Explore Columbia

Columbia, Mo. is known as an ideal college town, combining small-town comforts, community spirit and low cost of living with big-city culture, activities and resources. Our city of about 119,000 full-time residents is located midway between Missouri’s largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City. Proximity to many of the state’s resources and large urban metropolises make this “small town” feel much bigger. Money magazine, Fortune magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Men’s Journal, MSN.com and other news entities have named Columbia, Mo., one of the best places in the United States to live because of its high quality of life. The American Institute for Economic Research ranked Columbia among the nation’s top 10 college towns. Families, sports enthusiasts, and nature lovers will enjoy Columbia’s vast and varied outdoor activities, including hiking at Rock Bridge State Park, swimming at Stephen’s Lake, or walking, running or biking along one of Columbia’s many pathways and trails, including the 237-mile Katy Trail. There are caves, lakes, streams and cliffs for outdoor adventurers. Stephens Lake Park is the crown jewel of Columbia’s park system and is known for its 11-acre fishing/swimming lake, mature trees, and historical significance in the community. It serves as the center for outdoor winter sports, a variety of community festivals, and outdoor concert series at the amphitheater. Columbia is an increasingly bicycle-friendly community, with a city program to encourage cycling, walking and public transportation. The MKT Trail takes cyclists and hikers all through Columbia and links to the 225-mile Katy Trail, which stretches across the state. Mizzou’s NCAA Division I sports teams allow fans to cheer on the Tigers in Fall, Winter and Spring sports. Finally, explore the diverse culture and events of Columbia at many annual events, including the True/False Film Festival, Roots N Blues N BBQ music festival and more. The vibrant downtown area is only a short walk from the MU campus and is a gathering place for families, adults and students to enjoy a show, dinner, music, shopping and more. These two stone lions, carved by an unknown artist almost 550 years ago during the Ming Dynasty in Chufu, were sent to the university as gifts in 1931 by the Chinese government at the time. The founder of the School of Journalism, Walter Williams, accepted the ancient stone statues as symbols of goodwill between the two nations.

Money magazine, Fortune magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Men’s Journal, MSN.com and other news entities have named Columbia, Mo. one of the best places in the United States to live because of its high quality of life. The American Institute for Economic Research ranked Columbia among the nation’s top 10 college towns.

The combination of the city’s opportunities for entrepreneurs, including the cost of business, job growth rate and education have ranked the city as fourth on Forbes’ list of Best Small Places for Business and Careers. Several well-known companies also factor into the city’s growing economy, including Carfax, Shelter Insurance and Veteran’s United Home Loans, which were all founded in Columbia and maintain headquarters or facilities in the city. Columbia also is the home base for MFA Oil and Missouri Employers Mutual.

Columbia proves to be less expensive than the national cost of living average, making it easy for students to find safe and comfortable accommodations in any price range. Beyond MU’s residential units, students can find more housing options downtown, in friendly neighborhoods or at apartment communities spread throughout the city. Transportation to campus is available through the public bus system and shuttle services.And with easy access to Kansas City, St. Louis and the state leaders in Jefferson City, travel to and from Columbia is as simple as a drive down the highway.

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