Welcome to Columbia, Maryland, a planned community located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., known for its quality of life, green spaces, and diverse neighborhoods. Columbia offers a balance of urban amenities and outdoor activities. This travel guide will help you plan your visit and make the most of your time in Columbia.
Explore Columbia’s Attractions:
Columbia, Maryland, boasts a variety of attractions for visitors to explore and enjoy. From shopping and dining to outdoor activities and cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone in this planned community. Here are some must-see attractions in Columbia:
- The Mall in Columbia: As the heart of the town, this popular shopping center features a wide array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, including a movie theater.
- Lake Kittamaqundi: This picturesque man-made lake is perfect for leisurely strolls, picnics, or attending community events. Relax and take in the serene waterfront setting, or rent a kayak or paddleboat to explore the lake.
- Merriweather Post Pavilion: This renowned outdoor amphitheater hosts a diverse range of musical acts, concerts, and festivals throughout the year, making it a must-visit for music lovers.
- Symphony Woods Park: This beautiful 36-acre park is home to walking paths, picnic areas, and the Chrysalis, a unique outdoor performance and event venue.
- Robinson Nature Center: This eco-friendly center offers interactive exhibits, nature trails, and educational programs for all ages. Learn about local flora and fauna while enjoying the peaceful surroundings.
- The Columbia Archives: Dive into the history of Columbia and its visionary founder, James Rouse, at this repository for documents, photographs, and artifacts related to the planning and development of the community.
- The Other Barn: Located in the Oakland Mills Village Center, this historic barn has been converted into a community center and event venue, hosting art classes, performances, and workshops.
- Wilde Lake Park: Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities at this park, including walking and jogging trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds. The park surrounds Wilde Lake, where you can fish or take in the views of the water.
- Blandair Regional Park: This expansive park features sports fields, playgrounds, and a nature play space, making it a great destination for families and sports enthusiasts.
- Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club: Golf enthusiasts can play a round at this beautiful 18-hole championship golf course, which offers a challenging yet enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels.
With its mix of shopping, dining, entertainment, and outdoor activities, Columbia, Maryland, offers a diverse array of attractions for visitors to explore and enjoy.
Discover Columbia’s Arts and Culture:
Columbia, Maryland, is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene that caters to various interests and tastes. Here are some notable arts and cultural institutions in Columbia:
- Columbia Art Center: This dynamic community art center offers a range of art classes, workshops, exhibitions, and special events for artists and art enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.
- Columbia Festival of the Arts: This annual celebration showcases visual and performing arts, featuring both local and international artists. The festival includes performances, exhibitions, and interactive workshops, making it a must-attend event for art lovers.
- Toby’s Dinner Theatre: Enjoy a night of Broadway-style shows, musicals, and a delicious buffet dinner at this intimate, award-winning theater. The unique combination of dining and live entertainment makes for an unforgettable experience.
- Howard County Center for the Arts: Located just outside of Columbia in Ellicott City, this facility houses art studios, galleries, and two professional theaters. The center offers art classes, exhibitions, and performances by local and regional artists.
- Rep Stage: As the professional regional theater in residence at Howard Community College, Rep Stage produces a variety of contemporary and classic plays and musicals, nurturing local talent and providing high-quality theater experiences.
- The Chrysalis: This unique outdoor performance and event venue, located in Symphony Woods Park, hosts a variety of concerts, theater productions, and community events in a picturesque natural setting.
- Candlelight Concert Society: This organization presents chamber music concerts, featuring both established and emerging artists, at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College.
- The African Art Museum of Maryland: Located in nearby Fulton, this museum celebrates the art, culture, and history of Africa, featuring a diverse collection of artwork, artifacts, and educational programs.
- The Howard County Historical Society Museum: Situated in Ellicott City, this museum offers exhibits and programs that preserve and share the history of Howard County, providing insight into the region’s rich past.
- The Columbia Orchestra: Enjoy live orchestral performances by this talented community orchestra, which presents a variety of classical and contemporary music, including family-friendly concerts and collaborations with local artists.
Columbia’s thriving arts and culture scene offers a wealth of opportunities for residents and visitors to engage with the arts, attend performances, and explore local history.
Savor Columbia’s Food and Dining:
Columbia, Maryland, offers a diverse and delicious dining scene, with numerous restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisines. Here are some top picks for food and dining in Columbia:
- Clyde’s of Columbia: Located on the picturesque Lake Kittamaqundi, this popular restaurant serves American classics with beautiful waterfront views. Enjoy a diverse menu featuring seafood, steaks, burgers, and more.
- Stanford Grill: Indulge in a warm, inviting atmosphere while savoring delicious steaks, seafood, and wood-fired dishes at this upscale eatery. Their extensive menu is sure to please any palate.
