Opelika, Alabama was originally settled by European pioneers in the late 1830s, taking its name from the indigenous Muskogee word for “large swap.” It attracts many visitors throughout the year due to golf tournaments held at its Grand National Golf Course and its location near the prestigious Auburn University.
1.The Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge
© Courtesy of Sean Xu - Fotolia.com
The Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge is located within Opelika Municipal Park and crosses Rocky Brook along Park Road. The original bridge was constructed in 1900 by Otto Puls in a town lattice truss construction style and stood at its original Wacoochee Creek location for over a century before being destroyed by a fallen tree in 2005. In 2007, it was reconstructed and relocated to its current location and is now maintained by the City of Opelika in conjunction with the Opelika Kiwanis Club. In 1977, the bridge was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. It is popularly said to be haunted by the ghosts of children killed in an automobile accident during its time standing over Wacoochee Creek.
Park Rd, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-705-5560
2.The Museum of East Alabama
© The Museum of East Alabama
The Museum of East Alabama is located within Opelika’s historic district and showcases more than 5,000 significant artifacts related to the civic, economic, and cultural history of Lee County and its surrounding regions. The museum was established by Eleanor and John T. Harris in 1989 and welcomes over 2,000 annual visitors today. Permanent exhibits showcase donated artifacts within six collections focused on the home life, work life, leisure activities, peoples, transportation, and military life of the region, with a particular focus on the area’s 19th and 20th-century history. Significant artifacts on display include NASA memorabilia donated by area resident and astronaut Jim Voss.
121 S 9th St, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-749-2751
3.Red Clay Brewing Company
© Red Clay Brewing Company
Red Clay Brewing Company was founded by Alabama natives John Corbin, Kerry McGinnis, and Stephen Harle and takes its name from the rich natural red clay deposits found within the Opelika region. All of the brewery’s beers are named for references to the area’s culture and tradition, including indigenous terms related to the local Muskogee tribe and folklore references. Year-round beers include brews such as Big Swamp Oatmeal Stout, Hop Jubilee IPA, Half Time Hefeweizen, Hay Shed Saison, and Southern Bumpkin Sweet Potato Brown Ale. Hand-made pizza is served at the brewery’s taproom, which is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, including a spicy pizza challenge dish that dares diners to eat the spiciest concoction the brewery’s kitchen can create in exchange for a free meal and pint.
704 N Railroad Ave, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-737-5409
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CyberZone is Opelika’s premiere family entertainment center, showcasing Lee County’s most challenging and entertaining laser tag course. Laser tag participants may walk in for game play or reserve the 36-vest course area for small groups and organizations, including overnight lock-in play. A variety of other amusements are offered in addition to the laser tag course, including an Atomic RUSH multi-player LED-panel game and a large arcade featuring more than 65 video and redemption games. Retro arcade games are also showcased at the facility’s Replay Zone, and pizzas and snacks are served at its Replay Cafe. The entire facility may be booked for private special events, including school groups, birthday parties, and corporate team-building activities.
107 North 9th Street, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-737-5000
5.Ma Fia's Ristorante and Pizzeria
© Ma Fia's Ristorante and Pizzeria
Ma Fia’s Ristorante and Pizzeria is a fine Italian dining restaurant in Opelika that showcases antique features such as 19th-century heart pine dining room timbers that were cut by the city’s historic Nelson Tift sawmill. A wide variety of upscale Italian dishes are offered, including handcrafted pizzas, authentic pasta dishes, and unique desserts. A full wine menu offers elegant favorites at competitive prices, and a draft beer menu highlights regional craft brews. All beers and wines are carefully selected to complement dishes, creating an artful dining experience available seven days a week that is sure to satisfy local visitors and discerning foodies alike.
