In Awe of Auburn and Opelika - Stepforward
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In Awe of Auburn and Opelika

In Awe of Auburn and Opelika

In eastern Alabama you’ll find two enchanted places – Auburn and Opelika. These neighboring towns are home to Auburn University, and the Tigers roam the city that reflects the modern academic standards of today while melding with the vintage architecture of times past. There’s much to see in these two warm, welcoming cities, with many ways to enjoy the wonderful combination of historical nostalgia and millennial influences that only college towns can produce.

The Hotel At Auburn University


Past meets present in the quintessentially southern hotel that is walking distance to Auburn University and carries a laundry list of amenities only a true hospitality leader would offer. Besides the obvious proximity to the best sites in Auburn, it offers posturepedic beds, in-room dining from their in-house restaurants, pet-friendly rooms (bring your fur babies on vacation with you!), a fitness center…and an electric car charging station. It’s the modern day horse trough, and it’s just another feature that coincides with the city’s forward-thinking business people. Lay your head in luxury after a long day of cheering on the Tigers, seeing the sites, and eating the local cuisine. Your body, and family, will thank you!



Cafe 123


When you picture a restaurant in the south, especially in the heart of a city like Opelika, you probably picture fried food, deliciously naughty levels of calories, and gallons of sweet tea. Well, Cafe 123 figured out how to pay homage to the south’s notorious dishes while keeping up with the times — they offer several gluten-free options, salads, veggies, cheese plates, and all natural beef and chicken in addition to their barbecue and fried foods. Maybe it’s their French influence, or maybe it’s the proximity to the University that motivates the restaurant to cater to eaters of all kinds. Regardless, it’s a great place to receive some incredible southern comfort food without having to order off-menu or exclude someone with dietary restrictions.



Studio 319


Your favorite Tiger probably already has a shirt or two representing Auburn, but it most likely looks like what every other student is wearing and was designed as a unisex shirt for cheering on athletic teams. Studio 319 has a very specific goal: to carry soft shirts with retro AU logos to cater to women who truly want to stand out in the crowd. Sure, you can wear this shirt to a game, but you could also wear it to class, the theater, and for the rest of your life as its timeless look will never go out of style. Layer it for an outing, or grab one to wear around town while you see the sites. You’ll get special treatment from the locals for sporting their home school, and will have a whimsical souvenir to take home with you.




John Emerald Distilling Company


The father-son duo at John Emerald Distilling in downtown Opelika have created a truly magnificent spread of spirits over the years. From gin, vodka and rum, all carrying unique flavors and bottles, these gentlemen have perfected the art of instilling local flavor into beloved spirits. Their malt whiskey is made from 100% malted barley of which a portion is smoked with peach and pecan wood, paying respects to the process their Scottish forefathers used and adding their own southern American flair. You can tour their facility and see the process, as well as taste test the hand-crafted drinks for which the Sharp men have won numerous awards. The family works hard to create an atmosphere of community at their distillery, and it shows. Give yourself a few hours to visit and enjoy the libations, and perhaps take a nap in your Auburn Hotel room before venturing out to your next site.

Chewacla State Park


Nothing quite compares to the natural majestic beauty a park can offer, and Chewacla State Park is no exception. With a beach area, a lake, and two creeks, you can sunbathe, swim, fish, and canoe to your heart’s desire. If you’re more adventurous, there are hiking and mountain biking trails, unique rock formations and a ton of indigenous plants and animals throughout the park. Feel free to bring your RV in, or pitch a tent, and there are also cabins you can reserve for a rustic vacation in a secluded, woody area. Definitely grab a map at the entrance before setting out into the park on your own as it’s enormous and easy to get lost. Stay in shape on vacation with some breathtaking views and fresh air as you take in the local people enjoying the park’s many amenities. Auburn is fit.


Ross House Coffee


In an effort to save the the historic Ross House that was beloved by Auburn locals and university students alike, the now-owner of Ross House Coffee collaborated with the house owner to create a business that would keep the house as it was — with some renovations. A general sprucing took place all over the property to get it up to code, and the results are a stronger, reinforced structure and some classic southern architecture. The 111 year old, wrap-around porch is just one of the features producing a feeling of whimsy for its visitors, the other is the high quality, in-house roasted coffee made six days a week and poured with love. Several of the house’s rooms are used to serve customers, as well as rent out private parties like baby showers and the like. Expect to see a plethora of college students here, studying and sipping on local brewed beans, thinking up the next big thing to come to Auburn.

Alumni Hall


Whether you visit the bookstore before or after your tour through Auburn, make sure you stop in and load up on some Tiger gear. Shouting “War Eagle” doesn’t have the same effect without them! Stepforward’s Auburn collection, which can be found in the Alumni Hall Store (Heart of Auburn), includes a lightweight tonal strip long sleeve henley tee with delicate buttons and a subtle, retro left-chest logo. You can shout your pride; you don’t have to wear it that loudly. Our shirts will be with you forever, whether you’re a student, a Tiger’s loved one, or a visitor so charmed by the school that you want to support it. We support you.

Jesse Erin