Not quite 45 minutes away from Fort Benning sits one of the best football towns in America! Auburn, Alabama, home of the Auburn Tigers, is not only a great place to catch up on some good ol’ college football, but it’s also the perfect area to take the family for a little escape.
So, if you’ve got a few hours to spend on a Saturday or Sunday and you’re looking to stretch your legs, then here’s a few recommendations for how to make the most of your day trip to Auburn.
Chewacla State Park
On your drive up to Auburn or on your way back, make a quick stop at Chewacla State Park! The entrance fee is just a few dollars and you can drive down to the end of the loop and check out the waterfall and the scenery. There are other bike and hiking trails, but if you’re not trying to break a sweat then this is the perfect way to just get your feet wet. After this, you can head on over to town!
Did Someone Say BBQ?
Undoubtedly, you’re getting a little hungry. What better way to curb that hunger than with some of the best barbeque in the South?! Mike & Ed’s is by far some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had, and nothing beats their giant garbage bin of sweet tea!
Just about everywhere in downtown Auburn has phenomenal food. There’s pizza, more BBQ, sandwiches, fancy salads, burgers and more! Come hungry, and you won’t be disappointed by any location you choose.
Tour the Campus
Ok, so now that you’ve satiated your BBQ cravings, take a walking tour of the campus! Samford Hall, pictured below, is an iconic building at Auburn University. A thorough look at the campus will warrant at least 45 minutes.
Completed in 1881, the picturesque Samford Hall is easily the most recognizable building on campus. Now used for administrative offices, it once housed classrooms and the library through the late 19th century. Every quarter hour the electronic clock tower bells chime, but be sure to hang around at noon to hear the bells play the university’s famous fight song, “War Eagle.”
Be sure to take a photo in front of the Auburn University sign on College Street in front of Samford Hall. Probably every single student and Auburn fan has a photo taken here. On graduation day, the line to take a photo in front of the sign is easily 200 kids deep, if not longer.
History, Lemonade and Window Shopping
Walk around downtown—College Street is the main drag—to check out what is considered one of the nation’s best college towns. Toomer’s Corner and the tradition that happens there is renowned, especially among college football fans. After a big win, Auburn fans and students roll the huge live oak trees with toilet paper. Sounds weird, right? But it’s amazing. Especially after a monumental win, which makes the entire block look like a blizzard just went through. Usually the celebrations are for a football win, but the corner is also rolled for other sports victories and even big national events, like the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
Some may remember the tragic story of a psychotic Alabama fan poisoning the beloved live oaks after Auburn upset the Tide in 2010 (the Auburn-Alabama rivalry is considered one of the fiercest in all of sports and is dubbed The Iron Bowl). The poor trees eventually started dying and had to be removed. The university took the opportunity to renovate the entire corner and plant new oak trees so the tradition can live on. However, in 2016, another horrible person decided to light the toilet paper on fire after Auburn beat LSU, and the trees were severely damaged. Yet again, they’ve been replaced, but the tradition is still happening in the 2017 football season.
Be sure to visit Toomer’s Drugs, which sit on the corner diagonal from the trees. Its famous lemonade was a hit with the great John Heisman when he coached the Tigers in 1895. Toomer’s Drugs also sells ice cream and lunch fare like hot dogs and hamburgers in its quaint diner that looks like something out of the 1950s.
Along College Street and Magnolia Avenue you’ll find a variety of mom and pop shops from women’s clothing boutiques to Auburn bookstores and even a hardware story. So stop in and help the local economy!
If you decide to hit up an Auburn football game, you’ll see what football in the South is alllllll about. Auburn is famous for having some of the nicest, most hospitable fans in the entire country. Doesn’t matter if kickoff is at 11 a.m. or 7 p.m., the entire campus and its surrounding fields are slam packed with fans in their finest orange and blue. Set up a tailgate spot and settle in, or walk around and visit other tailgaters. Be friendly, yell “War Eagle!” proudly, and ya know, don’t be a jerk (I’m looking at you, West Virginia fans in 2009). Tickets can be hard to get, especially for a SEC matchup, but you can almost always find tickets online or just by asking around on game day to see if anyone has an extra. If you’re stationed at Benning and love college football, I highly recommend you check out a game. Even if you don’t care about Auburn football. The traditions, like Tiger Walk and the Eagle’s Pregame Flight, are incredible and memorable.