15 Best Things to Do in Fort Benning, GA

Fort Benning, GA
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Fort Benning is a United States Army post spanning the Alabama-Georgia borders.

It lies next to the city of Columbus, Georgia.

It was named in honor of Brigadier General Henry Benning of the Confederate States Army.

It opened in 1918 to provide basic training for World War I units.

The camp supports more than 120,000 active-duty military men and women, their family members, reserve soldiers, retired personnel, and civilian employees.

It is also home to the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the Armor School, and the Infantry School.

Camp Benning also houses tenant units such as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, and elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Fort Benning is near several critical national institutions and museums worth visiting.

There are also fascinating attractions around the area that would amuse you.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Fort Benning, GA:

Explore the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center

The "follow me" statue of National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center
The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center from Columbus, GA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located just outside the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center chronicles the US army infantry’s history from the period of the American Revolution to the war in Afghanistan.

You can view artifacts, monuments, and video presentations and engage in interactive multimedia displays that feature all American history and military history periods.

See the Armor and Cavalry Gallery, Family Gallery, and the different stages of infantry history from the 1700s to the present.

Besides the galleries, you can also visit the Hall of Valor, OCS Hall of Honor, the Ranger Hall of Honor, Vietnam Memorial Plaza, the Global War on Terrorism Memorial, and the World War II Company Street.

Vietnam war exhibit in National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center
The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center from Columbus, GA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Watch a 3D documentary or featured Hollywood blockbuster at the Museum Theater, the first and largest Giant screen theater in the region.

Have a virtual reality experience as a combat soldier at the simulated Non-Combative Evacuation Operation (NEO) mission and feel the adrenaline rush of being a soldier on a mission.

Take a break and grab lunch at the Fife & Drum Restaurant and Bar, where you can have a satisfying fill of fried green tomato BLT, bourbon salmon caesar salad, and steak flatbread, or taste the best beer-battered fries in the area.

Drop by the Soldier Store Gift Shop for some merchandise.

Desert wars exhibit in National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center
The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center from Columbus, GA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Break at the Woodruff Riverfront Park

One of the relaxing places near Fort Benning is the Woodruff Riverfront Park, located at Bay Avenue, Columbus.

Kids of all ages can enjoy an afternoon at the playground and splash pad.

The park has a nice view of the river, and you can sit on the benches and shaded trees on the sidewalks to get a closer view.

There are also several food trucks, restaurants, and shops nearby if you want to grab a coffee or snack or grill some burgers for a picnic.

You might even catch a concert or musical festival at the park or enjoy a relaxing walk on the trails and gardens.

You can also enjoy active sports like basketball and soccer at the courts or go for a bike ride or jog along the paths.

Visit the Refurbished Historic Westville

A historic tour at Westville
Historic Westville, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historic Westville will give you the nostalgic feel of a 19th-century Georgia town.

A history museum in Columbus, Westville, offers a re-creation of an antique village with 17 antebellum buildings you can view.

Westville was once in Lumpkin but relocated to Columbus and re-opened in 2019 with plans to add several structures in the village.

A blacksmith at the historic Westville
Historic Westville, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The goal of the attraction was to create a village with an authentic historic environment that preserves and highlights the 19th-century life and culture of South Georgia.

The museum area includes a courthouse, churches, stores, and craft shops you can tour and enjoy.

You can view collections and artifacts at this museum and learn about traditional industries like woodworks, blacksmithing and dressmaking, all demonstrated by costumed townspeople.

There are also workshops and events you can join at this tourist attraction.

Exterior of a building at Westville
Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com

Appreciate American Art and History at the Columbus Museum

The Columbus Museum is one of the largest museums in the Southeast region and offers a unique focus on American art and the region’s history.

Located in the central Wynnton neighborhood and settled at a Mediterranean Revival house, the museum opened to the public in 1953.

The academy features permanent and temporary exhibitions and artifacts on display accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

Partnering with the Muscogee County School District, guests can view exhibits on schedule, join designed tours and workshops, or join free events and activities.

Admission to the museum is free, and you’ll also find significant purchases at the Museum Shop.

Learn about the Region’s Ecology at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center

Exterior of Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center
Deutschlandreform, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center is a non-profit organization located at the south end of the Columbus RiverWalk.

