Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The countdown to New Year's is on in 3... 2... 1...

This New Year's is packed with events! Which will you choose?

Midnight Masquerade
This inaugural black-tie ball benefits the Anniston Museum of Natural History and features the Fountain City Players, open bar and heavy hor d'oeuvres. Masks are available at the Museum Gift Shop, so snag one and dress in your best! Call 256-237-6766 for more information.

Fire on the Mountain
This year, Cheaha State Park celebrates the last sunset of 2017 from Alabama's highest peak, with live music from Bluegrass Connection and more! Call (256)488-5115 for more information.

New Year's Speakeasy
Roar in the New Year with the Peerless Saloon & Grills, with drink specials each hour, New Year's Dinner, party favors and a champagne toast. For more information, call 256-238-1899.

The Roaring 20s New Year's Eve
Join Cheaha Brewing Company for live music, beginning at 7 PM and ring in the New Year Roaring 20s style. For more information, call 256-770-7300.

Rack & Roll New Year's  
Join Rack & Roll Billiards for live music from Back Road South, giveaways and drinks at midnight! For more information, call 256-624-6434. 

New Years Ride!
Each year, NEABA (Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association) hosts a ride, departing from Wig's Wheels at 10 am for Coldwater Mountain.

First Day Hike
Both Desoto State Park and Cheaha State Park are hosting first day hikes, encouraging visitors to enjoy their parks year round, promote good health, and exercising those holiday calories.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Ways to Enjoy Winter in Calhoun County

Although the south isn't known for winter, we do have a brisk season, but that doesn't stop us from exploring. 

Museums & Gardens 
Whether you are a history buff or science nerd, Anniston's Museums & Gardens has something for everyone. From family programing and events to standard museum tours, displays span the globe, from "Live Salty" Oceans to Egyptians and Safari, or from Napoleon to the World Wars and Asian arts.

Performing Arts 
From Oxford Performing Arts Center to the Knox Concert Series, CAST, CharActers and Jacksonville State University Drama & Music, there's so much to see!

Mountain Biking 
Run from the snowy slopes to our rolling hillsides and bundle up for this "Disney World" for mountain bikers. From Coldwater Mountain to local trails like Henry Farm and Black Creek Trails, we've got something for every skill level!

Whether you're shopping for a last minute holiday gift or needing some retail therapy after the holiday rush, we've got great local unique boutiques as well as a selection of national retail chains. 

If you are getting cabin fever, hit the trails! We've got great distance trails as well as leisure loops to get you out of the house for as long as you need.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

24 Hours for foodies in Oxford

Calhoun County's tagline is near Atlanta, near Birmingham, near perfect! Ideally positioned along I-20, Oxford is a great pit-stop for those I-20 treks. With it's rich culinary scene, it's more than ideal for any meal, so here's a few suggestions.

Southern Girl Coffee 
31 E Choccolocco Street
Local girl Leah Cleghorn fills downtown Oxford with the mouth-watering scent of fresh roasted coffee, which she brews and serves from her food truck alongside delectable cinnamon rolls, cheese rolls and more treats.

Hubbard's Off Main
16 E Choccolocco Street
Just across the street from Southern Girl, you'll find the quaint Hubbard's Off Main, who serves up quite the spread for Sunday Brunch, featuring southern staples, salads and dessert.

Garfrerick's Cafe
655 Creekside Drive 
From 11 am to 2 pm each Sunday, this farm to table restaurant dishes out their seasonal crops, which sometimes includes but is not limited to Sweet Potato Brownies, stewed tomatoes, squash casserole, various salads, and more.

Los Mex
1936 US 78 
You can always tell by the community crowd that this place is well liked. Featuring dishes like enchiladas and chimichangas, their Sopa de Pollo is
regarded as some of the best.

Brad's Bar-B-Que
1809 US 78
This family run establishment is known for its barbeque and catfish. With its laid back setting, its no wonder that it's a local favorite for lunch and dinner.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Making Memories

For affordable family fun or to begin new holiday traditions, look no further!

Each year the Museum League hosts "Homes for the Holidays," a fundraiser and self-guided holiday homes tour. This year's event is December 5th, from 11 AM to 7 PM.

December 7th, "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!" Due to the forecast, the cities of Piedmont and Anniston have had to reschedule their parades for Thursday, December 7th, which happens to also be the night of the Oxford Parade and Christmas in Choccolocco Concert.

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" Holiday music fills the air, beginning with LeAnn Rimes at OPAC, to the JSU Drama Department's Benefit Christmas Concert, A Jazzy Joy to the World at St. Michael's or Christmas with the Annie Moses Band at OPAC.

