Take a Trip to Cultural Columbia, MO

Make a weekend trip to Columbia for the True/False Film Festival, and be sure to plan time for stopping at some Missouri gems along the way.

By Katie Pollock Estes & Jenna deJong

Feb 2020

True/False Film Festival in Columbia MO discussion
Photo courtesy True/False Film Fest Columbia MOTrue/False Film Fest puts the audience and the filmmakers face-to-face for thought-provoking discussions.

Sight-Seeing Along Your the Trip

Break up the drive and explore some caves around Lake of the Ozarks. Stretch your legs and roam around Bridal Cave, Jacob’s Cave, Stark Caverns and Ozark Caverns. These show caves have bridges, lights and handrails, which make them easier to navigate. No matter the weather or season, explorers can always count on a 50- to 60-degree temperature in the caves.

Missouri State Penitentiary exterior photo.
Photo courtesy Missouri State PenitentiaryTake haunting tour of Missouri State Penitentiary.

Stop in Jefferson City to Visit the Missouri State Penitentiary

Make a pit stop in Jefferson City and take in the Missouri State Penitentiary (115 Lafayette St., Jefferson City, 866-998-6998). Through ghost and paranormal tours, history tours, photography tours and even overnight tours, visitors get an inside look at what life was like living at the penitentiary. Be sure to check the age requirement of each tour if you plan to bring children.

Munch on Brunch at bleu Market & Bakery

Start the day off with a light brunch from bleu Market & Bakery (3919 S. Providence Road, Columbia, 573-874-4044). Try the shrimp and grits—sauteed black tiger shrimp with lemon brown butter sauce and crispy shallots—or the turkey pot pie complete with caramelized pearl onions and English peas. In a rush? Order carryout.

True False Film Festival in Columbia MO
Photo courtesy Stephanie SidotiHear talks from film makers throughout the True/False Film Festival.

True/False Film Festival

Early each year, downtown Columbia is flooded with visitors ready for a weekend packed with thought-provoking films. Since 2004, True/False Film Fest has presented artistic non-fiction films that challenge the audience to re-imagine reality. The four-day event also includes live music, parties, interesting talks and more. The final schedule is released this month, and it’s huge. You can go for a day, or go for the whole weekend. As you plan the films you want to see, use our itinerary to guide you to great places to eat and stay in Columbia, so you can keep yourself fed and rested during your marathon weekend of intellectual stimulation.

Take a Stroll

Before you head out of Columbia, stroll through the Shelter Insurance Gardens (1817 E. Broadway, Columbia, 573-214-4595). Located on the grounds of Shelter’s corporate office, these beautiful five acres are a popular spot for a picnic during warmer months and the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. The grounds feature a waterfall, rock garden, Vietnamese veterans’ memorial and more.

New York Style Bagels in Columbia MO
Photo courtesy Dan GillThe bagels at B&B Bagel are boiled—just like they make them in New York.

Grab a Bagel at B&B Bagel

On your way from Springfield to Downtown Columbia, stop on the south side of town for a breakfast that’s nice and quick, so you can jump into your day of fascinating films. At B&B Bagel, bagels are made from scratch and are New York–style. (That means they’re boiled, baby!)

Charcuterie and Wine in Columbia MO
Photo courtesy LG Patterson

Grab some charcuterie and wine at Barred Owl Butcher & Table.

Pub & Brewery in Columbia MO
Photo courtesy Flat Branch Pub & Brewing

Flat Branch Brewing is a Columbia standby for a locally brewed beer.

Grab Dinner at Barred Owl Butcher and Table

For dinner, take your time at Barred Owl. Local, seasonal ingredients come together as elaborate charcuterie, killer fried chicken and waffles, beautifully plated pork belly, steak entrees and so much more. And everything has a clever twist: The rabbit confit comes with pepper jelly. The mac and cheese is made with spaetzle. The street tacos are filled with lamb barbacoa.

Cheers to Your Day of Films at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing

The day is about over, and you’ve been busy. Take it easy and enjoy a locally brewed beer before calling it a night at Flat Branch. Look for the seasonal options, or grab a classic Katy Trail Pale Ale.

Stay at The Broadway

If you're staying in town and you’re ready to tuck in for the night, you’ll want a room at The Broadway. This DoubleTree Hotel is perfect for True/False Film Fest weekend because its downtown Columbia location puts you close to the action. You can dine and hunker down around the firepits on the roof if the weather permits.

True/False Film Fest

Purchase Passes

March 5–March 8

Locations around downtown Columbia

Passes are $45 to $975. Different passes include different access to films and related events—check the site for pass information.

Visit to purchase passes and find the full schedule of films and events.