Saving for a House? 7 Free Things to Do in Columbia, MD

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Updated on September 6th, 2023

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Known for its strong community, excellent schools, and abundance of green space, Columbia, Maryland is a great city for newcomers. If you’re in the area and on a budget, there are numerous options for you to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to explore nature, shop, or learn more about the city’s history, there’s something for everyone.

So if you’re renting an apartment in Columbia or already live in the area and are looking for budget-friendly things to do, read on for seven free things to do in Columbia. 

1. Explore the Columbia Lakefront

The Columbia Lakefront is one of ten man-made lakes in the city. The lake offers a variety of recreational activities, including boating, fishing, and hiking. If you’re more into scenery, there are fantastic views of the lake and surrounding Columbia homes, which are in high demand. 

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2. Visit the Columbia Art Center

If you’re living in Columbia, check out The Columbia Art Center. This community center offers a variety of free art classes and workshops for visitors of all ages, including summer camps for kids and weekend classes for adults. Located within the Columbia Lakefront, the center also hosts a number of exhibits throughout the year featuring local and regional artists.

3. Go on one of many hikes in the area

There are several hiking options near Columbia, MD, that offer varying degrees of difficulty and a wide range of scenery, including: 

  • Patuxent Branch Trail: This trail offers beautiful views of the Patuxent River and the surrounding countryside. It’s a great place to explore nature and get some exercise.’
  • Patapsco Valley State Park: Situated between Columbia and Baltimore, this park offers over 200 miles of hiking trails, including the popular Grist Mill Trail and the Cascade Falls Trail.
  • Rockburn Branch Park: This park offers around five miles of hiking trails, as well as a full-length disc golf course and a dozen playfields.
  • Centennial Park: There are over four miles of hiking trails throughout the park that take you to many popular locations, including the Centennial Lake and numerous playfields.
  • Alpha Ridge Park: Just north of Columbia, this park contains over three miles of hiking trails and is known for its meadows and woodlands

4. Visit the Howard County Library

Always free for everyone, the Howard County Library offers a variety of programs and events for visitors of all ages, including book clubs, storytimes, and workshops. 

History buffs can also visit the Columbia Archives within the library. The archives is responsible for collecting and providing access to materials related to the history of Columbia and its founding community, which is called the Rouse Company.

5. Take a stroll through local malls

The Columbia Town Center is a popular destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Although the stores and food aren’t free, you can still enjoy window-shopping, people-watching, and the beautiful architecture of the area.

6. Attend concerts at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Merriweather Post Pavilion hosts a variety of free concerts and events throughout the year, which feature local, regional, and national acts. Located in the heart of Columbia within Symphony Woods, the venue is considered one of the best in the country and has featured artists such as The Who, Led Zeppelin, and Paul Simon.

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7. Go to the Columbia Festival of the Arts

The Columbia Festival of the Arts brings a lineup of local, national, and internationally renowned performers to Columbia in a variety of genres, including music, dance, theater, and visual arts. The city hosts the festival every year for four weekends at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. There are free and ticketed events for every age group, so feel free to bring the whole family.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.
Jamie Forbes

Jamie Forbes

Jamie is part of the content marketing team and is passtionate about climate change, housing affordability, and housing market trends. His dream home is a small, modern, and minimalist forested home where he can hear the wind blowing at night.

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