I started at this adorable, quirky little cafe in the historic part of town. Whenever I'm visiting a new place, I like to start in the older neighborhoods because I've found that you will usually discover gorgeous old homes (I did) and quaint, one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, and cafes like this one. It was early in the morning, and this place had the added benefit of free wifi! I sipped on a delicious latte and did some blogging for a few hours.
The barista was a really nice young woman so I told her I was exploring for the day and asked if she had any recommendations for shopping, parks, places to eat. That sort of thing. She gave me all kinds of great ideas. She mentioned this tea shop that was just down the street, and said she thought there was also a vintage consignment shop on the second floor.
I walked to Emma's Tea Room and met the owner, whose husband is also a soldier. She said that the consignment shop had moved (and gave me directions to it) and invited me to look around. It was such a sweet little place and would be a perfect venue for a bridal or a baby shower. I spotted this teacup on my way out and couldn't resist taking it home with me. I've had tea in it every morning since!
Then I decided to drive to the consignment shop's new location, but unfortunately they were closed that day. But it wasn't all for naught--on the way back, I found a local bakery where I picked up some sandwiches before meeting my husband for lunch. Chicken salad and a BLT on homemade bread--yum!
That afternoon I had a quick catnap and then spent a few hours outside reading my book. It was a surprisingly mild day, and it felt nice to enjoy the breeze. For dinner, we went with the barista's recommendation from earlier--an artisan pizza place that was tucked into the corner of the Huntsville Museum of Art and overlooked a massive park with duck and fish ponds in it. The pizza was scrumptious--my half was a pesto pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, and fresh arugula. So tasty! My favorite part (other than my date) was that the restaurant had massive photographs of New York City on its walls. They made me feel right at home.
After dinner we walked around the park and soaked up the beautiful evening. Then I made my husband very happy by accompanying him to the new Star Trek movie in an IMAX 3D theater, which was actually quite spectacular. It really felt like we were up there in the stars.
The next morning, I went back to the cafe to blog and drink some more delicious coffee, then I picked up my husband who had finished his appointments. On the way home, near Birmingham, we stopped at a fruit stand and bought a crazy amount of fresh peaches and strawberries. I've frozen most of the strawberries for summer smoothies, and a few days ago I made a peach crisp. I think I'm going to make a breakfast version this week--not too sweet, lots of oats and sliced almonds and flax seed, and plenty of juicy peaches.
In a nutshell, that's how I like to explore a new place--cafes, historic neighborhoods, recommendations from locals, great food, a healthy combination of walking and relaxing. How do you do it?