Cinematic Christmas Classics may run on loop, interrupted by continuous commercials, so why not bring a can good donation to OPAC for their 4th Annual Christmas Movie Festival, featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Elf, Christmas Vacation, The Grinch (with Jim Carrey, and A Christmas Story.

On top of all this, the Museums are offering family programming for the holidays, and Cheaha State Park is hosting several holiday themed events! #OptOutside your comfort zone and norm to begin some new holiday traditions!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

24 Hours for foodies in Jacksonville

College towns, especially in the south, are known for food, so where does one begin if they’re a foodie in Jacksonville?

Java Jolt not only pours some fabulous and pretty cups of joe, but they dish out delectable scones, muffins, sandwiches and much more! Our personal fav is the cappuccino chocolate muffin, with it’s sugar crystal-like topping. Don’t forget to order a dark chocolate mocha to “cut the sweetness” of the cupcake, we mean muffin.  They do have hot tea and delicious apple cinnamon scones, if you enjoy more of an English breakfast.

Sundays are always better with a brunch. Don’t take our word for it, but locals will tell you that Effina’s serves up some great quiche. They’re coffee and appetizers are fabulous too, including they’re Alabama Field Green Salad, complete with toasted pecans and feta!

If you’re looking for a quick bite before kickoff, head over to a southern college town staple, Momma Goldbergs! These steamed sandwiches will help you make it through a sweep or a nail biter ballgame. We suggest the signature Momma’s Love with a side of nachos.

Brand new to Jacksonville but well known around Calhoun County, Wiseguys Pizzeria and Bar has been recognized time and time again for having some of the county’s best pizza. Everyone raves about their Chicago style Don. So during a late night study cram session or after a game, head to the square’s newest hot spot!

Jacksonville has many other great restaurants that dish a variety of foods, from BBQ and wings to Tex-mex and more! Browse a longer list at www.VisitCalhounCounty.com!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Plans

 While this week may be packed with family time and feasting, if you need to get out of the house, don't forget to review our calendar of events.

Showcase Local Treasures
This Wednesday, families can enjoy a tour and programming at the Anniston Museum of Natural History, with their "Native American: Hands on History." This program shares the myths of how the bunny got its tail, a deer its horns, and the opossum a smile. Attending children will also be able to create a paper mosaic, hear stories, see live animals and more.

Earn a Feast
Before you dig into the Thanksgiving Feast, start a tradition of the Plucked Turkey 10K in Golden Springs!

Wake Up
One usually becomes drowsy after a big feast, so it'd be a great time for a walk around Oxford Lake, Choccolocco Park, Ladiga, etc.

Weekend Adventures
From Rappelling to Backpacking and adventures for man's best friend, Desoto State Park is packed with events to follow Thanksgiving.

Post Turkey
If running, walking, and hiking weren't enough, join a crew at Coldwater Mountain Bike Trails for a Post Turkey ride.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Theatre Talks: CAST presents Annie

"We Think You're Gonna Like it Here!" 
Carrie Colton grew up in Salt Lake, and her years of education in both acting and directing also included professional gigs with touring productions, even overseas. Lucky for us, job opportunities in Jacksonville State University's Department of Drama brought Carrie to Calhoun County. This November 16-19, Carrie brings CAST's production of Annie, the family favorite musical set in the 1930s, to life at the Anniston Performing Arts Center.

How did you get involved in CAST? 
CAST Kidz got me involved in CAST! I love children's theatre, and once I got here, I looked up the nearest place for children's theatre.

What’s the development of this production of Annie been like? 
There are so many pieces to string together, and with such a large cast! We have a cast of over 100 people! The development has been slow. 

What’s it like to work with so many kids? 
I love working with the kids, and they are all doing an amazing job. Kids have the best imaginations, and they are therefore always the best actors. They love playing pretend, and it's so fun watching them get into this story.
What is it about this production that you are the most excited about? 
I am most excited about all the community involvement that went into it. We have actors from all over! Some of my best friends are helping out and some new faces. Theatre always brings the best of people to one place! I love that! Anniston is everywhere in this show! So cool!

Why do you think this show continues resonate with audiences of all ages and remain popular? 
You can't help but love this show. It's so fun and cute and heartwarming. Annie is also the ideal of what we all want to be, and so we LOVE her. Ramsey and Vivian are both exceptional Annies. I cannot wait for the audience to fall in love with them. 

