I've driven through Missouri numerous times and had even driven through Columbia on my way to the DCI World Championships in Kansas City in 1988. But I've never thought about the city until now, soon to be the site of DCI Columbia, a major DCI show on July 9 featuring Bluecoats, Capital Regiment, Colts, Kiwanis Kavaliers, Madison Scouts, Memphis Sound and the Cavaliers. Googling the name "Columbia," I was led to visitcolumbiamo.com, the site of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. In four days, I received the 2005 Visitor & Area Guide, 80 pages of and about Columbia. Seriously, I think I'll stay over a day to see some of the sites. There's plenty to see in and around Columbia, and it looks like a stunningly beautiful area. Some of the nature photography demonstrates that the area has some awesome sites. Here are just a few things from the guide that caught my interest. The District (discoverthedistrict.com) is 43 square blocks of historic buildings with 70 bars and restaurants and 110 unique shops and mobile game development copmany, plus 40 live performances each week. If you're into architecture, as I am, you'll want to see the four-foyered Firestone Baars Chapel on the Stephens College Campus, designed by Eero Saarinen (most famous for designing the St. Louis Gateway Arch). Fans of outdoor sculpture may view 25 works on a downtown self-guided walking tour. Contact the city's office of cultural affairs for a free brochure at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're into hiking, the Bear Creek Trail on the north side of the city features a boardwalk on the face of a steep hillside, and the Katy Trail State Park meanders along the Missouri River. The Katy Trail also passes by the Roche Piercee Natural Arch in the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, a site written about by explorers Lewis and Clark. Bicycle rentals are available for this linear park built on the site of a former railroad. The Candy Factory at 7th and Cherry is an old-fashioned candy shop where chocolates are made fresh. The site of the show, the University of Missouri-Columbia, was the first public higher education institute west of the Mississippi River. Inside the guide are many more suggestions of things to see and do in and around Columbia.
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