A Summer Saturday in DeKalb County Alabama

A Summer Saturday in DeKalb County Alabama
By Emily Kirby
Photos by Emily Kirby

DeKalb’s mountain towns are the perfect getaway to spend a slow summer day, basking in the beauty of the mountains, visiting the many parks, meeting local makers and farmers, and indulging in the delicious offerings of DeKalb County’s unique restaurants. Here are some ideas for fun ways to spend a Saturday in Fort Payne or Mentone.

The Spot Coffee Shop in Fort Payne

The Spot Coffee Shop in downtown Fort Payne is your one-stop shop for breakfast, lunch or dinner — but most importantly, for coffee. Their menu boasts a variety of espresso drinks, blended coffees, smoothies, and various hot drinks like teas, lattes, cider, and hot chocolate. For a fast and tasty breakfast, try their topped toasts, such as the Loaded Avocado Toast or Nutella Toast. They also offer breakfast plates, burritos, muffins, and croissants. (Pictured is the Iced HoneyBee drink.)

Continuing on your morning main street stroll, the Fort Payne City Park (located at the corner of Gault Avenue and 5th Street) features swings, a gazebo, picnic shelter, picnic tables, restrooms, and majestic Ginko trees dating back more than a century to the city’s boom town era. The park is also home to statues of Fort Payne’s hometown boys, country music supergroup Alabama.

DeSoto Falls located in DeSoto State Park on Lookout Mountain in Alabama.

With Lookout Mountain as its backdrop in the morning sun, The Fort Payne Main Street Farmers Market is the perfect place to meet local farmers, bakers, and makers. Shoppers can usually expect a variety of vegetables, farm-raised beef and pork, baked goods, flowers, art, music, and more. You can find the market at the Fort Payne Main Street Square at the intersection of Gault Avenue, Alabama Hwy 35 and 5th Street North. It is open from Memorial Day to October each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, as well as Mondays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Beside the Main Street Square, Blue Jug Alkaline Water & Health Market is your next stop to rehydrate with their mineral-rich, antioxidant, high-alkaline water. Peruse their stock of healthy snacks, local groceries, and sustainable products. Grab a personal, refillable bottle of water and a snack from the in-house bakery, Butter Snob Baking, whose French technique and Southern ingredients shine through their macarons, cookies, famous oatmeal cream pies, and more.

​Directly behind the farmer’s market and water refillery, the Alabama Walking Park sits next to the Fort Payne Depot Museum. The walking park gives its visitors landscaped and shaded walkways, two playgrounds, a splash pad, and the recently added Reflection & Meditation Garden located at the far end of the park. This addition allows for quiet visits apart from the main areas of the park and is equipped with comfortable benches, beautiful foliage, and a calming fountain. 

To continue on your slow and scenic morning, take a drive along DeSoto Parkway to the magical town of Mentone. This mountain hamlet offers several unique places to stop for lunch, including Seabolt’s Street Tacos, The Wildflower Cafe, Fontastic Food Truck, The Hatter Cafe, and more. The Bistro Burger from Elevation Bistro, will tempt you with its half-pound patty of grass-finished beef, sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized spring onions, summer crisp lettuce, and house aioli on a Brioche bun with house fries. The bistro offers a full bar and a delightful menu featuring ingredients from local farms. You can enjoy it all in the elegant indoor dining space or on the comfortable outdoor patio.

To see the beauty of DeSoto State Park and explore the waters of Little River, check out the Miller’s Bend Paddle Shack at the DeSoto Falls Picnic Area to help you begin your scenic kayak trip up the West Fork of the river. The single, sit-on-top kayaks rent for $15 per hour, and the tandem (2 person) sit-on-top kayaks rent for $25 per hour. Kayak rentals are available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Monday through Friday by appointment only. Life vests & paddles are provided, and park staff help visitors launch the kayaks at the boat ramp above the dam. While visiting, be sure to check out DeSoto Falls, known as one of the tallest and most spectacular waterfalls in Alabama.

For a quick dinner, grab a cold beer and a slice of pizza at Mentone Market, a convenient stop for drinks, snacks, groceries, locally made products, and souvenirs. The market’s bar offers a variety of wine, draft beer, and bottled beer, and the kitchen has a full menu Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The market continues to serve pizza after the kitchen closes.  The cold food section allows guests to grab a sandwich, wrap, or salad for a perfect afternoon picnic.

While in Mentone, check out the Music for the People: Summer Music Series at Mentone Inn held on Saturday nights by the Little River Arts Council. Bring a chair or a blanket and enjoy these shows offered free to the public. The next concert in the series will be July 30, 2022 from 7 to 10 p.m. featuring Black Sedan Band, a Birmingham, Alabama-based party/dance band that covers a wide range of songs and genres from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and some current pop tunes. 

For a quiet or romantic evening, make the short drive to Brow Park to witness the famous sunsets on Lookout Mountain. This public park gives visitors sweeping views of the valley below and offers picnic tables and a covered pavilion. It’s the perfect end to your day of sightseeing, food, and fun.