As we turn the corner into the last half of our academic year, we have a long stretch of break-free, uninterrupted winter slump to make it through. A lot of upperclassmen think they’ve seen and done it all, and many freshmen are still clueless as to how much Columbia has to offer. Regardless of which of these describes you, the list below, made up of both the well-known Columbia staples and the town's more obscure secrets, should provide a welcome break to the grueling next couple months of school. Make it your New Year’s resolution to explore all of these places and really get to know the best college town in Missouri.
Channel your inner Ginsberg at Orr Street Studios This art studio offers a broad range of exhibits and also features weekly art presentations, poetry readings and art discussions, and often offers amateur poets a chance to share their work.
Order a slice at Shakespeare’s This Columbia classic was recently voted best college hangout in the country. It features a fun bar and, of course, the best pizza around. You can't consider yourself a true Columbian until you've eaten at this local favorite.
Get your health food on at Main Squeeze This completely vegetarian restaurant consists almost entirely of local, organic food. This food is not only delicious, but also good for your body and the environment. They are located on Ninth street and serve a variety of food, from soup and sandwiches to Asian and Mexican dishes. They also offer delicious breakfast until 2 p.m. on weekends.
Catch a documentary at Columbia Public Library This vibrant building on Broadway and North Garth Avenue offers a change of pace to those who are used to studying at Ellis. Besides being a good place to study, it features showings of documentaries, as well as reading discussion groups.
Treat yourself to dinner and a movie at Ragtag Cinema and Uprise Bakery Arguably one of the best places in Columbia to pass time, this bakery/bar/cinema offers delicious food and drinks and houses a movie theatre, which generally plays three indie films on a daily basis. The coffee is excellent and the movies are way better than those you could find in an average theater.
Get active at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park If going to the rec center to work out is growing old, get outside and enjoy the fresh air this spring. The scenic Rock Bridge is a quick drive from campus and offers 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as caves and cliffs to hike and climb.
Stay healthy and support your local economy at Columbia’s Farmers Market If you’ve liked the Lowry Mall farmer’s market so far this year, prepare to be amazed by an even wider selection of delicious local food. This market offers everything from local meat and veggies to crafts and flowers.
Shop guilt-free at the Mustard Seed Instead of buying cheaply-made clothing and gifts at the mall, make 2011 a more a altruistic year by supporting fair trade instead of sweatshops. The Mustard Seed sells a variety items made by disadvantaged people around the world who are guaranteed a fair price for their goods.
GET DIRRRTY at Dirty Disco! Every Friday Eastside Tavern provides a welcome break from the usual Top 40 mixes played relentlessly at any other dance venue. Dirty Disco has rave-esque lights, dancing and awesome people. Though it’s a bar, Dirty Disco is accessible for those 18 and up, and is a fantastic way to spend your Friday evening.
Chill out at 9th Street Hookah Lounge The newly opened hookah bar on Ninth Street offers a laid-back atmosphere with dim lighting, comfy couches and drinks, with hookah at a relatively inexpensive price.
Release your inner badass at Iron Tiger Tattoo As many MU students know, college is a time to rebel and make questionable decisions — what better way than to express your freedom than to get a piercing or tattoo? Iron Tiger has skilled tattoo and pierce artists to fulfill all your body art needs.
Experience the best concerts in Columbia at Mojo’s A generally cheaper alternative to The Blue Note, Mojo’s is the place to go if you like music on websites like Daytrotter and Pitchfork. Mojo’s is a perfect venue for both indoor and outdoor concerts, and this year it will host several talented bands, including Ra Ra Riot and Tapes n’ Tapes.
Have a picnic Stephens Lake Park Stephen’s Lake is a quick bike ride or drive from campus and is a beautiful place to have a picnic or take a swim when the weather is nice. Pack up some food and bring friends the next time you’re bored on a Saturday afternoon.
Have an elegant evening at Missouri Theatre of the Arts If you want to trade normal weekend partying for a classy evening, Missouri Theatre of the Arts has both operas and symphonies throughout the season. Make an evening of it by dressing up and going to dinner before, too!
Get in touch with your artsy side at Catacombs Art Market Several times a year Artlandish Art Gallery hosts an underground art festival in the cellar of their building. Dozens of local artists vend their handmade goods, ranging from photography, to sculpture, to jewelry and food a wonderful place to shop for unique gifts and trinkets.