Hattiesburg, Miss., is a daylily destination that offers a range of other delightful diversions.
By Bud Kirkpatrick

You’re strolling through a well-manicured garden with thousands of blooms colored red, gold, yellow, lavender and orange. The flowers have names like Dixie Darling, Thin Man, Sugar Britches, Earth Music, Fox Ears and Concrete Blonde. You’re in Hattiesburg, Miss., enjoying a private daylily garden.

The Longleaf Trace is a rails-to-trails pathway that runs from Hattiesburg to Prentiss. VISITHATTIESBURG photo
The southeastern Mississippi city is a gardener’s paradise with one of the largest groups of daylily enthusiasts in the nation. The elusive and elegant blossoms decorate this Southern gem that also features museums, a vibrant downtown, a lovely outdoor recreational trail and more.

Blooming showstoppers

Hattiesburg will welcome daylily enthusiasts and gardeners in general for two days of garden tours May 24 and 26. In addition to destination gardens in Hattiesburg, nearby small towns–New Augusta, Sumrall and Monticello–will offer daylily tours. Most gardens are designated Display Gardens by the American Hemerocallis Society. Gardens are generally open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and there is no charge. No tours will be offered May 25.

Gardens also may be toured on other dates by appointment only. Group tours are welcome. Location, directions and telephone numbers for participating gardens will be available by clicking on www.hattiesburgdaylily.com closer to the tour dates.

Then Hattiesburg’s 13th Annual Daylily Show will be June 7 at Lake Terrace Convention Center, Interstate 59 and U.S. Highway 49, north of Hattiesburg. This is the largest daylily show in the nation with more than 700 entries.

The show will open around noon. Highlights include three free daylily educational sessions, daylily plants to purchase and growers from across the region. Following the judging, which should end around 1 p.m., the exhibit hall opens to the public.

Daylilies form an unparalleled backdrop to spring-summer gardens, meeting each new day with fresh blossoms. Likewise, Hattiesburg’s revitalized downtown is a colorful destination offering a bouquet of shops, restaurants and festivals for the picking.

A new experience

Visitors will find downtown Hattiesburg’s revitalization to be an ongoing project. See the blending of traditional architecture with contemporary uses. There’s a superb mix of dining, shops and festivals.

As you browse the shops, take a break at one of several downtown eateries. There’s 206 Front–a restaurant named for its location–that serves nouveau cuisine. Brownstone’s, 103 E. Front, is a Bourbon Street-style bistro and bar. Walnut Circle Grill (115 Walnut St.) and The Pastry Garden at Gordon Creek (129 Walnut St.) are other options. The Bottling Company, 126 Mobile St., blends dining and entertainment in an exciting venue.

Specialty shops and antique stores also call downtown home, as does the historic Saenger Theater on Front Street. This renovated 1,000-seat movie palace dates to 1929 and today hosts theater and light opera groups.

Out and about

The Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby honors Mississippi’s military of all branches with its exhibits. VISITHATTIESBURG photo
The history buff will find the Freedom Summer Trail an interesting trek. This self-guided driving tour points to 15 historic sites highlighting the events from the summer of 1964 and the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg. Maps containing driving directions are available at the Hattiesburg Visitors Center neighboring the Convention Center Plaza.

The Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby is one of the most popular attractions in the area. It’s 12 miles south of Hattiesburg off U.S. Highway 49. Visitors find more than 6,100 artifacts spanning America’s military past and present. The museum is open Tuesday–Saturday and admission is free.

Bikers and hikers will enjoy the Longleaf Trace, a national Rails-to-Trails Conser-vancy project. The 40-mile asphalt trail winds through the piney woods between Hattiesburg and Prentiss. It’s a beautiful setting for biking, walking or rollerblading with comfort stations along the way. An equestrian trail runs parallel to the Longleaf Trace. It all begins at The Gateway, north of the University of Southern Mississippi, just off West Fourth Street. Rental bikes are available.

Whether you’re looking for daylilies, museums, biking or a revitalized downtown, Hattiesburg is a destination with distinction.

Bud Kirkpatrick is a new contributor from Hattiesburg, Miss.
May/June 2008 Issue

BEFORE YOU GO
For more information, contact VisitHattiesburg at (866) 4HATTIE (442-8843) or click on www.visithattie.com.

Stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks®, CampBook® or TourBook® guides. Click here for a list of offices.

Order free information through the online Reader Service form at http://southern.ai-dsg.com.

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