Evening on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia

Columbus, Georgia

Guide to Columbus

Home to Fort Benning and the longest urban whitewater course in the world, Columbus full of things to do, places to stay, great restaurants and events year-round.

Originally inhabited by the Creek Indians, the city of Columbus was settled in 1828, named for Christopher Columbus. It was an important shipping port and in 1909, became home to the U.S. Army's Camp Benning (now Fort Benning). Set along the Chattahoochee River on the border with Alabama, Columbus has become a popular spot for outdoor lovers with the largest urban whitewater course in the world and a zipline across the river. The thriving downtown has plentiful attractions, restaurants and shops.

Things to Do

Whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia
Whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia

Whitewater Express

Columbus is perhaps best known for its whitewater rapids on the Chattahoochee River. Whitewater Express is just one outfitter that runs rafting trips on the artificial five class III and IV rapids that have high and low water periods throughout the day.

Uptown Columbus

Be sure to explore Uptown Columbus, a lodging, nightlife, retail and entertainment district along the Chattahoochee River. This area hosts the Market Days on Broadway farmers and makers market as well as a free concert series.

Inside the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia
National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia

National Infantry Museum

Columbus is home to Fort Benning, and the National Infantry Museum interprets the history of these soldiers from the founding of America. The 190,000-square-foot facility is the only museum dedicated to the American infantryman and features a large collection of military artifacts.

Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center

Spend time in the great outdoors at the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center. Opened in 1995, the center has natural history displays, exhibits and nature trails to educate visitors about the biodiversity of the region.

Coca-Cola Space Science Center

Run by Columbus State University, the Coca-Cola Space Science Center is an educational experience with gallery exhibits, a space mission simulator, planetarium and Space Shuttle artifacts.

Inside the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia
Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia

Springer Opera House

Catch a performance at the Springer Opera House, The State Theatre of Georgia, built in 1871. It hosted performers like Buffalo Bill and Oscar Wilde over the years. The national landmark has three annual play series as well as tours.

RiverCenter for the Performing Arts

Located in the Uptown area of Columbus, the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts hosts nationally renowned performers and plays, including Yo Yo Ma, Jerry Seinfeld and the Vienna Boys Choir.

Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Formed in 1855, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra is the second oldest orchestra is the nation. Now one of the Southeast's premier musical ensembles, the orchestra performs at the RiverCenter's Bill Heard Theatre.

CSS Jackson at the Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia
CSS Jackson at the Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia

National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus

The National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus focuses on the naval history of the War Between the States, featuring a replica of the USS Hartford, the recreated CSS Albemarle and the CSS Jackson, the hull of the largest surviving Civil War ironclad.

The Columbus Museum

Equal parts art and regional history museum, The Columbus Museum is the second largest general museum in the state, with a diverse collection that tells the story of the city and region. Exhibits include more than 14,000 artifacts, including the Native American history and American fine art.

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Places to Stay

Spend the night at one of Columbus' accommodations.

Columbus Marriott

The Columbus Marriott is located inside an 1861 grist mill, with more than 100 rooms attached to the convention center. The hotel has two-story suites, meeting rooms, a coffee shop and restaurant.

Rothschild entry

Rothschild-Pound House Inn

Spend the night at the historic register-listed Rothschild-Pound House Inn, a stunning Victorian home. There are 18 rooms, including four cottages with private baths, full breakfasts, cocktail hour, fireplaces and Jacuzzis.

LaQuinta Inns & Suites Columbus North

Well located in Columbus, the LaQuinta Inns & Suites Columbus North has restaurants and shops within walking distance, as well as free continental breakfast, business center, outdoor pool and complimentary Internet.

Hilton Garden Inn

Located in North Columbus near a number of corporations, the Hilton Garden Inn has 120 guest rooms with microwaves, refrigerators and coffee makers. The hotel also has free Internet, a business center, complimentary shuttle, indoor pool, fitness center and a full-service restaurant.

Doubletree exterior

DoubleTree by Hilton

At the DoubleTree by Hilton, guests have easy access to the Columbus Airport and Fort Benning. The hotel has a complimentary airport shuttle, spacious rooms, high-speed Internet, fitness center, outdoor pool, a full-service restaurant and a business center.

