Travelin' with the Cougs: Auburn, Alabama

The gorgeous Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL - Kevin C. Cox

The last time the Cougs were in Auburn, Gary Rogers was still a thing and I was a freshman living in Scott-Coman. Plenty has happened to both programs since but the trip into SEC country remains one of the best in college football.

This is part one in a six part series where we highlight the cities the Cougs will be traveling to during the 2013 football season. Up next: Los Angeles, California

Its been seven years since the Washington State Cougars and Auburn Tigers met on the gridiron. Since then, the Tigers have ascended to atop the throne of college football and then were unceremoniously deposed along with the coach who took them there. The Cougs, well, they sniffed a bowl in 2006 and I don't have to remind you of how bad its been since.

Both teams are coming off rough seasons and although Auburn will be going through the same issues any team with a new coach does, they're still in the SEC. Luckily, it means a trip to football crazed SEC country where Auburn and their fans got what I think are some pretty positive reviews from those who went the last time around (please correct me if I'm wrong). Just don't bring up Harvey Updyke.

Auburn, AL Fast Facts:

Population: 56,908

Nearest Airport: Columbus, GA (35 miles)

Random Fact: The G.I. Joe character Beach Head was from Auburn

Auburn doesn't have an airport that provides commercial service so the closest you can get is Columbus, GA but you might as well drive from Atlanta as you'll likely spend more time making the connection. Once you fly into Hartsfield-Jackson, it's a 100 mile journey down I-85 which can be accomplished in about an hour and a half assuming you don't stop at one of the 639 Waffle House locations on the way (I'm assuming).

Places To Stay:

Note: Average nightly rate assumes a Friday and Saturday night stay

Quality Inn Auburn (3.7 miles to stadium)

As you probably could've predicted, Auburn is a chain-heavy town. With it also being a football and holiday weekend, prices will be through the roof. The Quality Inn is one of the few with any available rooms left but they do have free wi-fi, a refrigerator and a microwave in room plus some nice flat screens. It's nothing fancy but it'll get the job done and you won't be too far away from the stadium. Plus, there's a Red Lobster next door. You're welcome.

Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $184/night

Days Inn Opelika (10.2 miles to stadium)

This is in what I guess you could call Auburn's "suburb" of Opelika and you're getting what you pay for compared to the other places still available. You do get a free continental breakfast and wi-fi but this place boasts about their free parking which, if you're not in a major city, you should probably provide anyhow. These rooms do have a fridge/microwave combo as well so bring your leftovers back.

Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $84/night

Places to Eat:

Admittedly, I don't know much about what culinary delights await you in Auburn. I do know that it's the south and that means everything is fried and the barbecue is off the chain. So, rather than feel my way around Yelp like a 15 year old trying to unhook a bra for the first time, I consulted with an expert: Chris Fuhrmeister of the excellent College and Magnolia.

If you're coming to the South, barbecue should be your first priority. There are plenty of places to get 'Q in Auburn, but I have three favorites: Mike and Ed's, Byron's Smokehouse and Chuck's. Mike and Ed's is really close to downtown, Byron's is further out and Chuck's is out in Opelika. But all three are worth a visit no matter where you may be staying.

Taking a look at al the menus, the prices seem much more reasonable than any I've ever seen on the Best Coast so be prepared to give your wallet a work out. Hell, even the combos with ribs and sides look like they'll set you back a bit less. Every last ounce of meat and side dish cooked in these places looks like something I'd be happy to be buried alive in and enjoy eating my way out. Mike and Ed's even has my favorite food, buffalo wings and I can even combine types of sauce for them.

Side note: none of these places served collared greens (as I can tell) so if you can find somewhere to get some, do it. My dad spent a few grade school years in Huntsville and advised me to try it while the Mrs. and I were in Charlotte. Despite my apprehension, I tried them and they did not disappoint. With a little hot sauce to kick up the tang, they were perfect.

Places to Drink:

Like every good small-ish college town, Auburn has a number of great watering holes for you give your liver some exercise. We go back to Chris for some good recommendations:

If you're going to be in a college town for a football game, you're liable to do some drinking. Downtown, go to either Quixote's or the Bank Vault (forever known as Bodega to Auburn folks over 25). Quixote's has a bunch of TVs and offers food, and the Bank Vault (Bodega) has a huge patio. Both are good college town bars.

But that's not it for Auburn's incredible bars. In fact, the next one Chris brings up, just by its description, might be one of my all time favorites and I've never even set foot inside. It's called the War Eagle Supper Club and it's as awesome as it sounds.

This dive has been open since 1937. There will be live music that could be terrible, but who cares when it's four in the morning -- they stay open until roughly 5 a.m. And since the bar is a little bit of a hike from downtown and you wouldn't want to get behind the wheel after several rounds of adult beverages, the Supper Club has a "drunk bus" that will pick you up and take you to the bar and give you a ride home when you can't take any more.

So they have a great bar, music, a drunk bus and they're open until the sun comes up? This place can't get any more awesome, right? Wrong. DAT SLOGAN:

Cold beer. Hot rock. Expect no mercy.

Sold.

Things To Do:

If you feel like working off any of the beer and barbecue calories, Auburn has you covered with Chewacla State Park.

One of Alabama's state parks, it's located just south of town and offers your typical state park options: hiking, biking, fishing, golf and horseback riding.

There you have it, Auburn, Alabama. Every report I heard from folks who went in 2006 had nothing but incredible things to say about both the town and the people. Hopefully this is a repeat performance and you're a little better prepared for your trip.

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