12 Attractions in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Hattiesburg is a vibrant city in southeastern Mississippi, about 70 miles north of the Gulf Coast. Known as “The Hub City” due to its location at the crossroads of several major highways, Hattiesburg has a rich history and plenty for visitors to see and do.

Founded in 1882, Hattiesburg has grown from a small lumber town into the largest city in southeast Mississippi. Today, it’s home to three universities, a strong arts community, fascinating historical attractions, great restaurants, craft breweries, and unique museums. Outdoor lovers also have plenty of options, with accessible parks full of hiking and biking trails.

Yet despite having a population of over 45,000 residents, Hattiesburg still retains its small-town charm. It’s an welcoming, affordable destination where Southern hospitality reigns supreme.

Keep reading to discover 12 of the best attractions that make Hattiesburg a can’t-miss stop in Mississippi.

1. Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby

The Mississippi Armed Forces Museum is a must-visit attraction for military history buffs. Located at Camp Shelby just south of Hattiesburg, it offers indoor and outdoor exhibits exploring all five branches of the armed forces from World War I to present day engagements.

Spanning over 17 acres, museum highlights include tanks, artillery pieces, and aircraft utilized in conflicts like WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars. Interactive exhibits let you test your skills operating remote weapon systems and piloting drones. The Medal of Honor Wall memorializes native Mississippi recipients like firefighter Rodney Yano. shelby

History truly comes alive at the Armed Forces Museum through the stories of courage, leadership, and sacrifice. Budget 2-3 hours here to take it all in.

2. Hattiesburg Zoo

Home to over 200 animals, the Hattiesburg Zoo offers families an up-close look at exotic species from around the world. It’s one of the top things to do in Hattiesburg with kids.

Popular exhibits feature endangered Amur tigers and leopards in spacious habitats modeled after their Asian homelands. Make sure to also visit with the playful otters, colorful flamingos, mischievous gibbons, and more.

Kids love interacting with friendly domestic animals in the barnyard petting area. Other highlights include an acclaimed giraffe feeding station, a waterplay area in summer, and a picturesque train ride circling the zoo. Special events occur year-round like BOO at the ZOO for Halloween.

With affordable admission, the Hattiesburg Zoo is a fantastic way to spend a morning or afternoon immersed in wildlife.

3. Historic Downtown Hattiesburg

Downtown Hattiesburg holds plenty of cultural attractions for those looking to soak up history. The convenient Downtown Walking Tour makes it easy to hit all the highlights.

Start at the African American Military History Museum, which chronicles the important role of black soldiers from the Civil War to today. The Eureka School Museum preserves an early 20th century one-room schoolhouse. Feel the city’s musical heritage at the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame or Hattiesburg Cultural Center.

For art lovers, stop by the Hattiesburg Arts Council Gallery hosting rotating exhibits by regional talents. The quirky Lucky Rabbit installation scatters 10 artist-decorated rabbit sculptures around downtown. Architecture buffs will enjoy snapping photos of the ornate Hart House and Mississippi’s tallest state capitol replica at the County Courthouse.

Downtown also holds boutique shops, cafes, museums, oak-lined streets, and charming parks ideal for picnics like Duncan Lake and Vernon Dahmer Park. Don’t miss the historic Railroad District dotted with craft breweries and eateries within converted red-brick warehouses.

4. Longleaf Trace Trail

Stretching 41 miles from Hattiesburg to Prentiss, the Longleaf Trace Trail is one of the best rail trails in Mississippi for hiking, biking, running, and more.

Paved for multi-use travel, the trail rolls through the scenic DeSoto National Forest past pine savannas, cypress sloughs, and flowering meadows. It crosses towering trestle bridges over rivers and streams. Benches, camping areas, and restroom facilities dot the route.

Sections closest to Hattiesburg take you by the University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey University, and a reservoir popular for boating and fishing. You can tackle as little or as much of the Longleaf Trace as desired. It’s perfect for outdoors lovers.

5. Saenger Theater

As the largest theater for miles, the Saenger Theater has hosted performances in Hattiesburg since 1929. It underwent extensive renovations before reopening in 1999.

With an elegant interior modeled after European opera houses, the Saenger today hosts touring Broadway musicals, headline concerts, symphonies, comedy shows, and other performing arts. Recent highlights include hits like Wicked, Jersey Boys, Stomp, and Riverdance.

Take a theater tour to admire the Saenger’s grand lobby with a vaulted ceiling painted like the night’s sky. The auditorium boasts intricate plasterwork along sweeping balconies under a dazzling chandelier. It’s considered one of the architectural jewels of Downtown Hattiesburg.

6. Chain Park

One of Hattiesburg’s newest attractions, Chain Park is an inclusive playground and outdoor recreation area unlike any other.

Designed for visitors ages 2 to 92, the park invites everyone to play together. It features sweeping ramps allowing wheelchair access to rope bridges, musical elements, climbing structures, swings, and zip lines integrated throughout 10 acres of lush pine forest. Picnic pavilions make Chain Park ideal for gatherings or just a relaxing lunch break from downtown.

Interpretive nature trails wind by a peaceful lake dotted with fishing docks and a splash pad to cool off in summer. Leashed pets, tubes, and bikes are also welcome at Chain Park near the Historic Hattiesburg Zoo. Come enjoy this innovative space fostering fun, fitness and friendship for all.