The center opened in 1995 with the joint efforts of the Columbus Water Works, the Columbus State University, and the City of Columbus.

It aims to educate and inspire the public to engage with their environment and contribute to its preservation.

The center has a classroom laboratory and an excellent 86-seat auditorium and offers high technology instructional media for learning opportunities.

Go around the fantastic indoor and outdoor exhibits and displays of live reptiles and fish, or take part in the formal and informal programs that feature the region’s ecology and natural history.

Walk the nature trails to connect with the surrounding nature, explore various plants and animals in the stream habitat, go and see the pollinator garden, watch the busy bees at the beehives, or view some environmental art.

Tour the National Civil War Naval Museum

Exterior of National Civil War Naval Museum
Gabby Brito, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Overlooking the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia, the National Civil War Naval Museum offers an excellent experience for visitors to learn about Naval history and development.

The museum houses the CSS Jackson, the largest remaining Confederate warship in the country, and the wreckage of the CSS Chattahoochee.

You’ll see a USS Hartford replica detailed with a berth deck, captain’s cabin, a wardroom, and the vessel’s ship boat.

Take a peek at the full-scale tower replica of the USS Monitor and a realistic exhibit depicting Plymouth, North Carolina's panoramic waterfront, which includes a detailed model of the CSS Albemarle.

A highlight of the museum is its extensive collection of Civil War Naval flags, including flags from various ships, coastal forts, signal flags, and Admirals’ banners.

Check out the rare displays like Captain Catesby Jones’ uniform coat and a two-star hat insignia owned by Admiral Farragut.

Catch the museum’s living history events and tours, witness cannon firings and weapons demonstrations, and join local history projects and other museum events.

Discover Space Facts at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center

Situated in Columbus, the Coca-Cola Space Science Center is a division of the Columbus State University that serves as the university's development center and the region’s informal education institution.

Established in 1996, the state's only science center and science museum provide in-depth experience and information in astronomy and space science.

View the extensive exhibit that features NASA artifacts from its Space Shuttle program worth over $17 million, including the Space Shuttle’s Main Engine Nozzle.

You can also observe the interesting flight simulators and various interactive displays at the gallery.

The center houses the WestRock Observatory, Georgia’s premier public observatory equipped with 20 portable telescopes, a planetarium system, mobile van programs, and a solar observatory.

The observatory conducts about 25 nights of free public observations every year to raise awareness and provide knowledge on astronomical and space science.

Discover a Peculiar Collection at the Lunchbox Museum

Vintage thermos on a shelf in Lunchbox Museum
David Whitemyer / Shutterstock.com

An odd yet fascinating museum put up by Georgia native Allen Woodall, the Lunchbox Museum at the International Marketplace on Hamilton Road is one fascinating place.

Woodall purchased his first lunch boxes with the Green Hornet and Dick Tracy designs in 1985.

Realizing that lunch boxes were also examples of pop art, he began to add to his growing lunch box collections.

The Smithsonian Institute has recognized his work, and he has appeared in many newspapers and magazines.

There are already over 5,000 pieces at the museum, and visitors coming from other parts of the world are amazed at the exhibits.

The collections will surely bring you back to memory lane while viewing the colorful display of metal lunchboxes.

Check out the different collections like the Royal Crown Cola Museum, the Chero Cola Museum, Nehi Drink Museum, Tom Huston Peanuts Museum, and the Georgia Radio Museum & Hall of Fame.

Get Familiar with Blues History at the Ma Rainey House

Exterior of Ma Rainey House
Katyrw, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ma Rainey House is a historic landmark built to tribute to the legendary Ma Rainey, the “Mother of Blues.”

Gertrude Pridgett or Ma Rainey was a Columbus native who showed exceptional musical talent at a very young age and became known as a musical revolutionary, combining blues, jazz, and her own style in minstrel and vaudeville performances.

She was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and the Georgia Women of Achievement.

A bedroom in Ma Rainey House
Katyrw, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

She was even commemorated in a 1994 stamp by the U.S. Postal Service.

Visit the two-story frame house where Ma Rainey devoted much of her time and influence to her community, family, and music.

Admission to this historic site is free, and you’ll even see the collections owned by Ma Rainey, like old posters and records.

See her impact on the music industry and her worthwhile contributions to the blues.

