Columbus, Georgia, is a riverside city that offers plenty of outdoor adventures nestled next to top rated restaurants and museums. The first day of our family weekend getaway to Columbus was all it took to be smitten with this riverside city.
There’s something about a city that is located along the water. Maybe it’s the walkways along the coast, or the unobstructed view that seems so attractive. Whatever it is, I knew we’d have fun on a weekend visit to Columbus, Georgia, which is located on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.
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However, I was totally blown away by all Columbus had to offer. I found myself making a list for my next visit before we’d even left. Even my teens were asking for pictures of our weekend to share with their friends on Snapchat, Instagram, and group texts. Here are a few places to stay, play and eat in Columbus.
Where to Stay in Columbus, Georgia
The Columbus Marriott is constructed around a restored cotton mill, which gives it a bit more flair than your average hotel.
Our room here was spacious enough for our air mattress (a necessity when traveling with two teens and a tween) and provided a comfortable stay with a view of the outdoor pool. It was easy to pop into Starbucks in the morning for my tea, and although we opted to go more local for our meals, there is a Houlihan’s in the building.
The best part of the Marriott is that it anchors one end of Uptown Columbus. Once we parked our car, there was no need to get back in we just walked everywhere. Broadway is the main drag in Columbus, with lots of shops and restaurants. We also stopped to admire several sculptures.
Where to Shop in Columbus, Georgia
We all know teens love to shop. Every Saturday, year round, the Uptown Columbus Market showcases the wares of local vendors. Sample local organic foods, home goods, jewelry, and baked treats.
Be careful though or you may come home with a new family member. Local Columbus shelters and animal rescue groups often bring adoptable pets to the market.
Where to Play in Columbus, Georgia
For adventure, head directly to Whitewater Express, located in the heart of Uptown along the RiverWalk. The headquarters is located across the street from the Columbus spray fountains, where you can hear kids squealing with joy, as they run through the water on a hot summer day.
We spent our first morning zip-lining on the Blue Heron Adventure Course and testing our resolve on the aerial ropes course. What makes this zip line unique is flying over the Chattahoochee from Georgia, into Alabama.
Zip lining was fun, but Whitewater rafting is the big drawn in Columbus. The same folks who designed the 1996 Olympic venue designed the Whitewater Express course. The earlier in the day you go, the milder the experience. Around 3 pm, the dam releases water and the rafting experience becomes more intense.
If you have any energy left, rent bikes from Whitewater Express and ride the 22 mile linear RiverWalk trail to Fort Benning, and the amazing National Infantry Museum, which by the way, is free.
National Infantry Museum
This museum is well worth a visit, even if you drive there on another day. The Last 100 yards is a heart wrenching life-sized walk through exhibit that depicts the last 100 yards of some of the most notorious battles the US has ever fought.
Teens will be interested to know that the figures in the scenes aren’t mannequins, but cast sculptures of active duty servicemen who auditioned to represent their predecessors.
Teens will also enjoy training in real life combat simulators, and rifle range. The Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) is the same rifle simulator troops use to train at Fort Benning, and the Virtual Army Combat simulator uses the latest in virtual training technology.
Columbus State University is located near Uptown Columbus, so on weekends, you’ll find an active nightlife. We enjoyed grabbing a table outside and listing to street artists play music.
There were bars that live music as well, but I’m not sure if they would let teens in, even with a parent. If your teens are really into music, plan to visit Columbus during the CutBait music festival in June.
Where to Eat in Columbus, Georgia
You’ll need more than a weekend to try all the first class restaurants in Columbus. You can’t go wrong with the award winning pimento cheeseburger from The Black Cow, although my teen couldn’t stop raving about the chicken and waffles.
If you have any room left, stop by Planet Pops, located a few doors down, for a hand-made popsicle.
Make sure to save room for dinner at 11th and Bay, a southern table restaurant that begs you to pull up a chair and stay awhile, which we did. Even my teens said this was one of the best meals they’d ever had. Their signature caprese appetizer – grilled green tomatoes, house-made fried pimento cheese, basil peach jam, crème fraiche and sriracha, is a sure winner.
Locals recommend Minnie’s Uptown restaurant for some good home cooked soul food, and Country’s BBQ for an inexpensive, but tasty meal.