Breanna Hill, A&E Editor
Jacksonville State University is nestled in the beautiful Gem of the Hills, and no area of the city seems to be lacking in beauty, fun or food. You’re moving to an unfamiliar city and I’m sure you’re curious about what Jacksonville really has to offer.
Let me tell you, the Gem of the Hills really does live up to the hype. Jacksonville is fortunate enough to have the feel of a small town without having to suffer what most small towns have to deal with: lack of eateries and fun activities to partake in. Since the university is a huge part of the town, Jacksonville has long ago adapted for students and the rest that reside here in the city. There are seemingly endless possibilities when it comes to eating.
Right when you enter Jacksonville on Alabama Highway 21, you can see on both sides the various fast food establishments standing, inviting you in to satisfy your latest cravings. Jacksonville pretty much has it all—Wendy’s, Bojangles, McDonald’s, Burger King—the list goes on and on. On August 8, Chick-fil-A opened their doors to the Jacksonville community and Calhoun Steakhouse plans to open their doors later in the Fall.
If fast food isn’t what you are looking for, try visiting some of the eateries such as Coop Deville. Every Jacksonville State student needs to experience Coop DeVille at some point. Coop has cheap, delicious choices and great service. Definitely make sure to check it off your list; it won’t disappoint. If you’re looking for something more filling, and more upscale, never fear, Jacksonville has you covered there too. Just a little way down the road from the beautiful campus we have Effina’s (a fabulous Tuscan grill). There’s also Strut’s, Yamato Steak House of Japan, Jimmy John’s, Jefferson’s, etc. The possibilities are endless!
The on-campus food establishments are just as incredible as the off-campus ones. There are going to be times throughout your college career that you’ll have the perfect schedule with the breaks that you wanted to implement, which gives you enough time between classes to run off campus and try one of the many off-campus selections, but every now and then your schedule will be tight only giving you a small window of time for a lunch break and you’ll have to stay on campus. Don’t worry. The campus has incredible dining options that satisfy every student’s inner foodie. The Jack Hopper Dining Hall, which is located on the quad, serves as a buffet style eating establishment. It has something for everyone and it always manages to leave you full and ready for the rest of your day.
Of course, if you’re not in the mood for that or you just want to grab something quick there’s always the TMB food court, complete with Freshens, Chick-Fil-A, Mein Bowl and Simply To Go. You can also find WOW! Café on campus, right beside Jack Hopper. There’s also a one-stop shop in the library known as Jazzman’s Café and Bakery with a large menu with items like sandwiches, soups, sushi, endless drink choices and of course, and of course, the much needed lifeline, coffee.
Jacksonville State students frequent Mad Hatter Cupcakes which is located in the square. Best. Cupcakes. Ever. It is definitely the best place for anybody who has a love for cupcakes or has a sweet tooth in general. Directly across from Mad Hatter’s you can find Java Jolt, the coffee shop. Not only does Java Jolt have incredible coffee that serves as several students’ pick-me-up, it also has a lounging/studying area for students. The atmosphere in both establishments are warm and welcoming, and the service is never anything but marvelous. These two places are definitely a must when it comes to experiencing all that Jacksonville has to offer. You can find boutiques such as Swank Boutique and other shops in the square. Again, something for everybody. There are also numerous events that take place year round, one of the most popular being the farmer’s market that takes place every Saturday.
Now that you know Jacksonville isn’t lacking when it comes to the food department, let’s talk about what else this town has to offer. In the heart of Jacksonville, you can find the square. The square has all sorts of businesses to suit everybody.
This past year, Jacksonville also partnered up with a biking service called VeoRide. You’re able to find the bikes on campus and in the center of the square. The bike riding service is fairly popular and very beneficial for those who are looking to save gas money. Make sure to take advantage of VeoRide and check out the natural beauty that surrounds our campus.
The natural beauty surrounding Jacksonville is truly phenomenal, and it contributed immensely when the town was given the nickname Gem of the Hills. This city really is a dream for anybody who loves admiring nature and the beauty of it. There are plenty of places for hikers and bikers to use and admire, one of the most well-known being the Chief Ladiga Trail. Residents of Jacksonville, Alabama have taken advantage of the Chief Ladiga trail that runs right through the city (and conveniently right through campus). The 33-mile-long asphalt trail runs through Calhoun and Cleburne counties. The asphalt trail is smooth, which enables for a safe and fun bike riding experience and serves as a great walking trail as well. The best thing about it though is that dogs are allowed on it, with a leash of course.
To admire even more natural beauty surrounding the Jacksonville area you could make the short trek to the Chimney Peak here in Jacksonville. Who doesn’t love a good hike up the mountain to see a beautifully breathtaking view?
There are endless trails and endless hidden gems to discover throughout Jacksonville. Attending Jacksonville State University will give you the perfect opportunity to explore and be even more adventurous. JSU is lucky to have such a place to call home. This university has what most unfortunately lack: a valued sense of community. It really will be a place you can call home away from home.
Photo courtesy of Matt Reynolds/JSU