- Bon Fresco: This cozy, casual eatery is known for its gourmet sandwiches, salads, and house-made desserts. Using fresh ingredients and unique flavor combinations, Bon Fresco offers a delightful dining experience.
- Aida Bistro & Wine Bar: Enjoy contemporary Italian cuisine, featuring house-made pasta, fresh seafood, and an extensive wine list, in a stylish and modern setting at this local favorite.
- Sushi King: Satisfy your sushi cravings at this popular Japanese restaurant, which offers an extensive menu of sushi rolls, sashimi, and other Japanese specialties.
- The Ale House Columbia: This lively gastropub offers a wide range of craft beers, alongside a menu of American fare with a creative twist. The Ale House is perfect for casual dining or catching a game on one of their many TVs.
- Mango Grove: Experience the rich flavors of Indian cuisine at this vegetarian restaurant. Mango Grove offers a diverse menu of traditional dishes, as well as a popular lunch buffet.
- Tino’s Italian Bistro: This family-owned and operated Italian restaurant serves a wide range of traditional Italian dishes, including pasta, pizza, and seafood, in a warm and inviting atmosphere.
- Kung Fu Tea: For a refreshing break, visit this popular bubble tea shop, which offers a wide range of customizable tea-based beverages, including milk tea, fruit tea, and slushies.
- Royal Taj: Indulge in the flavors of traditional Indian cuisine at this elegant restaurant, which offers an extensive menu of classic dishes, as well as a popular lunch buffet.
With its diverse array of restaurants and cuisines, Columbia offers an exciting culinary experience that caters to all tastes and preferences.
Shop in Columbia and Enjoy Local Services:
Columbia, Maryland, is a great destination for shopping, offering a variety of retail outlets and local services. Here are some top spots for shopping and services in Columbia:
- The Mall in Columbia: This popular shopping center features a mix of well-known department stores, smaller boutiques, and a variety of dining options, making it a one-stop destination for shopping and entertainment.
- Downtown Columbia: Explore the heart of the community and discover unique shops, boutiques, and restaurants offering everything from clothing and jewelry to art and Maryland-made products.
- The Green at Dobbin: This expansive shopping center boasts a variety of popular retailers and dining options, making it a convenient location for shopping and grabbing a bite to eat.
- Historic Savage Mill: Just a short drive from Columbia, this historic textile mill has been transformed into a unique shopping destination featuring antiques, art, crafts, and specialty shops.
- Robinson Nature Center: Visit this eco-friendly center to learn about local flora and fauna, and browse their gift shop for nature-themed gifts and educational materials.
- Charm City Run: This locally-owned running store offers a wide selection of running shoes, apparel, and accessories, as well as personalized fitting services and group runs.
- Books with a Past: Discover new and used books in this charming independent bookstore, which offers a diverse selection of titles and hosts author events and book clubs.
- The Pottery Stop and Coffee Shop: Unleash your creativity at this pottery painting studio and coffee shop, where you can enjoy a tasty beverage while painting a unique piece of pottery to take home.
- The Common Kitchen: Located in the Clarksville Commons mixed-use development, this innovative food hall features a variety of local food vendors, offering diverse cuisine options and a shared seating area for a communal dining experience.
- Columbia Farmers Market: Open seasonally, this outdoor market offers a wide selection of locally-sourced produce, meats, dairy products, baked goods, and artisan crafts, providing an opportunity to support local businesses and enjoy fresh, high-quality products.
With its mix of shopping centers, unique boutiques, and local services, Columbia, Maryland, offers a diverse and enjoyable shopping experience for residents and visitors alike.
Experience Columbia’s Outdoor Activities:
Columbia, Maryland, offers a wealth of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and families alike. The city is known for its extensive park system, walking paths, and recreational facilities. Here are some top outdoor activities to enjoy in Columbia:
- Centennial Park: This expansive park surrounds the picturesque Centennial Lake, offering walking and biking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and boating facilities. Rent a kayak, paddleboat, or rowboat and explore the lake, or simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
- Patuxent Branch Trail: Hike or bike along this scenic 4.6-mile trail that follows the Patuxent River, offering beautiful views of the water and the surrounding wooded areas. The trail connects to the larger Patuxent River State Park for extended exploration.
- Columbia SportsPark: Perfect for family fun, this recreational facility features mini-golf, batting cages, a skate park, and an outdoor playground. Enjoy a day of outdoor activities with the whole family.
- Lake Elkhorn Park: This park surrounds the 37-acre Lake Elkhorn, offering a picturesque setting for walking, jogging, or picnicking. The park also features playgrounds, a fishing dock, and picnic pavilions.
- Wilde Lake Park: Enjoy leisurely strolls around the lake, or make use of the picnic areas and playgrounds available at this tranquil park. Fishing is permitted at the lake, offering a peaceful way to spend the day.
