21 Best Things to Do in Columbia, MD

Columbia, MD
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If you're traveling to Columbia for the first time, you'll be delighted to learn that there are many fascinating things to do.

Located in Central Maryland, Columbia is a planned community founded in 1967 and is home to over 100,000 people.

It is also the state's fourth-largest city.

Columbia has a flourishing IT industry, and there are plenty of entertaining things to do.

It boasts pleasant summers, proximity to multiple schools and universities, and access to Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

There is so much to do and see in Columbia, from exploring the beautiful parks and trails to learning about the city's history.

You can also go on day trips to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. from there.

Columbia is one of Maryland's best places to live, and it's easy to see why: the city offers something for everyone from keen shoppers to outdoor enthusiasts.

Below are the best things to do in Columbia, MD.

Enjoy the Calm Waters of Wilde Lake

Trees reflecting on Wilde Lake
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

The Columbia Association developed Wilde Lake, a 22-acre artificial lake, in 1967, from a low-lying rough grass meadow with a tiny creek.

The Wilde Lake's depth varies from 13 feet at the dam's back to almost eight feet in the center.

Waterfront promenade at Wilde Lake
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

The Wilde Lake houses a dam that is 15 feet high and 200 feet wide, with the dam face made up of four poured concrete steps decorated with logs to enhance the cascading water's beauty.

You can also explore the 1.3-mile circular route in Wilde Lake and revel in 29 minutes of silent concentration as you accomplish this route.

Although this is a popular trail for birding, paddle sports, and trail running, it can still be peaceful at certain times of the day.

Colorful flowers near the waters of Wilde Lake
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Have Great Fun in Blandair Regional Park

Blandair Regional Park is a 300-acre oasis of forested land and manicured lawns.

The park offers different play areas for children, including the Blandair Park Challenge Course, divided into three lanes, each with three or four elements to overcome.

The majority of the elements are suitable for children aged five and up.

The Blandair Regional Park is also home to Laura's Place, a massive fenced-in playground with a double gate system.

The playground has separate spaces for different age groups, and the main center area has a massive play structure with several slides.

Other areas include the dinosaur area where kids may dig for fossils and play on dinosaur-themed play structures; a farm-themed place for younger kids; and various interesting shade structures, including one designed like a butterfly.

This gorgeous park is an excellent spot for a kids' day out in Columbia.

Attend a Concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion

People watching a show at Merriweather Post Pavilion
Reality truth, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Merriweather Post Pavilion is a world-renowned concert venue that hosts some of the biggest names in music.

Located in Symphony Woods, the venue is surrounded by 40 acres of lush forest and has a capacity of 19,000 people.

The pavilion also hosts a complete calendar of events, including popular fairs, concerts, and festivals.

A musician performing at Merriweather Post Pavilion
Matthew Straubmuller, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Renowned unconventional architect Frank Gehry initially constructed the Merriweather Post Pavilion.

It's also eco-friendly, with solar-powered house lighting, compost, and building standards that meet the highest environmental standards.

This pavilion provides an unrivaled experience for bands and fans alike, with a great sound system and massive video screens.

Visit the Historic Oakland Manor

The Historic Oakland Manor is a beautiful 19th-century two-story home with exquisite gardens and an expansive outdoor patio big enough for a 40' x 60' tent.

The Manor is near downtown Columbia and is ideal for hosting events such as weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate functions, and holiday parties.

Guided tours of the Manor are available by appointment.

Visitors can learn about the home's history and explore the stone-walled Bishop's Garden, the Magnolia Room, the Ballroom, and the original period furnishings.

The Historic Oakland Manor is a beautiful venue for any occasion.

Its modern amenities, crystal chandeliers, and warm hardwood flooring encourage guests to enjoy the comforts and conveniences of today while getting a glimpse of the elegance of a bygone period.

The cozy Manor is perfect for those who appreciate history.

