Columbus, Mississippi is a hidden gem in the southern United States. Nestled along the banks of the Tombigbee River, the city is full of history, culture, and entertainment.
Nestled in northeastern Mississippi, Columbus is in close proximity to several notable cities. Positioned approximately 140 miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, Columbus benefits from its relative proximity to the lively cultural scene of a major metropolitan area.
Memphis, renowned for its rich musical heritage, including the birthplace of blues, provides a diverse range of attractions and entertainment options just a few hours away.
Columbus, Mississippi, carries a rich history that dates back to its early settlement. Established in 1819, the city played a significant role during the Civil War as a Confederate supply base. It became a focal point for Confederate forces, leading to Union occupation during the conflict.
The remnants of this historical era are evident through various markers, sites, and preserved architecture that tells the story of Columbus’s involvement in the nation’s defining moments.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the top 15 things to do in Columbus, Mississippi.
Things to Do in Columbus, MS
1. Visit the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center
One of the most famous literary figures to come out of Mississippi is Tennessee Williams, and Columbus was his childhood home. The Tennessee Williams Welcome Center is dedicated to the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and showcases his life and work.
Guests can take a guided tour of the center and see memorabilia from his life, including his typewriter and the desk where he wrote some of his most famous plays.
Opening hours are from Wednesday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Address: 300 Main St, Columbus, MS 39701, USA
2. Explore the Columbus Historic District
Columbus is home to one of the largest collections of antebellum homes in the United States. The Columbus Historic District is a National Historic Landmark and encompasses over 150 properties.
You can take a self-guided walking tour or a guided tour and see some of the most beautiful and well-preserved homes in the South.
The prices for the guided tour start from $1 if you are a student and $5 for adults.
Either way, if you choose to visit the historic district make sure you add these must-see homes include to your list Whitehall, Temple Heights, and the Waverley Plantation Mansion.
3. Visit the Rosenzweig Arts Center
The Rosenzweig Arts Center is a hub for the arts in Columbus. The center hosts exhibitions and events throughout the year, showcasing the work of local and regional artists.
You can also take classes and workshops in a variety of mediums, including painting, drawing, and sculpture. The center is housed in a historic building and is a beautiful space to explore.
Opening hours are from Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Address: 501 Main Street Columbus, MS
4. Go Fishing on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
If you have one extra day to spend around Columbus, and you are into nature make sure you add this activity to your list.
Located approximately 25 miles east of Columbus, Mississippi, The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is a 234-mile long waterway that runs through Mississippi and Alabama.
The waterway is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other water sports. You can rent boats or bring your own and spend the day exploring the waterway. Some of the most popular fish to catch in the waterway include bass, crappie, and catfish.
5. Visit the Mississippi University for Women
The Mississippi University for Women is a historic university that was founded in 1884 as the first public college for women in the United States. The university is known for its strong liberal arts and nursing programs. You can take a guided tour of the campus and see some of the historic buildings, including Whitfield Hall and the Fant Memorial Library. Before going to the campus make sure you check the university calendar and book it in advance.
Address: 1100 College St, Columbus, MS 39701, USA
6. Explore the Columbus Riverwalk
The Columbus Riverwalk is a scenic trail that starts from the downtown area of Columbus, Mississippi and runs along the banks of the Tombigbee River.
The trail is perfect for walking, running, or biking and offers stunning views of the river and surrounding landscape. The Riverwalk is also home to several public art installations, including sculptures and murals.
7. Visit the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library
The Columbus-Lowndes Public Library is a great destination for book lovers. The library houses a vast collection of books, magazines, and other materials, and hosts events throughout the year, including author talks and book clubs.
The library’s origins can be traced to the efforts of dedicated individuals who recognized the importance of access to books and information. Through fundraising initiatives and community support, the library was able to secure a permanent location and steadily expand its collection over the years.
Address: 314 7th St N, Columbus, MS 39701, USA
8. Go Birdwatching at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge
Located approximately 30 miles south of Columbus, Mississippi The Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge offers visitors a serene and picturesque natural setting, encompassing over 48,000 acres of diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands, and open fields.
The refuge is home to a variety of bird species, including bald eagles, woodpeckers, and red-tailed hawks. Its proximity to Columbus makes it a convenient destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking to immerse themselves in the beauty of the outdoors.
9. Take a Ghost Tour of Downtown Columbus
For those who love a good scare, a ghost tour of Downtown Columbus is a must-do. The tour takes visitors to some of the city’s most haunted spots, including the Rosenzweig Arts Center and the old Elks Lodge. Here you might hear spooky stories and learn about the history and legends of Columbus.