- Middle Patuxent Environmental Area: Explore over 1,000 acres of forests, wetlands, and meadows in this protected environmental area. Hike the miles of trails available and observe the diverse flora and fauna that call this area home.
- Blandair Regional Park: This large park offers various sports fields, playgrounds, and a nature play space, making it a great destination for families and sports enthusiasts. The park also features a network of walking trails for those looking to enjoy a leisurely stroll.
- Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club: Golfers can enjoy a round at this beautiful 18-hole championship golf course, featuring a challenging yet enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels.
- Earth Treks Climbing Center: Test your climbing skills at this indoor climbing gym, featuring over 20,000 square feet of climbing walls, bouldering areas, and fitness facilities.
- Robinson Nature Center: This eco-friendly facility offers interactive exhibits, nature trails, and educational programs for all ages. Explore the center’s grounds and learn about the local environment while enjoying the outdoors.
With its beautiful parks, picturesque lakes, and diverse recreational opportunities, Columbia, Maryland, is an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy outdoor activities and connect with nature.
Navigate Columbia’s Transportation:
Columbia, Maryland, is well-connected by various modes of transportation, making it easy to navigate the city and access nearby attractions. Here are some options for getting around Columbia and the surrounding areas:
- Public Transportation: The Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland (RTA) operates a network of bus routes throughout Columbia and the neighboring areas. These buses connect residents and visitors to popular destinations, shopping centers, and transit hubs.
- Biking and Walking: Columbia is known for its extensive network of pedestrian and bike paths, which connect residential neighborhoods, commercial areas, and recreational facilities. The city’s design encourages walking and biking, making it easy to navigate without a car.
- Rideshare Services: Uber and Lyft operate in Columbia, offering convenient on-demand transportation options for residents and visitors.
- Taxis: Local taxi companies provide service in Columbia and the surrounding areas, offering another transportation option for those without a car.
- Car Rentals: Several major car rental agencies have locations in Columbia, making it easy for visitors to rent a vehicle during their stay.
- Maryland Transit Administration (MTA): The MTA operates a commuter bus service between Columbia and downtown Baltimore, providing a convenient option for those commuting to the city for work or leisure.
- MARC Train: The nearby Dorsey and Savage MARC Train stations, located just a short drive from Columbia, offer commuter rail service to both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. This is a popular option for those traveling to either city for work or leisure.
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI): Located about 15 miles northeast of Columbia, BWI Airport provides easy access to domestic and international flights. Ground transportation options from the airport to Columbia include rental cars, taxis, rideshare services, and public transit.
With a variety of transportation options available, navigating Columbia and its surrounding areas is convenient and accessible for residents and visitors alike.
Find Columbia Accommodations:
Columbia, Maryland, offers a range of lodging options for visitors, from budget-friendly hotels to extended-stay accommodations. Here are some popular choices for accommodations in Columbia:
- Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel: Conveniently located near The Mall in Columbia and Lake Kittamaqundi, this hotel offers comfortable rooms, an on-site restaurant, and an outdoor swimming pool.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Columbia: This contemporary hotel features comfortable rooms, an on-site restaurant, a fitness center, and an indoor pool. It is located near major highways, providing easy access to surrounding attractions.
- Courtyard by Marriott Columbia: This modern hotel offers spacious rooms, an on-site restaurant, a fitness center, and an indoor pool. It is situated near the popular Gateway Overlook shopping center.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Columbia/South: Enjoy comfortable accommodations, complimentary breakfast, and an indoor pool at this hotel, located close to various shopping and dining options.
- Extended Stay America – Columbia – Columbia Parkway: Ideal for longer stays, this hotel offers fully equipped kitchens in every room, on-site laundry facilities, and complimentary breakfast.
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Columbia/Laurel: Located near the border of Columbia and Laurel, this all-suite hotel features fully-equipped kitchens, complimentary breakfast, and an indoor pool, making it a great option for extended stays or family trips.
- Sonesta ES Suites Columbia Baltimore: This extended-stay hotel offers spacious suites with fully-equipped kitchens, an on-site fitness center, and an outdoor pool. It is conveniently located near major highways and business parks.
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Columbia: This stylish all-suite hotel offers spacious rooms, a complimentary breakfast buffet, and an indoor pool, making it a comfortable choice for both business and leisure travelers.
- Residence Inn by Marriott Columbia: This extended-stay hotel features fully-equipped kitchens in every suite, a complimentary breakfast buffet, and an outdoor pool. It is located near major highways, providing easy access to surrounding attractions.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Columbia East – Elkridge: Located near the border of Columbia and Elkridge, this hotel offers comfortable rooms, a complimentary breakfast, and an indoor pool, making it a convenient choice for travelers.
With various lodging options available, visitors to Columbia, Maryland, can find accommodations to suit their needs and preferences, whether they’re in town for a short visit or an extended stay.