Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gem of the Hills - Jacksonville, Alabama

In 1834, the town built on land, once Creek Territory, was named Jacksonville for Andrew Jackson.
Also in 1834, Jacksonville began its storied history in education when the town reserved a one-acre square for a schoolhouse. Over the years, the school developed from the Jacksonville Academy into Jacksonville State Teachers College. Today, known as Jacksonville State University, it is one of Alabama's most prestigious institutes of higher education.
Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, historic Jacksonville truly lives up to its nickname - the Gem of the Hills with its picturesque neighborhoods, the charm of its public square, it beckons to many. Come for a visit, and prepare to make yourself at home! For more information, visit www.jacksonville-al.org.

The Chief Ladiga Trail
Because of their close proximity, the cities of Jacksonville, Piedmont, & Weaver share a location along the Chief Ladiga Trail. It is the state's first extended rails-to-trails project and has provided locals with an excellent family-friendly recreational venue, complete with areas for hiking, mountain biking, and more. The Chief Ladiga Trail currently runs 32.5 miles from the Alabama/Georgia line into the City of Weaver. The City of Anniston recently acquired more land for the trails extension into downtown Anniston. As Alabama’s first Rails to Trails project, this paved recreational trail follows the former Seaboard/CSX Railroad and connects to Georgia’s 63 mile Silver Comet Trail, making Ladiga part of the longest paved rail trail in the U.S. This recreational opportunity can be enjoyed by walkers, bikers, skaters, strollers and more. Beautiful sights like area forests, farmlands, streams and mountains provide picturesque scenery for each and every visit. For more information, visit www.chiefladigatrail.com.
Jacksonville State University
700 Pelham Rd North, Jacksonville, 256-782-5781
With a variety of drama and musical productions, art exhibits, special lecture series and speakers and various sporting events offered throughout the year, Jacksonville State University, the “Gem of the Hills,” is a wonderful source of cultural opportunities for the area. Their continuing education department also offers a variety of courses for personal advancement. For more information, visit www.jsu.edu.

Choccolocco Mountain Off-Road Vehicle Park
1312 Louise Dr SE, Jacksonville, 256-365-0297
This Off-Road Vehicle Park welcomes every type of off-road vehicle, including ATV’s, Side-by-sides, dirt bikes, four wheel drives, rail buggies, and rock crawlers. This 450 acres of forest covered mountains has a vast trail system, with moderate to extreme trails for more advanced vehicles. For more information, visit www. choccoloccomountain.com.

Stoney Brook Golf Course
1505 Country Club Dr SW, Jacksonville, 256-435-3114

This 18 hole par 72 course features 6,296 yards of golf from the long tees, with a slope rating of 115. For more information, visit www.golfstoneybrookgc.com

Monday, December 22, 2014

Piedmont, Alabama

 In 1888, this area was named Piedmont—meaning 'Foot of the Mountains,’ which was pleasing to the people who enjoyed being nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range surrounded with the scenic beauty of mountains and streams. The City of Piedmont has prime real estate as well as the infrastructure necessary for industrial and commercial growth. This area is home to the Chief Ladiga Trail and Terrapin Creek, perfect for any outdoor adventurer, with the Pinhoti Trail not very far away. For more information, visit www.piedmontcity.org.

Eubanks Welcome Center
202 Dailey Street, Piedmont, (256) 447-3363
Built in 1889 for the Eubanks Family as a General Store, it was moved to its current location in 1998 and serves as the Welcome Center for the Chief Ladiga Trail.

Dugger Mountain
Alabama 9, Kings Gap Mountain Road, 256-453-2504
The second highest peak in the state of Alabama is home to hundreds of plants, animals and trails for hiking and more. This part of the Talladega National Forest is the perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts looking for breathtaking scenery. Dugger Mountain is also home to the Dugger Mountain Music Hall, along Highway 9. Each third Saturday night of the month, the doors are opened to welcome the community to enjoy family entertainment at no charge. This show is broadcast on Alabama Public Television each Tuesday night at 10 PM. For more information, visit www.duggermountainmusic.com.

Terrapin Creek
4114 County Rd. 175, Piedmont, 256-447-8383

Canoe or kayak down the beautiful Terrapin Creek, and take in scenery like you’ve never seen. Cool off in the spring feed water, and enjoy fun for the whole family. For more information, visit www.canoeshop.net.

Upcoming Events!
2nd Annual Piedmont Polar Plunge

January 3, 2015
10 A.M.
At Piedmont’s new aquatics center, 500 Mill Street, each January they host a Polar Plunge to benefit a local non-profit supporting area cancer patients, Venecia's Foundation.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Near Atlanta, Near Birmingham, Near Perfect

It's really a short drive from everywhere. 

