The Ultimate Smokies Cabin Guide
Alabama's Mountain Country
While the leaves are turning, slip off for a weekend to the small towns of Fort Payne and Mentone (view map).
Saturday--The Magic of Mentone
You may want to spend a little more time on the front porch with a cup of coffee before breakfast. Enjoy the spread of country ham, spinach eggs, cheese grits, biscuits, fresh fruit, and the specialty--banana French toast. Then head right out the back door to White Elephant Antiques and Gift Galleries. Originally part of the Mentone Springs Hotel, this shopping area opened as an antiques mall in the seventies. From there, stop by Rocky Top Pottery in the Log Cabin Craft Village, where Belinda Mann sculpts her popular clay wind chimes ($25) on-site.
When you need a break, rejuvenate with a cup of soup ($1.75) and a sandwich ($4.95) at the Log Cabin Restaurant & Deli, formerly an American Indian trading post in the early 1800s. Wash it down with a Cabin Cooler, a soft drink akin to iced Russian tea.
Spend your afternoon in nature at DeSoto State Park. Dress comfortably for walking and light hiking. Pack a camera so you can take a little bit of the area's beauty back home. The sight of the 104-foot DeSoto Falls or the tranquil pathways along the 8 miles of hiking trails, some of which follow Little River, will take your breath away.
Have an elegant dinner tonight at the Mentone Springs Hotel. The menu varies seasonally, but when we were there, we enjoyed the Georgia Pecan Encrusted Trout ($19.99), which was sautéed in lemon and white wine.