EIGHT FREE THINGS TO DO IN HATTIESBURG THIS SUMMER: MUSEUMS, NATURE, ART
By: Laurel Thrailkill
Hattiesburg has no shortage of things to do, but for those on a budget, there are also plenty of free activities in the Hub City.
Here are a few things to check out if you are looking for something to do that won’t break the bank.
The Longleaf Trace stretches 44 miles and extends through Hattiesburg, Sumrall, Bassfield, Carson and Prentiss. It is a popular choice for hikers, runners and bikers.
The 10-foot wide paved trail also features the “Together as One” mural at the Longleaf Trace Tunnel in Hattiesburg. It spans more than 200 feet and is the largest mural in the city. It depicts vines and wildlife that is native to the Pine Belt area.
African American Military History Museum
The African American Military History Museum honors the service and sacrifice of Black soldiers through exhibits featuring the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.
Hundreds of artifacts, photos and displays fill the restored main hall, including one of the most complete sets of authentic Spanish-American War medals there is.
Exhibits tell the stories of people such as Hattiesburg native Jesse L. Brown, the U.S.’s first Black naval aviator, and Hattiesburg native Ruth Bailey Earl the first Black woman of Hattiesburg to enlist in the military.
Guided tours can be scheduled on the museum’s website.
Admission to the museum is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Lucky Rabbit
Open each weekend from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, The Lucky Rabbit is a 15,000-square-foot variety store filled with unique and nostalgic items.
It is known for detailed recreations of sets from popular shows and films, including “Stranger Things,” “The Office” and “Christmas Vacation,” in which customers can take photos.
In January and February of 2021, The Lucky Rabbit’s recreation of the Schitt’s Creek set caught national attention, reaching more than 1.8 billion people worldwide through articles and social media. The business also welcomed more than 6,000 out-of-state visitors during the past year.
The Downtown Farmers Market is open each Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Town Square Park.
It offers produce, locally sourced eggs, homegrown plants, handmade toys and crafts and more.
The indoor Forrest County Farmers Market is open from 7 a.m. to noon each Wednesday and Saturday on Corinne Street.
First Saturday is a downtown event series that occurs on the first Saturday of each month and features individual events hosted by downtown businesses throughout the day from outdoor markets to block parties to gallery openings. First Saturday is free to attend.
Public Art Trail
Hattiesburg’s rich art scene offers plenty of public installations to discover, including murals, sculptures and hand-painted utility boxes.
The Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art offers an “art trail” with all the highlights, which guides people throughout downtown Hattiesburg. Those interested in embarking on the trail can find a map and brochure on the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art website.
Red Bluff, sometimes referred to as Mississippi’s version of the Grand Canyon is a bit off the beaten path. The hike offers scenic views of a natural bluff created by erosion, leaving red soil and clay exposed.
Located about 30 minutes from Hattiesburg, Red Bluff can be difficult to find. It is located on Highway 587 in Foxworth, just north of Morgantown. An alcove near a “road closed” sign is used for parking.
Though the hike to the bottom may not be for the inexperienced, the site also offers plenty of lookout points to observe the natural beauty of this formation.
Hattiesburg Pocket Museum
Hidden downtown, the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum is located in a “secret” alley full of interactive art installations and displays that rotate monthly.
Hidden in the alley are nine cats, the Hattiesburg Pocket Theater, a t-story mural by Nashville artist, Kelsey Montague and 3-D installations, including “Hub City Chasm” and “Abbey Road,” both by Hattiesburg Artist, Lissa Ortego. Miniature scenes containing tiny people are scattered throughout the alley.
Photos are encouraged and admission is free. The Pocket Museum is always open.