Chattahoochee Riverwalk in Columbus, Georgia

Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Guide to Columbus

Home to Fort Moore and the longest urban whitewater course in the world, Columbus is 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 1918, became home to the U.S. Army's Camp Benning (now Fort Moore). Set along the Chattahoochee River on the border with Alabama, Columbus has become a popular spot for outdoor lovers with the longest urban whitewater course in the world and a zip line across the river. The thriving downtown is a mecca for attractions, restaurants and shops.

Things to Do

Rafting on the Chattahoochee River with Whitewater Express in Columbus, Georgia
Rafting on the Chattahoochee River with Whitewater Express in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Whitewater Express

Launch yourself into fun with Columbus, GA Whitewater! Named one of the Top 12 Man-Made Adventures in the World by USA Today, you'll glide down the river with rafting adventures ranging from a mild Lazy River to the famously wild Class V rapids ... something everyone in the family can enjoy!

Uptown Columbus

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

Exhibit in National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia
Exhibit in National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

National Infantry Museum

The National Infantry Museum interprets the history of the infantry from the founding of America to present day global peace keeping. 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 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 in Columbus, Georgia
Coca-Cola Space Science Center in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Coca-Cola Space Science Center

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

Springer Opera House

Catch a performance at the Springer Opera House, the State Theatre of Georgia. Built in 1871, this professional theatre produces 11 shows annually with some of the nation's most sought-after talent from Los Angeles to New York. It's the home of the Springer Theatre Academy, the largest theatre training program for young adults in the Southeast.

RiverCenter for the Performing Arts

Located in the Uptown area of Columbus, the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts is the centerpiece of the city's arts district. The facility has hosted a variety of world-renowned performers, including Yo-Yo Ma, Jessie Norman, David Copperfield, Wynonna, and national touring productions such as the Broadway shows Chicago, Miss Saigon and Cats.

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 RiverCenter's Bill Heard Theatre.

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 art museum in the state. With a diverse selection that not only tells the story of the city and region, but exhibits from both its archives of over 14,000 pieces and works of art showcased from renowned collections from around the world, make the Museum a cultural center like no other.

Historic Westville in Columbus, Georgia
Historic Westville in Columbus, Georgia

Historic Westville

Take a step back in time! Historic Westville is a living museum of Southern history and culture representing the diversity of the Southern experience by telling the stories of all Southern peoples, including European Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants. In this working village, you'll experience life in the 19th century through exhibits, live interpreters, food, and crafts.

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Places to Stay

With over 61 hotels and 4,600-plus rooms, spending the night on your next getaway to Columbus is easy.

Hotel Indigo in Columbus, Georgia
Hotel Indigo in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Hotel Indigo

Hotel Indigo Columbus at Riverfront Place is located right on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, offering guests breathtaking views of the river from virtually anywhere in the hotel. Enjoy delicious dining options onsite, including the downstairs farm-to-table restaurant Denim & Oak, and the fabulous open-air rooftop bar overlooking the river, Eighteen85. Walk or use the hotel's complimentary bikes to explore the RiverWalk, dining, nightlife and shopping in the heart of Uptown Columbus.

Columbus Marriott

The Columbus Marriott is a 177-room hotel built around a restored grist mill that began operations in 1861. The original brick was refurbished and converted into Columbus' convention hotel being directly across from the Trade Center. Now a national landmark, the hotel houses two, two-story suites with loft bedrooms; five meeting rooms; the Grist Mill Coffee Shop and Houlihan's restaurant.

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, 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 Moore. 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

Located near the airport and convenient to Fort Moore, 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. Moore

The award-winning Hampton Inn-South/Ft. Moore 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.

Banks Food Hall in Columbus, Georgia
Banks Food Hall in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Banks Food Hall

Everyone will find something they love to eat at Banks Food Hall, a collective eatery of several dining options with indoor and outdoor seating, bars and live music. Eat, drink, socialize and relax in the heart of Uptown Columbus next to the RiverWalk, Splash Pad and Whitewater Express.

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 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 in Columbus, Georgia
Country's Barbecue in Columbus, Georgia

Country's Barbecue

While there are a few locations nearby, the Columbus outpost of Country's Barbecue is uniquely located in an old Greyhound 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 and Bay in Columbus, Georgia
Southern Caprese at 11th and Bay in Columbus, Georgia

11th & Bay

A true favorite among residents, 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. Epic has landed on a list of the Top 40 fine-dining eateries in the United States, and is the only one from Georgia, as well as receiving the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine. 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.


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! From Uptown's RiverFest, Friday Night Concert Series, Spring & Fall Food Truck Festivals, Beer & Wine Festival, Paddle South, to RiverBlast Festival, you'll find plenty of fun and good times!

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Published: January 2024
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