Friday, February 28, 2014

Skip into Spring

It’s finally here – the beautiful twilight of weather between January and June that brings us cool breezes and warm temperatures.
It won’t be long before the sweltering summer sets in, so here’s a few ways you can enjoy the sweet sunshine of spring in scenic Auburn-Opelika.

1.Hit the links
The Grand National grounds are nothing short of gorgeous, especially on a crisp spring day. Take an afternoon and enjoy one of the three courses Grand National has to offer. Afterward, have a relaxing lunch on the porch as you gaze over the grounds and lake.

 2.Picnic in the park
Just because Valentine’s Day is past doesn’t mean you can’t have a romantic date. Pack a picnic lunch and a blanket and grab your sweetheart - the soft rolling hills of Kiesel Park underneath the trees are perfect for this sweet surprise. You can also take your date to Town Creek Park and enjoy your lunch by the pond. Either way, you’ll both soak up the sunshine during a luxurious afternoon.

 3.Hike & Bike in Chewacla
Chewacla State Park is a perfect getaway for outdoor activities. Now that the weather is warmer, take the Mountain Laurel Trail to Chewacla Falls and dip your toes in! If you’re the adventurous type, grab your mountain bike and tackle the trails the Central Alabama Pedalers have been working on.

4.Take a downtown stroll
Enjoying the outdoors doesn’t always mean you have to be out in nature’s thickets. Take a scenic stroll through Auburn or Opelika’s scenic and historic downtown to put some spring in your step. Enjoy a Toomer’s lemonade (or ice cream!) at the end of your jaunt in downtown Auburn on Samford’s lawn, or stop in for a pop from the Overall Co. in downtown Opelika and enjoy it on their rooftop patio!

How do you celebrate spring in Auburn-Opelika? Let us know in the comments!

Written by guest blogger Rachel Pipan

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tots Take to the Trails with Base CAMP

Most of us remember hopping on a bike around age 9 or 10, trying desperately to balance as Mom or Dad helped us “bike” along the sidewalk. Scraped knees and tumultuous tumbles were the price we paid for vehicular freedom from training wheels.

The Central Alabama Mountain Pedalers do it a little differently. 

Every Saturday at 10 a.m in Chewacla State Park., the members of CAMP run Base CAMP, a kids biking development program that helps kids as young as two years old learn to mountain bike. 

“You, me and everyone else learned how to bike with training wheels,” said Philip Darden, president of CAMP. “But that’s not the best way to learn balance, which is why we fall so much when trying to learn. You need to learn the balance first.”

CAMP has a fleet of Strider balance bikes for Base CAMP, which are bikes that have no pedals. 
“The kids push along with their feet,” said Eric Smith, creator of Base CAMP. “It helps teach them balance first so when they get on a real bike they won’t need training wheels.”

Eric Smith took the idea for Base CAMP from a program in Durango, CO. “It made so much more sense to teach kids to bike that way,” said Eric Smith. “It seemed logical to bring that skills development here.”

During Base C.A.M.P., kids ride along with the members of C.A.M.P. on the many trails that made up the interconnected loops of Chewacla State Park.
“It is so awesome to watch a kid realizing that they are balancing a bike on their own for the first time,” said Hiro Fukai, member of CAMP. “It’s a great program for the kids, parents and volunteers.”  

Base C.A.M.P. is open to kids (and parents!) of any age that want to learn how to bike while also experiencing the great outdoors.

And no child is too young to start learning.
“Both my boys started biking at 18 months,” said Eric Smith.

The main goal of Base CAMP is to help kids be more confident on a bike, whether it is in their neighborhood or crunching across leaves, boulders and other obstacles on a mountain biking trail, although the members of CAMP favor the latter.

“Base CAMP is a way to develop skills and introduce the mountain biking culture to the really really little guys,” said Philip Darden. “Because little mountain bikers grow up to be big mountain bikers.”

For more information, visit or email Philip Darden at

By guest writer Rachel Pipan 

Monday, February 10, 2014

7 Ways to Celebrate V-Day (the Auburn-Opelika Way)

One of the most romantic days of the year is in a few days, and for those of you struggling to set up the sublime date your sweetheart seeks, here are seven ways for your date to stand out while staying in Auburn-Opelika.

1. Valentine’s Day Dinner Out
It’s perfectly ok if butter-poached grouper or pistachio-crusted lamb isn’t in your cooking repertoire – let the
chefs do the work while you do the romance. Many restaurants in the Auburn-Opelika area have special menus for Valentine’s Day that include delicacies from caviar to a chocolate bar. Be sure to make reservations early, and if you’re feeling mysterious make the location a pleasant surprise for your date!  Add in some flowers and you’ve got yourself the ingredients for an ideal romantic evening.

Restaurants with Special Menus:
Acre:  (334) 246.3763 
MaFia’s: (334) 745.6266
Arricia: (334) 821.8200
Grand National: (334) 737.2187

2. A Sweet ‘Staycation’ 
Sometimes it’s good away to get away from life’s distractions and your normal scenery to celebrate a special day in style. Book a romantic reservation at The Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center or the Marriott at Grand National for you and your darling dear, and spend the evening ordering room service, watching movies and snuggling up away from the crowds.
AUHCC: (334) 821.8200
Marriott at Grand National: (334) 741.9292

3. Pamper Who You Prize 
If you really want to help your loved one luxuriate on Valentine’s Day, consider booking them an all-inclusive spa day at one of Auburn-Opelika’s many day spas. Sea salt scrubs, manicures and pedicures all take care of the little details, and your lady will love that you thought of her. You can also book appointments for a couples massage if you want to unwind together.
One-eighty Wellness Spa: (334) 887.1180
Ambiance Spa & Salon: (334) 826.3060
CaraVail’s Med Spa: (334) 502.7253

4. Cherish Culture
A Valentine’s Day date doesn’t have to be dinner and a movie – break away from the norm and take your beloved to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art for a unique day out. Peruse the works of art and photography together, and afterwards stop in at the cafĂ© to sip on some tea and devour delicious strawberry poundcake with chocolate covered strawberries.
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art: (334) 844.1484

5. Adore the Outdoors
Romance can be found off the beaten path. If your date is more likely to be found in hiking boots than high heels, pack a picnic lunch and head off to Kiesel Park, or plan a secluded hike in Chewacla State Park to the picturesque 30-ft waterfall. Couples committed to getting in touch with nature can also book a camp-site or stay in one of Chewacla’s renovated cottages over the weekend.
Chewacla State Park: (334) 887-5621

6. Cuddle with a Cocktail 
No matter your dinner (or dancing!) plans, any Valentine’s Day date can include enjoying a delicious drink together in some of the most romantic atmospheres Auburn-Opelika has to offer. Specialty drinks include The Princess Leigh Cheri at Avondale Bar and Tap Room, an Italian Sidecar at Piccolo, or a Lucille Ball at Hamilton’s on Magnolia. Find your date, cuddle up at the bar or in a booth, and enjoy each other’s company! A list of bars and nightlife can be found at

7. Give a Gift
Teddy bears, a box of chocolates and red roses are the staples of Valentine’s Day gifts. Set yourself apart by going above and beyond and giving your love something unique. A relaxing and romantic bubble bath 
could be improved by the decadent scent of a Toomer’s Lemonade candle, or maybe your man could use a new bowtie or button-down from the Locker Room. Either way, you’re sure to find a special gift in the stores of downtown Auburn and Opelika. 

For listings of stores, visit

By: Rachel Pipan, guest blogger