Welcome to Opelika, a city of 27,000. Opelika's entry signs proclaim, "Rich in Heritage with a Vision for the Future." This is the motto we live by here in this East Alabama city, which is located between Montgomery, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia.
Opelika was ceded from the Creek Indians in the Treaty of Cusseta. The Creeks are considered to be the source of the city's name, "Opilu" meaning "swamp" and "Laka" meaning "large." Despite its name, Opelika is no big swamp and actually sits at the highest level of elevation between Atlanta and New Orleans.
Historic Railroad Avenue sits peacefully along the rails which have moved well beyond the rancorous rail days. In quiet contrast, the restored fashionable homes of North Opelika stand today as a testament to more genteel days. Each year, the neighbors celebrate their heritage with the Victorian Front Porch Tour. The tour, a creation of local artist Jan Jones, features more than 40 homes, decked with life-sized Victorian figures, live costumed characters, singers, actors, and musicians. One weekend in December the roads are closed and thousands of visitors walk the streets in a scene right out of a Currier and Ives card.
When Opelika's rail lines were destroyed in the Civil War as a part of Rousseaus' Raid, the city struggled to rebuild. The newly restored Depot, home to Opelika Main Street and the East Alabama Arts Association, was part of the reconstruction of the 1920s, a time when Opelika found its new catalyst for growth as a textile mill town. The historic Pepperell Mill Village is still alive today and is protected as a historic area.
Opelika has a 1200 seat performing arts center, which features national caliber performances in the Opelika Arts Association Performing Arts Series. In addition, during the summer months, the Summer Swing concert series features diverse musical offerings with free concerts in the city's Municipal Park. Opelika's Grand National Golf Course is the largest of Alabama's heralded Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and is consistently ranked in the top ten public courses in the nation. Grand National has hosted the NIKE Tour, now the Nationwide Tournament, the LPGA and the NCCA Men's national championships, as well as the Golf Digest Couples Classic. There are four public courses and two private clubs in the immediate area as well.
The Opelika City Schools offer each student a world of opportunity. Beginning in primary school with art, music and multiple computers in each classroom, students are excelling in their learning environment. Our highly qualified teachers have been trained in the latest instructional strategies including the Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) and TeamMath and Alabama Math Science Teaching Initiative (AMSTI). Classrooms are equipped with Promethean whiteboard systems to allow teachers to teach interactive lessons using laptops and interactive whiteboards. Our schools offer a challenging curriculum that is accented by outstanding enrichment classes, music and art programs. Students are involved in activities ranging from video production, drama, show choir, and band to horticulture, auto mechanics and engineering. Opelika High School offers Advanced Placement classes in every core academic area. In addition, many students are dual enrolled in Opelika High and Southern Union Community College. Our highly competitive Class 6A athletic programs include football, baseball, track, soccer, basketball, softball, and tennis. Opelika City Schools is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Please visit www.opelikaschools.org for more information.
"There is something for everyone." This motto is something the award winning Opelika Parks and Recreation (OPR) department strives to achieve every day with their three recreation locations. You will find state-of-the-art cardio and weights, indoor and outdoor tracks, splash park, indoor and pools, amphitheater, softball, baseball and soccer fields, two gymnasiums, racquetball courts, plus many topnotch, innovative programs, services, activities and classes for every age group, including the disabled and challenged. Being the number one leisure service provider for your family is OPR's top priority. Opelika Parks and Recreation can help you enhance your health, fulfill your fitness goals and fraternize with fun locals from the community. For more information on the many features of OPR, visit www.opelika.org or www.opelikasportsplex.com.
Sports enthusiasts will note that Opelika was named by ESPN Magazine as "Pigskin Heaven" in 1998, noting that there were five major NCAA Division I football schools within easy driving distance, the closest being Auburn University only 10 minutes away. Auburn University and local Southern Union State Community College offer special programs and reduced tuitions for lifelong learners. Such readily available sources of entertainment and educational opportunities led to Opelika being named by Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, as one of the top six places in which to retire. I
If you prefer water sports, Lee County Lake is a great fishing hole, and Lake Saugahatchee is a favorite for canoeing. Speedsters can enjoy skiing at Lake Harding only 20 minutes away or at Lake Martin just 30 minutes away.
So, for those looking for a great weekend getaway or a great place to spend your golden years, you might want to consider "The Big Swamp" - Opelika, Alabama.