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Guide To: Columbia, TN

In March of 2021, Country Living magazine ranked the town of Columbia, Tennessee one of the ten best small towns in the US; and they absolutely got that right. In the center of it all, a historic town square attracts visitors and residents with dining, shopping, and more. It’s a Main Street town and – for those who find idyllic small town life alluring but don’t want to give up amenities – it is a slice of paradise. 

Less than 40 miles from Nashville, it’s easy to take a short trip into the big city and be home the same day to tuck in under the Tennessee stars, but you may not want to leave at all (and Columbia gives you plenty of reasons to stay put). Main Street offers boutique and antique shops, small bites from local chefs, and quaint charm usually reserved for Hallmark movies. Just a few blocks away, an emerging Arts District boasts local theaters and galleries and lays claim to an artsy community of local makers and creatives; and on the first Friday of each month, enjoy live music on the square. 

Columbia is well-known for the options it offers in outdoor recreation. More than 100,000 people visit each year to hike, cycle, canoe, fish and more. The Duck River, one of the most ecologically diverse rivers in North America, runs along downtown and is the focal point of Riverwalk Park. Additionally, the parks system in Maury County hosts special events and activities for all ages. 

Another draw for visitors, Mule Day Celebration and Parade, earned Columbia it’s nickname “Muletown”. Exactly as it sounds, Mule Day features a week-long schedule of mule-related events from a wagon train to a miniature mule show to jackpot mule races and more. Beyond the animal entertainment, visitors and residents enjoy lots of live music, delicious food, a flea market, and more.

For a slice of history, check out the James K Polk Ancestral Home and Museum, the only remaining residence of our 11th US President, other than the White House. Next door, Polk Presidential Hall hosts all kinds of exhibits, including traveling shows from the esteemed Smithsonian Institute. 

Columbia is a destination offering a slice of life not often found, even in small towns. It thrives, not only because of its many natural amenities, but also because of the culture its residents have created that make it an incredible place to live. 

If Columbia were a song: 

Dreamsicle by Jason Isbell