CommunitiesWe celebrate diverse communities with abundant opportunities that make them great places to live, work or visit.
Adjacent to the university, Auburn’s downtown area includes trendy shopping, eclectic coffee shops, quaint restaurants, and exciting nightlife. The draw of a large university brings in large sporting events and other entertainment opportunities throughout the year, with a variety of concerts, plays, and public speakers. Auburn Mayor Ron Anders explained, “Downtown Auburn is the thriving center of Auburn. It’s where we celebrate our victories. It’s where our community comes together for parades and block parties. It’s where we meet our friends and family to shop and grab a bite to eat. And it’s home to Toomer’s Drugs, the source of the best lemonade you’ll ever have—trust me.”
“Beyond the heart of Auburn, you’ll find plenty of other reasons to love it,” Mayor Anders shared. “Our city schools are nationally recognized for the excellent education they offer our young people, and our many parks are perfect places to relax, go for a jog, or engage in some friendly competition. Our thriving business community continues to grow, consistently landing us on the Milken Institute’s annual list of the best performing small cities.”
In 2018, the city was listed by Niche among the “Top 10 Best Places to Live in Alabama,” in part because of its parks and biking trails. Chewacla State Park is one of Auburn’s most prized gems— it’s home to over 30 miles of mountain biking trails, as well as convenient camping facilities and beautiful waterfalls. Golf lovers are sure to enjoy the variety of links found at the Robert Trent Jones Grand National Golf Course.
The city’s school system offers great educational options for families. Auburn City Schools is the 6th fastest growing school district in Alabama, and is among the top public school systems in the state. It operates as a K-12 system with more than 8,000 students. With 93% of high school graduates going on to pursue a college education, Auburn City Schools aims to emphasize college and career readiness.
Auburn is home to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, which houses a collection of around 2,000 works of 19th- and 20th-century American and European art. The Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center offers various exhibitions, concerts, lectures, classes, and events year round. The Telfair Peet Theatre puts on several theatrical performances a year, as does the Auburn Area Community Theatre. The brand new Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center at Auburn University, provide spaces for at least 1,200 guests to enjoy musical performances, theatre productions, and more.
Mayor Anders stated, “Whether you’re settling into your new home here or thinking about visiting the Loveliest Village on the Plains for the first time, I’m thrilled to invite you to explore Auburn and all it has to offer. And when you do, I hope you get a taste of why Southern Living calls us one of the South’s best college towns and why MONEY Magazine has named us the best place to live in Alabama.”
Opelika City Schools is comprised of eight public schools— three primary, three intermediate, one middle, and one high. Elementary students have access to iPads, Chromebooks, and desktop computers, and secondary students use Chromebooks, desktop computers, and laptops. Opelika High School offers Career and Technical Education courses, as well as AP classes and dual enrollment offerings, and the school’s overall graduation rate is 93%, compared to the state average of 89%.
Opelika’s economic future looks bright. Mayor Fuller stated, “Over the past five years, world class companies like Golden State Foods, Car Tech, Aerocosta, Baxter, Mando, and others have invested more than $700 million and created an additional 710 new, good-paying jobs.” He explained, “This investment means additional property tax revenue for the city, and more importantly for Opelika City Schools, and new jobs mean more people are working and have disposable income. More income for citizens translates to a better standard of living for our families and additional sales tax revenues, and those revenues are reinvested in our community to improve the quality of life. In 2018, we recorded almost $32 million in total sales tax revenues.”
Opelika is consistently implementing new technology to increase its citizens quality of life— it’s the first city in Alabama to deploy a 100% fiber network that offers GIG internet speeds. Mayor Fuller stated, “The city continues to deploy smart city technology with the addition of accessible Wi-Fi downtown, which will only enhance the dining and shopping experience.”
Opelika’s downtown district is being revitalized, in part, by the Main Street program— a nationally recognized program focused on improving downtown areas through organization, economic vitality, design, and promotion. Fuller explained, “New retail developments and hotels continue to come online, and our downtown is the heartbeat of our city. It has become a destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment.” Those looking for a bite to eat, a boutique to shop at, or a bar to visit are sure to find it all in downtown Opelika.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy all that Opelika has to offer, from camping and hiking to fishing and golfing. The Grand National, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, is located in Opelika and offers golfers a chance to play on three different courses with varying terrain and difficulty. Spring Villa Park is the perfect place to camp, walk trails, and even swim in a spring-filled pool. Municipal Park features several playgrounds and shelters, as well as a miniature train that runs seasonally.
Those who are interested in the arts can certainly get their fix in Opelika. The city is home to several community theatres. The Opelika Center for the Performing Arts has hosted twenty-two international orchestras, fifty nationally touring Broadway productions, twenty-one major ballet and dance companies, twenty-one jazz celebrities and popular entertainers, and much more. The 300-seat Southside Center for the Arts hosts performing and visual arts events, lectures, and arts education activities. Founded in August 2015, The Opelika Theatre Company produces several shows each year and participates in special community events.
Mayor Fuller shared, “The future is bright, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Our city council, department heads and city employees have worked tirelessly to bring positive improvements to our community. We look to continue this growth and success together as a strong and unified team for our citizens.”
Home to nearly 37,000, Phenix City is located just across the river from Columbus, GA. Though it’s technically located in Alabama, Phenix City is considered part of metropolitan Columbus, so most of the city follows Eastern Time- also known as “fast time” (it’s an hour ahead of the rest of the state). Check out the Phenix City Riverwalk, and maybe even try whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River!
Also known as “Smiths,” this community’s population is right around 5,500. With its small-town feel, above average public schools, and proximity to Auburn/Opelika and Ft.Benning, it’s a great suburb for families to call home. Like Phenix City, it operates on Eastern Time.
History buffs may want to check out this smaller community— Loachapoka’s Historic District is home to private antebellum homes, churches from the 1840’s, a historic museum, and a 100-year old school house. Pioneer Day, formerly known as Syrup-Sopping Day, is held in Loachapoka each fall.
The Town of Notasulga is home to several historic sites that include Camp Watts, a Rosenwald School, and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. It’s also the birthplace of author Zora Neale Hurston!
Beauregard is located 10 miles southeast of Auburn. On March 3, 2019, a series of tornadoes, including an EF-4, ripped through the town, killing 23 people and injuring others. After the storm, citizens of Beauregard and surrounding areas banded together in an effort to repair the damage and get the town back on its feet. Reporter Al Roker collaborated with area organizations to provide disaster relief for Beauregard’s survivors, and President Donald Trump visited the area to pay his condolences.