Make Yourself at Home

Region offers incredible natural beauty – and hospitality that will make you want to stay

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While I am now officially a resident of the lookout mountain area, I still feel compelled at times to say, almost apologetically, “I’m not from around here, but…” (my husband is, I’ve been coming here regularly for almost 15 years, etc.). during the past three months, while crisscrossing the lookout mountain region conducting interviews for this issue, I have met many people like myself – transplants from other areas. many of the them hail from places much farther away than the Birmingham, Ala., suburb where I grew up.

I’ve found it interesting and somewhat reassuring that almost all of them used the same phrase and tone near the beginning of our conversation: “I’m not from around here, but…”

There must be a reason for this. I think maybe we want to fit in with the locals – many of whom go back many, many generations. Not that anyone has made me feel like an outsider. Just the opposite; locals have gone out of their to make me feel at home. still, human nature is a funny thing – it seems important to name some tie, whether it be through family, friends or even business.

While Alabama Lookout Mountain region offers a wealth of natural beauty and rich cultural experiences and is ideally located, it is just beginning to be discovered by a wide audience. Which is why I was surprised to meet so people from across the country who had not only learned of the area, but made it their home.

There’s Tami Brooks, director of Gadsden’s Imagination Place children’s museum, who moved here from California. The executive director of DeKalb County Tourism, John Dersham, is from Pennsylvania. (see his column on page 6.) Joan and Jim Byrum, whose home is featured here, came here from Selma, Ala. and then there are two members of the Cherokee County Park Board – Dave Crum, from New Jersey, and Jeff Wolfe, from Indiana.


They all gush praise for this region and enjoy talking about the reactions of their family members and friends who are unfamiliar with it. “They think this is Xanadu,” Brooks says of friends who battle urban California traffic.

Wolfe has created an informal tour of the area for his visitors. He takes them by Yellow Creek Falls, then Cherokee Rock Village (see story here), then to little river falls and around the rim of little river canyon to Orbix Hot Glass, where they can make their own glass art. They then travel on to Desoto State Park and usually end up having lunch at the Wildflower Café in Mentone, Ala. They spend the afternoon on a pontoon boat on Weiss Lake.

“People cannot believe that northeast Alabama has all this,” he says.

Still, it’s not just the natural beauty or things to do that inspire people to visit this region time and again or make it their home. It’s the people. They are quick to greet a new face with a warm smile, and are just as quick to make you feel like you belong here.

Tourists often say one of the best things about visiting the area is the laid-back atmosphere. I agree and would like to personally invite you to come experience the lookout mountain region and its charm for yourself.




Olivia Grider