Are you an outdoor lover looking for fun things to do in Hattiesburg, MS? Between glamping, biking, paddling, and all-around exploring, Hattiesburg is your kind of town. Join us as we recap outdoor attractions in Hattiesburg that could fill a weekend (or more!!).
Map of Fun Things to do In Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Below is our interactive map of things to do in Hattiesburg, including all the restaurants and attractions listed in this guide. However, if you like eating (and planning), we wrote a companion guide to Hattiesburg Restaurants you should check out. There are so many great places to eat in Hattiesburg; you wouldn’t want to commit prematurely. You also might want to pedal or paddle an extra mile or two to build up an appetite!
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Glamping in a Tiny House Resort
Every successful expedition requires a good base camp. Someplace from where you can venture out and explore, but come back to a comfortable place to sleep. The Longleaf Piney Resort is so much more than that. It’s an adventure in and of itself.
Longleaf Piney Resort is a glamp-ground with five tiny houses, each with a different floorplan. It’s close enough to town to cruise to anything but far enough away that you feel nature around you. Even if you don’t ride, the resort makes a glorious glamping experience, such as toasting smores over your fire and then retiring to your air conditioned bed. There are also camp games like disc golf baskets, cornhole, and throwing axes available. You can even just hang up one of their hammocks and do nothing at all.
If you do want to cycle the Trace, Longleaf Piney Resort is located at mm-10, which isn’t a bad way to break up the ride. They have a selection of complimentary bikes available, including mountain bikes if you want to try the mountain bike trails near Jackson Station (mm-7). They’re even starting up an e-bike rental service if you want a little boost in your biking for the Longleaf Trace.
Riding the Longleaf Trace
If you’re a cycling enthusiast, the chances are that you’ve already heard about the 44-mile Longleaf Trace. It’s a Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame inductee and a darn good ride. The Trace is smooth pavement the whole way, conducive for any type of bike.
I would recommend tackling the trail in two days from your base camp (base-glamp 😉 ) at the resort. I would head north towards Prentiss on Saturday and south into downtown on Sunday, so you put your longest day of riding first, and you give yourself the most time in the saddle. If you’re serious about putting in a 90-mile weekend, you should be an experienced rider. If you just want to experience a portion of the trail, plan for two, twenty-mile days, and flip day one at Sumrall.
Here are thoughts after riding the Longleaf Trace, in no particular order:
- Flipping at Carson Station isn’t bad if you’re riding an out-and-back. You avoid 300′ of hill-climbing coming out of Prentiss and a major road crossing on rt-184.
- Flipping at Mobile Street in Hattiesburg isn’t bad either. The extension to Chain Park is more of a nice urban ride than a dedicated bike trail.
- Bring a credit card and get a drink at the vending machines at the Gateway Trailhead, Sumrall, or Prentiss. They are a cheap and convenient way to give yourself a trail treat.
- The midtown connection across the Southern Miss campus is a good ride
- Start early. Mississippi gets hot in the summer.
Kayaking Okatoma Creek
Okatoma Creek is Mississippi’s premier commercially supported paddling trip because it has a little bit of everything from several class I rapids to sandy beaches for picnics. The final drop before the first take-out (Mississippi’s only class II rapid, is a lot of fun. We went with Okatoma Creek Canoe and Kayak, which has a large changing area, including showers. Depending on your riding plans, this could be a perfect 1/2 day activity on the way out of town on Sunday.
We learned a couple of things on our Okatoma run. It’s a straightforward river suitable for novice paddlers, but you can still have fun finding the perfect line. Here are a couple more hints to help you enjoy the day:
- Start early (~8:00 – 9:00) if you want to have the river to yourself (and paddle the full route back to your car).
- Bring a couple of bungee cords to secure gear because the single kayaks have a storage area but no straps.
- Kayaks work better than canoes in low water.
- Expect little to no instructions at the put-in, so remember you aim for the V’s pointing away from you, and kayaks use double paddles
- The rental kayaks aren’t self-bailing, so bring a small plastic cup to remove the water you’ll take on at several points in the river.
- If your boat is handling or tracking funny, check if you need to drain water from the hull.
Paddling the Pinebelt Blueway
The Pinebelt Blueway is a 52.3-mile series of paddling trails on the Leaf and Bouie rivers. Currently, no commercial outfitters are servicing this blueway, but fingers crossed, they’re coming. The Leaf River is a series of one snow-white sandbar after another, and the Bouie River has a little bit of everything good about paddling in Mississippi.