Relax at Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area

One of the state’s large wildlife management areas, the Cooper Creek Park or Wildlife Management Area, stretches more than 30,000 acres.

The vast area park offers hunting grounds for deer, turkey, or game.

You can enjoy eight miles of easy to moderate hiking trails surrounded by hardwood, pine, white pine, and hemlock forest areas.

Get the most out of this natural spot by fishing at the river, viewing some wildlife, or having a day camp or picnic.

You can also enjoy some sports like softball or tennis at Cooper Creek Tennis Center.

View Historic Architecture at Dinglewood Historic District

Exterior of a house at Dinglewood Historic District
G.Snider, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love classic architecture, visit the Dinglewood Historic District.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the area was first developed when Joel Early Hurt built an Italianate house with plans from the architecture firm Barringer & Morton.

You can spot the intricate details of the home reflecting different architectural styles with its French windows, Italianate overhanging cornices, and Classical Revival-style entrance adorned with Corinthian columns.

You would also see several 20th-century residences in classic Georgian, Bungalow, and Ranch designs, but primarily rows of Italianate, Colonial, English Vernacular, and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

Ride a Kayak or Raft at the Waveshaper Island

Waveshaper Island is a viewing location and access point for kayaks and rafts.

It lies along the Chattahoochee River, connected to the Columbus RiverWalk by a footbridge.

You can conveniently access the island through a nearby parking deck.

The island’s currents are protected from the river’s primary current making the area a favorite spot for many swimmers, kayakers, and rafters.

You can also go river surfing, tubing, or paddleboarding at this water attraction.

There’s also an observation point to spot a great blue heron and other birds.

Enjoy the Flora at the Columbus Botanical Garden

A bright chrysanthemum flower at Columbus Botanical Garden
Golden Shark 2 / Shutterstock.com

The 20-acre Columbus Botanical Garden was established in 1999, part of the few remaining areas of the state’s pine and hardwood forest landscapes.

Since then, the garden has continued improvements and renovations that have made it more accessible and enjoyable to the public.

Join a docent-led tour for the opportunity to learn about the various plant varieties, trees, bees, and even wildlife.

You can also do a self-tour to discover the beauty and uniqueness of plants and blooms and take a peek at the vibrant produce at the Vegetable Garden.

Hands-on workshops, classes, symposiums, and educational talks provide guests with great learning about horticulture, the environment, and healthy living.

The garden opens all year with different events like the Nankipooh Music Series, Luncheons, Plant Sales, Festivals, and Christmas in the Garden.

Play Golf at Fort Benning Golf Course

The Fort Benning Golf Course is a full-service facility open to serve the public, established in 1923.

It comprises three distinct nine-hole courses: the Bradley, Marshall, and Patton.

Opened in 1950, The Bradley is an 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., spanning 6606 yards.

The Marshall, which opened in 1960, is an 18-hole Lakeside course measuring 6145 yards.

The Bermuda grass-covered nine-hole Patton Nine opened in 2007 as a municipal golf course.

All three courses provide terrific landscape views and the proper challenge for golfers at any skill level.

Play some tee at the well-groomed fairways and greens and get tips and tricks on your golf play from helpful staff.

You can visit a golf Pro Shop for your golf equipment and supplies.

Drop by the Fort Mitchell Historic Site

The Georgia Militia built Fort Mitchell in 1813 to respond to a violent incident between the native Creeks and European settlers who threatened their land and livelihood.

The site was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1990, which features a reconstructed 1813 barrier fort used during the Creek War.

Enter the Visitor Center and walk back in time with lifesize displays that depict the life and culture of that era.

The museum hosts exhibit about the fort’s history and fascinating artifacts like tools, arrowheads, guns, pottery pieces, and household items.

You can watch the film presentation showing significant historical events from 1813 to 1860.

Tour the Carriage House and view assorted historic carriages, old carts, wagons, and classic surreys.

You can drop by the Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center and see the ceremonial flame in honor of the Creek nation and the recounted events of the 1836 Creek War.

Final Thoughts

Fort Benning is a significant part of the nation’s history and military development.

You can find historical attractions and museums within and in nearby areas that highlight the pride and history of the infantry and the nation.

There are also other locations you can tour that reflect the state of Georgia’s character and uniqueness.

Visit Fort Benning, and you’ll indeed have a meaningful experience on your stop.