Location: Mentone, AL
When: Nov 2017
Outfit Details: (see shoppable links below)
Did you know Alabama has mountains, cool weather and skiing?! If you are looking for a fall or winter getaway that's close to the Great Smoky Mountains, oozes with charm and beauty but less crowded and more affordable, let me introduce you to Mentone, Alabama. Read on for my travel guide to Mentone, a truly get-away-from-it-all vacation destination. I will tell you where to stay, eat and play. Enjoy!
Mentone is less than 45 mins from Chattanooga, TN and about 1.5 drive from Birmingham and 2 hours from Atlanta. This mountain town is tucked away from the hustle and bustle. It's remote and relaxing. And will have you looking for a realtor asap to find your own cozy cottage in the woods. I was lucky enough to visit this Fall for my niece's wedding. My whole family fell in love with this tiny little town.
We flew into Birmingham (which I've always been a fan of) and headed north. The first thing that pleasantly surprised me was the view. From Lookout Mountain, you will experience jaw dropping views of the Appalachia Mountains and the town below. I guess, I always thought of Alabama as hot and pretty flat. Sorry Alabama, I just didn't know how beautiful your state is. So, I was thrilled to know I'd be spending the next few days in a quaint mountain town with crisp chilly air and gorgeous fall leaves. Traveling from South Texas, this was very welcoming indeed.
We booked a vacation rental on HomeAway.com. The cottage we chose is called Huckleberry Haven (found here). It did not disappoint. Traveling to our little cottage in the woods was half the fun. We drove up windy, climbing hills past darling chalets and cabins along the way. The falling leaves and misty fog was so inviting. This property was a little challenging to get to as it was truly off the beaten path. The road is unpaved and bumpy but for me it was exactly what I was hoping for....a remote location where I could unplug from everything. And let me tell you, I didn't even have to try. The internet is spotty and with all the beauty surrounding you, somehow it just didn't matter.
Huckleberry Haven is perched on top of a hill, overlooking a little pond stocked with canoes just ready for you to paddle around. The cottage has 3 porches - perfect for the nature lover and plenty of vistas to take in your morning coffee or cocktail in the evening. The exterior and interior decor is beyond adorable. Everything is shabby chic with a touch of French Cottage elements. And our hosts thought of EVERYTHING.....they did an outstanding job of making their guests feel right at home. We wasted no time getting settled in with a cozy fire, enjoying home cooked meals around their farm table and planning our outdoor adventures for the next couple of days.
We decided to walk to Desoto Falls, which was about 7 miles (round trip) from our place. The weather was completely perfect. As we walked along, I just couldn't get over how beautiful Mentone was. The leaves were vivid and falling like snowflakes all around us. There wasn't much traffic and we only passed by a few locals walking their dogs. Another big surprise was passing by Cloudmont Ski Resort.....we couldn't believe our eyes.....skiing in Alabama?! It's true - not exactly the Rocky Mountain experience but charming still.
Mentone wasn't finished with her surprises, we passed by Lookout Mountain that delivered views rivaling the Smoky Mountain vistas. Then it was down the path to Desoto Falls. We could actually hear the rushing water as we approached. What we didn't know was how big and beautiful this waterfall would be. And we felt like we had it practically to ourselves.
The next day, we decided to get a closer look at Cloudmont Ski Resort. We just couldn't get over the fact that you could ski in Alabama, so we had to see for ourselves. Sure enough, we found a modest hill and ski lift surrounded by charming chalets adorned with skis and poles. Not exactly the place you want to take a serious ski vacation BUT a fun way to get some exercise and hone your skills on the slopes. Great place for beginners and again very affordable. We checked into the cottages and you can book for under $100! or if you're more adventurous, you can also book a lodge at the Shady Grove Dude Ranch right next to the ski resort.
That's where we discovered the Old Union Crossing Covered Bridge. Just another charming spot to explore in Mentone. Beautiful and quiet spot to take some fun pics with the family or your loved one. We weren't here at exactly the best time of day to take pictures, as the sun was shining very brightly, but you can imagine capturing this at dawn or dusk....would be picture perfect!
After 2 days of discovering Mentone's charm and beauty, we went to Sweet Seasons Farm for my niece's wedding rehearsal. I knew she was getting married at a sheep farm but again, I just had no idea how completely storybook the scenery would be. The farm is located about 5 miles from Mentone in Valley Head. While it's mainly a wedding and event venue, they are also open to the public and have events around the holidays for you to enjoy. On the farm, you will find sheep wandering around and a rustic elegant barn with rolling green pastures all around. Peaceful and serene. If you visit, call ahead and see if the owners will show you how they round up the sheep with their trusty hard working (and adorable) sheep herding dogs. I had never seen these dogs in action before, and it really is something to see. It's amazing to watch these animals at work.
We had the best time visiting Mentone. We left feeling refreshed, renewed and relaxed. We are now looking for our own little cabin to buy, it's that great! I hope you enjoyed my travel guide - Leaving you with a few more facts and tips while visiting Mentone.
Where to Eat:
Plow Shares Bistro - A farm to table experience. The Food was first class and the customer service was superb. They literally saved the day for my niece, when her rehearsal dinner reservation went awry. They accommodated a very large party at last minute notice and "gifted" us with wine. More on that below (in the things to keep in mind section).
Wildflower Cafe - Beautiful grounds and an artsy, boho vibe..
Green Leaf Grill: Offering comfort food and good down home Alabama cooking. Cozy and quaint place. You will be greeted with a charming roaring fire as you walk in the. door. Small and quirky, this is a great little place.
Mentone Market: It's always fun to get out and explore eateries and walk around town but we found that our favorite thing to do was head to the Mentone Market and pick up some farm fresh items to cook at home. This place has almost everything you need. We typically stocked up for breakfast but I'm sure you could plan for other meals. We could get farm fresh eggs and milk too!
Where To Stay:
Huckleberry Haven - Perfect for family getaways or group of friends. Sleeps 10 - so definitely not for a couple. Location is Lookout Mountain, a drive to nearby downtown Mentone.
Mentone Inn - Cute and quaint with a large front porch, beautiful grounds, and within walking distance to downtown Mentone. They also serve a southern styled breakfast every morning. Can't go wrong if you want to be convenient to the heart of Mentone.
Cottages of Mentone: Upscale cottages on top of Lookout Mountain. Offering several sizes for couples to families.
What to Do:
Cloudmont Ski Resort
Mentone Miracle Pottery
Shop Antiques and Crafts in Downtown Mentone
Visit a Dude Ranch
Hiking, Biking and Horseback Riding
Sweet Season Farm
Things to Keep in Mind:
Buying Booze - What's a vacation without a good bottle of wine or local beer? Mentone is a dry county. You can not order alcohol in Mentone. This is something that is changing but slow to change. You can BYOB at most restaurants and you can get beer (only) at the Mentone Market. You cannot take it out of the store though. The closet liquor store is a 10 minute drive across the state line to Georgia.
Remote - Mentone is a small town. It's not close to anything else. So this is a place where you want to escape from it all. Not ideal for those seeking night life or looking for LOTs to do. Great for those who love nature, peace and quiet.
Connectivity -. Internet is pretty spotty, so be prepared. Also, we lost phone reception in many places around town. So be sure to have directions backed up on your phone or have an ACTUAL MAP. I'm not kidding.....the roads are winding and it's easy to get turned around. So if you don't have your navigation to rely on - you could be lost for quite some time!
I hope you enjoyed my travel guide to Mentone - I highly recommend you add Mentone to your list and Get Away From it All!