This show’s music is popular on and off stage. What’s your favorite Annie song and why? 
"Hooverville" is totally my favorite song. I love it because we forget that Annie was friends with the poorest of the poor and fought for them way before she met Warbucks. It's a political song that's all about the people who were really hurting during the depression. It's fun, and Annie's exposure to them only helps her continue to find the good in life!

In 7 words or less, why should everyone come see Annie?
Heartwarming, Powerful, Festive, and deeply moving night of theatre!
 If you're looking for a few hours of entertainment and family fun, "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile," so let this production of Annie in "Annie's Town" warm your heart and get you on your feet. Showtimes are 7:30 P.M. on Thursday, November 16, Friday, November 17, and Saturday November 18, and 2:30 PM on Sunday, November 19. Get tickets online through castalabama.com.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

24 hours for FOODIES in Anniston

Anniston's restaurants are full of great food and rich history. From Alabama's oldest operating saloon to some of the "Best Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die," Anniston has a variety of culinary experiences, blending quintessential southern cuisine with even international influences. 

Breakfast/Brunch: Classic Too is a great meeting place along Anniston's historic thoroughfare Noble Street, complete with various coffees biscuits and more! Although, if you're here on a Sunday, it's of the utmost importance that you try Classic on Noble's famous brunch. Complete with one of Alabama's 100 dishes to eat before you die, Shrimp and Grits, there's every salad to choose from, numerous desserts, entrees, omelets, kids snacks and more.

Lunch: AL.com recently voted on Alabama's Best Pizza, and decided Anniston's own Mata's Greek Pizza and Grinders take the title. This is Anniston staple is quite popular amongst locals, so it's suggested that you call in your Mata's Special for it to be ready when you arrive.

Dinner & After Hours Fun: Alabama's oldest operating saloon is alive and well. The Peerless Saloon and Grille dishes out local favorites like their Cuban, fish tacos, and more. They also feature live music several nights a week and offer great event space for celebrations.

There are so many great restaurants, and it would be extremely hard to hit them all in 24 hours. So, if you're around for more than a day, look to our restaurant list for some more flavors and options in and around Anniston. From our local bakery, Artisanal Baked Goods and their fresh Friday pretzels to an extremely busy Betty's BBQ lunch, everything is full of flavor. Local chains like Dad's BBQ and Top O' The River also serve up southern favorites like hearty fried green tomatoes and catfish with greens. Local favorites like Thai One On and Effina's serve up flavorful fusion dishes, like drunken noodles and tiramisu. If farm to table is your thing, Rosie's Gourmet 2 Go also has dine in options, including their delicious chicken salad. Local hot spots like Rack & Roll offer up billiards, entertainment and delectable food. Then, you also have dinner with a view at The High Pointe

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Wanna Learn to Mountain Bike?

Calhoun County, Alabama is and is becoming even more of a mountain bike destination. With Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail plus Henry Farm and Iron Legs, plus the development of McClellan, as well as nearby Black Creek and Cheaha, we're surrounded by reasons you should give mountain biking a try.
There are trails for every skill level.
From basic downhills and climbs like Baby Bear to Bomb Dog, gravity trails and everything in between, there is more than 35 miles of trails at Coldwater alone. The rolling hillsides with giant boulders and rock features can be as easy or as difficult as you'd like. We're near Atlanta, near Birmingham, near perfect for a weekend getaway.
From local bike shops like Wig's Wheels and Fun Wheels to our local rails to trails project at the Ladiga Trail, everything is located in close proximity to our downtown areas, restaurants, hotels, and other attractions.
Luckily, Alabama has a mild winter, meaning it's great for trail riding year round. Anytime is a good time to hit the trails.
It's fun!
The great thing about cycling is, even though it's exercise, it's fun. It's also judgement free, as we've all been a beginner, and most cyclists are encouraging of newbies. Get the gear, learn the basics, and have fun!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Rewarding Hikes

Calhoun County and surrounding areas are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Trails abound, and some are easy and still offer the breathtaking view reward.

Bald Rock
At Cheaha State Park, the Doug Ghee Accessible Trail to Bald Rock offers an elevated handicap accessible 1,520 ft walkway to Alabama's highest point. The trail also has benches along the way and multiple access points to side trails. This 1/4 mile trail is easy and accessible to everyone.

Pulpit Rock
Also at Cheaha State Park, this .6 mile trail is an out and back trail good for all skill levels. There is a slight elevation change, but it's accessible year-round.

Baby Bear
Coldwater Mountain is home to mountain bike haven, but it's also great for hiking. The baby bear is the shortest and easiest loop, about 1.1. miles with gradual rollers.