7. Freedom Summer Trail

The Freedom Summer Trail is a moving tribute honoring the African American fight for voting rights in 1964. It stretches 17 miles through Hattiesburg and surrounding towns, with dozens of signs marking key protest march routes and civil rights history sites.

Notable trail stops in Hattiesburg include Vernon Dahmer Park, commemorating a slain civil rights leader whose home was firebombed. Theο»Ώ Mount Zion Baptist Church faced attacks after opening its doors to Freedom Summer volunteers. Learn about student sit-ins and civil disobedience at the University of Southern Mississippi’s new Civil Rights Institute.

Pick up a trail map to follow this inspiring journey tracing Mississippi’s road to justice. Audio tours provide even deeper looks at the unsung foot soldiers who risked their lives so that others could one day vote. Exploring these courageous local stories promises to be a moving experience.

8. Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization (GCBRO)

For an offbeat change of pace, visit the world’s only publicly accessible research center dedicated to the Sasquatch legend. The Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization formed in 2009 when mysterious sightings started emerging after Hurricane Katrina.

Today their small Hattiesburg museum displays castings of strange footprints, recordings of eerie howls, photos chronicling twisted branches, and other curiosities. Though skeptics remain, the GCBRO founders strongly believe an elusive bipedal species roams the Pine Belt forests.

Examine the unusual evidence for yourself and chat with knowledgeable staff about local monster lore. The Bigfoot gift shop also stocks plenty of novelty souvenirs. Believers and curiosity seekers will find this a fun and fascinating place unlike anywhere else around.

9. Hattiesburg Craft Beer Trail

Beer lovers, rejoice – Hattiesburg has an outstanding craft beer trail awaiting you. Five breweries call the city home, largely concentrated downtown in historic warehouses. It’s easy to park and sample your way between the taprooms on foot.

Leading stops include Southern Prohibition Brewing, known for small-batch IPAs, porters, and experimental sours aged in wine barrels. Dry County Brewing Company is a nano-brewery with a microcinema playing indie films. Gordon Creek Brewery excels at classic lagers, ales, and session meads.

Lazy Magnolia Brewing, Mississippi’s oldest craft brewery, is famed for Southern-style beers like smooth pecan ales and bold stouts with hints of sweet potatoes. Newest on the scene is Hero Bevy Brewing, a woman-owned microbrewery supporting veterans organizations. Look for beer slushies, fruit-flavored ciders, and gluten-free options.

The Hattiesburg Craft Beer Trail pleases all tastes while showing off the city’s cool, creative vibe. Local pubs like The Porter Public House, Bottleneck Blues Bar, and Keg and Barrel also serve excellent regional and national brews.

10. Kamper Park

For a fun outdoor adventure in Hattiesburg, head to Kamper Park spanning 100 acres of forest. Here you’ll find a scenic 18-hole disc golf course winding through pine and oak trees draped in Spanish moss. With diverse layouts and challenges, it draws competitive tournaments.

Elsewhere in Kamper Park are shaded picnic areas with grills, a playground, and over 5 miles of hiking / mountain biking trails catering to all skill levels. Paths range from easy nature walks to technical single-tracks with log piles, banked turns, and small jumps.

Leashed dogs are welcome in Kamper Park except on sports fields. Other facilities include tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and an archery range. It’s an excellent natural area minutes from downtown offering year-round recreation and beautiful scenery.

11. Southern Miss Athletic Events

As the largest university south of Jackson, the University of Southern Mississippi fields competitive Division I athletic teams that are a source of pride in Hattiesburg. Golden Eagles football is a particular passion for locals.

College sports fans will enjoy taking in exciting events at the Southern Miss athletic complex. Football is played at iconic M.M. Roberts Stadium, while Reed Green Coliseum hosts indoor volleyball and basketball. Top-notch baseball gets played at Pete Taylor Park. Other campus venues feature tennis, track and field, and Lady Eagles softball.

Between the enthusiastic Eagle Nation crowds and affordably priced tickets, Southern Miss athletics promise a good time whether you’re an alum or just enjoy the thrill of the game.

12. Altitude Trampoline Park

Kids and kids-at-heart looking to expend some energy should visit Altitude Trampoline Park in Hattiesburg. This massive indoor playground features over 15,000 square feet of interconnected trampolines forming bouncy floors, ramps, walls and angled launch pads into foam pits.

Main attractions include a classic court for games like trampoline dodgeball or basketball, a challenging Ninja Warrior obstacle course, and performance trampolines for mastering aerial tricks into a foam cube landing zone. Little kids have their own gated area full of gentle activities. Private party rooms are available to rent.

If simply bouncing about sounds too tiring, chill out in the lounge or arcade zone featuring video games, air hockey, and snacks. Burning off excess energy has never been more fun than a day bouncing at Altitude Trampoline Park.

Conclusion

From unique museums and craft breweries to historic sites and incredible outdoors, Hattiesburg offers an array of attractions proving itself the cultural heart of southeastern Mississippi. Family-friendly zoos and theme parks ensure everyone stays entertained, while special events like concerts and festivals occur year-round.

Foodies will love the Southern cooking traditions reflected in local restaurants, often with fresh Gulf seafood infusing regional flair. Affordable hotels cater to all budgets.

So come discover why Hattiesburg makes a fantastic getaway as the Hub City at the center of Mississippi’s Pine Belt region!

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