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A new outdoor attraction is now available in Hattiesburg, as VisitHATTIESBURG launched Mississippi’s first official GeoTour on Friday, December 9. The Hattiesburg GeoTour is a collection of forty locations in the community, with each having its own hidden geocache containing information about the stop, a logbook, and promotional items. Using a smartphone or GPS device, visitors and locals are invited to explore designated hides at public green spaces, attractions, art installations, and local businesses in an interactive way.

“We are thrilled to be the state’s first destination to have an official GeoTour. Our waterways, trails, public art, and historical sites create the perfect backdrop for an outdoor attraction like this one,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director/CEO of VisitHATTIESBURG, said. “We’ve worked alongside great partners the last several months to make this free attraction possible and look forward to people of all ages enjoying the new GeoTour.”

The Hattiesburg GeoTour is one of only 112 active GeoTours across the globe, including 72 in the U.S. The game, which began in 2000 in the U.S., now has more than three million hidden caches worldwide, allowing users to explore not just their intended destination but also those around them. The closest active GeoTour to Hattiesburg is more than six hours away, which makes Hattiesburg a desirable destination for players in surrounding states.

“Mississippi’s great outdoors rival other states’ offerings. Cyclists, runners, water sports enthusiasts, and so many others find adventure in Mississippi. With the launch of the Hattiesburg GeoTour, they’ll be connected to an international game, sharing experiences and learning about Mississippi’s destinations along the way,” said Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray.

With the Geocaching app, adventure seekers can easily search and find GeoTours, view details for travel destinations, and keep track of the caches they find along the way — all for free.

VisitHATTIESBURG created a passport to incentivize players who complete the GeoTour by offering a limited edition geocoin. The Hattiesburg GeoTour passport can be picked up from many area businesses or downloaded from hburggeotour.com. The passport requests a code word for each cache, which can only be found by visiting the physical hide. Completed passports can be submitted to VisitHATTIESBURG via mail or in-person at two partner locations – T-Bones Records & Café on Hardy Street or The Lucky Rabbit on Mobile Street.

Shawn Harris, long-time geocacher and founder of geocaching association Hub City Cachers, shared the idea of a GeoTour with VisitHATTIESBURG during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last year, Harris and fellow geocachers worked with the tourism organization to finalize planning and game logistics. 

“My family and I seek out destinations with GeoTours. We enjoy finding caches in other parts of the country and around the world because it’s a fun way to learn about history, nature, and details about a city or place,” Harris said. “I’ve dreamed of a GeoTour in Hattiesburg for more than a decade, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with many partners to make it possible.”

To welcome players to Hattiesburg this weekend, two more events will take place on Saturday, Dec. 10. Bourbon on Front, with support from the Downtown Hattiesburg Association, will host a breakfast event, while Southern Prohibition Brewery will host an evening reception. In addition to these local businesses, many others are engaged on the GeoTour, serving as hide locations.

VisitHATTIESBURG and the Hattiesburg Community Arts Center, a program of the city’s Parks and Recreation department, commissioned local artists to paint and create one-of-a-kind caches. These include bird houses, an extra-small, tiny home, a wooden barrel, and painted ammo cans.

To learn more about the Hattiesburg GeoTour, visit hburggeotour.com or Hattiesburg GeoTour on Facebook. To begin the Hattiesburg GeoTour, download the free Geocaching® app.