Desoto State Park
This park offers a variety of trails and difficulties, but the Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail is a 360 yard trail for people of all abilities.

Little River Canyon
From the Visitors Center, there are several trail options, including the family friendly "Path to Learning Trail," with information geared toward school programs.

In Calhoun County, there's so much to explore outdoors. Learn more at VisitCalhounCounty.com.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

It feels like home!

Known as the "friendliest campus in the south," Jacksonville State University welcomes home the Gamecocks this October for Homecoming! Complete with parades, tailgates and activities, campus is buzzing for Hoco 2017!

October 24-
- Harvest Festival -  4:30-7 p.m. 
Families are invited to bring their children to trick or treat the quad. 

October 26- 
J-Day - 2-6 p.m. 
Come out to the Theron Montgomery Building Lawn for this field day of relay races, music and free food
- Homecoming Pep Rally - 8 p.m. 
Join us as we crown the 2017 Homecoming King and Queen. Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.

October 28
- Gamecock Gallop 5K - 8 a.m. -
- Homecoming Parade - 10:30 a.m. -
- Football Game - 3 p.m. - 
Gamecock Football vs. Southeast Missouri, with a halftime presentation of Alumni of Year and Homecoming Court winners. 

There's so much more, so make plans Gamecock Fans! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Do you wish to go to the festival?"

It's October, and Fall Fests are in full swing.
OxfordFest always kicks off the month, the first Saturday of each October, shutting down Historic Downtown Oxford, bringing in hundreds of vendors and thousands of visitors. This annual arts and crafts festival also features like music, food, kids activities and fun for all ages.
Cheaha State Park hosts their annual Chili Cook-off, aka "Chill-o-ween" and Salsa Challenge. At the Bald Rock Lodge, to go along with the tasty treats, there will be folk music, storytelling, haunted hikes, games, crafts and more.
The Anniston Museum of Natural History also hosts an annual Fall Fest. This year's fest features the museums "creepy crawlers," the Sensory Safari, a haunted Bird of Prey Trail, face painting, hay rides, costume contests and more!
Fall also means it's time for the Coldwater Mountain FatTire Fest, featuring demo bikes, beer garden, poker ride, vendors, guided rides, and more!
From JSU Football to OPAC and Knox Concert performances and much more, October is packed with excitement!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fall into Adventures with your BFFs

Looking for something fun to do with friends over the weekend? Look no further...

  • North Alabama Wine Trail
Enjoy tastings with six Appalachian wineries, including: Albertville's Jules J. Berta, Anniston's White Oak Vineyards, Attalla's Wills Creek Vineyards, Fruithurst Winery Co., Heflin's High Country Cellars, and Hokes Bluff's Maraella Winery. Each winery stamps your "passport," and once it's filled, submit it to receive your commemorative gift. 
  • Aim for Par or Bullseye
From the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail to the award winning Cider Ridge, take in the perfect temps, changing leaves and autumn breeze while hitting the links. If golf isn't your thing, the Civilian Marksmanship Program offers indoor air rifle range or their Marksmanship Park, featuring sporting clays, shotgun fields and rifle & pistol ranges.

  • Hike & Bike 
    • Calhoun County is blessed to have so much outdoor recreation. From the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trails to the highest point in Alabama at Cheaha State Park, there is so much to experience in the fall. If camping is your thing, we recommend pedalling up the Ladiga Trail toward the Alabama Georgia Line, and near the Ladiga Campground, between miles 6 and 7, you'll find the Pinhoti Trail, a 338 mile trail connecting to the Appalachian Trail. 

    • Test Time 
    Test your problem solving skills and try out Oxford's interactive live escape room, Escape Zone! It's a fun way to encourage communication and try to breakout of the room in 60 seconds or less. 

    Saturday, September 30, 2017

    Sounds of Fall

    For 60 years, as football season approaches, the echos of the drumline signal the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners are ready to take the field. Some locals "sneak" into practice to admire the sound of around 500 musicians, color guard and marching ballerinas, or drive around town with their windows down to take in the sounds of the Southerners.

    Although the first band for JSU was formed around 1923, and the first full time band director did not start until 1948, in the fall of 1956, the Marching Southerners and Ballerinas made their official debut.
    The Marching Southerners' unique sound reminds one more of a orchestra than a typical marching band. Their unique sound is packed with trumpets, bass trombones and 20-J tubas. Their look is military-like in precision and artistic in formations.

    The Marching Southerners have played in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee and on the U.S.S. Missouri for the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Crowds rise to their feet in applause after each and every performance. Once you see them perform, in person, you'll understand why they're regarded as one of the best marching bands in the land.

