That Small Town Feel—Opelika, Alabama!

More and more people are falling in love with small towns! It’s not just a Hallmark Christmas movie but an indisputable fact. Going small is a big deal these days.

The once-shiny thought of living in a large, fast-moving city is dimming.

Americans love bake sales, antique shopping, driving down a country road, and waving to their neighbors. There’s something about being “home” that has new meaning. And nothing says home like small-town living!

Weekend escapes are something Americans are noted for, but many are turning those into more extended realities. For some, the noise and hassle of overpopulated metro areas do not spell a home destination!

Small Town Living Offers Charm

If any of this sounds inviting, start packing your bags for small-town living with plenty of big-time charm.

Start thinking about a move to hometowns like Opelika, Alabama, which this year was named one of the top 50 best small towns in America!

Opelika is known for being the “little” sister town to Auburn, Alabama, which means this area is packed with sights and sounds at a small-town pace.

Southern Living Magazine online writes: “Unless you’re from around these parts, there’s a genuine chance you’ve never heard of Auburn. And if you’ve never heard of Auburn, home to the Auburn University Tigers and one of college football’s most loyal fan bases, chances are you won’t know much about Opelika.

“Little sister to Auburn, this historic railroad town has been picking up steam as a worthy weekend destination over the past decade.

“The town of around 31,000 has long been a day escape for Auburn residents looking to skirt college town crowds—especially on particularly frenzied gamedays. But increasingly, others are discovering the quiet charm and thriving community of local businesses that make Opelika truly shine.”

Explore the downtown area with some of its original street-lined walkways and newly constructed brick sidewalks. Take your camera and have fun in this super mild weather environment for a day and a lifetime!

Here are 10 Things that Southern Living lists to do in Opelika!

Walk the Train Tracks Opelika is known for its rich railroad history. In 1848, the Montgomery & West Point Railroad Company completed a rail line from Montgomery to Opelika.

Three years later, they put in a second line that led to West Point, Georgia. The new line became the only rail route from New Orleans to Atlanta, putting Opelika on the map as a significant trade town.

Today, you can see the historic railroad tracks and the freight trains that still run along them in downtown Opelika. Like most changing small towns, Opelika is adding outside venues for exercise and evening relaxation that run right along with the heart of the city.

Take time to do some Brewery Hopping Downtown Opelika may only consist of a few square blocks, but there’s no shortage of places to grab a cold one and something to eat. Take a mini brewery tour by visiting both of Opelika’s beloved local breweries.

On sunny days, sit on Resting Pulse’s generous patio and choose one of their refreshing fruit-inspired brews. After, take the one-minute walk to Red Clay Brewing, a craft brewery and taproom that honors Opelika’s southern roots.

Shop till you drop! Shopping in downtown Opelika is “remarkably specialized.” There’s a store for everything, including clothing and antiques! Angel’s Antiques and Flea Market has 68,000 square feet of “one-of-kind” finds.

Visit the Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge. This c. 1900 Bridge is one of the places people gather for fun, an afternoon stroll, and picnics. It is also known as the Pea Ridge Covered Bridge for its iconic lattice trusses and wooden roof. It is located near Opelika, between Salem and Shotwell, down a little-used dirt road. It is one of only thirteen authentic covered bridges remaining in Alabama.

Afternoon Caffeinated For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, Opelika has plenty of great spots to refuel with a warm beverage. Mama Mocha’s is a small-batch local coffee roaster that offers specialty coffee and pastries. Or “stop at the next-door garage and pick up something from the quaint espresso bar.”

If coffee isn’t your thing, visit The Well — a whimsical tea house that hosts traditional High Tea for small groups by reservation. It is also open Monday through Saturday with an impressive menu of loose-leaf and specialty teas.

Explore the Northside Historic District. The Northside Historic District is just a short walk from the historic train tracks in downtown Opelika. Beautiful turn-of-the-century homes line the streets. Most have been “lovingly restored to match their original appearance.” If you visit during the Christmas Holiday, you can join the front porch tour of homes!

Begin a “Street Art” Scavenger Hunt. “Opelika has a colorful past and a bright future, and the town’s walls reflect that. Go on a street art scavenger hunt to see each of Opelika’s charming murals.” Have your camera ready to take photos in front of the “Bless You” wall, yellow umbrella, butterfly, and “Greetings from Opelika” mural!

Tour John Emerald Distilling Company: The John Emerald Distilling Company is a family-owned distillery that processes a comprehensive lineup of spirits ranging from single malt whiskey and double oak bourbon to spiced rum, barrel-aged gin, vodka, and even muscadine brandy. Stop into their processing facility and taproom for a tour followed by a tasting.

Enjoy a Meal at Zazu Gastropub. Serving fresh farm-to-table food in a relaxed atmosphere, Zazu is a favorite spot. Cozy exposed brick walls, warm lighting, and natural wood floors include a second-story outdoor dining patio overlooking downtown. The menu is Southern that’s done right.

To Top Off Your Day, Have a Night Cap at Sneak & Dawdle. “A moody, hidden speakeasy may be the last thing you’d expect from a small town in rural Alabama, and that’s part of what makes Sneak & Dawdle so great.

“Once you’ve found the giant wooden double doors marked with a bear seal, you’ll be transported into a dark, mysterious, and decidedly posh space where you’ll sip on craft cocktails while deep in intense conversation. The cocktail menu changes frequently, and the bartenders are knowledgeable, so use them to determine your perfect tipple.”

Opelika, Alabama, is a city on the tracks teeming with culture, history, and a thriving community. Visit it soon and you may just find yourself calling it your forever home!

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