The National Infantry Museum and Solider Center in Fort Benning, Ga., near Columbus is a must see attraction in Georgia and best of all, it’s FREE. We aren’t the only ones who think so. The National Infantry Museum was recently voted the best free museum in America by USA Today.
National Infantry Museum and Solider Center
While initially not on our agenda during a trip through west Georgia, my boys and I decided, after a day of hiking and touring in the rain at Providence Canyon State Park, to take a slight detour and visit the dry, indoor, National Infantry Museum on the base of Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga. By the time we arrived, we only had 45 minutes to see the museum, but it was enough time to know we want to go back.
The National Infantry Museum tells the heroic story of the everyday US Army infantry soldier through a collection of more than 30,000 objects. It chronicles the journey from training through every conflict from before the Revolutionary War to action today in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a special gallery recognizing Medal of Honor recipients and one that pays tribute to the family and loved ones the infantry soldier leaves behind. Children will enjoy the play space and costumes available for role play in this gallery.
The Last Hundred Yards
The central exhibit in the National Infantry Museum is titled “The Last Hundred Yards” and immerses you in life-sized dioramas depicted the fight for the last hundred yards of some of the toughest battles throughout US history. As a mother of three boys, I have very mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m proud of the men and women who would sacrifice so much for my freedom. On the other, the thought of my boys in any of those scenes is more than just a little disturbing.
National Infantry Museum Combat Simulators
The highlight for the boys was the rifle range. For a $5 fee, guests can fire weapons in a training simulator, just like the one used by the soldier’s training at Fort Benning. Thankfully, my children don’t need to be sharp shooters. After repeated warnings to “think like a sniper, don’t be trigger happy,” each one fired all the ammo within seconds. I was assured they could be whipped into shape in no time, so I gathered my chicks close to me and we moved on to the next gallery.
In addition to the rifle range, the National Infantry Museum and Solider Center also has a shooting arcade that looks like a carnival shooting gallery, and a virtual reality simulator.
National Infantry Museum Extras
In addition to the various galleries, there is also an giant screen theater. Prices for the IMAX movie range from $6 – $8. There is also a restaurant called the Fife and Drum.
Behind the museum is an authentically recreated World War II Company Street. Each of the seven buildings is furnished with period pieces and includes audio recordings of life on an Army post during the 1940s.
What: National Infantry Museum
Where: Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.
When: Tues. – Sat. 9 – 5 pm, Sun. 11 – 5 pm, Closed Mondays (except Federal Holidays)
Cost: Free, ($5 donation suggested)
Image from the National Infantry Museum