Have you ever taken a road trip with a new friend? Someone you know but not that well? Someone you like but have limited experiences with? Well, I have and, I must say, it was a fun trip.
We went to a place I had never spent time in before but where my friend had once lived. So I had a built-in travel guide! Believe me, it is a good thing!
Decatur, Alabama is a joy to visit. Firstly, we were guests in the home of a quintessential Southern lady, her dog, and three cats. She was gracious in every way, offering her home to us to use as a landing place as we did both some work and some sightseeing. It was, after all, a working vacation.
I have always loved the Old South and all the romanticism that goes with it. I am aware that not everyone sees it that way but my grandfather was born in Alabama and my grandmother was from Arkansas, so I have roots there.We were blessed with unseasonably cool weather, so the usual humid, hot temperatures were not present during our visit. We were thankful for that as we strolled through Delano Park, admiring the plantings of oakleaf hydrangeas and delicate roses, their musky scent heavy in the air.
I marveled at the gigantic old magnolia trees that were everywhere, and I stopped often to take pictures, wishing I could capture that warm fragrance to take home.
One of the things I have always loved about the South is the food and I was not disappointed on this trip. I threw away the diet and enjoyed the fare, wherever we were. If you go to Decatur, one place you must visit is the Simply Good Kitchen for some of the best soul food around. Visit with Crystal and Miss B for a delightful time.
Another great place to eat is Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. Almost one hundred years ago, Big Bob came up with his famous tangy white sauce and the recipe has been in the family ever since. Much to everyone’s delight, the bottled sauce is now even available in some local grocery stores.
Decatur has a population of about 54,500, and it, along with the surrounding area, has a multitude of activities and attractions to keep a visitor busy. The Carnegie Arts Museum, the Jesse Owens Museum, and the Alabama Center for the Arts to name a few. There are historical sites galore, like Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller, Pond Spring, the home of Gen. Joe Wheeler, and the Rosenbaum House, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. There are educational sites like the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Earlyworks Children’s Museum, and the Racking Horse World Celebration. And then there are those places where you can go to just get away and get back to nature. Places like the Oakville Indian Mounds, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, or the Bankhead National Forest.
I have always been enthralled with architecture and Decatur’s old homes did not disappoint. From massive antebellum homes to quaint little shotgun houses to everything in between, the architecture caught my eye everywhere I went.
Adding to the beauty of the homes were the gardens, some neat and clipped in symmetrical precision while others had the air of wild abandon (though I imagine it was all quite planned). On those tree-lined streets, one could almost hear neighbors calling, beckoning each other to step onto the deep, cool porches for a visit.
Another soft spot for me is any place that sells plants. And plant paraphernalia. Now, tell me, did I have to drive 600 miles to buy plants? In fact, I did not have to drive 600 miles to get plants. But bring plants home I did! My friend and I both filled up the back of her car as if we had never even heard of basil or abelias in the Ozarks! We fretted over our new babies for days like they were precious jewels. Because of our care, they made it to our respective homes without incident. And you know the next time I’m in Decatur, Alabama, I will stop at SmartyPants Greenhouses and Nursery to add to my plant collection. They are very pleasant and knowledgeable people to visit with!
There are antique shops for every taste in Decatur, but the one I could have become lost in was the Bank Street Art and Antique Shop. Three floors of gloriousness! There were so many things I could have brought home. I did restrain myself, though it was difficult.
While exploring one day, I found the best consignment shop I have ever been to. And I broke my own rule of not shopping for clothes while on vacation. But the ladies at the One More Time shop were so customer-oriented and had such great quality merchandise and selection, I could not help myself! Thank you, Amy and Teresa! It isn’t often that I go into a store and come out with two new friends! You know I’ll be back.
A week was not enough to explore to sights of Decatur, Alabama, and its surroundings. I’m not certain two weeks are enough. There are just so many things to see and do for everyone in the family that I know I will be going back again. I hope, when you are planning your next trip, you explore the possibilities of Decatur, Alabama. When you do, let me know what you enjoyed the most.