12 Things to Do in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Last Updated on February 17, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Hattiesburg is a vibrant city located in southeastern Mississippi, about 70 miles north of the Gulf Coast. With a population of over 45,000 residents, Hattiesburg serves as the seat of Forrest County.

Hattiesburg boasts a rich history and unique culture that combines southern charm with modern amenities. The city’s name pays tribute to Hattie Lott, the first postmaster’s wife back in 1882. Today, visitors will discover a variety of museums, arts, music, attractions and mouthwatering cuisine.

Outdoor enthusiasts especially love Hattiesburg with its mild winters and abundant parks, rivers, and recreation areas. Families often appreciate kid-friendly destinations like the Hattiesburg Zoo and Infinity Science Center. Couples tend to enjoy sampling craft beer, wine tasting and unique date ideas.

No matter your interests or travel party size, Hattiesburg offers an array of things to do. This article covers 12 of the top attractions and activities in Hattiesburg to help you make the most of your visit.

1.Check Out Art and Exhibits at the Hattiesburg Arts Council Gallery

One of the premier places to view art in Hattiesburg is at the Hattiesburg Arts Council Gallery located in the historic Train Depot. This non-profit gallery features rotating exhibits from regional artists working in different mediums like painting, sculpture, pottery and photography.

Guests can browse the displays at their leisure during open gallery hours. Special opening receptions allow visitors to meet the artists while enjoying refreshments and live music. The gallery also hosts poetry readings, artist talks and children’s arts activities periodically.

In addition to visual arts exhibits, visitors can admire the historic Train Depot which served passenger rail from 1910 to 1969. Railroad enthusiasts appreciate artifacts like the conductor’s uniform and vintage luggage carts. With free admission, the Hattiesburg Arts Council Gallery makes an affordable, air-conditioned activity while sightseeing downtown.

2.Tour the Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood District

For a taste of Hattiesburg’s elegant old homes and historic charm, go on a self-guided walking tour of the Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood District. Located just west of downtown, this neighborhood contains over 300 historic homes built between 1880 and 1930.

Notable architects designed these historic houses in popular turn-of-the-century styles like Victorian, Colonial Revival and Craftsman Bungalow. Magnificent oak trees laden with Spanish moss line the brick-paved streets where Model-T cars once cruised.

Maps for self-guided tours are available at the Hattiesburg Convention Visitor’s Bureau. Walking allows visitors to fully admire the architectural detailing, manicured gardens and expansive front porches as they learn about Hattiesburg’s early boom years. Those short on time can also drive through and view homes at their leisure.

3.Relax at Duncan Lake

When looking to soak up sunshine and enjoy the outdoors, head over to scenic Duncan Lake located just west of Hattiesburg. This peaceful 104-acre recreational lake offers plenty of family-friendly activities like fishing, boating, paddleboarding, picnicking and wildlife viewing.

Anglers can cast a line for largemouth bass, bream and catfish on the peaceful waters. Those with boats, jet skis or paddle craft can launch from the boat ramp for a fun day zipping around the lake. Shaded picnic areas with tables allow visitors to enjoy a lakeside barbecue lunch. Joggers and walkers appreciate the 1-mile fitness trail looped around the lake.

Kayak, canoe, paddleboat and pedal boat rentals are available on-site for minimal fees. Duncan Lake provides an excellent way to relax amid nature without leaving the convenience of Hattiesburg.

4.Tour the African American Military History Museum

For an in-depth look at the significant role of African American servicemen throughout US history, visit the unique African American Military History Museum. This Hattiesburg museum contains over 10,000 artifacts highlighting the courage and sacrifice of black soldiers from the Revolutionary War through current day.

Guests will view detailed mannequin exhibits depicting uniforms and gear carried by soldiers of various eras and military branches. Authentic photos, weapons, medals, documents, artwork and equipment fill display cases alongside the exhibits. Touchscreen multimedia stations play interviews and documentary footage for additional context.

The museum also houses a Hall of Honor recognizing outstanding service members with ties to Mississippi. Temporary galleries showcase rotating exhibits related to military athletes, K-9 corps, female pilots and other special topics. Allow at least 1-2 hours to appreciate this expansive collection of artifacts honoring those who bravely served our country.

5.See Exotic Animals at the Hattiesburg Zoo

No family visit to Hattiesburg is complete without spending a few hours viewing exotic species at the acclaimed Hattiesburg Zoo. This well-maintained zoo located in Kamper Park features natural habitat enclosures home to over 200 animals. Guests will encounter ring-tailed lemurs, chimpanzees, leopards, tropical birds and much more.

Don’t miss the zoo’s enriching animal encounter programs allowing kids to interact directly with residents like tortoises, snakes and lizards. The zoo also hosts fun special events like BOO at the ZOO for Halloween and Zoo Lights for Christmas. With affordable ticket prices and year-round operation, the Hattiesburg Zoo offers an ideal rainy day activity, birthday party venue or educational outing.

6.Admire Classic Cars at the Historic Hattiesburg Auto Museum

Car enthusiasts visiting Hattiesburg should set aside time to admire an impressive collection of vehicles at the Historic Hattiesburg Auto Museum. This museum located downtown holds over 100 classic cars and specialty vehicles dating from 1897 to 1983.

Display highlights include a pristine Model T Ford town car, 1955 Thunderbird, 1963 Lincoln Continental convertible and 1976 Ford Torino police cruiser used in Blues Brothers. Vintage gas pumps, road signs, and recreated street scenes enhance the displays.

