Family-friendly activities in Hattiesburg offer an ideal family getaway
HATTIESBURG — Hattiesburg, a charming Gulf South city that offers something for all ages, recently welcomed two giraffes, hyenas and Colobus monkeys in an expanded Africa exhibit at the Hattiesburg Zoo. The new expansions at the zoo, along with the city’s museums, expansive public art, outdoor recreation and diverse culinary scene, make now the perfect time to book a summer family getaway to Hattiesburg.
"We are thrilled to see our visitors make lifelong memories as Hattiesburg has become the perfect locale for multi-generational family vacations,” says Marlo Dorsey, executive director at VisitHATTIESBURG. “Our family-friendly attractions are curated to engage and entertain children and our laid-back atmosphere makes traveling a breeze for every member of the family.”
See below for a sampling of family-friendly things to do in Hattiesburg:
This year, the Hattiesburg Zoo officially opened its expanded Africa exhibit to house two giraffes named Sue Ellen and Alberta, a hyena and Colobus monkeys. The area also includes a new restaurant and pavilion. The zoo is home to more than 100 species of animals from around the world and also recently welcomed the endangered Charcoan Peccary to its South American exhibit. Guests can get up-close and feed a sloth in the zoo’s Sloth Experience or pet a wallaby, kune kune pig or emu in the Wallaby Walkthrough exhibit. Additional attractions within the zoo include a train ride, carousel, splash pad, playground, petting zoos, high ropes course and a mining expedition.
Hattiesburg has introduced a burger trail featuring stops at over 34 local restaurants across the city serving up everything from the classics to gourmet specialty burgers and even some that redefine what qualifies as a hamburger. The trail offers the perfect opportunity to discover new bites and sip refreshing beverages while discovering interesting shops, public art and hidden gems throughout the city.
The Longleaf Trace is South Mississippi's premier running, biking, hiking and equestrian trail suitable for all ages. It is a beautiful linear park, 44 miles long and fairly flat, extending from Downtown Hattiesburg through Sumrall, Bassfield and Carson to Prentiss. The trail is 10 feet wide and paved with asphalt, making it simple and enjoyable to navigate. Adventurers can bring their own gear or rent a bike at the Trace Gateway on The University of Southern Mississippi campus. For those who enjoy off-road courses, many flank the Longleaf Trace’s paved path. Spurs connect the trail to attractions, camping sites and restaurants.
Alley Cats Axe Throwing Co.
Families can sharpen their axe throwing skills in historic downtown Hattiesburg. Alley Cats offers hatchet throwing in a fun and controlled environment. No prior experience is required as the experts on staff will teach guests how to properly throw an axe. Snacks, craft beer on tap, wine and more are available for purchase at the Alley.
The Lucky Rabbit
Hattiesburg’s 15,000 square-foot, self-proclaimed junk shop, The Lucky Rabbit, will be open every weekend in 2021. The shop offers endless vintage items and hands-on displays, including a replica Dunder Mifflin set from the hit show “The Office,” a vintage Volkswagen bus, vintage gaming systems like Nintendo and more. Seen on HGTV’s Home Town, The Lucky Rabbit features a variety of vendors who specialize in vintage, collectible, antique, nostalgia and handmade items and features an entertainment studio inside.
Situated along the Leaf and Bouie Rivers, Pinebelt Blueways consists of more than 50 miles of beautiful, scenic river to explore. Recently, the Blueways announced an extension to the waterway that allows guests even more opportunities to reconnect with nature by taking in the solitude, sights and sounds of this refreshing outdoor experience. Several new signs and mile markers exist along this established waterway to keep visitors on course and educate them about the natural habitats and wildlife along the route. Suitable for all ages and ability levels, visitors can float down the river, canoe, kayak or sunbathe on a sandbar. This waterway does not have an official outfitter, so guests must bring their own equipment.
Public Art Trail
With 41 stops (and growing), Hattiesburg’s Public Art Trail includes dozens of murals, 12 larger-than-life sculptures and numerous fine art galleries. The city has also started transforming utility boxes into beautiful works of art along the trail. As an emerging destination in the Gulf South for art enthusiasts, Hattiesburg’s vibrant arts scene continues to grow, offering new sites year-round. Visitors to this modern southern destination can walk, bike or drive the downtown portion of the art trail, marveling at the beauty of an enriching collection of art from both local, nationally and internationally acclaimed artists.
A former boarded-up window in the alley behind Hattiesburg’s Saenger Theater was transformed into Mississippi’s smallest museum in 2020, now known as The Pocket Museum. Nestled in an Instagram-worthy alley, the museum unveils a new exhibition at the start of each month allowing visitors to peer through the window at four small shelves displaying a collection of tiny items. Past exhibitions included a collection of Swiss Army knives and mini–Rubber Ducks. In addition to the museum, numerous outdoor art installations are featured in the alley.
A premier city in the Gulf South, Hattiesburg blends culture, art, food and history, making it a modern Southern destination. Known as the birthplace of Rock N’ Roll and site of one of the most significant social movements in U.S. history, Hattiesburg’s roots run deep. Today, the city is an emerging civil rights destination, preserving and telling history through attractions like the 1964 Freedom Summer Trail and East Sixth Street Museum District. A creative community adds flair through locally-owned restaurants, craft breweries, vibrant public art and boutique shops. VisitHATTIESBURG and its partners have adopted best practices for keeping visitors and locals safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn about how Hattiesburg is Safely Open for You at www.visithburg.org/safely-open. For more information, visit www.visithburg.org.
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