Romantic things to do in Hattiesburg MS are so close to everything but so far from ordinary. They call Hattiesburg the Hub City because it’s a short drive away from New Orleans, Natchez, Jackson, Meridian, Mobile, and Coastal Mississippi. Picture spokes on the hub of an imaginary wheel, with Hattiesburg as the central connection.
The attractions in Hattiesburg speak to all of the languages of love. That’s our trope, our muse, and our vision for showcasing this super cute Mississippi city filled with fun things to do and delicious places to eat.
Hattiesburg’s Namesake Love Story
Hattiesburg was founded in 1882 by civil engineer William H. Hardy. He wanted to build a railroad hub for the longleaf pine timber that connects easily into the Gulf South. William’s early life was fairly accomplished, if not somewhat ordinary. He was an officer in the Civil War and was married with five children.
What happened next, during the Reconstruction, was extraordinary. William became a widower in 1872 and met his second wife, Hattie Lott, a year later, in 1873. Jenn and I will vouch for the power of second marriages. Like leftover lasagna, some things are better the second time around.
The story goes like this. William worked for the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad (NO&NERR) and met Hattie on a business trip to Mobile. My mind reads this as the world’s most successful nooner on business travel, but I don’t always read too good . Long story short, he completes the visionary railroad from Jackson to the newly created town of Gulfport and names its hub city to honor his beloved wife – Hattie.
Explore the Tunnel of Love While Biking The Long Leaf Trace
Our first foray into Hattiesburg’s love language is words of affirmation while cycling the Longleaf Trace. Do you remember learning to ride a bike? That feeling of freedom and motion as the world opens up to you? Bike dates are just like that. Don’t worry if it has been a while since your last ride; it’s just like riding a bike!
The railroads put Hattiesburg on the national map, and this 45-mile long converted rail-trail put the town on ours. You can plan an entire Longleaf Trace bike weekend, but only a special few would find that romantic. However, anybody can pop into the Gateway Bike Shop, rent some bikes, and explore the trail. It’s the best free thing to do in Hattiesburg.
Our recommendation is to focus on the 10-mile stretch from the Long Leaf Trace Gateway to the Denbury Beaver Pond. You’ll find plenty of nature and cool places to stop and eat, but be sure to use your words of affirmation to celebrate the cycle, like “you’re doing great,” and “the car is just around the corner.”
Of course, if you’re going to spin to win, you could plan an entire bike getaway from the Hattiesburg Hub with spokes going to great biking in Coastal Mississippi, the North Shore (Tammany Trace), New Orleans, Tupelo (Tanglefoot Trail), and Jackson.
Practice Paddling on Okatoma Creek
Paddling has a long and deep connection to relationship development, and I don’t mean in a 50 Shades of Gray way. Let’s just say there’s a reason tandem kayaks are called divorce boats. But once you establish your relationship power dynamic, you’re ready to hit the water.
Since Okatoma Creek has Mississippi’s only class I rapids, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your words of affirmation. After warming up with “paddle faster,” “Stop Leaning,” “Draw Right,” and “High Side,”; You can progress to “I don’t believe you made it through that” and “I love you for keeping the sandwiches dry.”
There’s a proven biological connection between love and fear—the limbic system in your temporal lobe control emotions like love and fear from your amygdala. Doing adventurous things is like mainlining oxytocin.
Take Your Beau to the Hattiesburg Zoo
I hope all you LSU fans made that rhyme in the header work… Moving on, the bronze statues at the Hattiesburg Zoo entrance tell the tragic story of Hattie the elephant and her deep friendship with a one-horned goat. In 1974, a flash flood claimed her furry friend. Broken-hearted, she laid down, never to get up again. Hopefully, you find that kind of love at the zoo without all the death stuff.
Going to the zoo is an act of service for all their work in the community and beyond. You can purchase a keepsake wristband that supports the zoo’s conservation activities. Projects they support include the Giant Anteater Fund, the Jaguar SSP conservation initiative in Belize’s Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, recycling Mardi Gras beads, and saving critically endangered frogs in the Mississippi bayou.
The zoo isn’t just a thing to do with kids; it’s a fun thing for couples to do in Hattiesburg too. It is filled with fun date ideas, including their world-famous sloth experience. There are also adult-only nights for tacos and tequila and bourbon and blues.
