. “The Muny” is a multigenerational tradition for many St. Louisans and an extremely popular summertime activity for both children and adults.
Baseball enthusiasts might want to consider attending a home game of the great and mighty St. Louis Cardinals! The stadium is downtown and easy to reach.
St Louis has a metro system that takes you from the airport to the stadium, the Gateway Arch (an architectural work of art), and also near the zoo, science center, and art museum, the latter three in Forest Park. Shuttles to the various park venues are available at the Forest Park metro stop.
St. Louis would be a great place for pre or post meeting activities for the entire family.
WEATHER: Summer weather in Missouri tends to be hot and humid. Typical July and August high temperatures are in the high 80s or low 90s. However, there is much variation with occasional beautiful days in the 70s and occasional days in the high 90s or even 100. It also is recommended that you bring an umbrella, just in case.