Home to the University of Missouri (MU), and two other colleges, Columbia is an educational center with an eclectic feel. It serves as a medical, technological and cultural base for central Missouri. Columbia's non-student population is around 89,500.
The college crowd drives the local economy and fuels a busy downtown district. The District, more than 40 blocks bordering MU, offers a mix of popular restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and bars. More than 100 unique shops and many entertainment venues bring visitors downtown. The area is busy all day and into the night, especially on weekends. On game nights, when sports fans fill Columbia's stadiums and bars for MU football and basketball games, the cheers can be heard out on the streets.
Columbia is well known for its cultural events and venues. Visitors can enjoy theater, art galleries, comedy clubs, symphony and a variety of concert venues including the popular Blue Note. Music and art festivals run summer through fall. The Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival is held in June and Twilight Festivals are held in June and September.
Columbia's MKT hiking and biking trail connects with the statewide Katy Trail State Park. Nearby Finger Lakes State Park has 70 miles of all-terrain vehicle and motorcycle trails. Wineries at Hartsburg and Rocheport provide relaxing views of the Missouri River valley.
Columbia is 125 miles east of Kansas City and 125 west of St. Louis. It is accessible via Interstate Highway 70 and U.S. Highway 63. There are a variety of hotels available.