Visit Auburn-Opelika Like a Local

Brooke Peace Harris
Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau

Visit Auburn-Opelika Like a Local

Meet the coolest college town in the South. Auburn University might be legendary, but it's only the beginning of our authentic and compelling story. Check out this list of Auburn-Opelika's best ways and places to spend your time. You might not get to them all, and that's the best reason we can think of for you to come back.


Bow & Arrow

David Bancroft, the executive chef and owner of Acre restaurant, took his childhood memories and turned them into flavors. Bancroft's latest venture, Bow & Arrow, boasts Texas-style barbecue with a Southern twist and looks much different than Acre. The casual atmosphere includes a “meat chandelier” over the open fire pit where the butcher hangs sausages and other meats. Quick and convenient, guests can order meat by the pound to stack on handmade tortillas or house Lone Star Beer Texas toast along with a variety of homemade sides in containers ready to share with friends and family. A stocked condiment bar awaits customers at the end of the line featuring Tex-Mex goodies ranging from salsa verde to white sauce. Add a glass of sweet tea or a seasonal margarita, and you’ll be hopping back in line before you know it.

Executive chef Caleb Fischer has worked with Bancroft at Acre for years and also has deep roots in Texas. He is known for his enchanting cakes and desserts. Bancroft and Fischer gained notoriety with their victory on the Food Network’s Iron Chef Showdown back in 2017 followed by Fischer’s appearance on the network's Spring Baking Championship.

Chewacla State Park

This 696-acre state park is a nature lover's dream! The park features a 26-acre lake ideal for swimming, fishing, or paddling in a kayak or canoe. Guests will also enjoy the modern campground, picnic areas with tables, grills, cabins, and over 30 miles of the South's best mountain biking and hiking trails. Wildlife, waterfalls, flora, fauna, and the joy of the great outdoors will keep nature enthusiasts entertained, while the miles of trails will delight both fitness enthusiasts as well as those who enjoy a simple stroll in the mild weather of the Auburn-Opelika area.

Mrs. Story’s

A delightful blast from the past, Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar is an iconic must-try eatery in Opelika. Located on Pepperell Parkway, this 1951 mainstay serves mouthwatering chili dogs and milkshakes that are reminiscent of days gone by. Mention Mrs. Story’s to the locals, and you’ll be treated to tales from their childhood of foot-long chili dogs, fried peach pies, and famous milkshakes. Both the destination and the cuisine are bucket list-worthy.

The Depot

Featuring fresh, Gulf Coast cuisine, The Depot is an American seafood brasserie located in the historic, refurbished Auburn train depot. The only thing that rivals the décor at The Depot is the ever-changing menu. The daily catch and oyster selection change nightly, but you can look forward to a vast assortment of fresh oysters served chilled on ice with green tomato cocktail, horseradish mignonette, and lemon wedges.

Other dinner and lunch offerings include pink peppercorn scallops, blackened Gulf amberjack, 36-day aged Alabama angus hanger steak, main lobster roll, and authentic Baja fish tacos. Executive chef Scott Simpson’s brunch menu doesn’t disappoint either with wood-oven fired quiches, sharable small plates, and plenty of eggs, crab cakes, and sweet dishes to please your palate. Happy hour, which features specialty cocktails and a bar bites menu, is available Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Look out for announcements about The Depot’s monthly wine dinners on Facebook.

John Emerald Distillery

The state of Alabama was one of the first states in the union to partake in prohibition (5 years before the rest of the country joined in), and now, John Emerald Distilling Company is the first distillery in the state in 100 years. This small-batch craft distillery is the largest in Alabama and is ever growing, now offering their creations in restaurants and liquor stores in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and soon adding New York to the list!

If you know anything about Alabama, you know we don't do things like anyone else, and this Alabama whiskey is no exception. John's Alabama Single Malt is smoked with peach and pecan wood and is ideal for sipping. Also available are Elizabeth Vodka, Hugh Wesley's Gin, Spurgeon's Barrel Aged Rum, and Gene's Spiced Rum. Tours of JED are available weekly Thursdays through Saturdays.

Robert Trent Jones Grand National

Opelika is home to Grand National, "the greatest site for a golf course" Robert Trent Jones had ever seen. The 600-acre course sits on Lake Saugahatchee with 32 of the 54 holes along its shores. There are three, 18-hole courses available at Grand National: The Lake Course, Links Course, and par 3 Short Course. The Links and Lake course were in the top 10 of Golf Digest’s list of “America’s Top 50 Affordable Courses”. All three courses are listed on Golf Digest’s “Places to Play” among the nation’s 40 Super Value courses. Grand National has hosted the Barbasol PGA Championship as well as a multitude of tournaments on its various courses. Suitable for all levels of golfers, this course and its amenities offer a great day of golf for anyone.

Marriott Grand National Spa

The Marriot Grand National is one of only 54 Marriott Resorts worldwide and 17 in the United States. The brand new, 20,000-square-foot spa facility is a three-story beauty offering an array of services: ladies’ and men’s quiet rooms, infrared sauna facilities, and eight treatment rooms including two for couples.

There's a salon for styling, manicures, and pedicures, and a retail outlet featuring a spa product line. There is also a bridal lounge for brides-to-be to enjoy luxurious relaxation before their walk down the aisle. Guests who want to work out can use the facility’s 2,000-square-foot fitness center which features saunas and a 450-square-foot movement studio with instructor-led classes.

Hornsby Farms

Located just minutes from downtown Auburn, Hornsby Farms grows over one hundred varieties of fruits and vegetables year round, and that’s only the start of their story. This family farm is operated by husband and wife team Josh and Beth Hornsby. They hand plant each and every one of their fruit and vegetable varieties, then handpick and deliver to their customers through farm stands, farmers markets, and even home delivery (locals to Auburn and Opelika can have fresh, seasonal produce baskets from Hornsby Farms delivered each week).

Often featured at farmer’s markets and festivals, Hornsby Farms goods – like their jams, jellies, and pickled vegetables – can be found at the following establishments:
• Acre in Auburn
• Ace Hardware in Auburn
• Alabama Street Makers Market in Alex City, AL
• Linda’s at Walnut Hill in Dadeville, AL
The LocAL Market in Auburn

You’ll find their produce in Auburn-Opelika area restaurants as well as other locations around the state including Acre, Central, Springhouse, Country’s Barbecue, the Auburn University Wellness Kitchen, and others.

Café One Twenty Three

Situated in the heart of historic downtown Opelika, Café 123 dishes up fine Southern cuisine with a classic French influence, a match made in culinary heaven! Dinner (which is available Tuesday through Saturday from 6 p.m. until close) features starters like pork confit gritcake, mussels mariniere, and crab stuffed avocado salad. For entrees, executive chef Eron Bass serves decadent dishes like brown sugar-rubbed rack of lamb with bacon fat potatoes, fresh arugula, and a balsamic glaze or the Beef Tenderloin Napoleon, a petite filet with fried green tomatoes, béarnaise sauce, jumbo blue crab, chive smashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus.

Brunch is available on Sundays at 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Be sure to follow Café 123 on Facebook for updates on specials like the fresh catch of the day or events like the beer dinner they hosted with Good People Brewing last summer! Reservations are recommended and can be made by phone at 334.737.0069).

For more about the best things to do, eat, and visit in Auburn-Opelika, see our blog menu!.



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