Columbus, Georgia, lies tucked against the Chattahoochee River, which marks the western border of the state. Visitors can explore the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, catch a glimpse of history in the Columbus Museum, or have the adventure of a lifetime whitewater rafting along the Chattahoochee River. Here are the best things to do in Columbus, GA.
1.Coca-Cola Space Science Center
© Coca-Cola Space Science Center
The Coca-Cola Space Science Center is a hub for STEM education for people of all ages. Owned and operated by Columbia State University, the Coca-Cola Space Science Center offers educational programs, interactive exhibits, film screenings, and hands-on experience for its guests to learn about space and astronomy. At the Omnisphere Theater, guests can view films that will take them to the stars, while the Mead Observatory offers regular viewing sessions where visitors can see galaxies, planets, and stars through telescopes, cameras, and video devices. In the Challenger Learning Center, children can travel to Mars, the moon, or a comet while they practice their science, math, and technology skills to complete a mission. Schedules and special events are listed on the CCSSC website.
701 Front Ave., Columbus, GA 31901, Phone: 706-649-1470
2.Columbus Botanical Garden
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The Columbus Botanical Garden is a peaceful, colorful destination on 22 acres of land just north of the city. A great place to observe nature, practice photography, or go for a walk on one of the many well-manicured paths, the garden is rampant with ornamentals, perennials, herbs, and other greenery. Horticultural seminars and educational events are hosted for both adults and children, and the schedules can be found on the website. Admission to the garden is free, with a suggested donation of $2 per person, and it is open daily from dawn until dusk. Private guided tours are available by appointment for groups of ten or more.
3603 Weems Rd., Columbus, GA 31909, Phone: 706-327-8400
3.Columbus Eats Food Tours
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Columbus Eats Food Tours are offered every Saturday at 11:30am and take guests on a 3-hour tour of some of the best local restaurants in Columbus. The 2-mile walk makes five or six stops at local eateries and includes samples of some of their signature dishes. While walking, knowledgeable guides share information about some of the culture and history of the area as well as some fun facts about the city of Columbus. Columbus Eats also offers a weekly Happy Hour Tour on Friday evenings for guests looking to try local drinks and appetizers. The Columbus Eats Food Tour is suitable for adults and children 13 or older, while the Uptown Happy Hour Tour is available only for guests over 21 years of age. Phone: 800-656-0713
4.Things to Do in Columbus, GA: Columbus Fall Line Trace
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The Columbus Fall Line Trace is a hiking trail that is part of the city’s Rails to Trails program, which purchases disused tracks and land from railroad companies and transforms them into scenic trails for joggers, hikers, cyclists, and more. Stretching a total of 11 miles long, the trail is paved with a 12-foot-wide asphalt road that is suitable for bikes and strollers, with two park and ride stations on either end. Trail-goers can enjoy a diverse view of Columbus that includes shopping areas, the CSU campus, and a long expanse of nature under a thick canopy of trees. At the southern end of the trail, the Columbus Fall Line Trace connects to the Chattahoochee Riverwalk. The trail is open daily from 5:00am until 11:00pm.
© Columbus Museum
History and art come to life in the Columbus Museum, which is one of the largest in the region. The museum’s unique dual focus is on both American art and the history of the Chattahoochee Valley and its surrounding regions. It also includes an auditorium and atrium for events as well as an interactive gallery for children. The Columbus Museum is located in a Mediterranean Revival house built in 1912 and offers a beautiful landscape on its 13-acre property, including the Bradley Olmsted Garden, which visitors are welcome to enjoy. The museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday.
1251 Wynnton Rd., Columbus, GA 31906, Phone: 706-748-2562
6.Columbus Riverwalk, Columbus, GA
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The Chattahoochee Riverwalk is a 15-mile trail and park along the banks of the delightful and historic Chattahoochee River. Between River Road and Fort Benning, there are eleven convenient access points for reaching the Riverwalk. Users can walk, jog, or bike down this charming, paved path, which will take them through downtown Columbus, from Bibb City and its cotton mills all the way to the drill fields of Fort Benning, all while tucked against the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Here, visitors can also find the Riverwalk GeoTour, with 31 challenging geocaches. The Riverwalk connects with several other trails and paths, including the Chattahoochee Valley Railroad Trail and the Columbus Fall Line Trace.
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Heritage Corner is located on the corner of Broadway and 7th Street, easily accessible by walking or from other well-known attractions. It features five historically preserved houses that represent different periods in the history of Georgia. The oldest of the homes, a log cabin built in the early 1800s, was moved to Heritage Corner to exemplify the homes of the original settlers of the area. Another of the houses belonged to Dr. John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola. Informational plaques provide the foundation for a peaceful and informative self-guided tour.
8.Lunch Box Museum, Columbus, GA
© Lunch Box Museum
The Lunch Box Museum is home to a collection of 3,500 metal lunch boxes and the matching thermoses with which they were originally sold. The collection includes all 450 distinctive designs created after 1951 until the ban on the metal lunch box in 1985, as well as some reproductions and metal proof sheets used in the creation of the lunch boxes. Located inside the International Marketplace, on the southern edge of the city, the Lunch Box Museum is owned and operated by collector Allen Woodall, Jr., and contains a massive “barter room,” where visitors can buy some of his duplicate lunch boxes, or even trade for them, just as they may have during their school days.
