Welcome to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a vibrant city with plenty of activities for visitors and locals alike. From historic sites and cultural attractions to outdoor recreation and more, Hattiesburg offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for an educational experience or simply want to explore the outdoors, there is no shortage of things to do in this charming city. Here are the top things to do in Hattiesburg:
Named after the second wife of Senator and Judge William H. Hardy, Hattiesburg is located between Meridian, Mississippi, and New Orleans. Its location made it an ideal location for the rail industry back in the 19th century.
Today, the city of over 45,000 people has a lot to offer both residents and visitors. From Southern Miss football games to Southern comfort food to unique shopping experiences, Hattiesburg has it all.
1. Discover Downtown Hattiesburg
Downtown Hattiesburg is a very quaint city center with a variety of architectural styles. In 1893, 26 businesses burned down resulting in the city enacting an ordinance forbidding wood structures.
The city is easily navigable on your own. Just be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. (Go to VisitHburg.org to learn more about tours and trails.)
Hattiesburg in a Mississippi Main Street Community. There are events throughout the year that bring the city to life, such as the Downtown Crawfish Jam Music Festival in the spring, the Craft Beer Fest in the summer, the Dearly Departed Walking Tours in the fall, and the Art Walk & Holiday Open House and Olde Tyme Christmas in the winter.
An interesting yet little known fact about Hattiesburg is that in 1898 the city had only two roads, but a 500-seat Opera House. Even today, the emphasis on art is quite visible around town.
2. Explore the Public Art Mural Trail
There are over 20 public art murals around Hattiesburg as well as numerous sculptures. Be sure to check the sides of buildings and search the alleys – you never know where you might find one of the beautiful murals or another type of art on display.
I spotted this mural which is aptly titled, “New Normal Mural.” I was there while there were still mask mandates in place and had to take a selfie.
If you’re a fan of artist Kelsey Montague, you’ll be delighted to know that she has painted #WhatLiftsYou in Hattiesburg which graces the side of the West Pine Street parking garage.
3. Shop at The Lucky Rabbit
The Lucky Rabbit is a self-proclaimed junk shop, but I believe the shopping wonderland could pass as a museum. There are so many vintage collectibles in the store that it is really a taste of Americana. You’ll know you have found the spot when you see the old-fashioned telephone booth and old Coke machines out front.
There is everything from antiques and collectibles to new handmade items at The Lucky Rabbit.
If you watch the hit HGTV show Home Town, then you probably have heard of the store. Erin Nappier shops on occasion at The Lucky Rabbit for items to decorate fixer-upper homes in nearby Laurel, Mississippi.
You don’t want to miss this Trip Advisor #1 rated shopping experience.
The Lucky Rabbit is located at 217 and 220 Mobile Street in Hattiesburg and is open on Saturdays from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm and on Sundays from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm.
4. Visit the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum
When it comes to exploring, you’ll want to put on your thinking cap and see if you can locate Mississippi’s tiniest museum, the Pocket Museum.
The museum changes its collection monthly, so if you have seen it before, you need to check it out again to see what’s new. Previous displays have been Tools of the Trade: Serial Killer, The Rubber Duck!, and The Swiss Army Knife.
The museum’s location is kept a secret, but if you go to the Pocket Museum website and/or explore the Public Art Mural Trail, then you are bound to find it. While in the area, be sure to explore the alleyway to see what other art treasures are on display.
5. Tour the African American Military History Museum
The African American Military Museum in Hattiesburg pays tribute to the men and women of color who have served this country, from the Buffalo Soldiers who fought during the American Revolution to today’s War on Terror.
The museum is located at the former Camp Shelby in a building that was built by volunteers as a USO club for African-American soldiers in 1942. Today the museum is a Mississippi Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Originally, the building was a place where African American soldiers could relax, play games, or read books from the library.
Because of segregation, blacks were not allowed to go to the main library. Books were shipped to this building enabling black citizens to read.
The building stayed open as a USO during World War II and then closed. It later served as a community center for residents of Hattiesburg and then it became a storage facility.
In 2009, the building began a new life as a museum thanks to the efforts of Iola Williams, a native of Hattiesburg.
Admission to the museum is free. Docent-guided and self-guided tours are available and last about 45 minutes. It’s a great place to learn about military history.
The African American Military Museum is located at 305 E. 6th Street and is a great place to learn more about the brave men and women who sacrificed so much for the United States, such as the Harlem Hellfighters, Jesse L. Brown, and Ruth Bailey Earl.
Museum hours are:
- Wednesdays – Fridays 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Saturdays 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
6. Stroll the University of Southern Mississippi Campus
Hattiesburg is the setting for the University of Southern Mississippi, commonly referred to as Southern Miss. Whether you are in Hattiesburg, MS for a football game or to visit a friend or family member or simply passing through, you should take some time to explore the campus.
The campus spans 300 acres in the heart of Hattiesburg and houses the sixth-oldest acceptance-based Honors College in the nation.
Golden Eagle fans and alumni know how beautiful the campus is from “The Dome” to the Southern Miss Rose Garden.
One amazing fact about the university is that in 1995, Oseola McCarty donated $150,000 to the university. While on the surface that may seem nice, what is astounding is the benefactor.
