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Exploring Columbia, TN: Local News, Dining & Attractions

Nestled in the heart of Tennessee, Columbia is a hidden gem that offers a delightful blend of Southern charm, rich history, and outdoor adventures. With its vibrant arts scene, picturesque landscapes, and mouth-watering culinary experiences, this charming town is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation. So let’s dive into the captivating world of Columbia, TN, and uncover the treasures that await you!

Short Summary

  • Explore Columbia, TN for its historic downtown and arts district, annual Mule Day celebration and outdoor activities.
  • Uncover the city’s rich history with attractions such as President James K. Polk Home & Museum, Historic Athenaeum and Maury County Courthouse.
  • Sample local flavors from traditional Southern fare to international dishes at eateries like Square Market & Cafe or Puckett’s Grocery.

Discovering Columbia: A Charming Southern Town

Columbia, Tennessee, often referred to as “Muletown,” is a thriving community that has been recognized as a ‘Top 10 Best Small Town’ by Southern Living and ‘Country’s Best Small Town, Top 10’ by Country Living Magazine. As you stroll through its historic downtown and arts district, you’ll be immersed in a world of distinctive shops, restaurants, and beautifully preserved architecture. The annual Mule Day celebration is a testament to the city’s proud heritage, drawing thousands of visitors to partake in parades, contests, and entertainment.

With a population of over 41,000, Columbia is a significant city in Maury County and is located just a short drive from Nashville south of Thompson's Station. The city boasts an array of family-friendly events, soul-satisfying shopping, and an eclectic mix of dining and sleep options, which contribute to the tourist development in the area. So whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or nature lover, there’s something for everyone in this charming Southern town of Tennessee Columbia.

Historic Downtown

The historic downtown area of Columbia is a treasure trove of distinctive shops, restaurants, and architecture that transport you back in time. As you wander its streets, you’ll encounter beautifully preserved buildings, such as the Athenaeum, the Maury County Courthouse, and the President James K. Polk Home & Museum. The area not only serves as a destination for visitors to discover the city’s history, but also offers a lively ambiance for locals and tourists to dine, shop, and explore the outdoors.

Apart from its rich history, the downtown area also boasts an impressive selection of restaurants, cafes, and trendy eateries that cater to a variety of tastes. From classic to classic. Southern dishes to international cuisine, you’ll find something to satisfy your palate as you explore this unique part of Columbia.

Columbia Arts District

Columbia’s vibrant Arts District is a testament to the city’s thriving creative community. Home to a plethora of artists, studios, and arts organizations, the district is renowned for its local, funky, and innovative artists and makers. As you meander through the district, you’ll find galleries showcasing a variety of art forms, from paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media.

The Columbia Arts District also hosts a range of events and activities, including art shows, music performances, and workshops. Whether you’re an art aficionado or simply looking to experience the city’s creative side, the Arts District is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the artistic spirit of Columbia.

Mule Day Celebration

A visit to Columbia is incomplete without experiencing the city’s beloved Mule Day celebration. Recognized as the “mule capital of the world,” Columbia’s annual Mule Day celebration has evolved from a livestock show and mule market event into a four-day festival that commemorates all aspects of mule life. The celebration draws thousands of people from across the country and features parades, contests, and entertainment for all ages.

The Mule Day celebration is a cherished local custom that pays homage to the history and culture of Columbia, Tennessee. So, if you happen to visit Columbia during this lively event, you’re in for a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

Uncovering History: President James K. Polk Home & More

Columbia is steeped in history, and one of the prominent attractions that showcases its rich past is the President James K. Polk Home & Museum. As the only surviving residence of the 11th U.S. President, the Polk Home offers visitors a glimpse into the life and times of this influential figure. Additionally, the Historic Athenaeum and the Maury County Courthouse serve as architectural marvels that further enrich the historical landscape of the city.

With Maury County boasting the highest concentration of antebellum houses in Tennessee, history buffs will be delighted by the wealth of historic sites and structures that the city has to offer. Whether you’re exploring the President’s home, admiring the antebellum architecture, or learning about the city’s role in the U.S. civil rights movement, Columbia is a treasure trove of history waiting to be uncovered.

President James K. Polk Home & Museum

The President James K. Polk Home & Museum, situated at 301 W. 7th Street in Columbia, is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. As the only surviving residence of the 11th U.S. President, the Polk Home offers a unique opportunity to delve into the life and times of this influential figure. Owned by the State of Tennessee and partially funded by the Tennessee Department of, the museum is a testament to the city’s rich historical heritage.

As you tour the President’s home, you’ll gain insights into his personal and political life, as well as the challenges he faced during his time in office. The museum also features exhibits and artifacts that provide a fascinating glimpse into early 19th-century America.

