Take a Chill Day at University of Missouri (Mizzou)

Small-town charm: your geta way for the weekend

Ratings Best Travel Date Cost Length


All year round <$25 3-4 hours

TLDR tips:

  • Visit inside the Mizzou Rec for SPA, only $12 (must have member accompany)
  • The Big Burr Oak and the Capen park are the hidden gems

Time Stamps:

  • 12:00 PM: Lunch at Downtown (0.5 hr)
  • 12:30 PM: Mizzou Tour (2 hr)
    • (Optional) Mizzou Rec SPA (1 hr)
  • 2:30 PM: Capen Park (1 hr)
  • 3:30 PM: The Big Surr Oak (0.5 hr)
  • Optional:
    • Stephens Lake Park (0.5 hr)
    • Columbia Mall (1 hr)
    • Jefferson City (2.5 hr)


  • Mizzou Tour: Free
    • (Optional) Mizzou Rec entry: $12 per person
  • Lunch: $10 per person
  • The Big Surr Oak: Free
  • (Optional) Missouri State Museum: Free
  • Total: $10-22

Having spent over two years in Columbia - Missouri during my college days, I found it to be a serene and quintessential college town right in the heart of the United States. Situated right between two major Missouri cities, Kansas City and St. Louis, Columbia is a hidden gem that I recommend to anyone traveling through I-70;

Stroll at Mizzou

The centerpiece of our visit is the campus tour of the University of Missouri - Columbia (Mizzou). I advise setting aside at least 2 hours to explore the main part of the campus.

Some must-see spots, in my opinion, include the iconic six columns (alongside Jesse Hall in the same plaza), the Memorial Union, Ellis Library, the Tiger fountain and the Student Center (with the Rec Center conveniently just across the street).

For your ease, I’ve outlined an optimal walking route to cover all these interesting points efficiently as I’ve been tour guiding friends and families multiple times. (Route start at Lee Hills Hall)

Mizzou walk route

Exploring Campus Buildings

Many of the campus buildings are open to the public. Don’t miss out on visiting the Engineering Building (which was newly built), Jesse Hall, Ellis Library, Memorial Union, and the Student Center. The campus bookstore is also in the Student Center if you wish to purchase Mizzou souvenirs.

The Columns

Mizzou Rec’s Guest Services

If you happen to know someone studying in Mizzou, I highly recommend visiting the Mizzou Rec for a reasonable fee of $12 (including tax). In addition to the gym facilities, they offer a spa for some relaxation.

Did I mention, it was once voted as top 3 best recreational center in the nation.

Mizzou Rec (Credit: Hastings+Chivetta)

Learn more here: Mizzou Rec Guest Services

Downtown Delights

Columbia’s downtown area offers a range of delightful options. I often go to the boba shop: Bubblecup Tea Zone, Thai restaurants (Thai Express and Bangkok Gardens are my top picks), and much more to satisfy any taste buds for lunch or dinner after the campus tour

The Big Burr Oak

Columbia’s hidden gem, in my opinion, is the Big burr oak tree. It’s definitely worth a short 10-mile trip, taking less than 20 minutes to drive. The journey is peaceful and the destination is Instagram-worthy shot of a huge Oak tree with the perfect tree crown.

The Big Burr Oak

Other Stops

Stephens Lake Park:
If you’re looking for a place to unwind after your tour or road trip, I recommend Stephens Lake Park. Although not vast, it features a charming small lake with walking bridges (often bustling with people fishing). It’s a picnic-friendly spot and even welcomes your furry friends.

Capen Park:
Capen Park is perfect for you if you’d like to get some outdoor trail walking going where you can experience some small elevation with beautiful cliffs. It’s only 5 minutes drive away from Mizzou Campus. The Grindstone Creek (which you’ll be able to overlook) is also accessible on foot.

Capen Park trail

Columbia Mall:
For some generic retail stores beyond the downtown area, a visit to the Columbia Mall is a good choice.

Jefferson City:
The Capital of Missouri, Jefferson City is about a 50 minutes drive from Columbia towards the south, so it’s not in the same direction between Kansas City and St Louis.
There’s a pretty good Sushi place called love sushi, they are in good value (the sexy lady and sexy guy are brought with fire lit). Other than the State Capitol Hall and the Missouri State Museum there’s not much to visit.

Missouri State Museum dome

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