Columbia is a planned city in Howard County, Central Maryland. It differs strongly from most notions of what constitutes a "city," as the planner divided the densely populated, but decidedly suburban in character, city into ten "villages," each of which are divided into several neighborhoods, leaving the city with a less obvious center.
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI IATA) is approximately 12 miles from Columbia. RTA operates bus service between the airport and Columbia.
Columbia is easily accessible from both I-95 and US-29, which run parallel to each other near Columbia. From either of these roads, exit at either Route 32, Route 175, or Route 100. Route 175, which is called Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, connects to the city center and the Mall in Columbia.
RTA offers hourly bus service on its Silver Route from the Mall in Columbia to BWI Airport and the BWI Rail Station, where further connections are available to Washington DC and Baltimore. At BWI Airport, catch the Silver Route bus outside Pier E, the International Terminal, on the lower level.
A well-kept network of walking paths winds through Columbia, mostly in wooded natural areas.
Travel within Columbia is largely by auto, although the city was originally planned as a pedestrian and bicycle friendly group of villages.
Streets are winding and hilly; cyclists should bring their eighteen-speeds.
RTA operates several bus routes through the villages and connect to some adjacent communities. Most bus routes are hourly, with limited service on weekends.
For those interested in town planning and intentional communities, Columbia's layout and village centers preserve a good deal of James Rouse's 1960s-era vision of a diverse and harmonious setting open to residents of all backgrounds. Harper's Choice Village Center and Wilde Lake Village Center (which was the first to be built) have interesting small shops and public spaces.
- 1 The Maryland Museum of African Art, 8775 Cloudleap Ct (downtown off Route 175).
- 2 Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth (Long Reach).
- 3 Robinson Nature Center (James and Anne Robinson Nature Center), 6692 Cedar Ln, ☏ . W-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM, closed Mondays, Tuesdays, some holidays. Adults $5, children (3-17 yr) $3, under 3 free.
- 4 Lake Kittamaqundi, 10275 Wincopin Cir. Lake with walking trail around it.
Concerts and theater
- 2 Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy, ☏ . A large amphitheater that hosts many concerts and festivals.
- 3 Toby's Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road, toll-free: . 6PM for evening shows (5PM on Sundays) and 10:30AM for matinees. Box office hours are 10AM to 9PM, daily. Musicals, with dinner.
Festivals and events
- 4 Lakefront Summer Festival, 10275 Wincopin Cir (Lake Kittamaqundi). Free outdoor movies and concerts every day during the summer.
- Symphony of Lights Festivities (Symphony Woods). Annual drive-through festival of lights open at night from late December to early January. Proceeds benefit the Howard County General Hospital.
- Wine in the Woods. An annual wine festival during mid-May.
- 1 Second Edition Books & Music, 6490 Dobbin Rd. a nifty little used book store in the same shopping center as the MVA Express. You'll find books, CDs, DVDs, and vinyl.
- 2 The Mall in Columbia, 10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy. one of the largest malls in the area and sports several higher-end department stores such as Nordstroms and Lord & Taylor. Great for fine gifts and luxery items. Also attached to a movie theatre and several restaurants.
- 1 Maiwand Kabob, 6131 Columbia Crossing Cir. The best kabobs in Maryland.
- 2 Mango Grove, 8865 Stanford Blvd, ☏ . Vegetarian Indian food. Daily lunch buffet and delivery.
- 3 Pars Market LLC, 9400 Snowden River Parkway # 109, ☏ . Great selection of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods.
- 4 [dead link] Royal Taj, 8335 Benson Dr, ☏ . Upscale Indian restaurant. Popular and often crowded, so call ahead.
- 5 Sushi King Columbia, 6490 Dobbin Rd. Sushi restaurant and has absolutely delicious specialty rolls.
- 6 [formerly dead link] Asean Bistro, 8775 Centre Park Dr, ☏ .
- 1 [dead link] Xitomate, 5850 Waterloo Rd Ste 100, ☏ . Good Mexican food, great atmosphere. Lots of tequila.
- 1 Doubletree Columbia, 5485 Twin Knolls Rd, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM.
- 2 Hampton Inn Columbia, 8880 Columbia 100 Pkwy, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM.
- 3 Hilton Garden Inn Columbia, 8241 Snowden River Pkwy, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon.
- 4 Homewood Suites by Hilton Columbia, 8320 Benson Dr, ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon.
- 5 Sonesta ES Suites Columbia, 8844 Columbia 100 Pkwy, ☏ . This hotel offers easy access to I-95 and I-70. Each suite offers 450 to 750 square feet and features complimentary wireless access, fully equipped kitchen and separate living room.
- 6 SpringHill Suites, 7055 Minstrel Way, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Suites with microwave, mini-fridge, large work desk, free internet, flat screen TV. Guests have access to free parking, free hot breakfast, indoor pool and fitness center. $130.
|Routes through Columbia|
|Baltimore ← Arbutus ←||N S||→ Laurel → Washington, D.C.|
|END ← Ellicott City ←||N S||→ Colesville-Burtonsville → Washington, D.C.|