The Historic Athenaeum

Another historical gem worth exploring in Columbia is the Historic Athenaeum, situated at 808 Athenaeum Street. This magnificent building is a testament to the city’s rich architectural heritage and once housed two renowned girl schools operating from the 1830s until the Great Depression. Today, the Athenaeum stands as a preserved landmark that offers visitors a chance to step back in time and explore the city’s educational and architectural past.

As you wander through the halls of the Historic Athenaeum, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, where the elegance of antebellum architecture and the rich history of the city come to life. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply curious about Columbia’s past, the Athenaeum is a must-visit attraction.

Maury County Courthouse

Nestled in the heart of downtown Columbia, the Maury County Courthouse is a historic landmark that has stood the test of time. Constructed in 1845, the courthouse is a three-story building with a basement, featuring a large clock tower on the top. It has been the site of numerous significant events in the history of Columbia, including the trial of the notorious outlaw Jesse James. While exploring the history of this county, one might also be interested in learning about events in other county locations.

As you admire the Maury County Courthouse, you’ll be reminded of the city’s storied past and its deep-rooted connection to the history of Tennessee. The courthouse serves not only as a functional government building, but also as a symbol of Columbia’s rich heritage and enduring spirit.

Embracing Nature: Duck River and Outdoor Adventures

Nature lovers will find plenty to explore in and around Columbia, with the Duck River being one of the city’s crown jewels. As the longest river located entirely within the state of Tennessee, the Duck River is a habitat for more than 50 species of freshwater mussels and 151 species of fish, making it the most biologically varied river in North America. Whether you’re looking to canoe, kayak, or simply enjoy the scenic beauty of the river, the Duck River offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

In addition to the Duck River, Columbia also boasts a variety of parks and recreational areas, such as Yanahli Park and Chickasaw Trace Park. With opportunities for hiking, biking, and water sports, the city offers a plethora of outdoor adventures that cater to different interests and skill levels.

Duck River

The Duck River, measuring a total of 284 miles from east to west across the middle of the state, is renowned for its varied ecosystem and is a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking. Home to more than 50 species of freshwater mussels, the river is one of the most diverse rivers in North America. As you navigate its waters, you’ll be mesmerized by the biodiversity and natural beauty that the Duck River has to offer.

In addition to canoeing and kayaking, the Duck River also provides opportunities for fishing and bird watching. With its diverse array of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, the river is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Parks and Recreation

Columbia offers an array of parks and recreational areas that cater to different interests and preferences. Maury County Park, Chickasaw Trace Park, Fischer Park at Port Royal, and Riverwalk Park are just a few of the city’s parks that provide playgrounds, picnic areas, walking trails, and lakes. Whether you’re looking to spend a leisurely afternoon with family or embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure, Columbia’s parks and recreational areas have something for everyone.

From fishing and boating to camping and bird watching, there are countless outdoor activities to enjoy in and around Columbia’s parks. The city’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty and providing ample recreational spaces ensures that both residents and visitors can experience the best of what Mother Nature has to offer.

Outdoor Activities

Columbia, TN offers a variety of outdoor activities for preschool kids, school age kids and families those looking to explore the city’s beautiful landscapes and natural attractions. Hiking enthusiasts can venture to Yanahli Park and Chickasaw Trace Park, while those looking to experience the region’s aquatic offerings can go canoeing down the Duck River. Moreover, visiting the city parks and greenways provides a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend the day.

From hiking and biking to fishing and water sports, Columbia has something to offer for every outdoor enthusiast. With its diverse landscapes and recreational opportunities, the city is an ideal destination for those looking to reconnect with nature and experience the great outdoors.

Savoring Local Flavors: Dining and Culinary Experiences

Columbia’s culinary scene is as diverse and enticing as its historical and natural attractions. From classic Southern comfort food to international flavors, the city offers a wide array of dining experiences that cater to different tastes. Popular dining spots like Square Market & Cafe, Puckett’s Grocery, and trendy eateries provide a culinary tour of the city’s vibrant food culture.

Whether you’re a foodie looking to sample the local flavors or simply searching for a satisfying meal after a day of exploration, Columbia’s diverse dining scene offers something for everyone. So, as you discover the city’s historical sites, outdoor adventures, and artistic gems, don’t forget to savor the delectable cuisine that awaits you.

Square Market & Cafe

Located in the historic downtown area of Columbia, Square Market & Cafe is a casual dining establishment that offers a cozy atmosphere with a rustic charm. Adorned with vintage furniture and artwork, the cafe evokes a warm and inviting ambiance, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing meal or a quick bite. The menu features a selection of sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts, along with a full bar offering craft beers and wines.

In addition to its delicious food, Square Market & Cafe also offers take-out and delivery services, providing convenience for those on the go. The cafe’s patio is perfect for al fresco dining, allowing you to enjoy your meal amidst the charming surroundings of downtown Columbia.

