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Auburn, Ala., is Kicking Butt and Takin' Names

by Gregg Tillington

It's easy to love and easy to get to; it's a great place to raise a family and, according to Forbes.com, it's one of the top 20 cities in the U.S. for business and careers. Auburn, Ala., is a cool college town that has something for every age.

The Traditions

One of Auburn's oldest and most prominent traditions is football. Thousands of Tigers fans swarm the popular city intersection known as Toomer's Corner after an Auburn University victory to hurl rolls of toilet paper into the air. The celebration is a paper blizzard and leaves nearby trees, lamp posts and buildings blanketed in white tissue. Odd as it may sound, Auburn is the only city in the country with a line item in its budget for removing toilet paper.

The Great Outdoors

Four miles south of Auburn is Chewacla State Park, 696 scenic acres that include hiking and biking trails, campgrounds, grills, cabins, playgrounds and picnic areas. Bollards protect a marina that connects the 26-acre lake to prospective pedal boarders and pedal boaters, and there are ample opportunities to play, swim and fish. Visitors can enjoy nature in this pet-friendly park that's open year-round.

Auburn has beautiful golf courses too; most notably is the Grand National, which sits alongside 600-acre Lake Saugahatchee. Robert Trent Jones, a famous golf course architect who designed numerous courses in the U.S. and around the world, called Grand National the "single greatest site for a golf course" he'd ever seen, according to Rtjgolf.com. It has been ranked as the topic public golf course in the 2009 Golf World Readers' Choice awards and has received many other accolades since it opened in 1992.

The Economy

Auburn recently ranked 17th in Forbes 2012 rankings of "The Best Small Places for Business and Careers" in the country. It boasts a stellar education system, solid employment rates, a relatively low cost of living and a bright future concerning job growth, and this isn't the first time Auburn has made the list.

>"It's reinforced the fact that we're creating jobs here," Philip Dunlap, director of economic development for the city, told The Auburn Plainsman. "We're diversifying the economy and creating opportunities within Auburn."

The university plays a large role in the local economy, as well as the technology and bio-science industries. The unemployment rate in Auburn is 5.6 percent, nearly 2 percent less than the nation's average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many people choose to call Auburn home while they make their living online, too. A healthy economy and below-average unemployment rates translate into a happy city with lots to do!

The Quality of Life

Eleven years ago, right after 9/11, Esquire magazine listed Toomer's lemonade in its "162 Reasons It's Good to be an American." The iconic drugstore where this tart and refreshing drink is concocted has been a part of Auburn's history for more than 100 years. Toomer's Drugstore is the only business that has occupied the historic street corner since 1896.

Other Auburn favorites? The annual Auburn CityFest, the city's largest outdoor spring festival, where tens of thousands gather to enjoy delicious food and family-friendly fun. And lastly, there's Mrs. Story's Dairy Bar, a '50s-style walk-up fast-food favorite that serves unforgettable chili dogs and milkshakes.

Gregg Tillington Although Gregg isn't a huge fan of flying on planes, he realizes it's a small price to pay for an incredible life as a travel blogger.

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