Keep Cool in Columbia

Coolness is a real thing in Columbia. Dare we say it’s a state of mind? Whether it’s entertainment, dining or dipping a toe in the water, literally, there are several great options to help you stay cool.

Talking Horse Productions

One of the coolest new shows to catch in Columbia is a performance of The Stable Boys or The Ponies at Talking Horse Productions. 210 St. James Street. Since March 2018, The Stable Boys have been creating spontaneous long-form improv shows centering on themes, characters, ideas and physicality that have included titles like “The Stable Boys Die Hardest,” “The Stable Boys Twisted Disney Show” and “Miracle in the Stable.” In March 2019, The Ponies formed as a short-form improv troupe with a game format. Think one answer, quick wit, game show themes along the lines of “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” The Stable Boys perform about every other month, but The Ponies shows can be caught during many First Fridays in the North Village Arts District events, at least when another theatre production isn’t taking place. Talking Horse Productions produces several theatrical performances each year in addition to the new house improv schedule.

Located in the heart of The District, Alley A has a hip vibe for shopping and dining. The perch from the upper outdoor patio at Kampai Sushi Bar & Restaurant, 907 Alley A, is perfect for enjoying one of the restaurant’s delicious sushi offerings — perhaps the Tiger roll or the restaurant’s signature sushi, the Kampai Roll made with tempura shrimp, avocado and smelt roe topped with spicy tuna. This hideaway spot also serves fresh takes on basic dishes in addition to sushi. The appetizer Brussels sprouts, fried and served in a lemon chili sauce, could convert an anti-sprout eater into an instant fan, and the tuna and goat cheese featuring Fuji apple, with cracked pepper and pumpkin seed oil surprises the tastebuds. Stop by the two new butterfly wing murals on your way out of the alley and snap a shot for Instagram.

Get your feet wet at the Flat Branch Spraygounds at Flat Branch Park, 300 S. Providence Road, in downtown Columbia. A free, fun way to cool down on hot days, the push-button, interactive fountains with recycled chlorinated water are perfect for younger kids and kids at heart, alike. See a demonstration rain garden nearby, and enjoy amphitheater seating. Plus, the pet bowl at the drinking fountain ensures pets can cool off at the spraygrounds, too.

Flat Branch Spraygrounds

If you need full water immersion to bring the temperature down, Albert Oakland Family Aquatic Center, 1900 Blue Ridge Road, fits the bill. Albert-Oakland is Columbia’s largest outdoor municipal pool with areas for everyone in the family. The 50-meter pool is perfect for lap swimming,  and two diving boards help you achieve the perfect cannonball. The triple-loop enclosed flume slide provides a semi-relaxed way to simply slip into the water. A separate kids’ play area has sprinklers and a slide, and the deck area features large shade umbrellas. The last weekday is August 9 this year; after that the pool is open on weekends through Labor Day.

Grab a DrinKraft kombucha, a locally brewed fermented sweetened tea that has gut-friendly probiotics, is decaffeinated and has lower alcohol content than other kombucha. The kombucha company is a mainstay at the Columbia Farmers Market in the new MU Health Care Pavilion, 1769 W. Ash Street, but this trendy drink can also be found at area HyVee stores and on tap at Lucky’s Market and Nourish Cafe, among other locations. At the Columbia Farmers Market, there are typically about six flavors available, which might include some favorites like beet rosemary, ginger, blueberry sage or elderberry hibiscus. Brewing kombucha for nearly a decade, the owners make a few regular flavors along with some seasonal and experimental flavors, so offerings may vary each week.