Survive and Thrive: Fort Benning, Georgia

Fort Benning is located in Columbus, GA–the 2nd largest city in Georgia. There is a wealth of history in the area stemming from its roots as an old riverside trading town, to being home to companies like Aflac and RC Cola. There has been a revitalization of the downtown area (now known as Uptown) in recent years with new restaurants and businesses being added every month. If you find your military family getting new orders to Fort Benning, here are some most-knows:

Fort Benning is located on the Georgia/Alabama line with the Chattahoochee River running between the two states and through the Post. Columbus has many historic buildings, homes, and landmarks. Phenix City, AL offers new residents more land, bigger homes and the central time zone! The Columbus side features the Riverwalk, which is a 15-mile linear park alongside the Chattahoochee River. The Riverwalk is home to many local events like the Food Truck Festival, as well as restaurants and businesses like 11th and Bay and Columbus, GA Whitewater. Columbus State University is also located in Columbus with a new downtown campus that faces the river.

Fort Benning has beautiful historic homes! Have you seen We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson? The homes featured in the film are the same ones still available to live in on Fort Benning! There is newer housing located in the New Custer, Sigerfoos, Upatoi, Mcgraw Village, and Patton Village communities. If off-Post living is more your style, there are great neighborhoods in Midtown and North Columbus. Midtown features Lakebottom Park, Columbus High School, and numerous older style homes in bungalow, colonial, and ranch styles. North Columbus has newer homes and is located near Publix, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and numerous other retailers.

On-Post activities
Fort Benning has many great activities for families, couples, and single soldiers! The Fort Benning Community Spouses Club offers great events throughout the year, like the Tour of Homes and luncheons every month. The MWR puts on events like Oktoberfest. We attended last year and it was a fun time with a petting zoo, German music, beer, and cuisine. Additionally, the Rangers in Action demonstration, Ranger School graduation, and the Jump Tower Lighting during the holidays are wonderful events to attend. The National Infantry Museum is also a big favorite and it’s located just outside the main gate of Post. It details the history of the infantry, the base, and the armor school through the decades, and also features a movie theatre. I have visited 4 times and it’s always a recommendation for when we have visitors in town.

Local attractions
The number of attractions is endless and you don’t have to go to Atlanta to find something to do! Uptown Columbus puts on events almost every weekend with Market Days on Broadway being one of the most popular. If you’re planning an event or a night out, there is Painting with a Twist, Brushes and Beverages, and comedy night at the Loft. Outside of Columbus, there is Providence Canyon for day hiking, Callway Gardens (which has a Hot Air Balloon Festival and Fantasy in Lights during the holidays), and you can see Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House in Warm Springs, GA. Atlanta features the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons sports teams, as well as the Georgia Aquarium and Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Library.

The food
I have eaten more fried chicken, biscuits, and pimento cheese over the last 10 months than I have in years! The food in Columbus is so good and is an attraction on its own. The cuisine ranges from ‘down home’ Southern cooking to southwestern-style tapas. Some of my favorite local restaurants are Wicked Hen, 11th and Bay, Canon Brew Pub, Samurai, Minnie’s, and River and Rail. These just scratch the surface of all the delightful places to eat in Columbus. Nonic, Bareroots Farmacy, and Plucked up Chicken and Biscuits are also some favorites of mine for breakfast.

After 10 short months at Fort Benning, I can really say life is better at Benning!

Have you been stationed at Fort Benning? What would you add to this list?

Lesley Boatright, military spouse and NMFA Volunteer

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