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Top 10 Neighborhood Amenities in Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, MD is located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. and is a convenient commute by car or public transit to either. Columbia is located in Howard County which is known for its superior school system and high standard of living. Columbia was established in 1967 with the intention of creating a more resident friendly community. Instead of subdivisions, Columbia is divided into "villages", each with a shopping center, recreational facilities, a community center, a system of bike/walking paths, and homes. Most of Columbia's neighborhoods contain single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and apartments. Today, Columbia is a vibrant and diverse community with restaurants, performing arts venues, galleries, and outdoor recreation. Columbia has consistently ranked in the top ten of CNN Money's Best Places to Live in America.

Howard County Library System Central Branch

There are several branches of the Howard County Library in Columbia. The main branch location is pinned on the map. Library membership is free to all Howard County residents. The facility is modern and spacious and very friendly. I often use their online site to reserve the books I want to read. They do a lot of community outreach with events and learning experiences and they offer free homework assistance for kids. They have an amazing library of movies as well that can be rented free of charge. In the spring and summer, many of the libraries also host farmers' markets in their parking lots.

Howard Community College

Howard Community College is conveniently located in Columbia, Maryland, with easy access from the Baltimore / Washington D.C. corridor. It is generally a clean and green campus with lots of space for relaxing or studying outside. The college offers a range of college level majors as well as continuing education courses.

Columbia Mall

The Mall in Columbia is an upscale shopping experience destination. Macy's, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, JCPenney, and Sears anchor a collection of more than 200 stores in an airy and light filled environment. It has everything you would expect and some nice surprises. They offer Valet parking which is great during the holidays and free Wifi throughout the mall. I found out this winter that they will provide a free auto jump start, if you are stuck in one of their lots with a dead battery. You can enjoy a movie there at the AMC 14 or have a meal at one of the many restaurants in and around the mall including The Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang's. And that is in addition to a massive food court! There are 2 play areas for children and plenty of comfortable benches and couches throughout the mall when you need a break. Hours are Mon. - Sat. 10am - 9pm, and Sun. 11am - 6pm
Image Courtesy of: Mike Kalasnik

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead played here! Merriweather Post Pavilion is one of the world’s most beautiful and storied amphitheaters – nestled in 40 acres of forest. A concert season at Merriweather is like putting your iPod on shuffle: featuring the best in rock, country, rhythm and blues, pop, jazz, hip hop, alternative, electronica and festivals that people travel from across the globe to see.

The natural outdoor setting is one that can’t be matched. The fantastic sound system and large video screens make this amphitheatre a favorite for bands and fans, which is why it's been named among the top three amphitheaters in the country by Rolling Stone and Billboard Magazine.

Centennial Park

There are many green spaces and parks all over Columbia. My favorite is 337 acre Centennial Park where I walk or run several times a week. The park is situated around beautiful Centennial Lake. There is a paved path that circles the lake - great for running, walking and biking. Fishing, canoeing, paddle-boating anyone? You can do those here too! Leashed pets are allowed in the park and if you enjoy dog watching...this is the place you want to be on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon!

Howard County General Hospital

Howard County General Hospital is a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. It has a great reputation in the community. It is centrally located and very easy to get to. There are many affiliated medical groups located in offices adjacent to the main hospital. I like this hospital and have had reason to experience their emergency room myself. Good marks all around. There are many health care options to be had in the Columbia area including dozens of urgent care facilities.


If you have ever shopped at a Wegmans, you will understand why we were overjoyed to get one a few years ago. You can find extremely fresh food and a great assortment of things here. We have a new Whole Foods Market as well. Davids Natural Market and Roots Market are great local markets that specialize in natural and organic foods. And we have neighborhood Giant Foods and Harris Teeters, as well.

Daedalus Books

Daedalus Warehouse Outlet is my favorite place to shop for books. Here you will find 10,000 square feet of remaindered books, CDs and DVDs. They have a good selection of all genres. Their selection of art books and coffee table books is unmatched even at the more well known book store chains. And the prices are unbelievably low. This is a no brainer for gifts or for just passing an afternoon looking at books you won't find anywhere else!

Frisco Taphouse and Brewery

I used to have to drive into Baltimore to find a really good craft beer bar. I was ecstatic to find Frisco Tap and Ale house right here in my own backyard! It’s a great place to stop for lunch – food is pretty good – try the fish tacos! They brew their own here, but the real draw for me is the huge list of microbrews available every day.

Symphony Woods Park

Symphony Woods is a large green space located in downtown Columbia. It is available for anyone to use most days of the year. There are a few annual events that make use of the park. Symphony of Lights is a holiday tradition in Columbia. It’s a huge holiday light display set up in the park as a charity event to benefit the Howard General Hospital. The displays are huge creations, some animated that delighted my kids for years. You can walk or drive through. Wine in the Woods is another annual festival in the park. Each May regional wineries set up to offer tastings and bottles of their wines. Local eateries round out the offerings. Bring chairs and a picnic blanket and your friends or family for an enjoyable spring afternoon.
Image Courtesy of: Lollyknit

Randi Tannenbaum

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Top 10 Neighborhood Amenities in Columbia, Maryland