One intriguing ghost story associated with Columbus, Mississippi involves the historic Temple Heights Mansion. Legend has it that Helen was the daughter of a former owner of the mansion. Tragically, she fell ill and passed away at a tender age.
Some claim to have seen a spectral figure of a young girl dressed in period clothing, roaming the hallways and playing in the gardens. Others have reported unexplained sounds of laughter, whispers, or footsteps, attributed to Helen’s playful presence. The energy in certain rooms is said to feel particularly heavy or charged, as if her spirit lingers within.
10. Visit the Columbus Air Force Base Museum
The Columbus Air Force Base Museum is a great destination for aviation enthusiasts. The museum showcases the history of the Columbus Air Force Base and features exhibits on the various planes and equipment used by the Air Force. You can take a guided tour or explore the museum on your own.
Address: MS-373, Columbus, MS 39705, USA
11. Attend a Concert or Show at the Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Arts Council hosts a variety of concerts and shows throughout the year, including live music, theater performances, and dance recitals. The council’s mission is to promote and support the arts in Columbus, and their events showcase the talent of local and regional artists.
Make sure you check the events calendar before your visit and make the best of it.
12. Go Shopping in Downtown Columbus
Downtown Columbus is home to a variety of unique boutiques and shops. If you are in the mood to spend some money, here you can browse for antiques, clothing, jewelry, and more.
Some of the must-visit shops include The Mississippi Gift Company, Lavender Cottage, The Purple Elephant, and the Pizazz.
13. Take a Cooking Class at The W
The W, or Mississippi University for Women, offers a variety of cooking classes through its Culinary Arts Institute. Interested in cooking? Then you are in the right place because here you can learn to make everything from Southern classics to international cuisine.
The classes are typically led by experienced chefs and instructors who are well-versed in various culinary techniques and cuisines. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced home cook, there are classes designed to cater to different skill levels and interests.
For more information or to receive a registration form, contact the Culinary Arts Institute directly.
14. Attend the Market Street Festival
The Market Street Festival in Columbus, Mississippi is an annual event held in the first full weekend in May each year. The festival brings the community together for a weekend filled with lively entertainment, delicious food, unique vendors, and family-friendly activities.
The festival takes place in the heart of downtown Columbus, where Market Street transforms into a bustling hub of excitement. The streets come alive with colorful tents and booths, offering a diverse array of arts and crafts, handmade products, and local goods.
15. Play Golf at one of Columbus’ Many Golf Courses
Columbus is home to several top-rated golf courses, including the Old Waverly Golf Club and the Columbus Country Club. Here you can play a round of golf or take lessons from a professional golfer.
The courses offer beautiful views and challenging holes for golfers of all skill levels. The prices differ on the time of the year. The rates usually start from $100 with winter rates being the lowest. Make sure you contact them and book in advance before your visit.
In a tapestry of history, culture, and natural allure, Columbus, Mississippi, emerges as a captivating city that leaves an indelible mark on all who venture within its borders.
From its storied past to its vibrant arts scene and breathtaking landscapes, Columbus offers a multifaceted experience that tantalizes the senses and stirs the soul.
With so much to see and do, Columbus is a great destination for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Columbus, Mississippi is famous for its rich history, antebellum architecture, and being the birthplace of playwright Tennessee Williams.
Tennessee Williams: Columbus is the birthplace of renowned playwright Tennessee Williams, known for works like “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie.”
Antebellum Architecture: The city boasts a remarkable collection of well-preserved antebellum homes and historic buildings, showcasing its Southern charm.
Civil War Heritage: Columbus played a role in the Civil War and was even the site of the Battle of Shiloh, with several historic sites and markers related to this period.
Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway: The city is linked to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a significant transportation route connecting the Tennessee River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Columbus Pilgrimage: An annual event known as the “Columbus Pilgrimage” celebrates the city’s history and architecture, featuring guided tours of historic homes and gardens.
Columbus, Mississippi is sometimes affectionately referred to as “Possum Town” due to a historical anecdote. The nickname originates from a story involving early settlers who were reportedly impressed by the abundance of possums in the area. As the story goes, when they arrived in the region, they noticed the plentiful possums and decided to name their settlement accordingly. Over time, this nickname stuck and became part of the city’s local lore.
“Possum Town” has become a unique and endearing moniker for Columbus, Mississippi, adding to the city’s character and providing a glimpse into its historical origins.
The zip code for Columbus, Mississippi is 39701.