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Travel

Escape to Columbia

With a bustling downtown and a developing culinary scene, Columbia is not just a college town.

Written by Juliana Goodwin | Photos courtesy Roots N Blues N BBQ, by Kacey D Photography

Sep 2016

The annual Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival features a variety of genres including rock, country and soul.

UNWIND

The Tiger Hotel (23 S. Eighth St., Columbia, 573-875-8888) is a historic, AAA Four Diamond award–winning boutique hotel in the heart of downtown. Built in 1928, this hotel has undergone major renovations since 2011 when it was purchased by local owners. It has 62 rooms, predominantly suites. Culinary options at the hotel include: Glenn’s Café, a Southern/Creole/Cajun fusion restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has an impressive wine list (573-447-7100); Velvet Cupcake Café, where creative cupcakes are baked fresh daily; The Industry, a bar that features live music on its patio on select days (check Facebook for updates);  and The Vault, a swanky speakeasy-style bar known for its creative cocktails including the Dirty Money, which has cucumber, avocado, gin, mint and a splash of Sprite. The downtown location makes this an ideal place to stay.


The Wine Cellar & Bistro has an elegant ambiance up to par with its exquisite and award-winning wine selection.


TASTE

The Wine Cellar & Bistro (505 Cherry St., Columbia, 573-442-7281) boasts a Wine Spectator award–winning wine list that pairs beautifully with the restaurant’s delectable menu. The bistro is owned by Sarah and Craig Cyr, who source food locally as well as grow their own on their certified organic farm. Dine Sunday through Thursday and enjoy a three-course tasting menu for $36. At lunch, half-size entree portions are half the price. The restaurant is open daily.

If you want to experience the evolving downtown food scene, book a walking/tasting tour with Columbia Culinary Tours (573-808-6880,
columbiaculinarytours.com
). During the tour you will learn historic tidbits and visit five to seven restaurants or food specialty shops and sample the fare. Prices range from $34 per person for a brunch tour to $58 for a craft beer and food pairing tour. Tours are Monday through Friday.

Locals love Harold’s Doughnuts (114 S. Ninth St., Suite 102, Columbia, 573-397-6322) and you will, too. Try the White Chocolate Red Velvet or Chocolate Peanut Butter Doughnuts. If you’re in Columbia for a Missouri football game, Harold’s will deliver—via bike—a dozen or more doughnuts to your parking lot tailgate party.

A trip to Columbia would not be complete without a stop at one of these local breweries for a cold one: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing (115 S. Fifth St., Columbia, 573-499-0400); Logboat Brewing Company (504 Fay St., Columbia,  573-397-6786); Broadway Brewery (816 E. Broadway St., Columbia, 573-443-2742); and Bur Oak Brewing  Company (8250 Trade Center Dr., Columbia, 573-814-2178).

 

GOT THE BLUES?

Join 25,000 other people for Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival (rootsnbluesnbbq.com), at Stephens Lake Park in late September, early October. The festival showcases nationally known musicians in the genres of roots, blues, gospel, country, folk, bluegrass, rock and soul. Headliners have included Grace Potter, Jason Isbell, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, The Avett Brothers and Ben Folds. 

Tips for first timers: Bring a water bottle because there are water stations, and pack a lawn chair or blanket. Don’t plan to drive; there’s limited parking but free shuttles are plentiful. Tickets vary, but advance single-day passes start at $49.50 and weekend passes are $125. And yes, the concessions are fabulous.