When you first arrive to a new duty station, it often takes months to establish your bearings. You get little bits of info here and there from that one website and this one friend who tells you about that one place you HAVE to check out. You may even drive around aimlessly. Often times it might get so overwhelming that you venture out to that one strip mall that has everything you need and decide that you need to look no further. With all the chaos that comes with your PCS, you may skip the intro to your military town entirely. After all, you’ll figure it out eventually…right?
One thing is for certain at Fort Benning: there’s a lot to take in. So, in an effort to help you orient yourself and actually learn about the area, this list of must-do activities will help you understand the basics. Check out these activities in the first 60 days of your arrival to help you lay your foundation!
1. Vicinity Tours
Though there are several cities outside the gates, Columbus, GA and Phenix City, AL are the main attractions. Separated by the famed Chattahoochee River, these two cities have a long and fascinating history. Understanding this history is best done on a guided tour. For this we cannot recommend Vicinity Tours enough! This company provides several tours in both Columbus and Phenix City. You can enjoy a walking tour on a nice day or a ride-along tour. Our experience on the Phenix City Happy Hour Tour was a blast and we were grateful to finally learn all about the history of Sin City. Bonus points to Phenix City for having no open-container laws in their Entertainment District! This allowed us to enjoy our frosty beverages from Chattahoochee Brewing Company while we walked through town on the tour.
2. Columbus Eats Food Tours
Trial and error with the local cuisine is always an option, but I highly recommend that one of the first things you do after unpacking your household goods is go on a guided foodie tour with Columbus Eats Food Tours. This company gives you a tour de cuisine and sprinkles in history along the way. Our experience on their “Bites of Uptown” tour was a great way to spend a Saturday. We visited six restaurants in Uptown and had a fabulous time talking with the tour guide. Each restaurant showcased its specialties through a personalized tasting of its popular menu items. Another cool thing about this tour is that often the chef or owner would come out to greet us and provide us with some background on their establishment. Needless to say we left with full bellies!
3. Raft the Chattahoochee
Another great way to understand the area is to participate in a little guided whitewater rafting. The Chattahoochee River should be synonymous with Fort Benning, and you simply cannot leave here without riding the rapids at least once. In fact, if the weather is warm, I recommend you do this in your first 60 days of arrival. Not only will this help set the tone for the duration of your assignment, but it’s a great way to observe the beauty and architecture of the cities on the banks. Picture by Kokonut’s Adventures.
Right and Up Tip: For adrenaline junkies, make sure you raft during high water. These rapids are no joke and during high water you get to try your odds with the largest rapid in the Southeast (the Rooster Tail). Definitely needed to change my shorts after that. That’s me in the front left, wishing I’d opted for a low-water trip.
4. Fort Benning Bus Tour
For a glimpse into Fort Benning’s history, military newcomers should definitely check out the Fort Benning Bus Tour. This tour is completely free and provides free childcare while you are enjoying the tour. Not only that, but you get a free lunch at the Benning Club. This tour runs on every 3rd Thursday of the month, which also happens to be fried chicken day at the Benning Club (best day ever, I might add). Contact Fort Benning MWR for more details!
And of course, follow Right and Up before you arrive for a heads up on all the best places to eat, drink and be merry!
All photos in this article were taken by Right and Up and cannot be used without expressed permission from the author.
About the Author
Riley is an active duty US Army Captain and the Founder of Right and Up. She’s currently stationed at Fort Benning, with previous assignments at Fort Huachuca, Fort Bliss and Fort Riley. You can typically find her eating embarrassingly large amounts of food in local restaurants, or exploring her military town with her husband, Sean and her dog, Gus. Connect with her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!