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Go There: A Local Guide to a Weekend Stay in ‘Muletown’ Columbia, TN

What to do, where to stay, and most importantly, how to find the local obsessions in Columbia, Tennessee.

By Branham Maddox on March 28, 2023

Columbia, TN, town square
Columbia, TN, town square / Courtesy Visit Columbia, TN

Welcome to “Go There,” a Livability.com series about travel and how to maximize your time in some of our favorite cities. Do you have a place in mind that we should visit next? Let us know!

Today, we’re headed 45 minutes south of Nashville to a quaint small town known for its Mules and southern charm: Columbia, Tennessee

Where to Stay in Columbia, TN

Courtesy Visit Columbia, TN

Columbia offers stays that are uniquely theirs. From alluring downtown Airbnb’s with a view to old-fashioned bed and breakfasts that will make you feel right at home, you’ll never go wrong in picking a spot to stay. 

All I Have to do is Dream is a dreamy second-floor loft right on the square. With a rooftop terrace and a breathtaking view of Columbia’s iconic courthouse, this luxurious three-guest property will have you dreaming of your stay in Columbia for weeks to come. It’s perfect for a romantic getaway, family event or girls’ weekend, and All You Have to do is Dream!

If you’re looking for that classic bed and breakfast type of feel for your visit to Columbia, Blythewood Inn Bed and Breakfast is a superb option to consider. Decorated with period pieces and furnishings with an added modern twist, Blythewood takes you back in time with exceptional southern hospitality. 

Two Lanes Guest House is a loft vacation rental owned by American Picker Mike Wolfe, right on the main street in Columbia. This one-bedroom loft has a soft rustic but modern feel, embellished with Mike Wolfe’s own personal antique picks. His goal was to create that ‘Instagram-able’ moment for guests while encouraging them to stay and explore Columbia for a long weekend.  

What to Do in Columbia, TN

Columbia, TN, hosts a monthly First Fridays event in the community.
Courtesy Visit Columbia, TN

If you had asked five years ago what to do in Columbia, the answer might have been a bit different, but now, the city is booming and filled with plenty to do and see. With the exponential growth in small businesses, music, recreation and food scenes, people from all over are excited to visit this unique small town. 

Visit the President James K. Polk Home and Museum, where you’ll learn about the 11th President of the United States and tour his home within walking distance to Historic Downtown Columbia. Tours offered daily include a 30-minute guided tour of the main house and a self-guided tour of the Polk gardens, the Polk Sisters’ house, and the kitchen building. 

Columbia, TN, is home to the President James K. Polk Home and Museum, where you’ll learn about the 11th President of the United States and tour his home within walking distance to Historic Downtown Columbia.
Courtesy Visit Columbia, TN

First Fridays are one of the locals’ biggest obsessions. On the first Friday of every month, downtown merchants and restaurants stay open late as people from all over join for live music, shopping, and dining. Locals say First Fridays is the best day of the month in Columbia and look forward to it. 

The emerging Arts District in Columbia is a must-do, especially if you are a thrifting guru. The Columbia Arts Building is a three-story rustic environment for artist studios, cafes and retail, and is open to any and all creatives to work and thrive. The Columbia Arts District is also home to businesses, including Glover’s Secondhand + Handmade, Cute Vintagey Things, Battleground South Cigar Lounge, Row & Co and many more. 

Where to Eat in Columbia, TN

People packed in to Pucketts on the Square in Columbia, TN.
Courtesy Visit Columbia, TN

New restaurants seem to be popping up each day in Columbia, so here are go-to spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Breakfast Spots: You can’t go wrong with a southern-style breakfast at Puckett’s. Here, you can enjoy southern hospitality, classic skillets, pancakes and good ole eggs and bacon that will satisfy your hunger. If you’re on the go, grab a coffee and pastry at Columbia’s own Muletown Roasted Coffee

Muletown Coffee in Columbia, TN
Muletown Coffee in Columbia, TN / Nathan Lambrecht

Lunch Spots: Mama Mila’s is the talk of the town when it comes to food scenes in Columbia. Located in the Columbia Arts District, these authentic Italian recipes will leave you craving more. Square Market & Cafe is the perfect place to pair a soup and a sandwich. Locals recommend trying the chicken salad, and you won’t be disappointed. 

Exterior of Southern Tre, a local restaurant in Columbia, TN.
Courtesy Visit Columbia, TN

Dinner Spots: Try out one of the newest spots on the square, McCreary’s Irish Pub, for an Irish-style atmosphere and dinner. With live music and happy hours here, it feels like St. Patrick’s Day every day. Also, Southern Tre Steakhouse is a great family-friendly option where you can enjoy a casual night out, especially if you snag a table on the outdoor patio. 

Where to Shop in Columbia, TN

Row & Co is part of the Columbia Arts District in Columbia, TN.
Courtesy Visit Columbia, TN

Taking a shopping spree in Columbia is a must. Splurge on the boutiques, antiques and great finds in the downtown shops and surrounding retail spaces. 

If you love antiques, Bleu 32 Vintage Marketplace and Accents and Antiques on the square and  Columbia Antique Marketplace in the Factory at Columbia are the prime places to stop on your antique trail.

Amy Montgomery Home is right off the square in Columbia, TN, and is  where you can find upscale home decor. Amy is a firm believer in making a house feel like home, where small decorative touches can go a long way.
Courtesy Visit Columbia, TN

You can find home decor galore at Smith & York Co. with a modern feel. Offering a wide range of gift items, wedding registry and home styling services. Amy Montgomery Home is right off the square, where you can find upscale home decor. Amy is a firm believer in making a house feel like home, where small decorative touches can go a long way. 

Shop at boutiques around the town, such as The Linen Duck, Ye Peddler and Cult Persona. Each includes one-of-a-kind staples for any wardrobe. Looking to leave with a little Muletown merch? Southern Exposure, Tin Cottage or the Columbia Welcome Center have you covered. 

Local Obsession: Mule Day

Mule Day in Columbia, TN
Mule Day in Columbia, TN / Nick Bumgardener

If you’re wondering how Columbia got the name ‘Muletown,’ it’s because the town absolutely raves over Mule Day. Mule Day is an annual tradition dating back to the 1840s. It started when Breeders from all over would bring their mules to the town square to sell and trade. This mule market eventually evolved into what Mule Day is today. In 1934, the first official parade was held, followed by the market around the square. Now, Mule Day has become part of the culture in Columbia. From a one-day event to a now week-long festival, thousands of visitors come from across the nation to witness this event. 

Saturday is the feature day, with the parade starting at 11 am. Still, you can visit Maury County Park for fun activities throughout the week, including arts and crafts, live music, square dancing, horse shows, mule contests, food trucks and vendors and a spot to meet the mules themselves. 

Columbia is ‘classically southern and uniquely Muletown,’ and you won’t feel more invited or welcomed in any place else. 

Learn more about Columbia and Mule Day at Visit Columbia or check out the latest edition of Maury County Business.

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