As the fifth-largest city in Missouri, Columbia is full of big-city amenities mixed with small-town charm. A dream destination for Midwest meeting planners, Columbia has more than 34 hotels (roughly 3,500 sleeping rooms), several large conference facilities and over 200 restaurants. Columbia event venues range from home-town favorites to avant-garde entertainments.
Columbia is equidistant between St. Louis and Kansas City (about a two hours' drive each way), making it a convenient meeting spot just next to Interstate 70. Groups can also fly in through Columbia Regional Airlines (COU), with service to Atlanta and Memphis through Delta Connection.
Chief among exhibition venues in Columbia is the Hearnes Center. An $11-million facility that is home to University of Missouri gymnastics, wrestling and volleyball programs, Hearnes Center seats up to 13,611 people; it also has four lecture halls, each capable of seating 443 people. Sporting events here include the Big 12 Gymnastics Championships and the Big 12 Wrestling Championships. It is also frequent host to concerts by the likes of Kenny Chesney and Jack Johnson and family shows such as Sesame Street Live.
Hotel venues in Columbia include the 311-room Holiday Inn Executive Center-Columbia Mall, which has 35,000 square feet of space, making it one of the largest in the city. Encompassing the 19,000-square-foot Columbia Expo Center, two flexible ballrooms, four meeting rooms and an executive boardroom, the hotel has a capacity for 2,700 people. In addition to first-class meeting space, the Holiday Inn also has all the perks business travelers need, including free hot breakfast buffet, a 24-hour business center and complimentary Wi-Fi.
The recently renovated Days Inn Conference Center Columbia offers additional meeting space in Columbia. With two boardrooms, nine breakout rooms and a ballroom capable of accommodating up to 300 people, the Days Inn is perfect for corporate meetings and social events. The Stoney Creek Inn is a great respite for groups who need state-of-the-art space in a unique setting, complete with stone fireplace suites and lodge-themed decor. Its 6,000-square-foot Frontiers Conference Center has 10 meeting rooms, and in total the property has 11,000 square feet of meeting space. The Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard by Marriott and Wingate Inn are among the many other meeting hotel options in Columbia.
Columbia event venues feature a restored vaudeville theater, now the Blue Note, which has hosted everything from reggae to alternative rock music groups over the past 20 years. With two cocktail bars and top-notch, audio-visual equipment, the venue is great for cocktail parties and awards ceremonies. Encompassing 42 acres, Alpine Parks and Gardens' four botanical gardens, 2,400-square-foot timber pavilion and waterfall provide a serene backdrop to outdoor events. To enjoy the landscape from indoors, book a group on the Columbia Star Dinner Train. Here, guests enjoy a fine meal aboard vintage 1920s and '30s passenger cars for a three-hour journey.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons Author: CosmiCataclysm