Hattiesburg is a city in southern Mississippi offering both big city advantages and small-town charm. Known as “Hub City” due to its central location between Jackson (MS), Gulfport/Biloxi (MS), New Orleans (LA), and Mobile (AL), Hattiesburg is an ideal destination for travelers all over the south. After visiting a few times, we have fallen majorly in love with this premier city in Mississippi. Here are the best things to do in Hattiesburg, MS, based on the cool stuff we’ve seen and done on our travels.
The Hattiesburg Zoo
The Hattiesburg Zoo is home to nearly 100 species of animals from around the world and is divided into geographical regions for viewing animals native to that area. Lands include the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The zoo’s most famous resident is the two-toed sloth, but we also enjoyed the cute little prairie dogs, ruffed lemurs, and raptors.
A visit to the Hattiesburg Zoo is super affordable, and you can add to your zoo experience with a mining expedition, high ropes course, mining expedition, train and carousel rides. Bring a towel and take full opportunity of the massively fun splash pad—a big hit with the kids. Don’t miss the touch Africa Petting Zoo and barrier-free Wallaby Walkout exhibit, where you can hang out one-on-one with wallabies and a Kunekune pig.
Shopping in HBurg
Shopping is abundant in Hattiesburg, and we always find lots of cool treasures on our visits. The Lucky Rabbit is a junk joint full of antiques, vintage items, handmade goods, furniture, and more that is super fun to explore. The store is only open the first weekend (Thursday to Sunday) of each month but allows for a fresh inventory and theme each time you go. Our favorites have been Stranger Things and Schitt’s Creek.
You can get the latest and retro vinyl and all forms of music at the uber-cool T-Bones Records & Cafe, with an onsite restaurant, great coffee drinks, and fun t-shirts, books, and music memorabilia.
Get Outdoors in Hattiesburg
One of the best things to do in Hattiesburg for me is to admire and photograph their public art installments. The number of murals is impressive (40 large-scale at last count), and Hub City, Hattiesburg’s nickname, is just getting started. Find your favorites from the mural trail with this map as you explore the area.
Another way to enjoy artsy Hattiesburg is by admiring the architecture of its stately buildings. The historic Sanger Theater and the courthouse are two of my favorites. Hattiesburg also has impressive sculpture displays, creatively painted utility boxes, and a darling art alley with a pocket museum worth visiting.
Get out on the water and enjoy fishing, kayaking, and more at Paul B. Johnson State Park, offering an 800-acre playground. The entrance fee is $2 per person; children 5 and under are free. Amenities to enjoy are the splash pad, boating (on freshwater Geiger Lake), fishing, a game room, nature trails, playground, and game room.
If you are into camping or RVing, we recommend the Hattiesburg / Okatoma River KOA for a tranquil dose of nature and beauty. We ended up staying for a month or more with a waterfront RV spot at this pristine and fun-filled campground with cabins for rent.
The Mississippi Armed Forces Museum is the only state-operated museum dedicated exclusively to military history. Located on the Camp Shelby military post (a valid driver’s license is necessary to enter), this free museum honors the servicemen and women of all branches from Mississippi and others who received training here during war, with over 17,000 artifacts in its collection. We highly recommend a visit.
A second museum worth a visit is the African American Military History Museum, inside the old 6th Street USO Club, which served African Americans during World War II. Be inspired by bravery as you recount military history through the eyes of African American soldiers. The museum was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 and is open from Wednesday through Saturday.
Hattiesburg’s Beer Scene
Southern Prohibition Brewing (SoPro) aims to brew great beer and make Mississippi a fantastic place to live. Take a brewery tour ($5 plus 4 oz sample) on Saturdays, every hour on the hour from 1 to 5 PM. Afterward, relax and enjoy a superb beer in the fun SPB Tap Room or outdoor patio. Suzy B is probably the best seller (blonde IPA), but I love SPB’s Ice Box, a seasonal lemon gose.
