How to plan a perfect weekend getaway at Auburn’s Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center


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(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Just two hours southeast of Birmingham lies Auburn—“The Loveliest Village On The Plains”. Already regarded as a foodie destination (and for good reason) Auburn is now home to the Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center—a bustling academic building with a state-of-the-art restaurant, five-star hotel, delectable food hall and so much more.

Keep reading to learn about everything you can do at the Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center!

About the Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center

The Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center is one of the newest—and biggest—buildings in the city of Auburn. Opened in late 2022, the center is home to the college’s School of Hospitality Management. Students in the School of Hospitality Management utilize the building’s educational resources, such as a brewing science lab, a coffee roastery, a spirit distillery and much more.

However, the Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center is more than just an educational facility. The building is home to the Laurel Hotel & Spa, a world-class hotel with luxurious rooms & suites, a spa, a rooftop pool and more. In addition, guests can enjoy a delicious meal at 1856, an upscale tasting-menu-only teaching restaurant that features an ever-changing culinary experience with a nationally acclaimed chef.

Keep reading to see how you can plan the perfect weekend getaway at Auburn’s Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center.

1. Stay & Relax

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(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

The centerpiece of the Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center is The Laurel Hotel & Spa—an exciting, one-of-a-kind lifestyle hotel and dining destination in the heart of Auburn. Think of the Laurel Hotel & Spa as your “home base” from which to enjoy all of the experiences that Auburn has to offer.

The Laurel Hotel offers a collection of 26 accommodations with:

  • Unparalleled scenic views of Auburn, unveiled by remote-controlled blackout curtains
  • Pristine bath amenities and five-fixture bathrooms
  • A sleek, modern design with stunning wooden accents and luxurious bedding & linens
  • A 55-inch TV and complimentary wifi

The five-star treatment doesn’t end at your room. Once you’ve settled in, you can relax and unwind with a holistic spa experience at The Laurel Spa. The Spa includes a salt room, massage rooms, a wellness shop, an all-encompassing selection of natural skincare and opulent massage treatments as well as fitness and meditation options.

2. Eat

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(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

We all know that Auburn is a foodie destination—but did you know that you can find internationally-inspired food options all under one roof at the Hey Day Market?

For nearly 80 years, the Auburn family has continued the beloved tradition of Hey Day—a day dedicated to unifying students, faculty and alumni into one big Auburn family. The Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Center pays homage to this tradition with the Hey Day Market, a multi-concept food hall.

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(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

At the Hey Day Market, you’ll find nine unique & creative vendors, including:

  • Khoodles — Malaysian street noodle and rice bowls, boba tea drinks and more inspired by family recipes passed down by generations.
  • La Cubanita — These classic Cuban sandwiches—served with plantain chips and traditional Cuban drinks—will make you feel transported to old Havana.
  • Little Darling — All-American burgers, sandwiches, fries and hand-spun milkshakes.
  • Loud Roots — Build your own colorful and nutritional bowl or smoothie at this concept.
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(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)
  • Pizzeria Ariccia — With recipes hailing straight from Ariccia, Italy, this old world artisanal pizza shop will show you how pizza is meant to be enjoyed.
  • Saint Bernardo Gelateria — This mix of traditional and fun gelato flavors will be the perfect complement to any meal at the Hey Day Market.
  • WILDCHILD — This Southern California-inspired taco shop serves up street-style birria and spit-roasted al pastor tacos + more.
  • Pokemen — Traditional Hawaiian poke and ramen bowls with a healthy mix of fresh vegetables, seafood and other meats, sauces and sides.
  • CHERRY MOON — Traditional Vietnamese and Cantonese meals, including Bahn Mi sandwiches, dim sum and boba tea.


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(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

For an upscale dining experience, you’ll want to make a reservation to 1856—the first tasting-menu-only teaching restaurant in the country. Each meal is prepared in an open kitchen by Auburn University’s culinary science students, led by a nationally acclaimed Chef-in-Residence Tyler Lyne.

At 1856, the expertly-crafted menu is shaped by the vegetables, produce and herbs grown on the rooftop of the Rane Culinary Science Center and includes dishes like:

  • Steak Frites — 45 Day Dry Age Ribeye, Compound Butter, Rooftop Salad and Choice of Fries
  • Cajun Spices Red Snapper — Heirloom Tillamook Cheddar Grits, Conecuh Sausage and Pickled Corn Relish
  • Freeform Lasagna — Short Rib, Spinach, Baby Kale, Ricotta, Harissa Beurre Monte

At dinner, you can enjoy an expertly-paired wine recommended by Master Sommelier in Residence Thomas Price—one of only 273 Master Sommeliers in the world.

Click here to make your reservation to 1856.

3. Learn

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Master Sommelier Thomas Price. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

You don’t have to be an enrolled student at Auburn University to learn something new at the Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center. On the weekends, the Center will host a rotating selection of chefs and instructors to lead workshops for visitors and guests from the Auburn community and beyond, such as:

  • Cooking & Baking Classes — Study innovative cooking methods and baking techniques from around the world in these courses.
  • Wine Appreciation — Led by Master Sommelier Thomas Price or a Certified Wine Educator, these wine appreciation courses will help you discover the rich history and traditions of winemaking.

Plan your Auburn getaway today

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(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Ready to plan your visit to Auburn? Visit the website of The Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center to learn more and plan your trip.

What is your favorite thing about The Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center? Let us know by tagging @BhamNow and @auburnopelika, and keep up with all things Auburn-Opelika on their websiteFacebook and Instagram!

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Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer at Bham Now

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