Less than two hours from the Lake of the Ozarks, visitors will find a small metro-type city brimming with culture, great shopping experiences, a variety of things to do, and eateries to fit every taste bud — in an atmosphere of higher learning and state-of-art medicine. This 1818 early settlement became Columbia in 1821. Soon after, in 1839, the University of Missouri was established. The town’s roots were based on education, medicine, and insurance. Almost 175 years later the roots are the same.
Exit Broadway off of Highway 63 and hang a left. Follow your nose to the heart of the old historic district of Columbia. Eighth Street is known as the Avenue of Columns. At Walnut Street are four historic columns that are the remnants of the 1846 courthouse. These columns align with the six columns on the Missouri University campus. The six columns at Mizzou are all that remain of the Administration building that was destroyed by fire in 1892.
There’s plenty of shopping opportunities downtown. Looking for more of an ‘artsy’ area? What is known as the North Village is a Bohemian-influenced one-block area within the downtown historic district. The main vintage residential area circles the old downtown.
Buildings seem to be known by their name rather than by their addresses. The old buildings are still in use today. For instance, the Victor Barth building is the 1902 “Clothing House” established by Barth Brothers. The brothers emigrated from Germany in time to help re-establish their uncle’s business destroyed by the Civil War. The Dalton Building was the 1895 cigar store and pool hall. One of the most notable and tallest landmark buildings is The Tiger Hotel that opened for business in 1928.
Check out the city’s cemetery. It is “the oldest business in town.” Since 1820 the cemetery that is situated on a hilltop at the edge of downtown is the final resting place of many citizens. Among the buried are: members of the Civil War U.S. Colored Infantry, veterans of the War of 1812 and Revolutionary War through modern-day wars, the famous ragtime musician “Blind” Boone, several members of the Daniel Boone family, and many others are at rest in the hillside cemetery.
There are seven well-known colleges in Columbia. The town’s nickname is “Collegetown USA”. And, what about those Tigers? The name was chosen in 1890 by the University of Missouri to honor the guard known at “The Missouri Tigers” that defended Columbia during the Civil War.
The city has parks and museums to visit, college campuses to explore, shopping to do, and appetites to satisfy. To enjoy a bit of 1950s nostalgia try the 63 Diner. Classic cheeseburgers, plate specials, and good desserts are served to visitors in the mid-century atmosphere of “old-fashioned quality and service.” The Diner is located three miles off of Interstate 70 exit 127 at 5801 N. Highway 763. A good selection of history is exhibited at the Boone County Museum & Gallery. Admission is $2-$5 each and opened Thursday through Saturday.