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Georgia’s third-largest city hums along with industry, world-class museums, and a sunny Southern congeniality. Restored 19th-century homes and relics from the Civil War hearken back to a time when Columbus was a Confederate stronghold and paddle-wheelers hauled cotton up and down the Chattahoochee River. Ironworks were forged here during the Civil War era, lining the pockets of entrepreneurs who built gracious homes beneath moss-fringed oaks. The magnolia-scented antebellum charm of this picturesque Georgia river town lingers today.

Things to Do

The Civil War still has a tangible hold on the Columbus landscape. At Heritage Park, you can see the ironworks where Confederate cannons were forged. The bones of the Confederate ironclad CSS Jackson lie in the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus. Life-size combat dioramas are on display at the National Infantry Museum, and vintage metal lunchboxes are the kitschy draw at the Lunchbox Museum. Uptown, stroll along Broadway Street’s Sculpture Walk past sculptures of kids at play.

Nightlife and entertainment

For after-hours action, head for the nightly celebrations in Uptown, Columbus’ entertainment district. Toast to the Old South with a true Georgia classic: a mint julep. Tap your toes to the jazzy riffs at the outdoor Jazz Jam held here every second Sunday of the month. Sample award-winning handcrafted beers at the Cannon Brew Pub or check out the calendar of up-and-coming rock bands and comedy acts at Downstairs at the Loft.

Restaurants and dining

If it’s down-home Southern food you’re craving, head to Country’s BBQ for some Georgia-style barbecued pork, butterbeans, and a side of cornbread—and save room for the homemade banana pudding. Grab a stool at the 1918 soda fountain at Dinglewood Pharmacy and order up a scrambled dog “all the way”—chopped-up chili dog topped with onions, pickles, and oyster crackers. In the mood for something a little more refined? Sample the innovative American bistro food and fine wines at Meritage.

Relaxation

After a busy day of sightseeing, kick back with a stroll along scenic RiverWalk, a 15-mile park on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. In summer honeysuckle and Confederate jasmine perfume the air. Take a seat in a shaded gazebo on a bluff overlooking the river—you can almost hear the ghostly whistle of a paddle-wheeler leisurely rounding a bend in the Chattahoochee.