College football, golf and southern architecture reign supreme in this pair of spectacular towns
A trip to the sister cities of Auburn and Opelika is like a journey into the very heart of the Deep South. Fans of golf, college football and good, ol' small-town charm will revel in this wholesome environment. Here are some of the highlights to this charming region:
The sister cities of Auburn and Opelika are known for being the No. 1 golf destination in the United States, boasting the No. 1 public course and many of the most affordable courses in America. Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, designed by the legendary golf course architect himself, is the largest golf course construction project ever attempted. The Trail is a collection of 468 holes of championship golf on 11 different sites across Alabama.
Trent Jones proclaimed Auburn's Grand National as the "single greatest site for a golf course" he had ever seen. Recognized by writers, designers and players from around the world, Grand National has received accolades for everything from the "world's prettiest hole" to the "world's best public course." It features 54 lake-hugging holes and is open 364 days a year. Try your luck at the championship Lakes or Links course, or if you're pressed for time, 18 holes of one-shotters on the Short Course will still make your heart go pitter-pat.
Fondly known by many as the "loveliest little village on the plains," the quaint Southern college town of Auburn is surrounded by recreational areas, including Chewacla State Park, the Donald E. Davis Arboretum, Lake Harding, Lee County Public Fishing Lake and Hickory Dickory Park. The community boasts several museums, including the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, as well as a lengthy list of sports complexes and lovely homes.
Auburn is probably best known for being the home of Auburn University, the state's largest university. During football season, Jordan-Hare stadium's capacity crowd of almost 90,000 rumbles "War Eagle" in unison as a golden eagle and a bald eagle are released to free-fly in circles around the football field, eventually landing mid-field on their leathery pseudo-prey.
Located in the heart of Auburn, Toomer's Corner is the intersection at which the city of Auburn meets Auburn University. One of Auburn's oldest and most notorious traditions, "rolling Toomer's Corner" consists of thousands of AU faithful celebrating while hurling toilet tissue into the surrounding trees, lampposts and anything that will stand still long enough. A quirky tradition that can last for hours, a blizzard of paper is left blanketing the entire intersection. This unparalleled phenomenon has been documented by many in the media, who note that Auburn is the only city in the country with a line item in its budget for removing toilet tissue. Unfortunately, the trees were poisoned in 2010, allegedly by an Alabama fan after Auburn defeated the Crimson Tide in a football game. In 2012, the damaged trees caught fire after being covered with toilet paper. The trees will probably have to be replaced.
Handmade to order, tart and tangy lemonade is the hall mark of Toomer's Drugstore, a beloved Auburn icon and the only business that has occupied this historic corner since 1896.
Another Auburn-Opelika tradition since 1952, the secret recipe for Mrs. Story's famous homemade chili dogs reminds folks that some things never change. Still in its original location on Pepperell Parkway, this 50s-style walkup is owned by the third generation of the Story family to serve the freshest "fast" food in the area.
Opelika, Auburn's sister city, is a wonderful place to explore the history of southeastern Alabama. The city was one of many that sprang up as a result of settlers coming into Creek Indian territory following the final treaty with the Creek Nation in 1832.
Take a step back in time by visiting downtown Opelika's Promenade and the Lee County Courthouse, a stunning neoclassical revival-style structure that was built in 1896 and is still the county's working courthouse today.
Historic homes and the Lee County Historical Society Museum are located in the Loachapoka Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A self-guided walking tour features the recently restored pre-1920s Opelika Train Depot, Victorian homes and specialty shops.
The Whitfield-Searcy House is a Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1895. Ask about the ghost who lives upstairs! The Brownfield House was built prior to the Civil War in the 1850s by one of Opelika's first physicians. It stands as an example of the transition from Greek Revival to Victorian Gothic. It was moved to its present site and restored by the Opelika Historic Preservation Society.
During the Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour, see the historic Victorian homes of North Opelika transformed into a holiday wonderland. Blocks of turn-of-the-century homes are adorned with life-size Santas, angels, toys, teddy bears, carousel horses and other figures. A self-directed driving or walking tour, the event includes live entertainment, carolers, costumed homeowners and other festivities. The tour includes more than 10 city blocks and is held Wednesday—Sunday the second week of December, with streets closed on Saturday to accommodate walking tours only.
On the Tracks is held in the spring and fall in the heart of downtown Opelika along historic Railroad Avenue. The area's finest restaurateurs offer a delicious selection of dinner entrées, while would-be oenophiles sample over 20 selections of eclectic, seasonally relevant wines. Live music sets the perfect backdrop for a delightful evening while the Main Street merchants remain open for your shopping enjoyment.
Mid-March through early April, a self-guided tour traces the Auburn Floral Trail, more than 14 miles of the most beautiful spring blooms the South has to offer.
Since Auburn CityFest made its debut in 2000, it has turned the last Saturday of each April into a fabulous family day of fun at beautiful Kiesel Park. More than 40,000 attendees and 130 vendors attend the festival. At Auburn CityFest you will enjoy spectacular artists and exhibitors along with delicious food and family-oriented entertainment.
For More Information:
Auburn and Opelika Tourism Bureau
Alabama Tourism Department