Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Columbia, TN

  • Published 2023/02/01

There is so much to discover and see in Columbia, Tennessee!

Located in the metropolitan area of Nashville, this small city has a beautiful atmosphere with welcoming locals who are more than happy to greet guests and visitors.

This city is the hometown of the 11th President of the United States, James Knox Polk, where you can visit the ancestral home and museum dedicated to him.

Columbia’s culture is also diverse and vibrant complete with southern hospitality and community pride that you would love to experience.

Explore the vibrant setting of this city through its attractions that include art galleries, museums, breweries, parks, and more!

Here are some of the must-see attractions you can visit in Columbia, Tennessee:

Become One with Nature at Yanahli Park

Signage of Yanahli Park

Cenchrea Lanier /

This ecologically diverse park is a tourist destination you should visit!

Complete with numerous ecosystems, diverse flora, fauna, unique geologic and hydrological features, and even threatened and endangered species, there is so much to see at Yanahli Park.

This 474-acre park is bordered on three sides by the Duck River that is home to a population of rare, endangered fish.

You can also take a walk or bike around the 2-mile paved trail!

This site also contains culturally significant features such as burial sites, old rock walls and formations, and historic settlements that you can learn about.

Yanahli Park is a lovely place to visit that combines nature with education and recreation!

See the Original Residence of the 11th President of the United States at the President James K. Polk Home & Museum

Exterior of President James K. Polk Home & Museum

ProhibitOnions at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This residence is the original ancestral home of James Knox Polk, the 11th President of the United States of America.

In this establishment, you can find personal and private belongings that belonged to him and his family, and in the building across his home is a museum dedicated to him!

A visit to this historic site gives visitors a deep dive into the life of one of the lesser-known presidents; however, there is still much to learn!

This modest structure offers daily guided tours of the main house that features rotating exhibits, top-level artifacts, and lots of educational material on the life and service of James K. Polk.

You may also choose to take a self-guided tour within the walls of the garden, the museum, and the kitchen building.

On top of that, they host events and lectures in partnership with public libraries to give their audience a look into Polk’s America, his service as President, and more.

The presidential collections here are definitely worth seeing for when you visit this city.

Do Some Outdoor Activities at Chickasaw Trace Park

Chickasaw Trace Park is an outdoor park with many facilities for you to enjoy!

Best known for its biking and hiking trails, this recreational retreat was initially created to accommodate mountain bikers.

The trails here are suitable for all skill levels, with their flat trails for the beginners and the more difficult path called “Trail of Tears” for the more advanced.

This course is also designed with multiple entries and exit points.

If you’re not much of a biker or hiker yourself and prefer a relaxing place to wind down, pavilions with an outdoor grill and electricity, cabins, and mini-shelters are also accessible!

Other park amenities include a playground, a boat ramp, radio control car track for model cars, and a flight field for model airplanes.

Explore the Historic Downtown Columbia Public Square

This historic downtown is accentuated by a beautiful Town Square and Main Street where you can find trendy shops, boutiques, breweries, and good eats!

Visitors will not run out of things to do in this public square with all the shops they can visit, restaurants they can eat in, and coffee shops.

On every first weekend of the month, you can catch their “First Fridays” event for live music, accompanied by food trucks, vendors, and merchants to purchase from!

You may even learn about the historical past of this sweet little district by spending your day at this authentic downtown.

Make sure to allot sufficient time for an outing in Historic Downtown Columbia Public Square to maximize your trip here.

Get a Taste of Columbia’s History at Elm Springs

Majestic Elm Springs building at Columbia, Tennessee

rossograph, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Elm Springs is a vast, green property named after the many elm trees and springs lining the area.

This establishment was originally built by two brothers as a gift to their sister in 1837 and has withstood the War Between the States.

After having been passed from family to family in the late 1900s, Elm Springs went through major renovations in an attempt to restore it back to its original state.

Purchased by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 1992, Elm Springs has now become a major tourist attraction in this city.

This incredible facility educates visitors on the history of the home before, during, and after the Civil War, including the historical events of the southern U.S.

Elm Springs was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is a site where history lives!

Visit the Renowned Art Gallery at Columbia Arts Building at the Columbia Art District

Located in the Art District of Columbia, Tennessee, this establishment is a haven where artists come together to showcase their contemporary creative skills.

This historic industrial building is used for all manners and kinds of art for any form of artistic endeavor.

It is a magnet for artisans where they can come to explore and discover various masterpieces that include but are not limited to painting, photography, music, and pottery.

