This year, 2020, was a tough year, right? All things considered, I did have the opportunity to re-explore my state, beautiful Alabama! I had the opportunity to visit and discover many “Sweet Home Small Towns” close to Huntsville. Here are a few that truly captured my heart. This beautiful state is absolutely worth exploring. Additionally, I am happy to say, I have had a ball meeting new people, discovering hidden gems, learning new crafts, and of course, great eats! Here’s a list of six “Sweet Towns of Alabama” you will want to include on your “must-see” list.
Gadsden, Alabama is home to one of the prettiest waterfalls in North Alabama. Located on the Black Creek River, and on the outskirts of this small town is Noccalula Falls Park. This park is massive and has a gorgeous waterfall, campground, playground, botanical garden, loads of hiking trails, and a memorial for the Cherokee Maiden, Noccalula. All things considered for 2020, I was fortunate to visit Gadsden several times this year. This small town is only an hour and a half from Huntsville CLICK MAP HERE.
I also took a few day trips here with small groups to introduce them to the charming town of Gadsden. Part of the Main Street America program, Gadsden’s Main Street has completely changed from our days of being stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama. This summer we enjoyed shopping in the local shops, having lunch, and walking to the Coosa River.
A day trip to Gadsden will include good eats and you could include a visit to the local brewery, The Blackstone Pub & Eatery and stock up on Olive Oil! Yup, King’s Olive Oil is a little shop on Main Street that is filled with all flavors of olive oil, kinds of vinegar, jams, and spreads. We had so much fun trying every pure and different combination they had ~ the lemon, (citrone) is my favorite! Especially to make Lemon Fettucini!
As you walk this precious main street nostalgia will rush over you, friendly storekeepers, greetings of “Hello” on the streets and architecture that is gorgeous.
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However, there are several newer modern stores that will turn your head. We also came across The Taming of the Ewe and Tea Shop you can order yarn here, or your tea if you are hesitant because of COVID travel. It’s o.k. Be sure to CALL before you make a trip, to check for hours.
Heflin, Alabama is located almost half-way between Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia. For people looking for an abundance of natural beauty, warm and friendly people “glad to meet ya” and hiking trails galore, Heflin is your place.
Joining the crew
My visitation to Heflin was pure kismet. After meeting Adam and Jennifer Dasinger while attending a HOT GLASS ORNAMENT BLOWING class near Mentone, Alabama we found out we all shared an immense love for hiking. Consequently, Adam said that he lived on the Pinhoti trail just outside of Anniston/Oxford where I was once lived. I hadn’t been back to that area since our return to America. He mentioned the Pinhoti 100 Trail Race being the first weekend of November and perfect timing for fall color.
So I was thrilled when my little group was excited for a hiking adventure in the Talladega National Forest. Adam asked if we would like to join them by helping at the Aid Station at Heflin for the race and of course, we were thrilled.
Our weekend in Heflin included many hikes on the Pinhoti Trail, thanks to our experienced trail guides, Adam and Rick. We also enjoyed touring the town and meeting small business owners from High Country Cellars to Trends Boutique on Main. This community loves their little town.
For more info check out my vlog –
The historic and incredible small town of Mentone is known all throughout our state. In any event, if you are just traveling through, you will definitely miss this gem! A famous artist community welcoming hikers, culinary arts, painters, wood carvers, glass blowing, and of course hikers!
You’ll find everything from fresh local honey and jams, fresh in-season produce and cheeses, handmade jewelry, woodcarvers, and local artisans, and more.
I was fortunate enough to meet a new restaurateur, Kevin Dunlap of Elevation Bistro. We recorded a podcast at his new restaurant and concept. He uses only local foods produced locally, over 80% comes from Lookout Mountain.
EVERY SINGLE TIME I visit Mentone, I stop at Nena’s General Store. I am in love with the spicy pickles from Stamey’s Salty Pickles. In fact, I am quite addicted to these pickles. By the same token, they are from North Carolina, not Alabama, they are so good. The General Store also sells homemade spices from the Sauder Farm Country Market (in Elkton, Kentucky.) Their Hickory Smoke Salt is an absolute favorite!
Monroeville, Alabama is no secret to any voracious reader of American Literature. You see, this enchanting small town gave birth to several award-winning writers, including Harper Lee, Truman Capote, and Mark Childress to name a few. These authors influenced the literary fabric of our nation. I learned so much from just one weekend in Monroeville. I can’t wait to return to see what they are up to next year and who else they have inspired.
Thanks to Penelope Hines, Executive Director of the Monroeville/Monroe County Chamber of Commerce who gave me a full tour and showed me around this hospitable, welcoming, inspiring town.
Definitely check out my VLOG for more information on the annual Spring Play, shopping local businesses and more, check out my VLOG…
Our next small town is Oneonta. Although I discovered purely this adorable town by accident. Well, not really by accident, my stomach was leading the way. Oneonta is filled with murals. They were fun to discover and pose in front of
In fact, we were afraid we would waste away after a morning of Covered Bridge searching and discovering we made our way to Two Amigos Mexican Restaurant . They have an unbelievably huge menu to choose from, delicious and vegetarian options, PLUS Margarita specials. Also, they have outdoor seating weather permitting.
In fact, there is so much more to discover in this town, I will have to write a separate blog to include all the highlights. Here are a few keepers…
More info on visiting these bridges in this VLOG!!
Now, for my final small town heartbeat, I travel to Northwestern Alabama to the town of Tuscumbia. Whenever you walk the streets of this charming town you will feel like you have transported yourself to another place in time. Altogether there are 30 historic properties listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. One of the most famous is Ivy Green. The birthplace and childhood home of Helen Keller.
Additionally, this year, I had the pleasure of meeting teacher and docent, Lynn Weaver of the Museum and I left in awe of everything Helen accomplished while having disabilities. Amazing woman, with an amazing teacher. To say the least, You will learn so much more by going and seeing, trust me!
Next, located in the center of town is Spring Park. This memorial park is a dedication to the Trail of Tears and has a beautiful waterfall and spring that look like a geyser. Super cool!
The Menu at SuperHeros is fun and SUPERB with fantastic choices from Red Velvet Waffles to Bang Bang Cauliflower to Southern Stack Burger with a piece of fried chicken and cheeseburger!