Community & Tourism Information
The Pine Belt region boasts a variety of tourism related events, locations, and programs. From large outdoor festivals to one of the only two zoos in the State, the Pine Belt has activities that appeal to anyone’s preference.
The City of Hattiesburg is a growing, thriving metropolis, brimming with southern hospitality and tucked into the heart of southern Mississippi.
Greater Hattiesburg is home to approximately 150,000 citizens who are proud to call the piney-wood location home. It boasts two universities – William Carey University and the University of Southern Mississippi – as well as two community colleges and eight primary and secondary education districts. Hattiesburg possesses some of the top performing K-12 schools in the state, including two of the top five high schools. The region’s education sector employs approximately 7,000. Also a medical hub, Hattiesburg services a region of 19 counties, with the largest multi-specialty clinic in the state and two major hospitals. Healthcare composes 15% of the regional economy, with more than 9,100 direct employees generating an annual payroll of approximately $500 million. Camp Shelby, a U.S. Army Reserve training base, encompasses 136,000 acres just south of Hattiesburg in Forrest and Perry Counties. With 2,000-plus personnel as well as training brigades from all over the country, Camp Shelby is a major player in our local economy.
Visitors and locals alike enjoy the Hattiesburg region’s state parks and trails, unique shopping and dining options, quality museums and attractions, and so much more. Below are some features of note. For more detailed information about tourism in Hattiesburg, visit www.visithburg.com.
- With more than 90 species of animals from across the globe, Hattiesburg Zoo offers a uniquely personal and fun-packed experience for adults, kids, and large groups. Adventurers can take a walk in the sky on the Zoo’s four-story High Ropes Course.
- Repurposed from an old railroad track, the 41-mile Longleaf Trace winds through Hattiesburg and surrounding towns. Guests can enjoy walking, running, and biking with stops along the way, including a couple of pubs in Downtown Hattiesburg.
- History buffs can immerse themselves in the past in Hattiesburg, which is home to the Southeast’s only African American History Museum, the state’s largest Freedom Summer Trail, and the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby.
- From boutiques to brewery and everything in between, Historic Downtown Hattiesburg has something for everyone. Relax at a spa, hold a sloth, jam to live music, or dig in to a local restaurant. One of Mississippi’s most unusual shopping experiences, The Lucky Rabbit, offers a unique atmosphere filled with one-of-a-kind pieces, nostalgia, and vintage finds. Southern Prohibition Brewing offers dry-hopped IPAs and bourbon barrel aged brews alongside their flagships in the heart of downtown Hattiesburg.
- Food! No matter what you’re in the mood for, you won’t be disappointed (or hungry) with more than 200 local restaurants in Hattiesburg. Our culinary scene includes everything from Cajun, Thai, Italian, and Cuban to southern favorites.
Jones County & Laurel
Laurel used to be one of the best kept secrets in South Mississippi. However, all that has changed with the popularity of HGTV’s hit television series “Home Town.” Now, millions across the country have seen how Laurel’s historic downtown is undergoing a modern renaissance, and thousands have come in person to see first-hand what’s happening in Laurel. As one of The South’s newest destination towns, Laurel offers visitors eclectic shopping choices and diverse dining options. Whether visiting our hometown for a few hours or a few days, there are plenty of things to see and do.
- Although not as old as some of the towns in Mississippi, Laurel boasts the state’s largest and most intact historic district, rich with early 20th Century architectural styles including Queen Anne, bungalow, craftsman, classic, and colonial revivals. Park your car, take a stroll through the Central Historic District and take in the richness of Laurel’s architectural heritage.
- Also located in the historic district is the nationally renowned Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, home to more than 2,000 items in its permanent collection. The rich diversity of LRMA’s collection features European and American art, an extensive assortment of Native American baskets, British Georgian silver, and Japanese woodblock prints. In addition to its permanent collection, LRMA always has one or more temporary exhibits on view throughout the year.
- For people looking to discover a little of the pioneer spirit of South Mississippi, Jones County offers a couple of unique places that fit the bill. Located a few miles east of Laurel, Landrum’s Country Homestead and Village is a re-creation of a late 1800s settlement situated on 10 acres filled with pecan trees, streams, and southern foliage. More than 50 authentic structures and displays have found a home at Landrum’s and are just waiting to be discovered by you. While there, remember to enjoy some of Landrum’s delicious homemade ice cream. It sure hits the spot on a warm South Mississippi day.
- Seven miles south of Laurel, in Ellisville, is the oldest home in the county, the Deason Home, circa 1840. Owned and operated by the Tallahala Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Deason Home is rich with history. In 1863 during the Civil War, Newt Knight, leader of a band of Confederate deserters, murdered Confederate Major Amos McLemore in the house. Said to be haunted by several spirits, the Deason Home is open for tours by appointment. Arrangements can even be made for small groups to spend the night and try to meet the spirits.
- Other options for experiencing some of what Laurel and Jones County have to offer include Historic Downtown Ellisville with its unique shops and restaurants, the Veterans Museum in Laurel and Bok Homa Casino in Sandersville. For antiques and flea market fanciers, the county offers two “occasional markets.” On the first Thursday-Sunday of the month you’ll find the Carpenter Brothers Emporium of Wonderful Whatnots in downtown Ellisville. The third Thursday-Sunday of each month is Rusty Chandelier weekend in Laurel.
- Throughout the year, Laurel and Jones County host many special events such as the Chili Cook-off in February, the Carl Touchstone 50-Mile Trail Run in March, Touch a Truck in April, Day in the Park in May, LRMA Blues Bash in June, and Loblolly Festival in October.
- Add to that numerous athletic events at the Sportsplex, five local high schools, and Jones County Junior College, and it’s easy to see that there is always something to do and see in Laurel and Jones County.
For more information on any of these attractions or events, contact the Jones County Chamber of Commerce at (601) 649-3031 or visit www.jonescounty.com.