Explore Lake Kittamaqundi

The calm waters of Lake Kittamaqundi
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Lake Kittamaqundi is an artificial freshwater lake in the center of downtown Columbia.

Its name comes from the first Native American colony in Howard County, meaning "meeting place."

The lake was constructed during the development of Columbia and is today a popular leisure spot for locals and visitors.

Paper boat makers participating on a festival at Lake Kittamaqundi
Knumina Studios / Shutterstock.com

You can go running, walking, or cycling around the perimeter of the 27-acre lake on a paved 2.5-mile multi-use route.

There are also various private picnic sites, drinking fountains, and clean public restrooms along the road.

Several alternative trails branch off the main route if you need a larger loop.

Restaurants, shops, and businesses surround the lake, and the lake's shores feature a boat launch and wooden pier where you can go paddle-boarding or kayaking.

A vehicle-like paper boat on Lake Kittamaqundi
Knumina Studios / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy a Show at Toby's Dinner Theatre

Toby's Dinner Theatre is the perfect place to enjoy a good show while indulging in a delicious meal.

This theatre has entertained audiences for over 40 years.

Toby's Dinner Theatre first opened its doors in downtown Columbia, near the Merriweather Post Pavilion and Lake Kittamaquindi.

It has a 300-people seating capacity.

The dinner theatre stages Broadway-style musicals and plays while offering an all-you-can-eat buffet with various entrees, salads, and desserts.

With stunning performances and seating that puts every customer close to the stage, this one-of-a-kind theater offers each guest a dynamic participatory entertainment experience.

Toby's Dinner Theatre features a 25-item salad bar, carving station, an extensive buffet specially selected by their chef for each show, and desserts.

Visitors also enjoy a cocktail, beer, wine, or Toby's Dinner Theatre's unique show drink delivered in a take-home souvenir glass at their full-service bar.

Toby's Dinner Theatre is also one of the few area dinner theaters that feature a live orchestra, making it a perfect place to enjoy a night out with family or friends.

Explore the James and Anne Robinson Nature Center

Exterior of James and Anne Robinson Nature Center's building
Sarr Cat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The James and Anne Robinson Nature Center is a nature education center on 18 acres of parkland near the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area.

The Center is an excellent place for those who love nature and want to learn more about the environment.

It offers environmental education programs for all ages, animal exhibits, a butterfly garden, and a nature trail.

For decades, James and Anne Robinson looked after the property, preventing it from being developed.

They eventually transferring it to Howard County, Maryland, for public use.

The Robinson Nature Center is also home to the Howard County Conservancy, which offers trails, educational programs, and events.

Play at the Sky Zone Trampoline Park

The Sky Zone Trampoline Park is a unique entertainment venue that features a variety of trampolines and activities such as dodgeball and basketball.

It is perfect for having active fun with your kids or friends.

The Sky Zone Trampoline Park also has a foam pit, ninja course, and a Sky Slam court where visitors can take their game to new heights.

The park also offers a variety of birthday party packages, making it a great place to host a party or other events such as corporate events and team-building exercises.

Whether you are looking to have some fun and exercise or host an event, check out the Sky Zone Trampoline Park.

Shop at the Mall in Columbia

Aerial view of the Mall in Columbia
FlugKerl2, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

No matter the season, visiting the Mall in Columbia is always a good idea.

This massive shopping complex features more than 200 stores, making it a great place to find everything you need.

Exterior of Nordstrom at the Mall in Columbia
Baron Maddock, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Mall in Columbia is anchored by department stores such as Macy's, JCPenney, Nordstrom, and retailers such as H&M, Forever 21, and Gap.

The mall has undergone renovations and expansions and now features a food court with various options and a movie theater.

Whether you want to do some shopping or walk around, the Mall in Columbia is worth a visit.

Bond with Friends and Family at the Supreme Sports Club

The Supreme Sports Club is a full-service fitness center that offers a variety of amenities such as group fitness classes, personal training, basketball courts, and more.

