iStock/Sean Pavone

liv score
663
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 62
Demographics 50
Economy 55
Education 63
Health 61
Housing 58
Infrastructure 50

#30. Columbia, MO

Located smack dab in the middle of Missouri, Columbia is a cool college town the University of Missouri calls home. Like many other university towns, Columbia boasts a quaint downtown with charming shops and delicious local restaurants as well as art galleries, museums and fun festivals all-year round like Art in the Park or the Show-Me-State Games.

And if all that sounds appealing to you, you’re not alone: Columbia’s population has soared over the last 10 years, growing about 11.6 percent between 2010 and 2017. 

Top Industries and Employers: The top industries in Columbia are education and medical with the largest employers being the University of Missouri-Columbia and university hospitals and clinics. 

Best Coffee Shop: Coffee Zone not only serves up your daily dose of caffeine but also delicious Mediterranean food. 

Best Local Beer/Brewery: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing has a lengthy list of house-brewed beers that locals can’t get enough of.  

Must-Have Meal: Oh, wherefore art thou, pizza delivery from Shakespeare’s Pizza? When in Columbia, you must order the Masterpiece from Shakespeare’s, which is a Mizzou institution: red onions, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, Italian sausage and ground beef.  

Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): The Heidelberg (or the ‘Berg as it’s known to locals) is a classic tavern that’s been a happy hour institution since it opened in 1963. 

Creative Hub: The North Village Arts District is Columbia’s bohemian haven, filled with artist studios, galleries and entertainment venues as well as local businesses that sell coffee, whisky and artisanal goods. 

Favorite Weekend Activity: The Columbia Farmers Market is the place to be on a Saturday morning — with live music, classes for kids and adults and, of course, fresh fruits and veggies for sale. 

Free Way to Have Fun: Hiking through the trails at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and playing explorer by walking through the large cave system, which has fun surprises like a spring and an underground stream. 

Local Dream Job: Teaching the basics to future journalists as a professor at Mizzou, which has one of the country’s top journalism programs.  

Read More:
Why Columbia, MO is a Best Place to Live
The Cost of Living Diaries: Columbia, MO
7 Things to Do in Columbia, MO

– Jamie Birdwell-Branson

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