We take animal welfare seriously here at Coleman Concierge, so before we posted about the sloth encounter, we had a sit-down with Jeremy Cumpton, Director of Conservation, Education, and Wildlife, about how the interactions affected the sloths. He said that they seemed happy, but they wanted to be sure, so they tested the cortisol levels in their poo. The scoop from the poop was that the Hattiesburg sloths were less stressed than the average sloths without interactions. Who would have thought that the sloths’ language of love was physical touch?
Muster Your Muse at the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum
Visiting the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby isn’t exactly romantic unless you have a thing for men (and women) in uniform. It is free and open to the public. (Another free thing to do in Hattiesburg!) Most of all, it highlights soldiers with extreme acts of service in almost every conflict in American history.
The museum’s vignettes present a chronological history of the conflicts and Mississippi’s contribution. If you’re dating a history buff, they’ll thank you. Of course, since Camp Shelby is an Army base, there’s plenty of tanks to go around (sorry, I had to do it).
Discovering Downtown Hattiesburg
If your language of love is quality time, Downtown Hattiesburg is calling your name. Downtown is filled with public art, including murals, sculptures, and the famous Hattiesburg Pocket Museum. You’ll spend hours and hours of quality time exploring all the nooks and crannies and discovering exquisite details you’ve never imagined.
If you like more structured dates, Hattiesburg puts on an amazing slate of festivals and events. From the weekly Live at Five music in the park (spring and fall) to the massive HubFest art and music festival to the tasty Downtown Crawfish Jam Music Festival, they have you covered with quality time to spare. If you love going to festivals, you can pick your favorite to anchor your romantic getaway to Hattiesburg. Alternatively, you check for things to do in Hattiesburg this weekend if you don’t like all that planning. It’s all good.
Dine Around Hattiesburg Town
Dinner date nights are the classic gifting language of love. We love to take turns exploring each other’s favorites, especially in foodie towns. Luckily for lovers, Hattiesburg’s food scene was off of all of the following: the hook, the wall, and the charts! On a side note, after visiting many of the places to eat in Hattiesburg, we felt a little like foie gras, so we dared not look at our charts.
They have all of the favorites like kickin’ Creole, crispy fried chicken, and melt-in-your-mouth BBQ being in Southern Mississippi. But, there was something else there that surprised us, the Millennial Gastropub scene.
Hattiesburg has the highest per capita population of Millennials in the South (35%). The craft burgers are so good that the city created the Hatties[Burger] Trail, and that’s not to mention the town’s celebrity chefs, Robert St John and Katie Dixon. I could go on and on. In fact, I did in guide to Hattiesburg restaurants.
Lucky Rabbit Scavenger Hunt
OMG, I can’t believe how much we loved the Lucky Rabbit. It’s a little like thrifting in a pop culture museum. You never know what you’re going to find. But we do have a suggestion for your Lucky Rabbit date. Make it a gift-giving scavenger hunt.
The rules are simple. Pick a spending limit, say $20 and give yourselves an hour to find the perfect something something for your partner. Part of the game is keeping it a secret, but most of all, you spend an hour viewing the world from your lover’s eyes. When the time is up, head out to one of Hattiesburg’s mouthwatering restaurants to exchange your gifts.
Stay in a Romantic Hotel
Love language aficionados know what comes next – physical touch. We’re not going to tell you the what to do, but we’ll help you find the where.
Hattiesburg has several choices for romantic rooms. We went with Hotel Indigo, a modern boutique hotel that features neighborhood charm. We loved how quiet, spacious, and clean our room was. Even though the hotel was full, we didn’t hear another guest. Plus, special touches like a shaving bar in the shower made it easy to find our groove. Getting a fresh stack of sweet potato pancakes delivered by room service meant that we could enjoy our room a little longer.
Runners up included glamping at the Longleaf Piney Resort and the Meador Homestead Bed & Breakfast. I guess that means we’ll have to come back and try them all.
Wrapping Up Our Romantic Things to do in Hattiesburg
We came to Hattiesburg expecting a hot and sweaty weekend on the Longleaf Trace. As luck would have it, we arrived during Mississippi’s winter storm of the decade. While the Trace was frozen over, we found plenty of other things to do to stay warm 😉
Hattiesburg is a charming town. Hotel Indigo’s website says it’s “the crossroad of where history meets hospitality.” They remember their past as they look towards the future. You don’t have to travel far to find romantic things to do in Hattiesburg MS.
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