Introduction to Columbia, Missouri
The Missouri city of Columbia, located in Boone County, is home to the University of Missouri as well as Columbia College and Stephens College. The city lies in the heart of the state, almost equidistant from Kansas City (127 miles to the west) and St. Louis (124 miles to the east), both of which are connected to the city by Interstate Highway 70. Columbia is also 30 miles north of Jefferson City.
Founded in 1819 and later incorporated in 1892, Columbia has an economy heavily vested in the education, health care, and insurance industries. Local manufacturers include the 3M Corporation, a major producer of optical and electronic products; Columbia Foods, a division of Oscar Mayer; and Watlow-Columbia, Inc., manufacturers of electrical heating elements.
Attractions and Events in Columbia
Columbia has an exciting mix of entertainment and culture to offer visitors and residents alike. The Twilight Festivals draw thousands to the downtown area every June and September. Art in the Park and the Fall Festival of the Arts are also big attractions, showcasing the work of local, regional and national artists. The Heritage Festival is an annual fall event featuring traditional and contemporary crafts, and the Blind Boone Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival honors one of Columbia’s most renowned citizens, John William "Blind" Boone. The Columbia Festival of the Arts is a weekend-long celebration of visual and performing arts held on the last full weekend of September. To round out the year, Columbia hosts its own First Night Celebration on New Years Eve, capped by a sensational fireworks display at midnight.
Historic and cultural sites include the Walters-Boone County Historical Museum, the Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site, and the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology. Nearby recreational areas include Finger Lakes State Park, Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, and the 225-mile long Katy Trail State Park.
Sports fans in Columbia closely follow the fortunes of the University of Missouri athletic teams. Known as the Missouri Tigers, the University's teams are members of the Big 12 Conference, to which they have belonged since 1996. Major league professional sports are two hours away in either of two opposite directions. A drive to the west brings sports fans to Kansas City, home to football's Kansas City Chiefs (NFL), baseball's Kansas City Royals (MLB), and soccer's Kansas City Wizards (MLS). The city of St. Louis is two hours east of Columbia, and teams located there are baseball's St. Louis Cardinals (MLB), football's St. Louis Rams (NFL), and hockey's St. Louis Blues (NHL).