Courtesy Visit Columbia
With three college campuses — the University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College — Columbia, Mo., has a young, hip vibe.
“Columbia has a very young feel and a very unique energy, which is so attractive to people,” said Beth Mead, tourism marketing and sales manager for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Downtown is bordered on three sides by campuses and boasts bars, boutiques, concert venues, coffee shops, art galleries and more than 70 restaurants. For example, the Blue Note club has been the stage for the Flaming Lips, Wilco and They Might Be Giants among others. The club is available for group events, as is the ornate 1928 Missouri Theater.
“Downtown is a great place to just let attendees go off and do their own things,” Mead said.
The colleges can work their way into conferences in number of ways. Groups can hold events at the schools, tap them for expert speakers or for organizing team-building exercises.
Stephens College, a performing arts and fashion design school, has several performance venues, including Lela Raney Wood Hall, a recently refurbished ballroom. Stephens’ oldest building, Senior Hall, has a large dining area and an auditorium with a stage.
Columbia College has several sports and event venues, including Dulany Hall, with dining facilities and meeting rooms.
As Columbia’s largest campus, Mizzou provides plenty of meeting and event options, and the university’s YMCA’s Venture Out program offers team building on its low ropes courses or 60-foot Alpine Climbing Tower.
The historic Tiger Hotel downtown recently renovated its 62 guest rooms and suites,. The boutique hotel’s meeting rooms and ballroom can accommodate 10 to 400 people.
A Holiday Inn Express and Suites is slated to open in late fall, while the Broadway, a Doubletree hotel, is being built downtown. When it opens this fall, the 114-room hotel will have a restaurant, a rooftop lounge and 3,300 square feet of meeting space.