318 10th Ave. Columbus, GA 31901, Phone: 706-653-6240 or 706-332-6378
9.Things to Do in Columbus, GA: National Civil War Naval Museum
© National Civil War Naval Museum
The National Civil War Naval Museum is a window that shines light into the operation of the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War. Floating in the port, visitors will find the CSS Jackson, the largest Confederate warship still surviving today. The museum is also home to the wreckage of the CSS Chattahoochee and full-size replicas of other famous naval vessels. The museum contains collections of flags, uniforms, and artifacts from the time of the Civil War, and offers exhibits, tours, cannon firings, and other events that will allow its visitors to step right through its doors and into history.
1002 Victory Drive, Columbus, GA 31901, Phone: 706-327-9798
10.National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center
© National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center
A hub for American military history, the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center provides a valuable glimpse into the lives of American Infantryman and the fight for freedom. With its interactive exhibits and informative galleries, the museum takes visitors through different eras of the American military, using a diverse range of displays to paint a vivid image of the World Wars, the Cold War, and modern warfare. At the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, guests can view a documentary in the Giant Screen Theater, enjoy a meal in the Fife & Drum, or test their mettle in a marksmanship or combat simulator.
1775 Legacy Way, Columbus, GA 31903, Phone: 706-685-5800
11.Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center
© Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center
Oxbow Meadows is a treasure trove of learning resources about regional wildlife and ecology. Visitors can walk along peaceful nature trails that weave among ponds, wetlands, and native wildlife, or take the family for some educational fun on the Discovery Trail. Oxbow Meadows hosts exhibits about local natural history and also hands-on educational programs offered by experts from Columbus State University. The center is also home to a number of animals, including snakes, tortoises, and alligators, which are all available for viewing. Open Monday through Saturday, the center is free, with a suggested donation of $5 upon admission.
3535 S Lumpkin Rd, Columbus, GA 31903, Phone: 706-507-8550
12.RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, Columbus, GA
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At the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, visitors can enjoy performances by world-renowned artists, hear stunning symphonies and arrangements of classical music, and see spectacular productions of Broadway musicals. Just a short walk from the Chattahoochee River and near to downtown Columbus, the RiverCenter is an excellent venue for a night out to enjoy the arts. With its popular “Dinner and a Show” events, it has everything its guests need for a lovely, elegant evening. The RiverCenter’s Tickets for Tots program performs special shows for children and younger visitors at free or discounted rates. For the current schedule of events, please visit the RiverCenter’s website.
900 Broadway, Columbus, GA 31901, Phone: 706-256-3620
13.The Gertrude Ma Rainey House & Blues Museum
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The Gertrude “Ma” Rainey House and Blues Museum is more than a memorial of the life and career of the renowned artist. It is a celebration of the blues, and traces the history of the city of Columbus as a center of influence for this beloved musical genre. Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, known as the “Mother of the Blues”, lived in this house on 5th Ave for five years before her death in 1939. Her legacy includes mentoring and performing with legends like Louis Armstrong and Blind Blake, and at the Rainey House & Blues Museum, both new and old fans of jazz and the blues can continue to learn from her. The Gertrude “Ma” Rainey House is an all-ages attraction open from Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free.
805 5th Ave, Columbus, GA 31901, Phone: 706-653-4960
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Whitewater Express is the place to go for whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River. This exciting urban rafting course is the longest of its kind and has been named one of the Top 12 Man-Made Adventures in the World by USA Today. With courses ranging anywhere from Class II to Class V rapids, Whitewater Express has options for everyone from families to adrenaline junkies. Whitewater Express also offers paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, bicycling, and a zip line course that will take visitors across the Chattahoochee River all the way to Phenix City, Alabama, with a raft ride back to Georgia.
1000 Bay Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901, Phone: 706-321-4720
15.Columbus Bicycle Tours, Columbus, GA
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Columbus Bicycle Tours leads visitors past ornate antebellum mansions, the site of the 1996 Olympics, and the historic Columbus Battlefield on a beautifully scenic guided tour led by Dr. Richard Gardiner. Join Dr. Gardiner individually or in groups to learn more about the history and geography of Columbus, while enjoying a little exercise and some gorgeous nature. Tours are available 7 days a week from 8:00am until 5:00pm, with bike rental available. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Dr. Gardiner at 414-534-2504.
15 Best Things to Do in Columbus, GA
- Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Photo: Coca-Cola Space Science Center
- Columbus Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of electricmango - Fotolia.com
- Columbus Eats Food Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Curasevici - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Columbus, GA: Columbus Fall Line Trace, Photo: Courtesy of rustneversleeps - Fotolia.com
- Columbus Museum, Photo: Columbus Museum
- Columbus Riverwalk, Columbus, GA, Photo: Courtesy of Robert Hainer - Fotolia.com
- Heritage Corner, Photo: Courtesy of kyrien - Fotolia.com
- Lunch Box Museum, Columbus, GA, Photo: Lunch Box Museum
- Things to Do in Columbus, GA: National Civil War Naval Museum, Photo: National Civil War Naval Museum
- National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, Photo: National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center
- Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, Photo: Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center
- RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, Columbus, GA, Photo: Courtesy of Slavko Sereda - Fotolia.com
- The Gertrude Ma Rainey House & Blues Museum, Photo: Courtesy of marako85 - Fotolia.com
- Whitewater Express, Photo: Courtesy of Alexey Achepovsky - Fotolia.com
- Columbus Bicycle Tours, Columbus, GA, Photo: Courtesy of Petair - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com