Shelby County through the eyes of a tourist

During a time when budgets are tight, especially vacation budgets, consider taking a “staycation” instead of traveling to faraway places.

Shelby County offers such a diversity of entertainment and relaxation that it almost seems frivolous to travel abroad when everything you need is right down the street.

This past weekend, my husband and I followed this idea. We headed south on Friday night, wined and dined at Mikey’s Grill and booked ourselves into a beautiful bed and breakfast in the heart of Montevallo, the Fox and Pheasant for a two-night stay.

We didn’t come home to a weekend of dirty dishes and homemade distractions, but instead enjoyed freshly made breakfast each morning at someone else’s table.

Each Shelby County community holds its own gems. Whether it’s a quaint place to spend the night or a local restaurant or venue with its own charm, each city touts its treasures.

Ozan Vineyard and Wine Cellars in Calera offers its own brand of local taste. For only $8, you can taste test a wide variety of wines, some made from the grapes grown in Shelby County soil. As a part of the tasting, you can keep your Ozan wine glass. I discovered a particular prickly pear wine as a new personal favorite.

Another irresistible Shelby County flavor is a milkshake from Montevallo’s Eclipse Coffee and Books. We sipped on rich milkshakes as we read off our Kindles (sorry to all of the literary purists out there!) in the quirky charm of Eclipse during our lazy Saturday afternoon.

A staycation in Montevallo wouldn’t be complete without dinner at the Main Street Tavern. I honestly can say the mushroom and swiss burger I ordered was one of the best I’ve had. It was a great Saturday-night atmosphere full of locals, a full bar and a full night.

While we only sampled a sliver of what the south corner of Shelby County has to offer, hopefully a staycation to a different portion of the county will be in the planning stages soon. As someone who has traveled much, I can say the gifts Shelby County offers to those willing to take a second look are by far worth the effort of a visit.

And who can say? The local venues practically in your own backyard may become some of your favorite places to spend time, make memories and visit again and again.

Christine Boatwright is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 16 or by email at christine.boatwright@shelbycountyreporter.com.