Family Fun Fests are organized by the Parks and Recreation department, from 6 to 8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month, from April through August. The fest offers a different theme each month and is held at Flat Branch Park, 101 South Fourth Street, Columbia, Mo., 65201. Call 573-874-7460 for details.
The 35th annual Heritage Festival and Craft Show, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 15-16 at Historic Nifong Park, will have something for everyone in the family. Visitors can see history come alive with re-enactors from an 1859 town, cowboys with chuckwagons, artisans and tradesmen dressed in period attire, and a Lewis and Clark outpost. There will be music, dancing and storytelling. A special children's area will feature stilts, paper pumpkins, rope making, candle dipping, hayrides, and more. Admission is free. Heritage Festival, Historic Nifong Park, 2900 East Nifong Blvd. (Highway 63 South and AC, exit west), Columbia, Mo., 65201. Call 573-874-7460 for details.
Year round, there are plenty of fun things to do outdoors. Families will enjoy the spraygrounds and beach at Stephens Lake Park; the geologic wonders — including caves and an underground stream — at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park; the skate park, trails, playgrounds and fishing lakes at Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area; and the MKT Trail's miles of wooded paths.
If you prefer indoor fun, check out places like Hands On Ceramics and the Mudd Room, where young and old artists can get creative. If you want to let off some steam, there's Going Bonkers and a classic family pastime — roller skating at the Empire Roller Rink.
A little farther afield, near Boonville, get up close and personal with the Budweiser Clydesdales at Warm Springs Ranch, a breeding farm for the famous Anheuser-Busch horses. Visitors will see more than 100 Clydesdales, custom-made harnesses, a 1903 beer wagon, and three luxury tractor-trailer units that are used to transport the Clydesdales to their appearances. Tours are by reservation only and last about an hour and a half. Tours are offered daily, except Wednesdays, April 1 through Oct. 31. Admission is $10; children under the age of 2 are admitted free. Warm Springs Ranch is located at 25270 Highway 98, Boonville, Mo., 65233. Call 888-972-5933 for reservations.
Seeing the sights is fun, but so is dining — especially at the many family-friendly eateries in CoMo. A perennial favorite is the 63 Diner, a 1950s-style diner that serves burgers, fries, shakes and pies in a fun setting complete with a jukebox. 63 Diner is located at 5801 Highway 763 North, Columbia, Mo., 65202. Call 573-443-2331 for details.
If you like pizza, you'll want to stop at Shakespeare's Pizza (your choice of downtown or west locations) for what is generally regarded as the best pizza in town. Shakespeare's Pizza, 225 S. Ninth St., Columbia, Mo., 65201. Call 573-449-2454 for details.
And be sure to not miss Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream, offering great ice cream in unusual flavors. Sparky's is located at 21 S. Ninth St., Columbia, Mo., 65201. Call 573-443-7400 for details.
Barbara Gibbs Ostmann has been writing about travel, food and wine since 1975. The author of 13 books, she lives with her husband and lots of pets on 50 acres in Franklin County.