It is on Centennial Lane in Columbia and has a pool, sauna, and steam room, making it the perfect place to get in shape or stay in shape.

The Supreme Sports Club allows visitors to pay a daily rate, which gives them access to all of the facilities and amenities for the day.

Memberships are also available for those who want to access the Club regularly.

Kids and teens can also enjoy the Supreme Sports Club as its amenities include KidSpace, a roller rink, a youth arena, basketball and volleyball facilities, racquetball courts, and a lot more.

Supreme Sports Club is a great place for relaxing or working out.

Marvel at the Waters of Lake Elkhorn

Swans on the water of Lake Elkhorn
Anton Albert / Shutterstock.com

Lake Elkhorn is a 37-acre reservoir in Columbia, Maryland's Owen Brown neighborhood.

It is Columbia's third and largest lake, featuring a minor dam and a park with a picnic pavilion and a two-mile walking trail around the lake as its principal features.

People at Lake Elkhorn's dock
Jstuby, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The artificial Lake is in the heart of Columbia, and it also features a watershed of around 2,500 acres.

The Lake is eight feet deep on average and 15 feet deep at its deepest point, and it is full of trout every spring.

The common green darner, slaty skimmer, twelve-spotted skimmer, eastern amberwing, and the black saddleback are among the dragonflies and damselflies seen in the area.

Lake Elkhorn's spillway
Jstuby at English Wikipedia, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Browse the Columbia Art Center

The Columbia Art Center, within the historic Long Reach Village Center, is a great place to discover local artwork.

The Columbia Art Center has operated since 1983, offering programs such as 'Learn to Draw Comics.'

The Gallery Shop also sells handcrafted and affordable artwork, some of it by students, and traditional art ranging from practical ceramics to ornamental glass pieces.

If you are more interested in art pieces, tours of the galleries are accessible during regular business hours

Enjoy these art pieces through the Columbia Art Center’s rotating exhibitions of work.

The Columbia Art Center also offers classes and workshops for all skill levels, so everyone is welcome.

This facility also houses outreach activities such as Creative Journey and Operation Bedroll.

Play a Round of Golf at the Hobbit's Glen Golf Club

The Hobbit's Glen Golf Club is one of the best places to play golf in Columbia.

This par-72 course is built through and around the Maryland woods,

Readers of Howard Magazine voted Hobbit's Glen the Best Golf Course in Howard County for 2020.

It features rolling terrain, streams, ponds, and wooded areas.

The Hobbit's Glen Golf Club is in the heart of Columbia, a short drive from Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Hobbit's Glen, which has hosted Champions Tour events, measures little more than 7,100 yards from the back tees and 5,400 yards from the front tees.

Golfers will appreciate the lush green fairways and natural elements of the area, which combine to offer an unforgettable golfing experience.

The Turn House Kitchen and Drink, a restaurant and bar with amazing views of the golf course, and an outdoor eating and entertainment space with a fire pit, are inside its clubhouse.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced golfer, Hobbit's Glen Golf Club is the perfect place to play.

Discover the Columbia Maryland Archives

The Columbia Maryland Archives is a great place to learn about the history of this city.

The archives, located in the Main Street district, contain more than 1,000 linear feet of material documenting the history of Columbia and its founding families.

Columbia Maryland Archives welcomes locals and tourists interested in learning as much as possible about Columbia's past, present, and future.

The objective of the Columbia Maryland Archives is to collect, preserve, and share with the public Columbia's early history and current development.

If you’re a history buff or want to learn more about this vibrant city, the Columbia Archives is a great place to visit.

Go on a Hike at Lake Elkhorn Park

Get a dose of the great outdoors by visiting Lake Elkhorn Park.

Located 2.2 miles from central Columbia, Lake Elkhorn is a picturesque 37-acre lake that can be perfectly seen from the shores of Lake Elkhorn Park.

This park features everything you'd expect from a great outdoor area—scenic walking paths, long and winding bike trails, and several picnic areas.

