If you wanted to sum up the city of Columbus in Georgia in a word, then you just might choose ‘entertaining’. This city was once built on the back of its industrial heritage, although nowadays it is better known as a vibrant hub that has a huge amount of entertainment options for visitors, whatever your preferences may be. If you like the arts, then you will love Columbus, as you can take in diverse performances from classical music concerts to Broadway shows at the State Theater of Georgia.
The area is also a place of unique cultural and historical significance, and you can learn all about the impact of different periods of history at one of the many museums here. You can go back in time with a visit to the Columbus Historic District in MidTown, and you can also whizz into the future and explore space at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center. Whatever you choose to do, you will be accompanied by the sounds of the roaring Chattahoochee River that bisects the city, and provides plenty of entertainment in its own right, from the majestic RiverWalk to adrenalin-packed white water rafting.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Columbus:
1. Columbus Museum
To learn about all things related to Columbus head to the Columbus Museum which also happens to be the second largest museum in the whole of the southeast area.
Due to its size, you can expect a huge number of educational exhibits here, including historical works that tell the story of the rise of Columbus as well fine arts and even films about this city.
One of the highlights of the museum is the showing of ‘The Chattahoochee Legacy’ which has won awards for its depiction of this region of the United States.
If you are travelling with younger visitors then there are engaging galleries such as the Transformations Discovery Gallery which is full of exciting interactive exhibits.
2. RiverCenter for the Performing Arts
For some entertainment in Columbus then look no further than the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts where you will find not one but three different theater venues to choose from.
Whatever your tastes, you will find something to enjoy here, from Broadway musicals to local dance and music recitals.
In the evening the Loft has a range of live music which covers genres like rock ‘n’ roll and jazz music, and you can also visit Legacy Hall in RiverCenter where you can catch a performance by the Columbus State University Orchestra and Choir.
3. Chattahoochee RiverWalk
One of the most scenic and relaxing spots in Columbus is the powerhouse Chattahoochee RiverWalk which stretches for 15 miles of parkland and is nestled against the banks of the glorious Chattahoochee River.
The RiverWalk winds past many cultural icons in the city such as Fort Benning and you can either walk along the paved path or cycle along if you are feeling a little more active.
As you move along the trail, you will pass urban cityscapes as well as a wide selection of local flora and fauna.
4. Coca-Cola Space Science Center
One of the jewels in the crown of Columbus is the Coca-Cola Space Center which is the place to come if you want to know all about the galaxy and space flight.
Once you arrive, you will get the chance to journey into space and you can take a simulation that allows you to pretend to be an astronaut and take the controls of the Space Shuttle yourself.
As you cruise around the solar system you will be given directions by flight directors, before safely landing back on the launch pad.
If you are travelling with children in particular then the space science center is a fun day out, especially on a rainy day, and almost all the exhibits here are interactive so that you can get hands-on throughout your trip here.
5. Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center
Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center is actually part of the campus of Columbus State University and is dedicated to educating visitors all about the environment in this part of Georgia.
The facility focuses on the areas of marsh land that sit around the center and there is much to see and do here, a lot of which is also interactive.
Friendly and knowledgeable guides will explain all about the flora and fauna of the marsh lands and you may even be allowed to help with some of the experiments that are done here to monitor the local environment.
6. Whitewater Express
The Chattahoochee River is a raging powerhouse in Columbus and also offers the longest urban whitewater rafting experience in the world.
There are five Class 4 rapids here as well as ten small rapids to navigate and as such this is one of the wildest rides that you can get in the United States.
If you are an adrenalin junkie, or looking for some adventure in Columbus, then this is definitely one activity not to miss.
7. National Civil War Naval Museum
Anyone interested in naval history in the United States should not miss a trip to the National Civil War Naval Museum which is conveniently located at the mighty Port Columbus.
The museum is most famous for having a life size model of the USS Water Witch, and you can tour the ship and find out all about the history here, such as how the gunboats would have operated, and how the ‘powder monkeys’ would have worked behind the scenes.
The museum also reminds visitors of the sacrifices made by those in service, and as such this is a great educational trip if you are traveling with children.
8. Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari
For a real safari experience, come to the Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari where you will be able to travel by bus and tour around taking in some of the best indigenous wildlife in the Georgia area.
As part of the experience you will be given food pellets which will allow you to interact with some of the 500 different species that call the animal safari home, and you can expect to find animals such as camels, giraffes, and goats, all of which can be hand fed for an even closer visitor experience.
Other animals are not so well suited to a hands-on approach, such as the lions, tigers, and bears, but the safari aims to teach you about animals from different habitats as well as offer sanctuary to animals unable to live in the wild.
9. MidTown Columbus
MidTown Columbus is the name for the community in the midtown area of the city that was built from the 1920s until the 1950s.
This part of Columbus is now a historical district and is known for the period houses that sit here as well as shops and dining options that have been here for years.
As any local will tell you, no trip to Columbus is complete without a visit to MidTown.
10. Callaway Gardens
Callaway Gardens is actually not a selection of gardens at all, but rather a whole host of fun activities that sprawl over a massive area of land in the Pine Mountain area.
Callaway Gardens has a number of gems such as golf course and a water park, but visitors here also shouldn’t miss the chance to take in areas like the Day Butterfly Center where you can see hundred of these beautiful creatures in flight.
If you are interested in the flowers and plants of the Georgia area then don’t miss the Sibley Horticultural Center, as well as Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden.
11. Springer Opera House
It’s not often that you get the chance to go behind the scenes at the opera, but you will get the opportunity to do just that at the Springer Opera House in Columbus.
The opera house has amazing local guides who will take you on a tour of the state theater of Georgia, itself a historical relic, and you will get to learn how the theater has evolved over the years, as well as learning about the amazing performances that have been held here.
If you want to catch a show yourself then the Springer Opera has a huge range of entertainment options such as classical opera pieces and more modern recitals.
12. Heritage Park
Heritage Park is a great place to come in Columbus if you want a mix of history and the great outdoors.
The park is known for its commemorative statues as well as its educational signage that will fill you in on the historical and cultural significance of Columbus.
The park is also dedicated to telling the story of the industrial heritage of this city and there are self-guided tours that you can take that will lead you around all the various spots of interest.
13. Columbus Symphony Orchestra
Depending on your tastes, you are sure to find something on at the Columbus Symphony Orchestra which has a huge range of shows that run from classical pieces by Mozart and Beethoven, to Broadway shows and even pop music recitals.
One of the great joys here is that the Columbus Symphony Orchestra enjoys such a wide repertoire, so make sure that you check what’s on and book a ticket when you are in town.
14. Columbus Botanical Garden
The Columbus Botanical Garden first opened its doors in 1999 and now covers an area of 22 acres of lush landscapes for visitors to enjoy.
The gardens have a huge range of local flora and fauna on display, and if you like photography then this is an excellent place to try out your skills.
For anyone looking for some exercise, you can hike along the Joann Holt Walking Trail or simply stick to the beautiful display gardens in the main part of the facility.
As well as the actual gardens themselves you will also find a farmhouse from the 1890s that can be visited during the week.
15. Columbus Aquatic Center
For anyone who wants to make a splash in Columbus, look no further than the Columbus Aquatic Center.
If you fancy going for a dip while you are in town then this is the perfect place for you as the center features an Olympic size swimming pool that is perfect for lap swimming.
For something less formal, there is a Warm Up Pool for free swimming and diving boards throughout the facility.
Ideal if you want to cool off in the summer months.