This art building also hosts classes for interested, up-and-coming artists who wish to develop their skills in their chosen medium.

With a welcoming community, the artisans and artists here are more than willing to create a unique experience for everyone involved!

Purchase Antique Items at the Bleu 32 Vintage Marketplace

This antique shop carries a variety of commodities such as clothing, art, homemade goods, and more!

Located in downtown Columbia, this marketplace has expanded over the years to accommodate more people and vendors.

Originally just a small building prior to its renovation, Bleu 32 Vintage Marketplace now contains a restaurant plus 25 additional vendors to widen the mix of goods and services they provide.

This much larger building now has over 12,000 square feet of vintage fun that you can find and buy, whether it’s for yourself or your loved ones.

You may just find the perfect gift for that special someone, so be sure to check this antique shop out!

Have a Refreshing Drink at Asgard Brewing Co. & Taproom

Best known for their beer, this brewery has an excellent selection that you can choose from at affordable prices!

This brewery also focuses on attracting tourists with its quality craft beer that uses natural and locally sourced ingredients.

Inspired by the Viking customs, their farm-to-barrel initiative in handling their beers is what makes this brewery stand out from the others.

This company has two buildings used for a brewhouse and the other as the main production area.

Make sure to get a taste of the unique and delicate flavors of the beer they have!

Spend Quality Time with Kids and Family at aMuse’um

This children’s museum is the perfect place for you to get some quality time with your kids!

This facility’s main priority is to ensure a safe play environment for children of all ages while making sure they have an enjoyable time.

aMuse’um offers a variety of activities that range from interactive exhibits to educational material that aims to stimulate children’s brain development through their programs and events.

Multiple centers for dramatic play, including hospitals, cafés, farms, and stores, will keep your young ones entertained for hours at a time.

aMuse’um is also a “Museum without Walls,” making it an open venue for extracurricular educational learning for local schools within Tennessee.

There is so much to learn and see in this downtown district museum!

Admire the Beautiful Architecture at St. John’s Episcopal Church

Bird's eye view of St. John's Episcopal Church

Matt Locke, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This remarkable cathedral is only a 10-minute drive from the heart of Columbia and is another must-see tourist attraction!

Before the Civil War, this church was very active in its ministry and service and had a fairly large congregation in the first few decades.

When the war broke out, St. John’s Episcopal Church was then used as a hospital for the wounded.

It was converted back into a church post-war but had low-attendance services that led to its closure soon after, ultimately ceasing all its services.

At present, this cathedral is no longer operating but is a tourist site where visitors can admire the altar, towers, and other elements of the church.

A small cemetery is also located just outside the structure, the final resting place of some episcopal bishops of Tennessee.

This historical church has a pensive yet pristine atmosphere that will let you truly appreciate the fascinating history of the cathedral and its adjacent cemetery.

Visit the Remains of Two Famous All-Girl Schools at The Historic Athenaeum

Exterior of The Historic Athenaeum

Www78, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Historic Anthenaeum is all that’s left of two famous girl schools that used to stand tall back in the 1830s.

The construction of this athenaeum began as early as 1832 for the nephew of the would-be 11th President of the United States, Samuel Polk Walker, and was completed in 1837.

This building then served as the rectory for two popular all-girl schools before closing during the Great Depression.

This structure at the present day has been turned into a historic site and tourist attraction and is also open for tours.

This museum is only accepting visitors by appointment, so make sure to book one ahead of time!

Dine-In for a Tasty Meal at Dotted Lime

Dotted Lime is a family-owned and operated restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee.

Their menus are gluten-free, peanut-free, and tree nut-free and cater to customers with special dietary needs.

The main mission of this restaurant is to feed you and your family a safe meal no matter what allergies or food restrictions you may have.

As a bonus, you won’t even be able to tell that it’s free of gluten and more because of how delicious it remains.

This restaurant makes use of high-quality, non-GMO produce that will make your tummy happy!

Look at Vintage Photos at the W7thCo Vintage Photo Gallery

Also known as “West Seventh Company,” this vintage photo gallery houses a wonderful collection of images of Columbia, Tennessee, that date as far back as the early 1900s taken by different photographers who lived in this town.

The building in which this gallery is located was built in the 19th century and has been renovated over time to create a live workspace in which these photographs were displayed.

This art gallery features carefully selected works and fine items, which attract tourists who visit this town.

This establishment is a means to ensure that these collections of artistry will be enjoyed by future generations.

