Things to Do in Columbia, TN
Like any community, there are plenty of great things to do in Columbia, TN. Sometimes these events, attractions and restaurants are well known, while other times it takes a well-trained eye or local guide to introduce you to them. If you are looking for more variety, the more populous cities in Tennessee are certain to accommodate your desires of activities.
Spelunkers‚ rejoice. The Southport Saltpeter Cave in Culleoka, near Columbia, is one of the largest caves in all of Middle Tennessee‚ and it’s been an adventure destination for decades. During the Civil War‚ it was mined for nitrate – used to make gunpowder – and it also housed Confederate troops in hiding. The cave features unusual formations and large caverns that date back an estimated 300‚000 years. Hundreds of physically fit explorers hike through Southport’s difficult terrain each year. It’s open only by appointment for guided and unguided tours.
Maury County Park, a 242-acre park in Columbia, is the heart of outdoor recreation and the center of community life for children and adults. “It’s a real gathering place and a happening spot for Maury County,” says Patrick Harlan of the Maury Alliance. Located in downtown Columbia, the park’s central feature is Kids Kingdom, a playground with a castle-like structure, sandbox and multiple play areas. "This structure is constantly used; it's a focal point of the park," says Al Ray, director of Maury County Parks & Recreation.
Playing through? Columbia and surrounding Maury County have several nice golf courses to suit any skill level. Columbia is home to Maury County’s only fully private course: the 18-hole, par-72 Graymere Country Club course, which measures 6,314 yards. Graymere Country Club opened in 1924 and is home to about 250 members. In addition to golf, Graymere has an excellent clubhouse for a cocktail with lunch or dinner.
Since 1929, the James K. Polk Ancestral Home in Columbia has been the main historic site for the 11th president of the United States. The only remaining residence of Polk (excluding the White House), the circa 1816 home was built by Polk’s father Samuel, and is one of the best examples of Federal style architecture remaining in Tennessee. Today the home at 301 West 7th St. houses more than 1,000 original items from James K. Polk's years in Tennessee and Washington, D.C., including furniture, paintings, and White House china.
Columbia has a variety of shopping destinations to choose from. Below is a listing of some of the stores available here. Appliance Columbia Vacuum & Appliance, 410 S. James Campbell Blvd., (931) 381-0906 Heritage Appliance Center, 1412 Trotwood Ave., (931) 840-8747 Book Dealers
Girls learning physics in the 1800s? Only at the Columbia Athenaeum, a girls-only school that flourished from 1852 to 1904. The school taught young women everything that well-educated young men would have learned at that time, including world history, physics, calculus and English literature. The rectory at the Athenaeum is all that stands of the campus today, and the building is admired for its Moorish Gothic architecture.
Lexington raises racehorses and Shelbyville turns out Tennessee Walking Horses, but Columbia has been majoring in mules for nearly 200 years. In fact, the area has been called the Mule Capital of the World, thanks to its rich history as a mule-trading center and Mule Day, its signature celebration of the hard-working farm animal.
Shoppers, rejoice – and be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Maury County offers a wealth of shopping opportunities ranging from nationally known stores to small boutiques that sell one-of-a-kind items. The city of Columbia is home to two malls – Columbia Mall and Neely’s Mill – frequented by tens of thousands of shoppers each year. The Crossings at Spring Hill includes stores such as Target and Kohl’s along with nearly 50 other stores. The Crossings attracts shoppers from Maury County, but it also draws residents from Williamson County and Thompson’s Station.
There's a lot going on at Spring Hill's historic Rippavilla Plantation. A treasured landmark, the home was completed in 1855 by Nathaniel Cheairs is one of the largest antebellum homes in the state. In its heyday, the 1,100-acre plantation raised wheat, corn, hay, cotton, tobacco, cattle, sheep and mules. Today, it offers visitors a glimpse of life in the 19th-century South through the many original period family antique pieces on display throughout the house.
Opportunities to enjoy and explore the arts abound in Columbia and Maury County, with a year-round cultural calendar that includes everything from juried artisan craft fairs to classical music performances. The area is home to a sophisticated population that not only appreciates creative expression, but also encourages it throughout the community.