So whether you want to enjoy a leisurely stroll, ride your bike, or enjoy an outdoor lunch with your family, Lake Elkhorn Park offers all of them in one convenient location.

As you might expect, Lake Elkhorn Park is also popular for fishing, boating, and birdwatching.

The lake is filled with fish such as bass, crappie, and catfish.

You can also see plenty of birds and other wildlife lurking in the area, including blue herons, ducks, geese, and more.

There is also plenty of plant life in the area—however, be wary as some of them are reported to be poisonous.

With its serene natural beauty and recreational opportunities, Lake Elkhorn Park is a fantastic place to escape to nature.

So, if you're looking for a peaceful outdoor retreat in the heart of Columbia, look no further than Lake Elkhorn Park.

Enjoy a Good Beer at Hysteria Brewing Company

Due to its cold climate, the Old Line State is well-known for producing some of the finest beers you'll ever taste.

While Columbia has a fair number of breweries and distilleries in town, Hysteria Brewing Company is at the top of the list of the best places to enjoy craft beer.

Located in downtown Columbia, this local brewery is known for its creative and flavorful craft beers, including stouts, IPAs, and sour beers.

Whether you're looking to try every variant or simply want to enjoy a cold brew after a day of exploring Columbia, you can enjoy a flight of craft beers in the taproom.

Hysteria Brewing Company is housed in a rustic, industrial-style building, which adds to the place's overall appeal.

The taproom also offers some relaxing vibes as it hosts soothing live music.

They also host various events throughout the year, which makes visiting Hysteria Brewing Company even more fun and exciting.

Cool Down at Columbia Swim Center

Just because it doesn't get too hot in Maryland doesn't mean you can't enjoy a dip in the pool.

The Columbia Swim Center is the perfect spot to cool off on a warm day.

This facility features indoor and outdoor pools and amenities such as a water slide, a splash pad, and a whirlpool.

Visitors, particularly the kids, can take swim lessons, while the adults can participate in various aqua fitness classes.

Of course, you can also choose to simply relax by the pool with a good book and a drink by your side.

The Columbia Swim Center is the perfect spot for those seeking a refreshing workout or families looking to cool off and have fun.

Get Active at Movement Columbia

For fitness enthusiasts, Movement Columbia is a unique and inspiring fitness studio that offers various fitness programs to help you stay in shape even when on vacation.

Located in downtown Columbia, the center offers a variety of fitness classes, including yoga, barre, Pilates,rock climbing, dance, and much more.

Even when you're just visiting, the friendly locals will immediately make you feel at home!

The studio is known for its welcoming and supportive community and experienced and knowledgeable instructors who will guide you through the entire program, whether you're a fitness enthusiast or a complete beginner.

Visitors can take a class or register for multiple courses to improve their strength, flexibility, and overall health and well-being.

Movement Columbia is a great place to let your mind and body be one, all while surrounded by like-minded individuals with the same goal as you.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Spend a Day at the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area

The Middle Patuxent Environmental Area is a beautiful place to spend a day outdoors because it is a natural environmental area that is "forever preserved."

It is the most extensive parkland in Howard County's parks, with expansive open spaces and natural resource areas covering 1,021 acres.

Nestled between the towns of Columbia and Clarksville, the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area offers activities such as hiking, fishing, canoeing, and picnicking.

Approximately 150 species of birds, over 40 animals, and numerous amphibians, reptiles, fishes, butterflies, plants, and other creatures live there.

Several miles of trails wind through the different habitats in the environmental area, making it a perfect location to go for a walk or a hike.

Whether you are looking to spend a day hiking or learn more about the environment, the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area has something to offer.

Final Thoughts

If you're looking for things to do in Columbia, MD, you won't be disappointed.

With plenty of events and activities happening throughout the year, there's always something fun and exciting in the community.

Columbia has something for you, whether you're into history, nature, or want to have some fun.

So whatever you're into, check out what's happening in Columbia.

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