While strolling through the beautiful University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Missouri, don’t be surprised if you see a student rubbing the nose of a bronze relief sculpture. It’s a tradition. According to legend, students who rub the sculpture nose of David R. Francis, for- mer Missouri governor and proponent of the university, will get an A on their next exam. Visitors sometimes rub the nose as well for good luck.

David R. Francis sculpture, University of Missouri
Credit: Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau

Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri—or Mizzou, as it is nicknamed—was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. The David R. Francis Quadrangle is the oldest part of the university and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It consists of six erected towers surrounded by glorious red buildings.

The iconic columns are the most well-known landmark on the University of Missouri campus. All that remains of the original academic hall that burned in 1892, the columns still stand on the David R. Francis Quadrangle.

Located right in the middle of Missouri, Columbia was founded by Kentucky pioneers in 1821. CoMo—as it is lovingly called—offers the amenities of a big city and the charms of a small town.

Two major attractions that group tours are sure to enjoy besides the Mizzou campus are The District and the North Village Arts District, says Megan McConachie, strategic communications manager for the Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

University of Missouri
Credit: Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau

“Columbia is a great place for groups because of the diverse offerings,” McConachie says. “Anyone from a foodie to a shop- per to a history or art fan can find a spot that gets them excited about visiting our city.”

Formed in 2009, the North Village Arts District in downtown Columbia is home to more than 150 working artists and dozens of local businesses that celebrate the arts.

Encompassing 50 square blocks downtown, The District offers boutique shopping, delicious local cuisine, craft brews, wine, and much more. Missouri has more than 130 wineries, and Columbia has its fair share of them—as well as some of the best breweries in the state. CoMo is also famous for its finger-licking barbecue.

Shelter Gardens is just west of downtown at the headquarters of Shelter Insurance. Its 5 acres contain thousands of annuals and perennials plus hundreds of trees and shrubs. Free and open to the public, the garden features a sparkling waterfall, a lovely gazebo, and a creative rock garden.

The Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau offers itinerary planning, connections with industry partners, step-on welcomes, and more.

Written by Jackie Sheckler Finch
Featured Image: Columbia, Missouri; Credit: Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau