If you haven't been to Columbus in a while, you might associate it more with what’s nearby — Fort Benning and Callaway Gardens — than with what the city itself has to offer. The area has undergone a transformation, however, adding plenty to see and do if you're looking for a fun weekend or day trip from Atlanta.
Check out these five places to visit just and hour and a half from Atlanta:
Chattahoochee River Whitewater Park
If you live in Atlanta, you're familiar with the Chattahoochee River. As it continues southward, it eventually forms a border between Georgia and Alabama, where you'll find the Chattahoochee River Whitewater Park in Columbus and Phenix City, Alabama. It's the longest urban whitewater rafting course in the world, and you'll be able to experience two types of trips — classic and challenge — on the same course, because there's a dam-controlled release that takes place each afternoon. The 2.5-mile stretch of river has a water flow that's five to 15 times greater in the afternoon, making for a wild ride over some of the biggest rapids on the East Coast.
In addition to rafting, the Whitewater Park has a zip line course that reaches top speeds of 40 mph and crosses the Chattahoochee twice. You'll start in Georgia and end up in Alabama, where you can enjoy a 10-obstacle aerial course before zipping back to Columbus.
Classic trips leave from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, with trips every other hour during the week and hourly on the weekend. Challenge trips leave at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. during the week and at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the weekend. 1000 Bay Ave., Columbus. Prices vary according to activity. 706-321-4720. http://www.whitewaterexpress.com/chattahoochee-rafting/.
Walk or bike Columbus' Chattahoochee RiverWalk, and you'll get great views of the river, and be able to see historical monuments and markers along the way. You can also bring your fishing gear if you'd like. And if you're into geocaching, explore the RiverWalk to find some of the 30-plus geocaches with collector game pieces and special coins you can get after you complete a specific number of caches.
The RiverWalk has many access points, including Bay Avenue and 11th Street, and Front Avenue and 8th Street (from the stairs behind the Space Center). 1-800-999-1613. https://parks.columbusga.gov/parks/Riverwalk.
Coca-Cola Space Science Center
You'll be able to see a large collection of space shuttle artifacts as well as Apollo mission memorabilia at the Cola-Cola Space Science Center. Regular planetarium shows are offered, along with plenty of interactive exhibits, such as A Space Shuttle Odyssey, an interactive exhibit to the International Space Station.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday.701 Front Ave., Columbus. $4-$6 admission. 706-649-1477. https://www.ccssc.org/.
National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center
This museum houses more than 70,000 artifacts, and you can see films on a giant screen and take part in combat simulations. Explore the outside area, where you can see the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, the Global War on Terrorism Memorial and the World War II Company Street – a fully preserved set of buildings from World War II.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and closed Monday. 1775 Legacy Way, Columbus. Free admission with a suggested donation of $5 per person. 706-685-5800. https://nationalinfantrymuseum.org/.
The Columbus Museum's major focus is on American art and regional history. In addition to exploring exhibits, your family can enjoy an interactive gallery where you can create your own stop-motion animation film and create art to take home. You can also listen to a lecture or take in a summer evening concert from a regional band on select days.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday. 1251 Wynnton Road, Columbus. Free, with donation suggested. 706-748-2562.