Beautiful Columbus, Georgia, anchored by the winding Chattahoochee River and Columbus State University, is the second largest city in the state. Located in the western part of Georgia, this quaint college town offers a delightful getaway with a vibrant arts scene — music, theatre, opera, Art Walk and more. For thrilling water sports adventure, kayak or raft down the Chattahoochee River on the world’s largest urban whitewater course known as, “wild as the Colorado River, warm as Costa Rica.”
You’ll love the quaint downtown filled with boutiques, restaurants and more. The whole town is focused on education and quality of life, whether you’re a student or not. Add in gourmet restaurants, outdoor recreation, history and outstanding museums, and you’ve got lots of reasons to stay for a while. I spent three days here, and frankly, it wasn’t enough. You could literally enjoy a week in Columbus and then never want to leave.
It’s a community with a can-do spirit that wants to create a better life for all of its citizens. Inclusivity is key here and people work together to improve things for everyone. You can feel its soul as it permeates the air.
The town dates back to 1828 so it’s seen its share of American Civil War history. The Battle of Columbus was fought in April of 1865, widely regarded as the last major battle of the American Civil War. And, Fort Benning, the 5th largest army base in the world, is about 20 minutes away.
Talk about being close to the Alabama border, you can cross the pedestrian bridge or take a zipline 1,200 feet high across the Chattahoochee River and back, if you dare. I took the easier route on foot.
Where to Stay
There’s a lot of building going on in Columbus, including several new hotels like the Hampton Inn and A.C. Marriott. Our accommodations were at the spanking new City Mills, former home of the City Mills Company and now Columbus’ first luxury boutique hotel. Overlooking the Chattahoochee River, the rooms are designed for a comfortable stay with all of the latest amenities. Complimentary breakfast with artisan coffee and sweets from a local bakery start your morning right. Millhouse Restaurant and Bar as well as an event center are slated to open soon.
Where to Eat
The Saltcellar, considered a Southern bliss restaurant, deliver a fine dining experience. I opted for the salmon with a bourbon glaze and Brussel sprouts, which was delicious. I watched as luscious sea scallops and sizzling ribeye steak passed in front of me for others in my group. We couldn’t decide between the cheesecake or the coconut pie, so we went with both. Good decision.
Hot Diggity Dog!
No trip to Columbus is complete without a stop at Dinglewood Pharmacy, a drugstore with an old-fashioned soda fountain. It’s known for its famous Scrambled Hot Dog with the reddest hot dogs you’ve ever seen topped with onions, chili, oyster crackers and cheese. It looked as good as it tasted. And oh yeah, you can still fill your prescriptions here.
Plucked Up Chicken and Biscuits
So cute, this downtown eatery will get your day going with a traditional Southern-style breakfast. My favorite was the Fried Chicken and Pineapple Marmalade Biscuit, sweet and savory, with a side of grits. They offer a full menu of salads, sandwiches and chicken platters.
11th and Bay Restaurant
Overlooking the river, this Southern table restaurant offers a seasonally-driven menu inspired by Southern hospitality and fresh creative cuisine. At 11th and Bay, you can dine al fresco on the patio or around the fire pit or in their open dining room. We started our meal with the biscuits and jam apple butter. The Shrimp and Grits was a popular entrée, along with prime steaks. For dessert, our server recommended the Brown Butter Pound Cake with butterscotch sauce. Divine!
For spectacular sunsets, head to the top of Hotel Indigo rooftop bar for classic cocktails and appetizers. You can’t beat the views!
What to Do
Start along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk, Columbus’ landmark attraction which runs 15 miles along the river. Here you can walk, bike or have a picnic under a canopy of trees. Families will love the super-fun playground. The more adventurous can get their thrills rafting the raging river.
Springer Opera House
Originally opened in 1871, the historic Springer Opera House became the State Theatre of Georgia in 1992. It’s a beautiful venue that features year-round programming with Broadway musicals, children’s theatre and more. Check their schedule for the latest productions.
Take Flight at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center
Step inside Georgia’s largest collection of NASA Space Shuttle artifacts, interactive exhibits and launch into space. Try your hand with the flight simulators and hands-on exhibits. Both kids and adults will love this educational and challenging experience.
A museum that celebrates art as well as history, the Columbus Museum features a range of modern, contemporary, and classic works, along with the history of the Chattahoochee Valley. An upcoming exhibit from July 1 – September 25 will feature “Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful.” Thomas lived in Columbus but earned international recognition.
National Infantry Museum
On the grounds of Fort Benning lies the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. This was a somber experience, learning more about the history of the military from the Revolutionary War until the present. Through interactive exhibits and galleries, I came away very impressed with all that the Armed Forces have accomplished in the name of freedom.
Ma Rainey House and Blues Museum
Ma Rainey was considered the “Mother of the Blues” whose sound impacted a generation of musicians and beyond. Visit the Ma Rainey House and Blues Museum where she lived and learn more about her pioneering spirit and the famous musicians she worked with.
Experience Life in the 19th Century – Historic Westville
Step back in time to 19th century Columbus at Historic Westville, a living history museum. Visit the 17 restored buildings, homes and churches. See costumed interpreters and fine craftsmen showing you their trades such as blacksmiths, cooking demonstrations, druggist and more.
Columbus, Georgia is really a hidden gem, an undiscovered playground for those seeking adventure with a side of culture. For more information, contact Visit Columbus GA, 800-999-1613.