Homewood Suites

The Homewood Suites is great for short or long stays, with full kitchens, flat-screen televisions, high-speed Internet, an outdoor pool, fitness center, business center and shuttle service. There is also complimentary breakfast and manager's reception.

Home2 exterior

Home2 Suites

Set near the airport and Fort Benning, the comfy rooms at the Home2 Suites are a great base for exploring Columbus. There are studio and one-bedroom suites with living areas, sofa beds and full kitchens. There are even pet-friendly rooms.

Hyatt Place Columbus North

Conveniently located near major highways, the Hyatt Place Columbus North has separate living spaces, free WiFi, free parking, pet-friendly rooms, nearby restaurants and complimentary breakfast daily.

Hampton Inn exterior

Hampton Inn Columbus/South-Ft. Benning

The award-winning Hampton Inn-South/Ft. Benning features amenities like the comfy Hampton bed, mini fridges, free WiFi, flat-screen televisions, fitness center, outdoor pool and free hot breakfast.

Residence Inn

Great for extended stays, the Residence Inn is located within walking distance of the Columbus Park Crossing Mall and a short drive from downtown attractions. The hotel includes a complimentary shuttle, complimentary breakfast, a fitness center and an outdoor pool.

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Places to Eat

Chow down at one of the best Columbus restaurants.

Minnie's Uptown Restaurant

A soul food restaurant featured as one of Explore Georgia's 100 Plates Locals Love, lunch at Minnie's Uptown Restaurant is a Columbus must-do. Indulge in the changing menu of the buffet, including fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.

Mabella's Italian

Mabella's Italian Steakhouse

The high-quality meats and Italian dishes on the menu make Mabella's Italian Steakhouse a local favorite. Set in a historic telephone switch building, favorites include the steaks and stuffed pastas.

Country's Barbecue

While there are a few locations nearby, the Columbus outpost of Country's Barbecue is uniquely located in the city’s former bus station. You can even eat inside one of the buses! Their barbecue is cooked over hickory and oak, paired with sides like Brunswick stew.

Southern Caprese at 11th & Bay in Columbus, Georgia
Southern Caprese at 11th & Bay in Columbus, Georgia

11th & Bay

One of the best restaurants in town, 11th & Bay focuses on local, sustainable and organic dishes with Southern hospitality. Located in an old cotton warehouse, the restaurant has views of the Chattahoochee River and a cozy Edison bulb-lit interior.

Epic Restaurant

Covered in local artwork, Epic Restaurant has chef’s tastings and a dinner menu with dishes like foie gras, duck confit and venison. They also have a full cocktail and beer menu, and an extensive collection of wines.

Cannon Brew Pub

Combining house-brewed beer and American pub fare, Cannon Brew Pub is the best place in town for a pint. Chow down on one of their burgers, wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches and hearty pasta.

Scrambled Dog at Dinglewood Pharmacy in Columbus, Georgia
Scrambled Dog at Dinglewood Pharmacy in Columbus, Georgia

Dinglewood Pharmacy

The Dinglewood Pharmacy was founded in 1918 and has been serving iconic dishes ever since, like the "Scrambled Dog," made with chili, cheese, oyster crackers and more. It was voted one of Explore Georgia's 100 Plates Locals Love. Like stepping back in time, the eatery has been featured on countless shows and media.


Speakeasy is located in the Midtown area of Columbus and has been around since 1976, serving their famous Camel Rider sandwich, Speakeasy original pizzas and Nutcracker Pie.

The Black Cow dining

The Black Cow

Home to Uptown’s only oyster bar, The Black Cow has some of the best burgers in the South, according to "Garden and Gun" magazine, along with po' boys, meatloaf and steaks. Diners also can enjoy a signature cocktail, glass of wine or Georgia craft beer.

Chili Thai

For authentic Thai fare, dine at Chili Thai. Menu highlights include Thai-style salads, noodles, curries and fried rice. They also have beer, wine and sake.

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There's always something going on in Columbus.

Fall Food Truck Festival

The Fall Food Truck Festival in November brings together more than 25 of the area's food trucks, a craft beer garden, and live entertainment in Woodruff Park and on Dillingham Bridge.

Beer & Wine Festival

And, held in the Uptown neighborhood in November, the Beer & Wine Festival brings together more than 100 beers and wines, a DJ, and televisions showing the football games.

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Published: November 2019