Visitors get everything from free lakeside concerts to a buzzing beer festival. 

Talia Avakian
September 20, 2016

MONEY has published its ranking of the 50 Best Places to Live in America, and Columbia, Maryland, took the top spot.

The ranking is based on everything from the affordability of housing and opportunities for work, to the average commute times and availability of activities.

Columbia will be turning 50 next year and has become known for its community atmosphere. Whether you're looking to get outdoors or enjoy a cozy day inside, here are some of the activities and experiences to take advantage of in the best place to live.

Visit Lake Kittamaqundi

Outdoor enthusiasts should head to Lake Kittamaqundi, a 27-acre lake with a boathouse and pier, walking and biking trails, and free events throughout the year. In warmer months, you can paddle boat on the lake while enjoying stunning views of downtown Columbia.

In the summer, visitors can enjoy free concerts by the lake, and free move screenings begin in the fall.

See a show at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Catch a concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, a breathtaking outdoor venue nestled in 40 wooded acres. The venue has hosted everyone from Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to the Grateful Dead, and continues to host concerts ranging from jazz and rock to country and hip-hop.

Visit the Robinson Nature Center

This nature center is one youngsters will love, with hands-on exhibits, an aquatic touch tank, a digital planetarium, and a children's discovery room, and a wooded trail surrounding the property. With miles of nature trails, visitors can see historic mill ruins and witness magnificent river views.

Enjoy the growing beer scene

This year, Columbia will be hosting its first Hops & Harvest Festival. The festival on October 8 will feature more than 25 Maryland breweries serving up cold brews alongside bites from local food trucks.

Black Flag Brewing recently opened and offers weekend events, while other breweries are set to open in Columbia next year.

Go shopping

Columbia's downtown has new shops and restaurants to explore, while the expanded lakefront offers visitors ample opportunities for a stroll.

Additionally, the Mall in Columbia is considered to be Maryland's top shopping destination.

See the Symphony of Lights

Columbia also has various seasonal attractions during the year, including its Symphony of Lights display. Viewers drive through more than 75 animated light displays that make for a stunning scene.

Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.

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