The Nitty Gritty on Columbia

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Boundaries: Bordered roughly by Route 108 to the north and west, Route 32 to the south and I-95 to the east, Columbia's villages extend slightly beyond its northern and southern boundaries.

Claim to fame: Bizarre street and community names like Satan Wood Drive and Rivendell Lane taken from the works of William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl Sandburg and several other literary greats.

Native sons and daughters: Edward Norton, esteemed actor; Aaron McGruder, artist responsible for "The Boondocks"; Michael Chabon, author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"; Mary Ann Viera (a.k.a. Ladybug) of Digable Planets and Linda Tripp, made famous by her association with Bill Clinton.

Favorite venue: Merriweather Post Pavilion, an open-air venue famous for providing Howard County and surrounding areas with some of the best contemporary musical acts around. Although its future is uncertain, the venue is strongly supported by the community.

Strangest sight: Territorial Columbia teenagers loitering in the parking lots of their respective village centers -- but not on school nights, of course.

Best place to unwind: Lynn's Day Spa -- Lynn's has received countless awards including "Best Day Spa" in Columbia Magazine for the past few years. Lynn's offers a serene atmosphere, friendly staff and wonderful service. You'll have no trouble relaxing while you're there.

Best place to max out your credit cards: The Mall in Columbia features countless retail stores including both Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor, restaurants and an AMC Movie Theatre.

Favorite offbeat hangout: Mad City Coffee (10801 Hickory Ridge Road). If you're looking for a quiet place to hang out and drink some great coffee, head over to Mad City Coffee. With more personality than Starbucks, you're sure to meet some interesting people while sipping your choice beverage.

Mark your calendars
  • Wine in the Woods at Symphony Woods -- Another great Columbia tradition featuring wineries from across the state, live entertainment and great food vendors. The future of this event is uncertain due to the change in ownership of property.
  • Columbia Festival of the Arts -- This festival is a tradition set to celebrate regional art and engage its participants in a wide variety of arts and culture. The event typically features musical concerts, art displays and children's activities.
  • Strawberry Festival at the Linden Linthicum United Methodist Church -- A yearly festival of all things strawberry, this is a great place to take your kids or to taste all the great recipes.
    June through September:
  • Lakefront Summer Festival -- This event features free entertainment daily throughout the summer. The festival includes musicians, movies and an open stage night.
    November through New Year's:
  • Symphony of Lights at Symphony Woods -- This Columbia tradition for many years features an impressive display of holiday lights. The future of this event is also uncertain.
  • Recommended on Baltimore Sun