If you thought you’d have to leave Alabama to get a cozy mountain town experience, think again. Nestled in the woodlands of Lookout Mountain, Mentone is our state’s highest city—and also one of the most fun to visit.
Its location in the northeast corner of the state, teetering near the Georgia state line, renders it a gateway to the Appalachians. But it’s also the gateway to years of history and culture built by the mountain people who call it home.
With gorgeous natural surroundings to explore—on foot, skis, or horseback—plus plenty of colorful shops and restaurants, Mentone is ideal for a refreshing retreat. Here’s our guide to spending a day in Mentone.
Breakfast at The Hatter Café
Kick off your tour of the town with breakfast at The Hatter Café. Roger and Pamela Wald found their slice of heaven in Mentone in 2016, then opened their Wonderland-themed café and bed and breakfast two years later. The café’s whimsical teahouse ambiance adds to the utter joy of sitting down to a comforting plate of biscuits and gravy or fluffy pancakes. If you want to carry the wonder into the evening, book one of two rooms at the adjoining Country Inn. Both feature a private porch with a hot tub.
Explore Desoto State Park
Desoto State Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The 3,502-acre park is best known for its stunning waterfalls, including the dramatic 107-foot Desoto Falls. It, as well as several other smaller falls, are easy to access via nearly 30 miles of trails. In addition to waterfall chasing, Desoto State Park is also an ideal venue for hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, horseback riding, swimming, picnicking, wildflower spotting, and more. If you prefer your outdoor adventure to have a hint of adrenaline, hit up One World Adventures. The outfitter offers kayaks and canoe rentals, as well as bouldering, rock climbing, and rappelling trips.
Lunch at Mentone Market
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Mentone Market for a bite to eat. The longtime convenience store, mountain market, and community gathering spot has become popular over the years for always carrying exactly what you need. They even offer a selection of locally made gifts like gourmet food items, linen tea towels, and scented candles. Their lunch menu includes all-American staples like subs, pulled pork sandwiches, pizza, soups, and salads. Live like a local by sitting down for a quick lunch in the market’s Art from the Market gallery.
Shop at Log Cabin Village
Walk off lunch down the street at Mentone’s famous Log Cabin Village. The grouping of eight authentic log cabins house businesses that run the gamut from an old-fashioned ice cream shop to a pottery shop and women’s boutiques. AJ Trading Post, with its handmade leather goods, natural gemstone jewelry, and native art and blankets, is a great way to learn about the area’s rich history of mountain artisans and craftspeople. Patron another Mentone maker at Little River Soap, an all-natural soap and bath product shop.
Ski or Horseback Ride
The next item on your Mentone itinerary depends on the season. In winter, make it a point to visit Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort, Alabama’s only ski resort. The resort’s two 1,000-foot slopes are ideal for new skiers looking to test out the sport. Since the resort uses artificial snow to cover its slopes, you won’t have to worry about the weather either. In warmer months, swap an afternoon on the slopes for time on the ranch. Shady Grove Dude Ranch, which adjoins Cloudmont, features 800 acres of wilderness populated with picturesque trails for horseback riding.
Dinner at Wildflower Café
There’s only one place to cap off a perfect day in Mentone, and it’s The Wildflower Café. Voted as the Best Restaurant in Dekalb County, Wildflower offers a menu as eclectic as its decor, where string lights and folksy art rule. Several dishes are legendary at this establishment, including the Famous Tomato Pie, House Fettucine Alfredo, and Black and Blue Filet Mignon. Dessert is also a must. Try the gluten-free peanut butter pie, classic hummingbird cake, or signature Wildflower crepes filled with sweetened cream cheese and your choice of chocolate sauce or homemade strawberry puree. (Wildflower Café is only open for dinner Fridays and Saturdays.)
(Courtesy of Soul Grown)