Ms. McCarty was a simple laundress. She had childhood dreams of becoming a nurse, but her aunt became ill and she quit school in the sixth grade to help take care of her. Unfortunately, she never made it back to the classroom.
Oseola lived a frugal life and managed to save her money and donated most of her life savings to the university. Today, over 110 students have benefited from her generosity.
“When I leave this world, I can’t take nothing away from here. Whatever I have, it’s going to be left right here for somebody. Some child can get their education, to help them along, because you can’t do nothing now unless you get your education. I don’t regret one single penny I gave to the College. My only regret is that I didn’t have more to give.” – Oseola McCarty
Before you leave campus, make your way to the Medicine Wheel Garden which is filled with indigenous and organic plant life. The garden is shaped like a wheel and includes medicinal plants that Native Americans have cultivated for centuries. You will be able to appreciate the value of nature and learn about Native American culture as well.
The University of Southern Mississippi is located at 118 College Drive.
7. Visit the Hattiesburg Zoo
The Hattiesburg Zoo has been the number 1 rated attraction in Hattiesburg according to Trip Advisor. The Zoo receives rave reviews from fans for its cleanliness, friendly staff, and how the animals are treated.
The Hattiesburg Zoo may seem small, but there are plenty of attractions to keep visitors both young and old happy. Among the attractions are:
- High Ropes Adventure Course – The course is four stories of challenging ropes designed for kids and adults.
- Mining Expedition – Guests can purchase bags of mining rough for treasure.
- Train – Nothing beats a train ride through the zoo to see the animals from a different perspective.
- Splash Pad – The Splash Pad is a fun way for kids to cool off at the Zoo during the summer. There are even cabanas for rent!
- Australian Wallaby Walkabout – Kids and adults can pet animals from Downunder such as wallabies, a KuneKune pig, and emus at the Walkabout.
- Touch Africa Petting Zoo – Zoo guests can pet and feed Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Miniature Zebu, and Tunisian Sheep at this unique attraction.
The Hattiesburg Zoo hosts events that celebrate the season and the animals, such as Lights of the Wild in December. Throughout the zoo, there are large lantern displays of animals and plants. There are also colorful lights, Christmas displays, and even snow!
If you are a sloth lover, then you need to make reservations for the Sloth Experience at the Hattiesburg Zoo. Tickets must be purchased in advance for one of the Thursday or Saturday 45-minute time slots.
Sloth experiences include a tour of the animal kitchen, assistance in helping a zookeeper prepare sloth diets for the day, an opportunity to feed a sloth, as well as an up-close encounter with a sloth (depending on the sloth’s temperament).
The Hattiesburg Zoo is located at 107 S 17th Avenue. The zoo is closed every Monday and on the following holidays: New Years Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day. Hours vary depending on the season.
8. Get Creative at Mohawk Steel & Glass
Located on a Christmas tree farm in Hattiesburg, Mohawk Steel & Glass is a great place to buy and make beautiful glass sculptures, such as flowers, pumpkins, vases, and Christmas ornaments. It is a fun activity for couples, friends, youth groups, etc.
Glass-blowing has been around for over 400 years. This is your chance to see it up close and learn more about how “sand” can be turned into beautiful works of art. No special art skills are needed. Jeremy and his team will guide and assist you through the entire process.
You’ll find unique glass works of art in the gift shop on site.
Mohawk Steel & Glass is located at 50 Hegwood Road. It is open Wednesday and Thursday from 2:00 pm until 8:30 pm, Friday from 2:00 pm until 9:00 pm, Saturday from 1:00 until 9:00 pm, and on Sunday from 2:00 pm until 9:00 pm.
9. Indulge in Southern Comfort Food
In the South, we are all about our comfort food. From fried catfish to creamy shrimp and grits, you will find what your heart craves in Hattiesburg.
Hattiesburg is only an hour and a half from New Orleans and it is reflected on some of the local menus with plenty of fresh seafood and Creole dishes to try.
Beer lovers will find something to suit their tastes at Southern Prohibition Brewing, with craft beers that are full of flavor. They have a wide array of IPAs, lagers, ales, pilsners, and porters that are brewed locally. From light and crisp to bold and hoppy, you can find something to satisfy your thirst
Be sure to check out my post 11 Delicious Things To Eat in Hattiesburg for mouthwatering dining inspiration.
How To Get To Hattiesburg
Today, visitors can visit Hattiesburg via Amtrak’s Crescent Train which runs from New York to New Orleans with a stop at the Italian Renaissance style historic 1910 depot.
Drivers can get to Hattiesburg via I-59 from the North and South or US Highway 98 East and West. Hattiesburg is approximately 30 miles south of Laurel, Mississippi.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi is the perfect place to spend a long weekend or day trip. With so many things to do in Hattiesburg, such as visiting the African American Military History Museum, catching a live performance at the Hattiesburg Saenger Theater, and browsing the unique shops of Downtown Hattiesburg, you will have plenty of experiences that will leave you with lasting memories. So whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or a leisurely long weekend, Hattiesburg has something for everyone!
Looking for accommodations in Hattiesburg? Here’s an interactive map of the area to help you plan your trip.