We arranged a trip on the Middle Bouie route, and it was super fun. We put in at Pep’s Point and floated down to Glendale Ave. The first 2/3 of the trip took us over little rapids, small sandbanks, and even a cypress stand or two. The river changed character after we passed under the I-59 bridge. It flattened into two small lakes. There was little current here, so you have to paddle the flatwater section, but this is also where we saw a bald eagle patrolling the lakes. We heard some people had difficulty with the Glendale take-out, but we found it straightforward; however, there is a section of bridge rubble below the take-out that you would want to portage around if you’re continuing downriver.
With the longish route (7.8-miles), limited support, and ~2-miles of flatwater, I wouldn’t recommend this route to new paddlers. There was nothing technical, but you need to be self-sufficient to have fun here, including bringing plenty of water and sunscreen.
Below is a table of the paddling trails in the Pinebelt Blueway with distances and access points:
|Upper Leaf||10.8||Curch Street||Chain Park|
|Middle Leaf||9.6||Chain Park||Sims Road|
|Lower Leaf||18.4||Sims Road||Buck Creek Rd|
|Upper Bouie||5.7||Hwy 49||Pep's Point Rd|
|Lower Bouie||7.8||Pep's Pt Rd||Glendale Ave|
Exploring Downtown Hattiesburg
Hattiesburg has the highest percentage of Millennials in the south. More per capita than Charlotte or Atlanta, so it should come as no surprise that there’s a hip feel to downtown. Even outdoor lovers should take a moment to explore the public art along the art trail. We stopped in for Jenn’s birthday for Alley Cats axe throwing and the Cat 5 Smash Room on our outdoor getaway weekend. It’s amazingly satisfying to take a sledgehammer to an old laptop or sink an axe into a chuck of wood. Whodathunkit? We should have put it into our romantic getaway to Hattiesburg guide.
Other downtown highlights include:
- Happy Hour at the Porter Public House (weekdays 3-6)
- Craft beer flights at Southern Prohibition Brewery
- Shopping at the Lucky Rabbit (weekend days only)
- Axe Throwing at Alley Cats
- Smashing Stuff at Cat 5 Smash Room
Watching the Sunset at Paul B Johnson State Park
On the subject of romantic, outdoor things to do, how about watching the sunset over the water? At Paul B Johnson State Park on the shores of Geiger Lake, you can do just that. The campground and main park area are on the west side of the lake, so you want to enter on the east side off of Lake Drive and Hwy 49. You have your choice of vistas, but we dubbed a little picnic shelter “sunset point” because of its ideal location. If you wind up coming in late to the party (like we did), there’s pretty good viewing along the road as well.
While you’re south on Hwy 49, there are a couple of other attractions to check out. The Mississippi Armed Forces Museum features vignettes that trace Mississippi’s involvement in every major conflict in American History. There’s also the surprisingly good Donanelle’s Bar & Grill. Even though it’s nothing more than a shack on the side of the road, they had the tastiest and juiciest steak we’ve eaten in a long while. You could string these together into a late-afternoon activity to get you out of the heat of the day.
Musing Over the Campfire
One of the benefits of glamping is that each tiny home comes with a kitchen, along with a refrigerator and air conditioning. You don’t need to channel your inner caveman to cook meat over the open fire. However, should you choose to forgo using your full kitchen at the Longleaf Piney Resort, you can experience the outstanding culinary scene in Hattiesburg. Which, as travel writers, we felt a professional obligation to indulge.
Here are our favorite dishes from our outdoor weekend in Hattiesburg:
- Donanelle’s Bar & Grill – 12 ounce New York Strip seasoned with their special spice blend
- The South Mouth Deli – Avocado toast with rosemary bread topped with house-made everything bagel seasoning
- Shipley Do-Nuts – Chocolate covered Bavarian cream-filled do-nuts
- Keg and Barrel– Edie Deluxe Burger with mushrooms, bacon, and swiss on a brioche bun
- Mercury Pizza – Woodfired hand-tossed pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms
- Half Shell Oyster House – Crab and shrimp dip with Gulf shrimp, lump crabmeat, and cheese topped with a Parmesan, herb, and panko crust.
- The Midtowner – Avocado toast with roasted corn and feta
Wrapping up Fun Things to Do in Hattiesburg for Paddlers and Peddlers
If you’re a paddler or peddler, Hattiesburg is calling you (and you should answer)! You have a weekend (or 2 or 3) of fun in store for you with about 50 miles of bike trail and over 50 miles of paddling trail. You aren’t out in the middle of the wilderness, but that’s ok. In fact, it’s part of the fun. Hattiesburg’s urban scene with foodie fun and artsy art can be an excellent complement to outdoor adventures. It’s like two trips in one – you sweat and explore in the misty mornings, then swill and chill into the evening hours. With a combo like that, it is tough to go wrong!
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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