Situated along I-20, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Calhoun County is near perfect. If one were to throw a dart to choose a destination for natural attractions and historical significance, Calhoun County would be a bull’s eye every time. Almost halfway between Atlanta and Birmingham, Calhoun County isn’t far from Tennessee, Georgia, Florida or Mississippi. “We have invested lots of money and planning into bringing people here to enjoy what we have to offer. We feel like an hour or two’s drive to enjoy all this will definitely be worth the trip,” says Anniston City Councilman Jay Jenkins of Anniston and other municipalities’ joint endeavors and investment in tourism.
County and area leaders have partnered to establish two world-class bike trails in Ladiga and Coldwater, while continuing to preserve the natural beauty and historical districts of the Northeast Alabama Region.
The word is out, and people are coming from across the southeast and United States to find adventure in Calhoun County. Whether interested in arts, outdoor activity like kayaking or biking, retail, dining and shopping or just looking for event facilities, Calhoun County has it all and more. With access to train, major highways, a greyhound station and bike trails, it’s a short and easy trip from everywhere.

Calhoun County is an escape into nature with the mountains, rocks, trails and streams, but it also has the convenience with growing metropolitan municipalities, rich with culture, restaurants, activities and attractions. So, get out and go; hit the trails that highlight the natural grandeur and step back in time to visit our area historic sites. The Southern Hospitality here is unmatched, and the setting seems ideal.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top Desserts for the Sweet Tooth

The Holidays are here, so before the New Year's Resolutions, stop counting calories and enjoy!

Mad Hatter Cupcake Shop
30 Coffee Street, Jacksonville, AL 36265
Just following their Facebook page makes your mouth water. With delectable flavors, like their Rocky Cocky, Snickerdoodle, and this time of year's Buddy the Elf, there are too many choices. Each Tuesday through Saturday, the flavors rotate to offer more to share! Stop by their shop in Jacksonville, and we guarantee that you'll leave with more than one cupcake. They taste as good as they look.

Artisanal Baked Goods
1702 Quintard Avenue, Anniston, AL 36201
After following them on Instagram, you'll stop by every chance you get. They've got delicious cookies, mouthwatering danishes, delish cinnamon rolls and scones, scrumptious cheesecake and finger-licking macarons. Did I mention cookies? The Peanut Butter and Ginger cookies are to die for! Check out there shop next to Mata's at 1702 Quintard Avenue, in Anniston.

Smallcakes Cupcakery 
100 Ali Way, Oxford, AL 36203
Their shop is adorable, located in the shopping center behind Logan's, across from the Quintard Mall. They are always crafting up daring flavors, like "Holiday Spice Cake," pecan pie, Kentucky Bourbon, etc. They also make cookie sandwiches and icing shots with extra icing. You can't go wrong with extra icing, especially theirs. Stop by after your trip to the mall. Walking the mall equals exercising, anyway.

Java Jolt Coffeehouse
5 Public Square, Jacksonville, AL 36265
Their baker always has new yummy recipes up her sleeves, and the desserts are no exception. Their morning muffins are delicious enough to be a dessert, especially the Cappuccino Chocolate with its brown sugar crystallized topping. Everyone raves about their Coconut Cake, their peanut butter brownies, and pretty much anything they choose to dish out, including their barista's drinks. Drop by this charming shop, and you won't regret it!

Check out our list of many other great shops and restaurants at http://www.visitcalhouncounty.com/where_to_eat. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Experience Anniston, Alabama

Calhoun County is filled with historic spots, including homes, battle grounds, stores and more.
Anniston's history began after the Civil War, when the Tyler and Noble families designed a key industrial element to the New South in 1872. The town grew surrounding the Woodstock Iron Company and cotton mill.
Originally a private company town, Anniston Opened to a broader public in 1883, attracting more commercial and industrial activity. Large magnificent Victorian homes like those on Tyler Hill, some of which still stand, were built. These beautiful homes now include the Parker House Bed and Breakfast, with it's Gothic-like exterior of red brick, Bavarian artisan interior woodworking, French Glass, and cathedral like stained glass.
In 1882, a native sandstone Gothic Structure, executing the cedar, brass and stone architectural theme of Solomon's Temple, formed Grace Episcopal Church.
Between 1888 and 1891, native stone, Italian wood and beautiful lancet stained glass constructed Parker Memorial Baptist Church.
One of the most popular sites is St. Michael and All Angels. This church was built in 1888, with Romanesque style architecture, featuring hand-carved stonework, a 95 foot bell tower, memorial windows, an Italian marble altar and hand-carved interior trusses.
In 1891, the town's only Jewish synagogue was dedicated, Temple Beth El, with its arched transom doorways and high gable roof.
Many Downtown buildings, also date back to the late 1800s, including the Peerless Saloon with its history from the St. Louis World's Fair.
May 14, 1961, the Freedom Riders attack occurred in Downtown Anniston, and now, at the former Greyhound Bus Station at 1031 Gurnee Ave., a painted mural and panels recap the days events and happenings with photographs and witness accounts. There is also a mural for the "Other Bus" the Trailways Bus that followed, painted on the corner of 9th and Noble.
A Freedom Riders Park is being developed along Hwy 202, the former Atlanta-Birmingham Hwy, where the Bus Burning occurred.
Anniston is also home to the Anniston Museum of Natural History, the Berman Museum of World History, as well as the former Fort McClellan.
Anniston is rich in historical sites. Visit www.VisitCalhounCounty.com for more information.