Visitors will appreciate the stories behind vehicles owned by Elvis Presley, Governor Ross Barnett and Hattiesburg locals. Allow at least an hour to stroll through the polished chrome, shiny paint, whitewall tires and gleaming engines.

7.Sample Craft Beer at Southern Prohibition Brewing

Beer lovers visiting Hattiesburg will want to pay a visit to Southern Prohibition Brewing, the first microbrewery to open along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Since launching in 2013, this 10-barrel brewery utilizes time-honored techniques and quality ingredients to produce an array of modern craft beers.

The family-friendly taproom offers beer flights and pints to enjoy alongside live music, trivia nights and food trucks. Year-round brews like the popular Crowd Control hazy IPA balance classic India pale ales and malty stouts. Seasonal releases might include a pineapple wheat, oatmeal stout, or coffee porter depending on the time of year. Brewery tours run select weekends for those interested in learning more about the beer-making process.

8.See a Show at the Historic Saenger Theater

When seeking an evening of performing arts entertainment, look no further than the spectacular Saenger Theater located downtown. This renovated 1920s atmospheric theater dazzles guests with extravagant architecture inspired by Italian courtyards.

Towering Corinthian columns, balconies, and a night sky ceiling set an elegant backdrop for enjoying concerts, touring musicals, local theater, dance recitals, orchestras, children’s shows, and more. Recent marquee names gracing the Saenger Theater stage include Jeff Dunham, Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan.

With a capacity of nearly 1,600 in the orchestra and mezzanine, the Saenger Theater brings a touch of big city culture to small-town Hattiesburg. Upgrade your experience by arriving early for cocktails or dinner in the second floor balcony lounge overlooking the grand lobby.

9.Learn Something New at Infinity Science Center

For a fun, educational experience suitable for all ages, spend a few hours exploring the interactive exhibits at Infinity Science Center. Located just off Interstate 59, this first-class science museum contains over 100 STEM-focused displays related to energy, health sciences, physics, astronomy space exploration, robotics, geology and more.

Popular exhibits include piloting a fighter jet simulator, playing virtual reality games, commanding robots, mixing digital potions, and exploring a replica International Space Station module. The on-site planetarium features stunning multimedia shows highlighting planets, galaxies, and cosmic phenomenon not visible from earth.

With affordable rates and ever-changing exhibits, visitors could easily spend an entire afternoon or return multiple times without getting bored. Infinity Science Center makes learning about science and technology entertaining for both kids and adults.

10.Attend an Event at Lake Terrace Convention Center

When looking for convention space, event venues or local entertainment options, consider the Lake Terrace Convention Center situated conveniently close to I-59. This expansive complex overlooking a scenic lake hosts regional conferences, trade shows, festivals, concerts, weddings, banquets and more.

The main 16,000 square-foot exhibit hall boasts high ceilings, concert-quality sound and lighting systems, configurable room layouts and an attached commercial kitchen ideal for catering events. An outdoor pavilion and lakeside wedding site draw many couples seeking picturesque backdrops. Recent high-profile events range from comic conventions to cheerleading competitions to crafting retreats.

Even if not attending a specific conference or concert, visitors can stroll the lakefront boardwalks and pavilions when no private events occupy the space. The Lake Terrace Convention Center brings business travelers and event organizers together in one scenic convenient destination.

11.Have an Unforgettable Meal at Mamie’s Restaurant

No culinary visit to Hattiesburg is complete without enjoying at least one meal at Mamie’s Restaurant, a beloved fine dining destination on Mobile Street. Family owned and operated for over 25 years, Mamie’s elegant converted home provides an extraordinarily memorable eating experience.

Renowned for their aged steaks, seafood, veal oscar and signature crab cakes, Mamie’s showcases culinary excellence with a splash of southern charm. Patrons especially rave over the table-side Caesar salad preparations and decadent desserts like white chocolate bread pudding. Extensive wine pairings accompany the made-from-scratch New Orleans cuisine.

With only a few tables in each ornate dining room, reservations are essential to secure a spot at Mamie’s white-linen clad tables. After dinner, enjoy an after-dinner drink on the open-air veranda filled with ferns and twinkling lights. Mamie’s hospitality and cuisine consistently delights residents and visitors alike.

12.Shop Unique Boutiques in Downtown Hattiesburg

When seeking some retail therapy or tourist souvenirs, head to the cluster of locally owned boutiques in downtown Hattiesburg around the Train Depot. Browsers will discover an appealing variety of shops like Blu Jazz Cafe selling cigars, coffee and 1920s speakeasy decor. The Dutch Oven Bakery tantalizes passersby with the sweet aromas of homemade fudge, sweets and breads.

Those seeking vintage fashions can curate the racks at Bootlegger’s Dress Shop while next door Picayune sells trendy jewelry and accessories. The Lucky Rabbit displays intriguing artwork, oddities and apothecary items beside the Hattiesburlesque Museum showcasing risqué showgirl costumes. Train enthusiasts will love relics and memorabilia inside The Station gift shop.

With free 2-hour downtown parking and compact walkability, boutique hopping makes a relaxing way to support small businesses while finding perfect souvenirs for yourself or loved ones back home.

Conclusion

Hattiesburg offers visitors plenty of attractions, art, culture, cuisine and recreation to fill an exciting Mississippi vacation. From admiring elegant Victorian homes to encountering exotic zoo animals to learning about military history to sampling craft beers, this spirited college town provides something to suit every interest and age group.

Outdoor lovers also have ample opportunities to explore scenic parks and lakes year-round thanks to Hattiesburg’s mild southern climate. Whenever visiting southern Mississippi, allow at least a few days to discover everything fun the city of Hattiesburg has in store during your travels.

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