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It’s a greeting and war cry that you hear and see posted all over the small town of Auburn, Alabama known as the “Loveliest Village on the Plains.” But the use of the phrase isn’t relegated to just the southeastern United States.
One time we happened to be strolling the streets of Venice when a “War Eagle” greeted us unexpectedly. When you wear any symbol of Auburn University, the greeting is sure to be used, no matter what corner of the world you happen to be in.
The college town is primarily known for its traditions and football team, with its origins dating all the way back to 1892.
While I have enjoyed going to the games and visiting Auburn during the football season, it’s always a bustling, crowded scene during the Fall. But Auburn is more than football, and if you want to enjoy visiting the town and surrounding area without the push and shove of tailgaters, then go for a weekend in early Spring and enjoy these top things to do in Auburn AL.
Top Places to Stay in Auburn, AL
If you prefer to stay in downtown Auburn within walking distance to most shops and restaurants, stay at The Hotel at Auburn University.
During the Fall football season, it’s next to impossible to book a room at this hotel, or as they call it, “The Front Door to Auburn.” However, in the off-season, the 236 rooms and suites become more accessible.
Whether or not you’re staying at the hotel, dining at Arriccia Cucina Italiana is a tasty option with fresh pizzas and pasta.
If you’re in a hurry or only want to have a cocktail and/or a light bite, the laid-back jazz lounge, Piccolo, is a comfortable space to unwind.
The Grand National Marriott Resort is located only 20 minutes from downtown Auburn and is connected to the Grand National Golf Club as part of the Robert Trent Jones golf trail.
The sloping drive to the resort meanders through a forest of trees, where you might even see a deer or two.
The lobby is warm and welcoming during the cooler months, with a flickering fire and several cushy chairs encircling the fireplace.
The ceilings and dark wood beams soar high above, creating a spacious yet inviting presence, and the air is lightly perfumed.
The Junior Suite (444) is spacious with a wide balcony overlooking the extensive pools, lake, and emerald green of the golf course in the distance.
There is a cozy pub called The Southern Oak Bar on the 1st floor featuring live music in the evenings on the weekend. Fire pits are also available on the patio outside near the pools.
*Note: The resort offers a free shuttle service to take you to the golf course or even to your off-site dinner reservations in either Auburn or Opelika.
Relax by the Pool or Chill Out in the Spa
If you’re in the mood for a pre-spa or golf lunch, the primary restaurant, Southern Oak, is a nice choice. Try the “in jars appetizer,” filled with Carrot Hummus, Creamed Collard Greens, Queso, and Pimiento Cheese served with warm Pita Bread and Chips.
Having recently undergone its own facelift, this spa is particularly fresh. A large locker space is provided alongside “The Hideaway” room lined with small beds, dimly lit by a flickering candle wall.
Inside the “Relaxing Lounge” are several padded lounge chairs, and on one side, a jetted, heated plunge pool whirls away, while on the other, an infrared sauna is lit with changing colored lights.
Treat Your Skin to a Hydrafacial
As one of its facial services, the spa offers the popular Hydrafacial treatment, which promises to thoroughly “vacuum” your skin while rehydrating and plumping it using a strong water suction/serum injecting device.
Basically, a hydrafacial is a highly effective form of water microdermabrasion that offers instant results of smoother, hydrated skin with zero downtime.
The whole experience, including the Hydrafacial, costs around $200.
“Built around the 600-acre Lake Sougahatchee, Grand National Golf Club boasts a total of 54 holes of championship golf across three challenging, yet beautiful courses at our golf resort in Auburn, AL.”
While I don’t play golf (my swing is a work in progress, to say the least), I have it on good authority that these courses are beautiful and well worth a visit.
Best Restaurants in Auburn, Alabama
When it comes to dining in Auburn, Acre should be your first choice. Be sure to reserve ahead, though.
The restaurant itself is beautiful, inside and out. Tall ceilings create a sense of open space with several rooms branching off from the main dining room where the large, open square-shaped bar is situated, and the white-washed walls are lined with curved leather booths.
Committed to freshness, Acre grows their own herbs and many vegetables in the green spaces available to them outside.
While the menu changes seasonally, try the Chicken Fried Bacon, Blue Crab & Corn Bisque, Pumpernickel Bread with Chinese 5 Spice Butter, and Corn Donuts.
Hamilton’s on Magnolia is also a delicious choice that is perfect for lunch or dinner. Located only one block away from Toomer’s Corner (the primary hub of downtown Auburn), the neighborhood restaurant extends a warm, friendly vibe.
When you first enter, the restaurant brings to mind a no-frills New York Italian steakhouse with its cozy U-shaped bar to the left. The main dining area of the restaurant splits into two halves with leather booths and tables.
The wait staff is on the spot when you need them. For an appetizer, try the Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp.
If you enjoy soups, then don’t hesitate to order the savory lobster bisque. The fish entrees are also excellent.
Amsterdam’s Cafe is another delicious choice for lunch or Sunday brunch. Located in a more residential area of Auburn, it is still within easy walking distance from Toomer’s Corner.
For an appetizer, try the Lobster Egg Roll, and, again, if you like soups, you will love the Tomato Bisque here.
Additionally, the Crab Cake Croissant with Avocado is on the list: “100 Entrees to Order in Alabama Before You Die,” and it is uniquely delicious.
Shop Local in Downtown Auburn
Auburn, of course, does have large malls and other traditional shopping areas, but the real fun is in browsing the unique boutiques that line the main streets of historic downtown Auburn.
If you’re like me and love to shop a quality consignment store, then I would definitely recommend checking out “Ginger’s.” You can browse the variety of clothing labels, purses, and accessories all the while listening to some fun Motown hits.
So, whether you’re in Auburn for a day or a weekend, it’s worth taking a little extra time to explore the town and area beyond the college football realm. But, as always, “War Eagle.”