Once known for being the intersection of New Orleans, Jackson and the Gulf Coast, Hattiesburg in recent decades has become a hub for Southern culture with a flavor all its own. Each year the city acts as the home-away-from-home for nearly 12,000 students at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), whose youthful energy radiates throughout the city. Hattiesburg offers a thriving art scene with numerous restaurants, theaters and shops, many of which are within easy access from the Hotel Indigo Hattiesburg in the District at Midtown neighborhood.
Food & Drink
Veteran chef Robert St. John is the culinary force behind six of the city’s hottest restaurants, including Purple Parrot, Crescent City Grill, The Mahogany Bar, Branch Cocktail Bar, Tabella, and Ed’s Burger Joint. His newest restaurant, the Midtowner, is a diner-inspired breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot with an upscale twist. The restaurant shares space with St. John’s Midtown Donut shop, featuring locally roasted coffee from Hattiesburg’s own Grin Coffee.
Set inside a 19th century home with a wraparound porch and welcoming front lawn, the Keg and Barrel is Hattiesburg’s premier brewpub. The pub offers more than 120 beers, 60 on draught and a menu that riffs on traditional pub fare, including the Keg and Barrel BLT (with a fried green tomato) and a house-smoked turkey sandwich (with house-made blueberry mayonnaise).
If wine is more your thing, Twin Forks Wine + Provisions offers a sizable list, along with spirits. Call ahead for custom cheese and charcuterie plates, and take your wine-paired picnic outdoors thanks to Hattiesburg’s “Go Cup” ordinance that allows people to consume alcohol in moderation within the designated district limits.
Barbecue is big business in Mississippi, and Hattiesburg boasts one of the state’s best joints at Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn. This family-run restaurant is always packed with locals and visiting football teams filling up on Leatha’s tender pork ribs and homemade barbecue sauce.
Hattiesburg is known for its rich musical history, including helping launch the careers of blues and early rock artists like the Edgewater Crows and Roosevelt and Uaroy Graves. Today, at the Historic Saenger Theater, a converted 1920s-era movie theater, you can attend performances by local and international acts.
At the Mannoni Performing Arts Center and Marsh Auditorium on the USM campus, programming ranges from touring musicals to campus groups.
Located inside the historic George Hurst Building on the USM campus, The Gallery of Art and Design houses works from both student and faculty artists. The space also acts as an exhibition area for works on loan from artists, museums, and galleries from around the world.
Oddfellows Gallery, located in a landmark building that once housed the fraternal group the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows, offers three floors of original contemporary art by established and up-and-coming local artists.
You won’t need a ticket to experience some of Hattiesburg’s most ambitious art. The Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art (HAPA) strives to make art free for all, placing murals and outdoor sculptures around town.
The original storefront of United Apparel Liquidators, which operates in four states and online, can be found off Hardy Street where it stocks designer samples, overrun fashion, and past-season and overstock items sourced directly from high-end boutiques and department stores.
Walnut Square Gifts and Stationary has showcased local artisans’ crafts and handiwork for more than 15 years. The store carries a range of gift items, as well as gourmet foods and colorfully glazed pottery.
If you’re in Hattiesburg during the first weekend of the month, check out The Lucky Rabbit, a self-proclaimed “junk joint” for craft goods, vintage items and antiques that’s only open monthly on the first Thursday through Sunday.