811 S Railroad Ave, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-745-6266
6.Grand National Golf Course
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Grand National Golf Course was constructed on 600 acres surrounding Lake Saugahatchee, with 32 of its holes located directly along the lake’s shorelines. Its site was chosen by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., who proclaimed the region the greatest site for the creation of a golf course that he had ever seen. Today, the complex’s three courses have all been ranked among the top 10 value courses in America by Golf Digest. Courses include the scenic Lake Course, the par-14 Links Course, and the lakefront Short Course. The complex is the host of the PGA Tour’s annual Barbasol Championship and is home to the National Village golfing community and the Marriott Grand National Hotel.
3000 Robert Trent Jones Trail, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-749-9042
7.John Emerald Distilling Company
© John Emerald Distilling Company
John Emerald Distilling Company is an Opelika distillery owned by the Sharp family, descendants of the company’s namesake John Emerald Sharp. The company operates a downtown Railroad Avenue tasting room that is open to the public Wednesdays through Saturdays and offers tours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays available with advance registration online. The small batch distillery crafts a variety of unique liquors, including their Hugh Wesley’s Gin, which is made with Alabama juniper berries, and their John’s Alabama Single Malt, the first whiskey legally produced in the state in a century. Public special events are held at the tasting room periodically, including book signings, grilling competitions, and community cookouts.
706 N Railroad Ave, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-737-5353
8.Angel's Antiques and Flea Mall
© Angel's Antiques and Flea Mall
Angel’s Antiques and Flea Mall was opened in 2002 by husband and wife team Bill and Connie Brewer and Bill’s father Leo. The family are former flea market vendors themselves and strive to provide all vendors with a positive, trustworthy work environment to set the mall apart from other competing flea malls. The mall is housed within a former Wal-Mart building in Opelika and is named for the couple’s daughter. It has been named as one of the top three antique malls in the American South by Lucky magazine and houses more than 450 vendors within its 68,000-square-foot facility, including antique vendors and a wide variety of sale goods.
900 Columbus Pkwy, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-745-3221
© Cafe 123
Cafe 123 is housed within downtown Opelika’s restored former Haynie’s Drugstore building and serves a full menu of French-influenced Southern cuisine Tuesday through Saturday evenings. The restaurant’s menu is carefully curated by executive chef Eron Bass and features hand-cut meats and locally-sourced ingredients, with all dishes prepared to order. Dinner appetizers and entrees highlight fresh seafood and Southern comfort food with unique twists, such as pork confit gritcakes, barbecue bourbon salmon, and brown sugar-rubbed ribeye. A full Sunday brunch menu is also available, along with an extensive wine and cocktail list. Reservations are recommended due to the restaurant’s limited hours.
123 S 8th St, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-737-0069
10.Mrs. Story's Dairy Bar
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Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar is an Opelika institution, opened by Annie and Dan Story more than 60 years ago as a branch of the Dari Delite franchise. In 1962, the restaurant was rebranded as an independent storefront, and though it has received minor updates throughout the years, it mostly retains its classic facade and menu. Today, it is run by third-generation family members and serves a simple menu of classic American fare, including foot-long chili dogs and hand-spun milkshakes. Chili dogs use the family’s secret recipe, which has stood the test of time and is only shared with a few select family members.
1900 Pepperell Pkwy, Opelika, AL 36801, Phone: 334-749-1719
10 Best Things to Do in Opelika, Alabama
- The Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge, Photo: Courtesy of Sean Xu - Fotolia.com
- The Museum of East Alabama, Photo: The Museum of East Alabama
- Red Clay Brewing Company, Photo: Red Clay Brewing Company
- CyberZone, Photo: Courtesy of ANTON - Fotolia.com
- Ma Fia's Ristorante and Pizzeria, Photo: Ma Fia's Ristorante and Pizzeria
- Grand National Golf Course, Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Thornberg - Fotolia.com
- John Emerald Distilling Company, Photo: John Emerald Distilling Company
- Angel's Antiques and Flea Mall, Photo: Angel's Antiques and Flea Mall
- Cafe 123, Photo: Cafe 123
- Mrs. Story's Dairy Bar, Photo: Courtesy of GCapture - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: City of Opelika, Al - City Government