Puckett's Grocery

Puckett’s Grocery is a historic grocery store and restaurant that originated in the 1950s in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, and has since expanded to other locations, including Columbia. Known for its traditional Southern comfort food, such as fried chicken, pulled pork, and macaroni and cheese, Puckett’s Grocery provides a tranquil atmosphere with live music, Southern cuisine, and a full-service bar.

As you enjoy the comforting flavors of Puckett’s Grocery, you’ll be treated to the sounds of local musicians, creating a truly immersive and authentic Southern dining experience. With its delicious food, lively ambiance, and friendly service, Puckett’s Grocery is a must-visit when in Columbia.

Trendy Eateries

Columbia’s trendy eateries offer a variety of cuisines and dining experiences, ensuring that there’s something for everyone. From Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse’s classic Southern cuisine to River Terrace’s selection of American dishes, there’s no shortage of culinary delights to explore. As you venture through the city, you’ll also find other popular dining spots such as Square Market & Cafe, Puckett’s Columbia, and Southern Tre Steakhouse The Original.

Whether you crave traditional comfort food or international flavors, Columbia’s trendy eateries cater to a wide array of tastes and preferences. So, as you uncover the city’s historical sites, artistic treasures, and natural beauty, be sure to indulge in the culinary experiences that await you.

Accommodations: Where to Stay in Columbia

Finding the perfect accommodations in Columbia is a breeze, with options ranging from charming bed & breakfasts to hotels and vacation rentals. Whether you’re looking for a cozy home-away-from-home experience or the convenience and amenities of a hotel, Columbia offers a variety of lodging options to suit your needs and budget.

As you plan your visit to this charming Southern town, take time to explore the different accommodations available, ensuring that your stay in Columbia is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. With its rich history, natural beauty, and vibrant food scene, Columbia is a destination that you’ll want to return to time and time again.

Blythewood Inn Bed & Breakfast

For a unique and comfortable stay in Columbia, consider the historic Blythewood Inn Bed & Breakfast. This spacious antebellum home, constructed in the French Colonial style, provides six guest suites for a cozy and intimate experience. With its elegant furnishings and warm atmosphere, Blythewood Inn offers a true home-away-from-home experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the charm of Columbia.

In addition to its beautifully appointed guest suites, Blythewood Inn provides all the modern amenities you need for a comfortable stay. Whether you’re visiting Columbia for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, the Blythewood Inn Bed & Breakfast offers a memorable and delightful lodging experience.

Hotel Options

Columbia offers a variety of hotel options to cater to different budgets and preferences. Some of the hotels available in the city include Sleep Inn & Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Columbia, and Baymont by Wyndham Columbia Maury. These hotels provide a range of amenities, such as free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, fitness centers, and swimming pools, ensuring a comfortable stay for all guests.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, Columbia’s hotel options provide the convenience and amenities you need for a relaxing and enjoyable stay. With its diverse array of accommodations, you’re sure to find the perfect lodging option to suit your needs during your visit to Columbia.

Vacation Rentals

For those seeking a more personalized lodging experience, vacation rentals are available in and around Columbia. Popular vacation rental websites such as VRBO, Airbnb, CozyCozy, and TripAdvisor offer a wide selection of accommodations, from quaint cottages to spacious homes. For additional information, visit these websites to find the perfect rental for your stay.

Vacation rentals provide a home-away-from-home experience, giving you the opportunity to explore the region while still enjoying the comforts of home.


Columbia, Tennessee, is a charming Southern town that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventures. From its historic downtown and vibrant arts district to the annual Mule Day celebration, there’s something for everyone in this delightful city. As you explore its rich history, embrace the natural beauty of the Duck River, and savor the local flavors of its diverse dining scene, you’ll discover the true essence of Southern charm. So pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey to Columbia, TN!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Columbia Tennessee famous for?

Columbia, Tennessee is known as the “Mule Capital of the World” for its annual Mule Day celebration and is renowned for its scenic Duck River, antebellum homes, vibrant historic downtown district and as the home of the 11th President of the United States, James Knox Polk.

Is Columbia TN a good place to live?

Columbia, TN offers some of the best small town living in the United States and was even ranked as one of the top ten small towns in the South by Southern Living. It is a great place to live.

Is Columbia TN a suburb of Nashville?

Columbia is a growing suburb of Nashville, having almost doubled in population in the last ten years. It now has an estimated 42,000 residents.

How far away is Columbia from Nashville?

Columbia is approximately 441 miles (709 km) away from Nashville, and it takes roughly 6 hours 46 minutes of driving to get there.

What is the best time of year to visit Columbia, TN?

The best time to visit Columbia, TN is in April for its annual Mule Day celebration.

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