Mississippi’s Best-Kept Secret
Sponsored by Visit Columbus, Mississippi
What do authors and artists, blues musicians, and sportsmen all have in common?
The quiet, idyllic town of Columbus, Mississippi, looks like something from the pages of a Tennessee Williams play. The birthplace of America’s greatest playwright has captivated writers, artists, and musicians alike for decades with its classic Southern architecture, small-town charm, and scenic outdoor backdrop.
In Downtown Columbus, colorful, welcoming shops line the street and family-friendly festivals and farmers’ market make this area a lively hub of activity. And just a few blocks away, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty began her academic career at the local university.
In the heart of the Mississippi Black Prairie, visitors indulge in tranquility and Southern hospitality at its finest, while playing a round of golf at Old Waverly, the site of the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open and 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway wraps itself around the town and beckons visitors to come on in. In Columbus, “The City That Has It All,” there’s something for everyone, so wander over, enjoy a tall glass of sweet tea or a mint julep and stay for a while.
Discover Columbus’ History and Heritage
Having a grand time takes on an entirely new meaning when visiting Columbus. With more than 650 historic properties, Columbus is a history buff’s dream. With a plethora of historic Italianate and 19th-century Greek-Revival townhouses, there is no shortage of historic homes. During the Civil War, while many neighboring towns were heavily damaged by artillery fire, Columbus maintained its status as a “hospital town,” opening up its homes and churches to care for the wounded, and as a result, much of Columbus’ historic homes and their contents remained untouched.
Likewise, the Black Prairies of Eastern Mississippi produced a number of distinguished blues musicians, including Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White, and Big Joe Williams. The Mississippi Blues Trail identifies influential musicians, as well as historic sites that contributed to the area’s blues heritage. Among the area’s four blues markers is the one designating “Catfish Alley,” the legendary epicenter of blues, jazz, and soul music in North Mississippi. Columbus was known for hosting legends, such as B.B. King, Duke Ellington, Little Richard, Louis Armstrong, and James Brown, who performed alongside Mississippi’s blues guitarists, often at Queen City Hotel.
Explore Charming Downtown Columbus
With its variety of multicolored storefronts and calendar full of events, historic Downtown Columbus is as picturesque as it is busy. The walkable shopping district features specialty shops and unique boutiques, and just down the road is “Mississippi’s Best Antique Mall,” as well as many other national retailers and local shops. After a day of shopping, Columbus’ food scene is worth biting into. Local favorites include Harvey’s, J Broussard’s, and Huck’s Place, where one can get anything from New Orleans-inspired zydeco flatbread and crawfish etouffee to mouthwatering Mississippi staples like blackened catfish with jalapeno cheddar grits.
Downtown Columbus’ unique shopping and dining options are not the only things worth mentioning, though. This historic district also plays host to many noteworthy community events each year. Farmer’s markets, the annual Christmas tree lighting, parades, festivals, the Columbus Day Celebration, and Sounds of Summer are just a few of the family-oriented events held in Downtown Columbus throughout the year. Another popular event is “Catfish in the Alley,” which features lives blues music and savory Mississippi farm-raised catfish. Held each spring in Columbus, the event is a tribute to the African American citizens of Columbus who have contributed to the town’s rich political, historical, cultural, and musical heritage.
Play Championship Golf
A stone’s throw away from Columbus in neighboring West Point is Old Waverly, one of the best golf resorts in the Southeast and one of the top 100 public golf courses in America, as ranked by Golf Digest. Old Waverly boasts two championship courses that follow the natural contours of the region’s gently sloping prairie and oak tree landscape. The luxurious golf resort, which consists of a variety of private and semi-private villas, cottages, and condominiums, also includes eight restaurants, a swimming complex, tennis courts, a fitness center, and more. The thriving golf community in the Columbus area encompasses not only the two renowned golf courses at Old Waverly, but also three other impeccably manicured public golf courses. Lion Hills Golf Club, Elm Lake Golf Club, and Green Oaks Course are open to the public.
Experience the Wonders of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
The 234-mile stretch of water connecting the middle of America to the Gulf of Mexico offers a wellspring of recreational activities perfect for adventurers of all ages. From the bow of a boat, visitors can take a break from angling to enjoy sweeping views of historic homes, Civil War sites, and Native American burial grounds. Sportsmen can participate in one of the area’s many acclaimed fishing tournaments. The Columbus Lake, which feeds into the waterway, offers outdoor enthusiasts an additional 9,000 acres of freshwater for boating, fishing, and watersports. Columbus Marina is located just above the Stennis Lock and Dam and is a stop on the Great Loop. “Loopers” enjoy an overnight visit or an extended stay at the marina.
In Columbus, outdoor fun is always in season. In addition to watersports, Columbus is home to two speedways, as well as playgrounds, ball fields, and tennis courts. Located on a 150-acre lake, Lake Lowndes State Park offers hiking trails, fishing, camping, and cabins. Facilities for football, Frisbee golf, tennis, and softball are available. Dewayne Hayes Recreation and Campground sit on the Tenn-Tom Waterway with electric and water hookups as well as primitive sites. Enjoy fishing, boating, or hiking along the banks of the river.
During this uncertain time, the safety of our visitors and our community is of the greatest importance to us, and we’re committed to helping slow the spread of COVID-19. For the most updated information regarding Covid-19, please refer to visitmississippi.org/covid-19-travel-alert.
The Mississippi State Department of Health is operating a hotline for answers to questions about Covid-19. Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline: (877) 978-6453.
With its classic Southern architecture, blues music legacy, vibrant downtown, 135 restaurant choices, 1250 hotel and Bed and Breakfast rooms, lively festival scene, championship golf, and world-class recreation, Columbus is the South’s best-kept secret.
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