From its local eateries to its arts experiences to its many attractions and more, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, appeals to a diverse group of travelers seeking a getaway.
Whether it's an overnight stay or a long weekend trip, there is plenty to do and see; and enough to whet your appetite to come back again.
With Hattiesburg's culinary scene, it's a given that you won't go hungry or have any issues trying to find a place that pleases all palates, including picky ones. Home to over 200 locally-owned restaurants, one of the most challenging decisions you'll face is deciding where to eat and the second, deciding on what to order.
If breakfast is your jam (pun intended), The Midtowner serves up a little of everything, including Sweet Potato Pancakes with cinnamon cream syrup. The Depot Kitchen & Market lures you in with their Bru's Breakfast Bowl, complete with sausage gravy, bacon, scrambled egg.
In the mood for a sandwich? Check out the extensive menu at T-Bones Records and Cafe. While you are waiting on your order, peruse the vinyls, CDs and books.
One bite of the Rise & Grind Bowl (scrambled egg, sweet potato and kale hash) at Birdhouse Cafe and you'll realize that healthy dishes can be both tasty and satisfying. Situated in an appliance store (it may sound odd, but it works), Masterchef finalist and Food Network Star chef Katie Dixon creates good-for-your-soul and body smoothies, bowls, salads, sandwiches, toasts and sweets.
When dinnertime rolls around, you can choose to go big at places like El Rayo with a queso trio and #10 Can Nachos, or an order of Sully Sacks (deep-fried chicken and jalapeno-infused cheese), followed by filet mignon at Sully's. Or you can opt to kick and relax with some barbecue at Murky Waters.
For those wishing to sample craft brews, check out Southern Prohibition (SoPro) Brewery, Hattiesburg's first brewery. Enjoy a flight, take a tour, and relax at the outdoor game space with a meal from Art of Roux.
Get out and get moving along the over 40-mile Longleaf Trace. Walk, hike or rent a bike to explore sections of the trail, spanning five communities. There are ample restrooms and nature/rest overlooks. There are even two primitive overnight camping areas if you want to extend the experience.
Hattiesburg is home to the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby, the state's official museum for military history. The exhibits cover the War of 1812 through modern conflict while highlighting the state and residents' contributions. Even if you have a passing interest in the military and history, the museum is worth visiting for personal stories and effects alone. Don't miss the Hall of Honor and the outdoor exhibits that include aircraft, tanks and more.
While on the subject of the military, the city also has the African American Military History Museum. What once served as the East 6th Street USO for African American military personnel during World War II training at Camp Shelby now details African American soldiers' accomplishments. From Buffalo Soldiers through Operation Iraqi Freedom, artifacts, photos and more bring local heroes and their achievements to life.
It's impossible not to smile while at The Hattiesburg Zoo. Voted the number one family attraction in the state for years; not only does the zoo have over 100 species of animals, but it also offers a high ropes adventure course, mining expedition, splash pad and much more. It is possible to spend half of a day here and not be bored (or disappointed.) Don't miss taking the train or riding the carousel. Be sure to check out the Australian Wallaby Walkabout and make some new friends at the "Touch Africa" Petting Zoo. Keep your eye on The Hattiesburg Zoo's events calendar for special events throughout the year.
Shopping (or browsing) can be an integral part of a trip, and one place that should be on top of your list to check out is The Lucky Rabbit. You may recognize the name from various HGTV's "Home Town" episodes. The eclectic self-proclaimed junk shop is filled with vintage, collectibles and other one-of-a-kind items you didn't know you needed until you saw them. Even if you leave empty-handed, it's fun to walk around.
Stretch out your artistic muscle with an art class (for a nominal fee) from Hattiesburg Parks and Recreation.
Take a break for the roses. Near the front entrance of the University of Southern Mississippi is the All-American Rose Garden. Planted in 1973 by the Hattiesburg Area Rose Society, the garden features 32 separate beds, each with its own unique hybrid of roses.
With over 40 stops, The Hattiesburg Public Art Trail focuses on the city's growing public arts scene. The self-guided tour highlights murals and public sculptures such as #WhatLiftsYou designed by internationally-renowned street mural artist Kelsey Montague and The Jook Living Sculpture, where you can plug your instruments or play the on-site keyboard and drums.
Tucked away in a downtown alley is another example of Hattiesburg's growing creativity. A former boarded-up hole in a back storage room was transformed into The Pocket Museum, featuring new exhibit each month. Adding to The Pocket Museum's mystique is that even though it's downtown, the exact location is unknown, thus encouraging everyone to enjoy the hunt and the alley while looking for the museum.
Hattiesburg was the largest Freedom Summer site in the state, and The Freedom Summer 1964 Trail pinpoints places (some still standing, some not) that played a pivotal role during this time in the Civil Rights Movement.
The self-guided audio driving tour recounts stories of African-American businessman and NAACP president Vernon Dahmer, Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the "Civil Rights Church," two weeks before his death and more.
Put on your walking shoes and take a guided walking tour of downtown Hattiesburg. The two-hour tour covers buildings, stories of the city's characters and more. Admission is charged.
Hattiesburg, nicknamed "the Hub City" because of its proximity to Mobile, Alabama, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans, is at the crossroads of US Highways 49 and 98 and Interstate 59.
Accommodation options range from Hotel Indigo Hattiesburg, a pet-friendly boutique hotel in Midtown, to Longleaf Piney Resort, a glampground near Longleaf Trace. There is something available for all budgets.
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