Spend Your Summer atop Lookout Mountain in Mentone, Alabama

Spend Your Summer Atop Lookout Mountain in Mentone, Alabama

Nothing says summer quite like Mentone, Alabama. The Little River slips and slides through the rocky ridges of Lookout Mountain, forming waterfalls whose numbers are rivaled only by the rhododendron bushes, so well-loved they have their own festival each May, and the few hundred friendly folks lucky enough to call this hamlet home have the special sense of community found only in small Southern towns. Such amenities make it easy to see why Mentone has been such a summertime staple since the town’s founding many years ago. In the years before air conditioning, city dwellers swarmed to its scenic resorts, swapping sweltering sidewalks for the mild air of the mountain, and the many area summer camps have hosted generation after generation of young adventurers.

With over 150 cabins, 6 bed and breakfasts, and spotty cell reception, Mentone is the perfect place to unplug and recharge. There’s something for everyone at this quirky collection of accommodations. You can have a romantic getaway for two with a view of three states at Cupid’s Crest, or bring the whole family to The Wilderness of Mentone, where some cabins sleep up to 50 (!) and the hiking trails lead straight into the adjoining Little River Canyon National Preserve and DeSoto State Park. History buffs will love the Mentone Inn Bed & Breakfast, a home-away-from-home for tourists since the 1920s just steps from scenic downtown. And if you’re headed to the mountain to get outside, look no further than the 10 acres of tranquil natural surroundings of Raven Haven Bed & Breakfast, where the kitschy cute themed rooms include features like a cast iron pot over the fireplace in Little Room on the Prairie and a hammock in the Nautical Room.

Whatever your preferred means of transportation, you can enjoy Mentone’s stunning natural surroundings: cruise along Canyon Rim Drive for views of the Little River Canyon National Preserve, including the seasonal but stunning Little River Falls, or explore DeSoto State Park by kayak or canoe, on horseback, or by zipline. And if your idea of exploring the outdoors is the bustle between boutiques, Mentone’s got you covered. The collection of shops at the Log Cabin Village, right in the heart of downtown, has everything from souvenir t-shirts to rustic furniture. Be sure to add the The Graceful Giraffe, whose collection of gifts includes work from artists near and far, and The Gourdie Shop, a haven of antiques, jewelry and clothes for eclectic tastes, to your shopping itinerary for the ultimate in awesome finds for your loved ones and yourself.

So much exploring is sure to work up an appetite—you may even be a little thirsty. Mentone recently loosened its strict liquor laws, meaning you can now get alcoholic beverages at some of its establishments. Check out quirky gas station digs Helena’s, for American faves like patty melts and chili cheese fries and Mentone Market for live music on the weekends. And don’t think that just because you’re on top of a mountain, you can’t get seafood! Every Friday, the DeSoto State Park Mountain Inn Restaurant hosts a seafood buffet, in addition to their extensive menu.

Mentone has its charms all year round, but it’s the place to be during the summer. Head up to Lookout Mountain to experience the little town that’s captured the hearts of tourists for a century.