The images inside are also one-of-a-kind in this part museum, part preservation project!

Additionally, you can even purchase some of the images for yourself!

Take a Trip Down to the Columbia Farmers Fresh Market

You can find locally grown and fresh options at Columbia Farmers Fresh Market, just a short walk away from the Town Square!

Only open through May to October, this market takes advantage of the surrounding farms in collaboration with the vendors to sell quality fresh produce to their consumers.

Vendors sell a variety of items aside from fresh produce, such as hand-crafted items, baked goods, and flowers.

This fresh market has been at the top of its game after operating for over 30 years!

Analyze Original, Authentic Documents at Maury County Archives

Maury County Archives is a government-owned building containing original and authentic documents of Maury Country that has been made available to the public.

One of its main features is the original Maury County Court Minute Book 1 that documents the birth and chronicles of this particular county dating back to the early 1800s.

This historic site is a wonderful place to learn about Maury County and other surrounding counties as a source of rich information since they collect and preserve a variety of original documents.

Make sure to add this historical gold mine to your list of must-see destinations while on your trip!

Fill your Bags with Items from Needle & Grain

What started as a pastime to keep the quilting and small-scale woodworking traditions alive has developed into a company emphasizing community, hard work, and a meaningful lifestyle.

The family-run firm Needle & Grain specializes in handcrafted home products with a modern aesthetic.

They make an effort to transform from being a gift shop into a full mercantile that provides for people in many different ways.

Needle & Grain aims to meet the demands of their clients since they strongly believe in taking care of one’s family, home, and wellness.

Look through the comprehensive range of products, including clothing, skincare, kitchenware, and wall decor.

Engage in Fun Activities at Pumpkin Paradise

Whether searching for a local venue for a school trip, an engaging birthday party, or simply a place for the children to burn off some energy, Pumpkin Paradise presents a fun-filled farm adventure.

Swings, slides, a corn box, a pedal track, an inside hay labyrinth, a gravel pit, and many more activities are available.

Make sure to visit the farmer’s garden to check what they are growing.

Don’t forget to read the signs across the area and see how much you can discover about farming.

Ride the hayride, visit some cows, and discover some interesting facts at Pumpkin Paradise.

Unwind and Grab a Book at Duck River Books

Duck River Books first launched in December 2012.

They aim to create a hip, local independent bookshop in Columbia and Maury County, Tennessee, someplace people can come to read, unwind, and have fun.

They decided to call the bookstore Duck River due to its location on the town square, perched on a hill overlooking Columbia, Tennessee’s most significant geographic asset.

Since then, they have made friends with readers worldwide, held entertaining special events, and welcomed a few well-known authors to their homes.

Pay a visit to Duck River Books from Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Dine and Sing Along at The Rebel Bar and Grill

Come to the Rebel Bar and Grill for delicious food, live entertainment, and karaoke!

After enjoying a drink, pick up a cue and start playing billiards to work up an appetite for delicious comfort food.

Enjoy The Rebel’s entertaining events to let off steam!

Play cornhole or take part in numerous activities, such as Buzztime Trivia.

They want to highlight some of the top talents in the area since the local music industry is flourishing.

Visit the Rebel Bar and Grill for their Happy Hour every weekday from 12 to 6 o’clock.

Have a Relaxing Stay at Blythewood Inn Bed & Breakfast

Blythewood Inn Bed & Breakfast is tucked away in a place with a long history from as early as the 1800s.

Come by to a place with a long history dating back to the 1800s and beyond.

The expansive antebellum Blythewood Inn was built as a private mansion between 1857 and 1859 in the French Colonial style.

It is among the several antebellum houses that can be seen in Columbia and the nearby areas.

The rooms are furnished with antiques and contemporary amenities.

Take a step back in time while enjoying modern comforts like Smart TV, WiFi, steaming hot baths, and cozy and welcoming beds.

Savor the delicious and filling breakfast options such as a breakfast casserole, omelet, sausage, fruit, coffee, tea, and juice.

Final Thoughts

There are many attractions you can visit in the small city of Columbia, Tennessee, that are both informative and leisurely.

From museums and galleries to farmers’ markets and restaurants, you can’t run out of things to do!

The community, culture, and heritage of this city is also an experience you wouldn’t want to miss!

The art scene in Columbia is a must-see for first-time visitors as the art industry is one of the thriving sectors of this city.

Book a ticket now to this vibrant historic downtown where you’re sure to make unforgettable memories!

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