72 Hours in Columbus, Georgia
Columbus, GA has long been known as a military town resting beside Fort Benning, America’s Home of the Infantry. With about 200,000 residents, this historical city has stepped into the spotlight with a thriving downtown art, theatre, and music scene, and sumptuous farm-to-table restaurants just blocks from the Chattahoochee River.
Rich in culture, Columbus is home to such notable artists as the “Mother of Blues,” Ma Rainey, and American novelist Carson McCullers, as well as what once was deemed, “the grandest theatre between New York and New Orleans.” We spent 72 hours in Columbus to give our readers inside tips on how to do Columbus in style.
THEATER: Every theatergoer must see the Springer Opera House, an 1871 playhouse that features such performances as “The Who’s Tommy,” “Grease,” and “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Pre-theatre dinner may be had at Meritage, a European/Korean/New Orleans- influenced tapas bar across the street from the playhouse. The Springer also features a house-made dinner that can be booked to have at the theatre itself. Blocks from the Springer is the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, another vital cultural hub. This modern performance space has hosted such international luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma, the Moscow Boys Choir, and David Copperfield.
ADVENTURE: Enjoy whitewater rafting down the Chattahoochee in what USA Today dubbed, “The Top 12 Man-Made Adventures in the World.” Local company Whitewater Express also features a zip line that takes adventure-seekers from Georgia into Alabama across the river (polish off the trip with a two-level rope course when you land in Alabama).
COMEDY: For those who love comedy, local hotspot The Loft hosts comedy nights every Thursday featuring comedians from across the nation. Tickets can be bought at the door.
ART: The Columbus Museum presents a well-rounded history of Columbus, as well as modern and contemporary art. Take a stroll the museum’s Historic Bradley Olmsted Garden, where nature trails lead to a pool house, grotto, and natural spring ravine.
HISTORY: Carson McCullers and Ma Rainey’s homes are both open to the public for tours to see where these two Columbus-natives lived and worked.
11th and Bay opened in 2014 and is one of Columbus’s best restaurants. Located next to the river with outdoor and indoor seating, 11th and Bay is a southern farm-to-table restaurant with impeccable lighting, fresh, creative fare, and the perfect spot to watch the sunset (it’s also tucked away from the crowds of downtown). Be sure to try Chef de Cuisine Phil McCoy’s Chicken and Waffles, Southern Caprese, and the Soul Food Burger.
Epic is perhaps Columbus’s most elegant restaurant. With a whimsical ambience and menu, Epic creates an intimate space for dinner with an innovative twist on upscale American dishes.
Situated in an old bank, Iron Bank Coffee Co. serves up Columbus’s best coffee, with a range of a dozen types of lattes. Iron Bank Coffee Co. also features paninis to order and delectable baked goods, and is a fun spot to stop in for lunch and downtown people watch.
Local artist and Columbus native Garry Pound has his artist’s studio in an old synagogue in the beautiful and scenic Columbus Historic District. While the lofty, light-filled space is one to be seen, Pound’s art, mainly fine oil portraits, has been described as possessing “a breathtaking sensitivity to the nuances of the human form.” It is advised to call ahead for studio visits and commissioned works. The studio number is 706.327.3024.
Every Saturday, Columbus hosts its own farmer’s market with local vendors selling food, drinks, and handmade items and art. The market has about 200 vendors and is held on Broadway.
An oasis in the middle of Columbus’s Historic District, the Rothschild-Pound House is an 1870s bed-and-breakfast owned by husband and wife team Garry and Mamie. The lovely couple together serve daily homemade breakfasts in the inn’s dining room, which can also be delivered to one’s suite, upon request. Many of the inn’s suites feature a porch, balcony, or whirlpool bathtub, and the inn has plenty of reading material in its library. With a wraparound porch, rocking chairs, and a porch swing, the inn is set amongst 1800s homes and is less than half a mile’s walking distance to the downtown scene.
Now is the best time to take a visit to one of our favorite West Georgia cities. For more information on the city and it's events, head to visitcolumbusga.com.