If football is king in the quaint town of Auburn, then southern charm is a close contender for the throne.
Bulldog or Rebel, there is plenty to do while visiting “The Loveliest Village on the Plains” this fall.
Auburn University’s campus and the surrounding downtown cityscape transform for home games to cater to the influx of more than 100,000 pigskin fans who come from far and wide.
Whether you are interested in original eateries or witnessing eagles in flight, there is something for everyone, no matter what colors you bleed.
For the caffeine-dependent, skip the lines at the corporate coffee joints and grab a “Latte That Shall Not Be Named” at Mama Mocha’s Coffee Emporium (414 South Gay St.).
Early risers should also try the “Redneck Benedict” (a winning combination of scratch biscuits, house bacon, and fried eggs smothered in sausage gravy) at The Hound (124 Tichenor Ave.).
When happening upon these rustic gems let your heart be your guide and indulge because any local will tell you there is no bad choice on the menu at either establishment.
Other highlights at The Hound include the “Mama Sue’s Pepper Jelly” (homemade jalapeno pepper jelly, house cream cheese and crackers), but the real draw is “The Hound Cheeseburger.” To truly know what gives this place its appeal, you have to add bacon and order the fries. Both are cut in-house.
Only have time to stop in for a quick drink at The Hound? Take notice of the bullet casings engrained in the wood of the bar top; it truly captures the spirit of the South.
Local libations are in abundance in Auburn, but custom cocktails and brews on tap at Avondale Bar and Tap Room do not skimp on class or taste. If you are unsure of what to order, let owner and proprietor Hardy Gilbert take care of you in this sophisticated atmosphere nestled above the University Barber Shop on College Street in the heart of downtown.
For a soft drink, no one is immune to quenching their thirst with a glass (or better yet, a gallon) of the World Famous fresh-squeezed lemonade at Toomer’s Drugs, located at the corner of College Street and Magnolia Avenue across from the iconic Auburn Oaks at Toomer’s Corner.
If your stay in Auburn spans the entire weekend, be sure to check out “Football, Fans and Feathers” at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Southeastern Raptor Center (1350 Pratt-Carden Drive) at 4 p.m. on Fridays before home football games. Tickets are $5 per person and include a raptor show and flight demonstration.
An artistic side of Auburn is on display at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art (901 South College St.). Saturday Sept. 26, will be the opening day of the “Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido” exhibition. This display features 55 color wood-block prints by 19th century Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige. The public is encouraged to visit Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Look up as you enter the museum to gaze upon the unique Dale Chihuly Chandelier, the 1,000-pound, hand-blown glass sculpture.
Outdoor enthusiasts can venture into Chewacla State Park (124 Shell Toomer Pkwy.), which offers 696 scenic acres of nature with more than 30 miles of professionally designed mountain biking trails that feature rock obstacles and jumps. Trails range in difficulty from the beginner “Camp Trail” to the more grueling eight-mile long “For Pete’s Sake Trail.” Treasure hunters should be interested to know Chewacla is also a hotbed for Geocaching (https://www.geocaching.com/play).
These are merely a sample of what makes Auburn special and keeps folks coming back, alumni or otherwise. This place is home to an array of people and activities beyond the sidelines of Pat Dye field; for more information of what can be discovered in the area visit http://www.aotourism.com.
Photos by Philip Smith // Story by Daniel Chesser