    Thursday, September 14, 2017

    Drop the Keys

    Calhoun County is blessed to have the longest paved rail to trail project in the US running through its heart, connecting the cities of Piedmont, Jacksonville, Weaver and Anniston. Cities like Anniston and Oxford are developing bike share plans that include bike routes and lanes. In the meantime, you can see much of our County while staying on your bike.
    Our part of the trail picks up 13 miles outside  Piedmont at the State Line, where it connects to Georgia's Silver Comet trail leading into Smyrna.
    The City of Piedmont maintains this entire section, which wanders through and along the edge of the Talladega National Forest and includes beautiful views of Terrapin Creek, intersects with the Pinhoti Hiking Trail and surrounds you with picturesque landscapes including Dugger Mountain. As you enter Piedmont, trail users frequent the Eubanks Welcome Center, for the facilities or the hospitality and history one finds there. The trail runs through Piedmont's quaint downtown, which includes the infamous Solid Rock Cafe, with it's delicious occasional Sunday buffet, menu favorites like Chicken Salad, and the always refreshing Powerade slushie.
    Continuing for about ten miles, trail users make their way to Jacksonville, via Germania Springs Park. The trail then enters the campus of Jacksonville State University, just a few hundred yards from many notable restaurants like Cooter Brown's Rib Shack, Effina's, Java Jolt and much more! Along the trail, the Jacksonville Train Depot, much like Eubanks, is another stop that trail users frequent for facilities and may be asked to sign in for tracking trail visitors.
    Making their way to the south, trail users pass the Jacksonville Community Center, Jacksonville's Kitty Stone Elementary and Jacksonville High, before entering Weaver. Near the community center as well as the schools, users will notice trail spurs for locals to use in safely accessing the trails. As they cross Weaver's Main Street, users will notice Elwell Park, complete with parking adjacent to Weaver's Police Station, a great trail head if trail users plan to leave their car over night.
    While the trail currently goes a short distance into Anniston, plans have been developed to continue the trail to what was once Fort McClellan via a spur as well as completing the old rail-bed to the downtown area, connecting users to Amtrak's Cresent Line Route in Anniston as well as the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trails.

    In addition, as one may notice on Strava and other route tracking apps, there are also several road routes area cyclist frequent, including the Dugger Mountain Wilderness, DeArmanville and Golden Springs, Skyline Drive at Cheaha State Park and much more. 

    Friday, September 8, 2017


    Calhoun County is surrounded by nature, hints the tagline "natural attraction," so where sound your adventures begin?
    The Chief is a family oriented pathway that wanders 33 miles through the countryside of Calhoun and Cleburne counties and it connects the municipalities of Piedmont, Jacksonville, Weaver and Anniston.
    Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail
    Coldwater Mountain is a series of flow trails designed and built by the International Mountain Biking Association. The current more than 35 miles of trail can be accessed via Coldwater Road or Monsanto Road.
    Terrapin Creek
    Looking for a peaceful float, check out No Worries Kayaks. They rent out kayaks, shuttle you to Terrapin Creek, and help you unload and load your kayaks.
    White Oak Vineyards
    White Oak Vineyards, producer of Southern Oak Wines, is located in beautiful Choccolocco Valley near Anniston and I-20, offering tastings each weekend. 
    Blackberry Hill Alpacas
    This 60 acre farm also has a gift shop and opens for field trips and more! 
    This private ranch does ask visitors to call before visiting, but they're happy to serve the Southeast with "America's Original Red Meat." Grass-fed/pastured. 
    Open for the month of October, Bennett Farms is a fourth generation farm with pumpkins, farm animals, corn crib, hay rides, pipe slides, and much more!
     All this plus parks and more make for a way to opt outside, explore outdoor and see the world.

    Monday, September 4, 2017

    Date Night

    You've got your typical dinner and a movie, but what are some fun unique date night alternatives?
    Test Your Team
    One of the newest attractions in Oxford is Escape Zone, a 60 minute escape room. How long will it take your team to solve the clues and breakout? It's a good way to test how well you work with others, too.
    Seats for a Show
    Between the Knox Concert Series and the Oxford Performing Arts Center, Broadway and Grammy talent takes the stage, bringing world renowned talent to our back yard.
    Enjoy Events
    This fall includes great events like Sudsfest and JSU football, which make for an entertaining time with food and fun!
    Don't know what you want to eat? We've got a great list of diverse culinary choices constantly being updated at www.VisitCalhounCounty.com.