You’ll also have a fantastic selection of brews at Keg and Barrel, Mississippi’s premier beer emporium offering 100+ kinds of beer (and tasty burgers!), and The Porter Public House, with great locally brewed Southern craft beer, gourmet cheesesteaks, and excellent chicken & waffles in an inviting space. My favorite is The Madman, a milk stout with vanilla beans.
Explore the University of Southern Miss
Hattiesburg is home to the top-tier public University of Southern Mississippi, or Southern Miss, founded in 1910 with 15,000 students. Take in a game to cheer on the Golden Eagles football team or enjoy one of the concerts, art exhibits, or shows open to the public. You can also drive through the beautiful campus, where Brett Favre, Jimmy Buffet, Tori Bowie, Robert L Stewart, and Governor Phil Bryant (MS) went to school.
Fun Fact: Seymour, the Golden Eagle, is the Southern Miss mascot.
Where to Eat in Hattiesburg
Keg and Barrel, inside a late 1800s home, is a great place to get elevated pub food, traditional Southern eats, and gourmet burgers. The Beignet Bites are to die for!
Hattiesburg is home to two well-known chefs, Robert St. John and Katie Dixon. You’ll be able to taste the delicious creations from Chef Robert St. John at Crescent City (one of our favorites), which has a 1000-label wine list, 100s of whiskeys, plus perfect pasta and seafood (received fresh daily) dishes. St. John also owns Tabella, The Midtowner, and Ed’s Burger Joint, amongst others.
At Birdhouse Cafe, Chef Katie Dixon’s jewel, try healthy recipes that will please any palate and make a believer out of you when it comes to clean eating. The curry chicken salad is fantastic, while the açaí bowls are the best we’ve ever had. Both chefs have published excellent cookbooks.
Read more about the delicious places to eat in Hattiesburg in this post.
A fun fruit and vegetable market with oodles of fun gifts, outdoor yard art and a restaurant just a few minutes from downtown Hattiesburg is worth mentioning. Country Tyme Fruitstand is a blast and has the best produce and delicious sandwiches, pie, banana pudding, and side dishes. It came highly recommended by our RV campground, and we loved it so much that we went quite a few times.
A Bonus Offering: Hattiesburg for Train Travel
If you ever wanted to try an Amtrak train trip, Hattiesburg is an excellent place to do so. We parked our car in the Hattiesburg Train Station lot for a trip to New Orleans. The round-trip train ticket was under $50 each, offered free Wifi, and dropped us within a $5 Uber ride to our downtown hotel.
My husband and I found the train station staff friendly and helpful, the facility clean, and the train trip a great value. We will definitely consider doing it again.
Fun Fact: We drive an oversized truck. Overnight parking at our hotel was $65 per space per night. Ours takes two, so you can see how much money we saved by taking the train.
Where to Stay
One of the perfect places to stay in Hattiesburg is the Courtyard Hattiesburg. It’s in an excellent location for quickly getting around town. The hotel has an outdoor pool, onsite restaurant and bar, fitness center, free parking, and Wi-Fi.
The Courtyard Hattiesburg’s rooms are very spacious and nicely decorated. They have comfortable beds with luxury bedding, smart TVs with streaming capabilities, a mini-fridge, microwave, work desk, and sitting area. The rooms are great for relaxing after a long day exploring all that Hattiesburg offers.
When To Visit
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has special events all year long!
- Spring: Art Walk, Live at 5, Hattie 100 Bike Race, Downtown Crawfish Jam Music Festival, HubFest
- Summer: Farmers’ Market, Summer Tunes, Star-Spangled Celebration, Craft Beer Fest
- Fall: Live at 5, Mobile Street Renaissance Festival, Downtown BBQ Showdown, Dearly Departed Walking Tours
- Winter: Art Walk and Holiday Open House, Olde Time Christmas, Christmas Parade, Pine Belt Holiday Expo and Christmas Market
We were guests of Hattiesburg CVB for some of our meals and lodging on occasional visits. All opinions and reviews are our own and unbiased.
This article was written by Melody Pittman and Taylor Hardy.
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