I can’t even begin to explain how much Green Lakes State Park means to me. Located in Upstate New York, I’ve always feel completely at ease when I’m walking around its grounds. It feels so weird to say that about a place, but it’s true. Over my four years of college, it’s the place I would head whenever I needed to clear my mind, and I found myself spending more and more time there each year. If I had a rough day, did poorly on a test or couldn’t stand being in a house of five girls anymore, I’d just get in the car and head to the lake. I even started recruiting friends to skip class and come with me (oops). I’m not a huge believer in Zodiac signs, it all seems a little crazy to me, but the more I think about it, the more it kinda does make sense. I’m a Cancer, a water sign, and it’s always been the water that’s made me feel the most at peace. So it only makes sense that it felt like a real treat to go for my run around the lake rather than inside a stuffy gym, or to turn off my phone and lay out in the warm sun and look out over the beautiful blue (yes, blue, I still don’t get that) water. There are few places that feel more like home to me, and that’s saying a lot. Honestly, everyone should have a space like this, and it was one of the hardest things to leave behind when I moved to Alabama.
With this being said, you can imagine my excitement this past month when I found a similar space on Lake Martin, only 30 minutes away from Auburn (where I currently live). With an uncanny resemblance to Green Lakes, DARE Power Park is slightly smaller and offers less in terms of trails, but echoes the same blue waters and white sands, and offers a peaceful getaway (particularly in the off-season).
I’m honestly not even sure how I stumbled upon it. Our landlord told us about Lake Martin when we moved in, the closest lake to the city, and I think I did some research on public access. I may be opening a can of worms, and I’m sure the locals won’t enjoy me sharing this information, but this is such a beautiful space I just had to!
The park offers plenty of beachfront to sprawl out and crack open a good read (if you’re a bookworm like me), and enjoy a friendly shout from a passerby on a pontoon boat. I have to say the thing I love most about Alabama is just how friendly the people are, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you make a couple new friends during your trip. One woman came up to me to chat about the book I was reading (Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly- I highly recommend!), and another elderly couple dropped by to talk about none other than, highly stereotypical but true- the weather. Not to mention the two children that frolicked in the water 5 feet from me the entire afternoon (not my favorite part of the day, I will admit).
If you’re looking to stretch your legs and take a walk, there’s a small pedestrian bridge leading over to a few picnic benches and pavilions that you can rent out for parties and other special occasions. The only rules the park has are no pets and no booze!!
Access to the park is free, but note that between Labor Day and Memorial Day, the park is only open weekends. In the summer months, feel free to visit the park daily 🙂
What other hidden gems am I missing in the Auburn/Opelika/Montgomery areas? If you have the inside scoop, feel free to share!