Top 5 Reasons To Visit Columbus, GA

Let me introduce you to one of our favorite cities of 2014. A city that has adventure and culture and entertainment and beauty. A city that boasts a rich history and a really strong revitalization propelled by incorporating natural resources along with intelligent forward thinking. Columbus is a progressive city that focuses on the youth of its community, encouraging outdoor activities for health and mental well being, now that’s something we can get behind!  And that is what brings Columbus, GA to the top of our list of favs for Fall fun, adventure, and education!

We are an outdoor loving family.  We travel specifically to find the hidden gems, the unknown, off the beaten path spots. We rarely, if ever rave about cities, but this one, Columbus, GA surprised us! It is worth raving about.  It deserves a spot on our Top 10 for Whitewater, but it also offers so much more. Because it’s an urban city, after a great surfing sesh, you just walk 2 blocks and find a very happening, vibrant Downtown!!  From a plethora of events and attractions to dining and shopping to epic whitewater and geocaching, Columbus has something for everyone.

Here are a few of the reasons we LOVE Columbus …

1) The Chattahochee River!

The Chattahoochee River was the main draw for our family and on it Columbus boasts the longest urban whitewater course in the world. It offers year round kayaking, riverboarding, surfing, SUP’ing, rafting … whatever your river interest you have a 365 day playground that accomodates every skill level from beginner to expert. In fact, our littlest kids were paddling in the warm water, flipping their kayaks and jumping off rocks, and our oldest were running the Class IV rapids and throwing huge tricks in the feature called Good Wave.

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2)  The River Walk

For the more tame adventure seeker, you’ll find a 22 mile walking and biking path along the Chattahoochee River, known as the Riverwalk. It’s a popular destination for those looking to get in some exercise, do some fishing or simply sit on one of the benches and enjoy the view.

And if you happen to be into Geocaching, the Riverwalk offers 6 unique geocache series in what is affectionately called the Riverwalk Geo Tour: Riverwalk, Dams, Attractions, Mills, Chattahoochee River, & Whitewater!

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3) Dining & Entertainment

There are no fewer than a gazillion restaurants in Uptown Columbus that provide live music and great eats. For lunch we hit up Mama Goldbergs, on 11th and Broadway, and enjoyed crazy fast service with quite possibly the best veggie sub of my short life. For our much needed caffeine addiction, our GPS sent us to Iron Bank Coffee Shop. I’m happy to report you will find exactly ZERO Starbucks in Uptown, instead there are local joints that offer great coffee and a menu. I could write an entire blog about the dining opportunities in Uptown, but suffice it to say there are many and we only had the cash for two – we aren’t luxury travel bloggers, we’re real world, post Obama travel bloggers! 🙂 I do know the kayakers sing the praises of Your Pie and I think, if memory serves me well, you can get a discount if you show up at Good Wave on Thursdays!! 😉

As far as entertainment, I can tell you there is more than any one person can do. From concerts to Farmer’s Markets (yes, this is entertainment for me) to Theatre Productions, Uptown is the city’s entertainment district. Check out the Events Calendar for more information, but I think it’s important to note that almost every Friday night during the fall and the spring, Uptown Columbus hosts concerts featuring local popular bands, right in the center of Broadway. We also stumbled on Finding Nemo playing on a huge screen in the grass at Columbus State, which happens to overlook the Riverwalk. Then there’s the live music in the restaurants and a pretty stout nightlife.

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4) Rich In History

A homeschool moms dream … an adventurous, clean, friendly, safe and historical city! Between Boston earlier this fall and Columbus the past few weeks, the kids know more history than I learned in 17 years of school and that’s a fact.

Did you know that the last major battle of the Civil War was fought in Columbus on Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865? Today, Columbus is a major Army hub as it is home to Fort Benning, a major US Army Post. Here resides the US Army Infantry School as well as the Army’s Airborne School.

Places to visit to soak up some of the history are Heritage Park, the National Infantry Museum, The Columbus Museum, The National Civil War Naval Museum … and the list goes on and on. The First two are free. Heritage Park is a gorgeous walk through a really stunning neighborhood of old homes, there are water features, exhibits and even an historic kiln! And the National Infantry Museum pays tribute to everyday infantrymen – it’s a memorable stop for adults and kids alike!

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5) Wild Fun Can Be Found Anywhere for Free!

As with any city/town Columbus has hidden gems that tourists don’t typically find.  We travel, but don’t ever consider outselves tourists.  We travel to find the secret spots, the interesting spots — you know, the road less travelled and such.  The key to finding these locations is often to hook up with some locals who have been around the area for awhile.  Locals can always show you things that will blow your mind.  And, after traveling for 2 years, we have friends in every location.  These friends are our guides into the unknown locations, the underground adventure of the cities if you will.  Like our friend, Jacob.  He took us to this awesome spot on the Chattahoochee River with an abandoned old tug boat and an old oil tanker.  We were able to climb all over them and then, in true Kellogg fashion, we jumped off the tops of each – maybe 30′ high.   When we got back we tried to Google the history of the two, but had no luck — maybe it’s just that big a secret.   🙂

Update From Reader Kaity Howard:  “Years ago, this tugboat was pushing a barge loaded with molasses when a storm caused both to break loose from its route and come aground on one of the rivers many sandbars. Legend has it that the sticky sweet stuff leaked in to the river for months and that fishing near the wreck was never better.”   Pretty cool!!  Thanks Kaity!

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So there you have it.  The 5 reasons you need to get your family to Columbus, GA!!  If you have anything to add, please let us know in the comments below, Columbus is a place we will return to again and would love to hear your thoughts!!!

23 Comments

  • Hi Susie –
    great blog post and I can’t wait to hit there next fall. Where did you end up camping/parking while you were there? We were supposed to hit Columbus earlier this year in January and opted out at the last minute due to freezing temps (thanks polar vortex) and the lack of any camping close to the river.

    • Hey Lee,

      We boondocked while there, in fact, we boondock almost everywhere!! The locals are epic and offered us spots in their parking lots and Millard (a few comments down) says he just parked on the street. That’s what I love about RV’ing … you just stop wherever!! The only places we’ve ever been hassled about where we parked our RV was the Ottawa River and So Cal!!! 🙂

    • There are a couple of neat places to camp that are semi-nearby. Lake Pines is about a 20 minute drive from downtown. We have family that stays there with their camper whenever they come to visit. http://www.lakepines.net/Welcome.html While it’s 45 minutes away, FDR park in Pine Mountain (near Callaway Gardens) is a beautiful campground with awesome hiking. It makes for a good place to camp and then pop into town for activities. http://gastateparks.org/FDRoosevelt I’m not as familiar with Uchee Creek, but it’s close by and I’ve heard good things. http://www.benningmwr.com/uchee-creek-campground-marina/

      I’ve lived here for years (20?) and never seen the tugboat. Very cool!! (Just to throw this out there after seeing the picture of the man jumping off of it…the more “in town” you are, the safer the river is…the further south you go and the warmer the water gets, be cautious of gators!)

      • Thanks Colleen!! We stayed at Lake Pines and FDR, just a little far to travel every day for us, but then we are spoiled and are used to parking right next to the river!! 🙂 And we heard about the gators just before leaving … YIKES!!!!! All winter long too???

  • All of us riverboarding crew certainly enjoyed Team Kellogg being with us on the Hooch. Your journey inspires us and your family shows us what’s possible with love. Please come back anytime and know that you’ll be welcomed “home” to Columbus. God Bless y’all!

    • Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We felt incredibly welcome and loved paddling and riverboarding with yall. Hope to see you late Feb or early March!!! Keep in touch!!! 🙂

  • there’s a bank on river left just down from the last play wave. We parked our RV 2-3 days/nights right on the street. All 36′ plus the toad. SWEET city.

    • Too bad we missed you. When were you there?? 🙂 The local people and governing bodies are quite accomodating!! It’s a destination for sure!!

  • Hi there! I saw the picture of the old tug boat and I had to read your blog! I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of geocaching before (it’s like a worldwide treasure hunt game with a GPS), but there is one very close by this tug boat that was placed by the city. It tells the story of this tugboat. Here’s what it says:

    “Years ago, this tugboat was pushing a barge loaded with molasses when a storm caused both to break loose from its route and come aground on one of the rivers many sandbars. Legend has it that the sticky sweet stuff leaked in to the river for months and that fishing near the wreck was never better.”

    I had a great time climbing all over the tugboat with my friend and knowing the history made it even cooler!

    If you’re interested in learning more about geocaching just go visit their website. They’re everywhere and it has brought me to so many interesting sites like the tugboat!

    Great article! Take care!

  • I found a couple short bits of info on the wrecked Tug and Tanks. From this site: http://chattahoocheeriverwalkjournal.blogspot.com/2009/08/lamp-pole-list.html Marker 313 “The rusted wreck in the edge of the water is the remains of a tugboat and barge which belonged to Columbus businessman Thurston Crawford and sank in the 1960s. This is also the site where the last of the wooden steamboats, the George Miller, was dismantled.”
    And from a Geocaching.com: http://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC3EY80_sweet-tug, “Years ago, this tugboat was pushing a barge loaded with molasses when a storm caused both to break loose from its route and come aground on one of the rivers many sandbars. Legend has it that the sticky sweet stuff leaked in to the river for months and that fishing near the wreck was never better.”

  • Great Article! Awesome Family! Enjoyed talking/paddling with you down at the island. Hope to see the whole crew back down here again soon! So glad you were able to experience this little slice of whitewater heaven, called Columbus, GA! Let us know if you need anything from us at Whitewater Express whenever you are around!

    • Thanks Daniell!! We had a blast and will probably be catching up with you guys in Columbus in Feb … unless the snow is off the charts here!! 🙂 Have a great winter!

  • Susie thank you so much for such a positive view of my hometown. It truly is a wonderful place to live and visit. It’s not perfect but what town is? I am going to share this so that more of my friends can feel the pride I felt while reading this!

  • No visit to Columbus is complete without a visit to the Springer Theater,the State Theater of Georgia and the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. Both of these venues are located Uptown within walking distance of all of the action on the River.

  • Susie, great write up on a city very close to home, that I’ve never been to, but will now certainly rectify that! Thank you.

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