Cause I Needed Out: Mobile, AL Travel Guide

Cause I Needed Out: Mobile, AL Travel Guide

For reasons far too long to explain it was just time. It was suddenly and urgently apparent – you need the road. You need to leave. Go young woman. FLEE.

Some back history – I used to live in Mobile, AL. Truth be told it is, to this day, the place I lived for the longest, un-interrupted stretch of time. Which, for an army raised nomad like me is saying something. I don’t know if it was the lure of paths-once-traveled or the need to just not be where I was for a bit but y’all I went to Mobile for one reason and one reason only – I had to get the eff out.

I found myself urgently looking to book a little AirBNB on Old Government Street and just go. It was just what I needed. I packed up a copy of Rick Bragg’s My Southern Journey and my pup Roux and hit the I-10. Below, you’ll find my (all too personal) travel recommendations for anyone heading to Mob-town in the near future. I highly recommend it. Travels in the South are always, ALWAYS, good for the soul.

Dominique Ellis | Bragg Mitchell Mansion | Mobile, AL

Treat Your Self

Carpe Diem – I practically lived here in high school and I’m happy to report it hasn’t changed a bit. The coffee cafe, which roasts its beans in-house, is located in an old historic home and is always filled with co-eds from Springhill, business folks and friends catching up.

Dumbwaiter Restaurant – Located in downtown Mobile on Dauphin Street, this is the site of the pecan crusted fried chicken and butternut squash ravioli in an onion and maple soubise that made me want to cry. The point is, give it a try y’all.

Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream Shoppe – I used to come here after school all the time. If you’re looking for a blast from the past in a simpler time, complete with a triple scoop cone to top it off, this is the place for you. They’ve been loading up Mobilians with a sugar high since 1956.

Dew Drop Inn – Two words: greasy spoon. Get the cheese burger. Claiming the spot of Mobile’s oldest restaurant the joint also is also rumored to top Jimmy Buffet’s official list of his favorite Cheeseburgers in Paradise (no joke).

Dumbwaiter Restaurant | Dominique Ellis | Mobile, AL

Old Dutch Ice Cream Shoppe | Dominique Ellis | Mobile, AL

 

See & Do

Atchison Home – Looking for interior inspiration? Look no further than this design showroom and antique shop. Located in a sweeping and gorgeous old warehouse, the 4 floor store houses wonderful looks that mix-match old and new. My favorite are the top two floors though where they house some of the best antiques around.

Bienville Square – Need a break? Grab a bench in the beautiful downtown Bienville Square and watch the city pass you by as you work. The city recently put in a free wifi hotspot in the square so you can work from the park! Take in the facade of the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception that faces the square and then pop in to see one of the best church naves this side of the Mississippi.

Drive The Bayway – Fancy a trip over to picturesque Fairhope (worth it)? Then hop on one of my favorite drives – the bridge stretching over Mobile Bay. You can stop and check out the USS Alabama, eat at Felix’s Fish Camp and check out one of the most gorgeous sites in the Gulf Coast. The bay never ceases to please and you’ll soon feel you’re on your way to a seaside paradise.

Atchinson Home | Dominique Ellis | Mobile, AL

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued.  

 

For Those Who [Power] Lunch  – New Orleans edition

For Those Who [Power] Lunch – New Orleans edition

Let’s face it, sometimes your desk can be constraining. If you’re looking to step outside the office your lunch break (or late afternoon into happy hour) can be the perfect time to get the old creative juices going. Whether it’s a solo project you’re working on or a collaborative meeting, a space with great wifi, strong coffee, tasty bites and a cool atmosphere is a must. Check out a few of ALH’s top choices for spaces in New Orleans to help you make that boring lunch break into a power lunch.

Pagoda Cafe

Pagoda Cafe

Pagoda has two of my favorite things for a pleasant out-of-office work experience. Simply put – ample outdoor seating and bacon. More specifically rye toast topped with figs, ricotta cheese and crispy bacon. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. Nestled off Broad Street in Mid City, the small shop offers a variety of breakfast and lunch options with hella good coffee. They only have outside seating and the bar, picnic and cafe tables lend themselves to great networking with your fellow power lunchers. Head on over for a jolt of caffeine and Vitamin D.  pagodacafe.net

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Wayfare 

Wayfare |Dominique Ellis

Wayfare’s reputation as a crowd pleaser precedes it with rotating specials, well-portioned apps, and signature dishes like the Knuckle Sandwich. With an upscale diner vibe and even a proud shrine to its homemade pickles and sauces, this modern gastro pub works hard to make sure it has something for everyone.  Feel free to sidle up to the bar and pop open that laptop. Wifi is free and powerful. If you stay past 4:00 pm, be sure to order their Grey Goose Pear 75 cocktail during happy hour for just $4. (It’s pretty much sophistication in a glass.) wayfarenola.com

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CHURCH ALLEY COFFEE BAR

Church Alley Coffee Bar |Dominique Ellis

Sometimes you just want to settle in at an old rustic table and a soft, deep sofa and bang out that latest report in peace and comfort. Church Alley is the place to do this. The owner, who prides herself on creating an inviting and conversation inducing space for her patrons, serves roasts and blends not served anywhere else in NOLA as well as delicious locally sourced small plates. Get the lunch special – a cucumber, avocado, pickled radish, and goat cheese panini with side salad and a warm cup of pour over coffee – and stay a while. With a rotating coffee menu you’ll always find something you’ll like here. churchalleycoffeebar.com

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IL POSTO

Il Posto |Dominique Ellis

This quaint cafe specializes in crafting delicious Italian-themed foods like paninis, antipastos, and soups. Initially only open for lunch, Il Posto has since expanded their hours, which means it’s lunchtime, all the time. The internet never quits and they’re more than happy to keep your coffee (or tea) mug full and warm as you meet those deadlines like the boss you are. Pro tip: order the Adventure grilled cheese. (Three words: Gorgonzola, honey and walnuts.) ilpostocafenola.com

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PRESS STREET STATION

Press Street Station |Dominique Ellis

Confession: sometimes one needs a decadent meal to inspire you to greatness. When you’re looking for a lunch that makes you feel like you’re not stuck smack dab in the middle of the workweek head on over to Press Street Station. Forget it’s Wednesday and pretend it’s Friday. If the space alone doesn’t inspire you to lofty ideas, the food will. Ricotta Gnocchi and BBQ Moules Frites top my list of hubba-hubba inducing plates. This place is perfect for impressing your lunch dates and will help you make it a meeting to remember. pressstreetstation.com

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HiVolt 

HiVolt |Dominique Ellis

Known for its modern, monochromatic interior and some of New Orleans’ most sought-after coffee, teas and snacks, HiVolt checks all the boxes when it comes to seeking the perfect spot for productivity. It’s basically NOLA’s version of Cheers in coffee shop form. You’re bound to see someone you know and can also get a little star gazing in as well (we’re looking at you, American Horror Story cast.) With healthy meals and special vegan options, this hotspot is a must for foodies everywhere. That being said, we strongly recommend the Ozzie plate for a hearty breakfast and their gluten free muffins as a light snack. hivoltcoffee.com

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Irish House

Irish House New Orleans |Dominique Ellis

On occasion you’re going to want more than that same old lunchtime sandwich and tea. Have no fear, Irish House is here! When you need a decent sized plate of carbs (fish & chips please!) and a pint to keep those creative juices flowing this is the place to go. Airy and welcoming, the place is decked out like a traditional Irish Pub but has a large bar and traditional restaurant area and they are very welcoming to laptops at either location. Plus, the traditional Irish jigs playing and the kind staff make it most hospitable. So stay till 4pm and order two pints. You deserve it. theirishhouseneworleans.com

 

Photo Tour: Shadows On The Teche & New Iberia

Photo Tour: Shadows On The Teche & New Iberia

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Sarah Becker Lillard and I share many common interests but perhaps one of the best is a love of historic homes. And day trips. And sweet tea. And ladylike hats. And roadside vegetable stands. You get the picture.

We rolled all these loves into a day of fun with a little trip down to New Iberia to tour the Shadows On The Teche Plantation and the sleepy town that sprang up around it. What we found was a lovely home restored to its former architectural brilliance with quite the history. Sarah, a phenomenal photographer, brought her camera along to capture our day of summer time fun. To do this trip yourself here’s what we recommend:

SEE: Shadows On The Teche and Main Street in downtown New Iberia

EAT: Clementine’s – we went here on numerous recommendations from Twitter friends and were not disappointed! Try the fried green tomatoes and the coconut shrimp.

PIT STOP: Cap’s Produce Stand – creole tomatoes, okra and boiled peanuts, oh my!

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This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 

 *photos by Sarah Becker Photography

Tips for Working from the Road

Tips for Working from the Road

Digital Camera

Let’s face it, sometimes you have to take the show on the road. The good news is that as more and more business can be done remotely there’s no reason you can’t turn that work trip into an enjoyable, advantageous excursion that’ll feed your bottom line and your soul.

So how can you schedule meetings, oversee an all day photo shoot, get through your emails, make boutique calls for clients and still actually explore your destination? The trick is to balance the work/fun ratio. Tiffany Napper and I complied some of the best working-from-the-road advice we’ve heard for you below. Get ready to hit the road!


Be open. The joy of working while traveling is the possibility of meeting new people, discovering new ideas, and keeping your creative juices flowing. Strike up a friendly conversation with the person next to you. Walk an extra block and take in the scenery. Do whatever you can to find a balance between getting the job done and enjoying the freedom that comes from working on the road.

Be disciplined. Adhere to your same working hours as much as possible, and if you change time zones, turn on an email disclaimer alerting your customers, clients and coworkers that you might not be available during normal hours due to travel. Also, if you have standing conference calls in place, make sure you set alerts on your phone, and update them according to your new time zone.

Nashville & Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

Plan ahead. You will need to spend a little time looking for the perfect temporary office. Winging it can result in a location not conducive to work. We prefer a local coffee shop, and suggest using Yelp to vet the ones that are close by. Obviously, tables and chairs are mandatory, as is Wi-Fi. Check the reviews for tips on internet strength. No bars means no work done. Also, don’t forget to tip your barista well, so they aren’t annoyed when you are there for a few hours.

Reach out. Before heading to a new location we like to do some research on the local movers and shakers. Track down some like-minded folks through a quick blogger, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram search. Then, send them an invite to meet for coffee or a drink. At the most, you’ll meet a future colloborator and expand your network of contacts. At the least, you’ll get suggestions on what to eat, see, hear and do from a local.

*A cautionary note on this one: use your good judgement and be safe. Meet in public places and keep the drinks to a minimum. When in doubt, use the buddy system. 

Have a Plan B. Even though you planned ahead sometimes things just don’t go as you intended. You arrive to the well-researched coffee shop only to find it is blaring heavy metal music or there are no available chairs or tables. If you don’t prepare a back-up plan, this could cause a negative kneejerk reaction and derail your whole day. Instead, wake up 15minutes earlier than usual, develop a Plan A and a Plan B, take a deep breath and hit the road. That’s when you’ll find the magic of working on the go.

 Nashville & Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

Schedule in a day of fun. It’s easy to get bogged down with deadlines and the stress that comes with travel. Make sure you give yourself permission to take a day (or at least an afternoon) where every minute isn’t scheduled out. People watch. Write in your journal. Go on a quick walking tour. Research some local history. Or, in our case, head to a whiskey tasting. It’s important to take a breath and enjoy your surroundings. This is what travel is all about after all!

Nashville & Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

Other no-brainer tips: 

  • Don’t forget your chargers, and maybe even a mini surge protector. It’s a great way to make friends at a coffee shop when you both need an outlet but there’s only one to spare.
  • Invest in a nice laptop and a sleeve to protect it from the wear and tear that comes with traveling.
  • Set up a hot spot on your phone, for those emergency wifi situations.
  • Travel with a pair of headphones. You won’t be able to take that conference call or get into a zone nearly as easily in a public space without them.

 

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 

*photos courtesy of Dominique Ellis and  Jennifer Kay.

Ramblin Women’s Travel Guide: Birmingham & Nashville

Ramblin Women’s Travel Guide: Birmingham & Nashville

Road trip time! We headed up to Nashville by way of Birmingham for some work and fun. Below are our top places to see, eat and explore. Hit the road y’all!

Nashville Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

EAT

Post Office Pies (Avondale, AL)

Leave it to Garden & Gun to kickstart our first meal on the road off right with this stellar recommendation. Operating out of an old post office, this pizza joint did not disappoint. They have amazing deals on lunch time personal pizzas and all their beer is from the very good Avondale Brewery next door. Also noteworthy, the rosemary lemonade. postofficepies.com

Nashville Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

 

Nashville Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis
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Burger Up (Nashville, TN)

Let us note that no roadtrip is complete without discovering a new burger joint. With a chic interior, amazing cocktails and a community dining experience, we spent a couple of amazing hours in Burger Up. Order the Ramsey Pimento Cheese Burger. Trust me on this one. I am still having dreams about it. burger-up.com

Rolf and Daughters (Nashville, TN)

I’d heard people talk about Rolf and Daughters for weeks in anticipation of this trip. Oh man, it was hands down the best meal I’ve had in years. Their menu is seasonal but everything is delicious and original (helllloooo winter vegtable almond milk ceasar salad with pickled anchovies!) Their signature dishes are pasta based and are not to be passed up. Also, the Absinthe Father cocktail. Just order it and thank me later. rolfanddaughters.com

 

Nashville Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

 

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DRINK

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery (Nashville, TN)

Our Sunday Funday found us visiting this small distillery where we discovered not only their amazing whiskey and bourbon but a great family story. Turns out the current owners, a pair of brothers, went to nearby Green Brier to stop in a butcher shop they’d been hearing a lot about and spotted a landmark with their grandfather’s name on it. Digging into records unearthed that the family was once the owner of a whiskey distillery that out sold Jack Daniels back in the day. The brothers have since reopened a distilery honoring their family’s contribution to the whiskey traditions of Tennesee. We had a blast at their tasting bar and sampling the family goods. Worth the stop. greenbrierdistillery.com

Dram (Birmingham, AL)

We stopped for the night in Birmingham and warmed up from the arctic blast that covered everything in ice in this cozy, wood filled whiskey bar (sensing a theme here?) Dram was suggested to us by a Southern Living editor and was the perfect spot for some unwinding after driving all day. We ordered the classics – an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan. Both were delicious. dramwhiskeybar.com

Nashville Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

Caffeinate

Revelator (Birmingham, AL)

“But first coffee.”  We’ve been following the launch of Revelator for a while (their headquarters are in NOLA) so we were excited to pop in their flagship store in Bham. Clean lines and modern touches to the interior made for a great and open minded start to our morning of meetings. Plus, the latte art was on point. revelatorcoffee.com

 

Fido (Nashville, TN)

That 3pm drag is a beast to deal with sometimes. Time for a one-up! We stopped in Fido for a little caffiene pick me up. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned they are more than happy to make their signature lattes (I got the Lumberjack with maple and butter) with almond milk. Lactose intolerants rejoice! bongojava.com/fido-cafe

 

Shop

Peter Nappi (Nashville, TN)

Our travel buddy Jen was pretty stoked to visit Peter Nappi on this trip. Unfortunately some business meetings kept us late and when we arrived they were closing down early for a private event. But oh my god the interiors! They let us in for a bit to look around and promised to make it worth our while next time we came in (so sweet!) Their shoes are amazing enough but I literally could have just moved into their store right then and there. Rustic, modern and classic all at once. I’ll definitely be going back. peternappi.com

Nashville Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

Book Man Book Woman (Nashville, TN)

Owned by a married couple, Book Man Book Woman is arguably Music City’s best know independant bookstore. We stopped in to share the latest novel from our client Alys Arden and had a delightful afternoon lost in their shrine to the written word. bookmanbookwoman.com

Savant (Nashville, TN)

We spent all day Saturday on the oh so cute South 12th Street frantically shooting the new lines of Flying Fox’s handbags. We rented the adorable apartment that was located behind Savant, Nashville’s most talked about thrift shop. Holy motherload! Between the old tin campside mugs, lace shawls and rows and rows of cowboy boots I was in vintage heaven.

 Nashville Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

Downtown Franklin, TN

On a misty Monday we spent a lovely afternoon traversing the adorable streets of downtown Franklin, TN in between meetings. Filled to the brim with historic landmarks dating back to the 1700s, the downtown square is filled with chic boutiques and one of a kind vintage stores. Top recommendations: ReDo, Landmark Booksellers, The Iron Gate, The Shop Around The Corner.

Nashville Birmingham Travel Guide | Dominique Ellis

 
This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued.

Day Trip: LA HWY 182

Day Trip: LA HWY 182

Sometimes taking the road less traveled is exactly what a wanderlusting heart needs. A few weeks back my day job had me trekking down to the steamy bayou town of Thibodaux, LA. With a camera in tow, I programmed my iPod with some Slim Harpo and Johnny Cash tunes and hit the road. A happy accident with my GPS found me taking the long way through Raceland via LA HWY 182. What a treat!

Raceland, LA | