I’m 25 years old, which is ancient when compared to most college students, and already have one degree. I don’t fit in with the bar crowd, expecially the desperately uncool patrons of Skybar.
Moving here was a job choice that had nothing to do with higher education.
I never set foot on campus unless it was game day, and I had to deliver catered meals to belligerent tailgaters.
My free time was spent exploring this town and its neighbor, Opelika.
After about a year of driving aimlessly from restaurant to thrift store, thrift store to book store, I accrued a nice collection of local businesses that make these sister cities some of the most interesting in the state.
Opelika doesn’t get much credit. A lot of my younger student friends think it is run down factory town where you will get shot as soon as you cross the border.
This misconception disappoints me.
The city of Opelika is simply charming. Yes, there are some places that are not so nice after the sun goes down, but unless you are buying crack, you probably won’t be there anyway. The main attraction is downtown.
Downtown Opelika is a growing district of amazing restaurants, shops and local flare that only a small Alabama town can capture.
I’m not going into great detail because you should go there and experience finding these places like I did to truly appreciate their charm.
However, I will say that Roland’s Thrift Store and the Irish Bred Pub will have you making weekly trips for outstanding food and unique junk store fare.
Opelika is littered with closed down factories that are ripe for exploring.
Not everyone enjoys discovering the wonders of industrial decay, of course, but if you are a fan of finding interesting local spots that are off the beaten path, Opelika is a great place to start.
The Opelika Sportsplex, which puts our current exercise facility to shame, has anything the workout enthusiast needs. It even has a pool where you can swim like a normal person, not an Olympic hopeful.
My favorite thing about Opelika is that it is the perfect place to get away from the Greek monotony of downtown Auburn on the weekend. If you are tired of watching the same frat guys getting drunk and hitting on the same sorority girls every week, Opelika is your place.
Auburn definitely has more than its share of upstanding local businesses. Gnu’s Room, Bloodhound and Shenanigans Tattoos are all fantastic places I’m proud to support. However, whenever I feel the need to get out of the house and find something new, Opelika is the best place to go, especially for someone who likes food as much as I do.
Don’t let the city’s small size and bad reputation fool you.
All it takes is a little boredom mixed with some curiosity to find all the places that make Auburn’s twin city just as fun. Don’t listen to all the people that say it is boring and lifeless; they aren’t really looking.
The simple truth is many Auburn students, especially the ones who aren’t from this area, don’t leave the town of Auburn that much during their collegiate careers.
Opelika has so much more to offer than Tiger Town, and its downtown area is only one aspect of a great city.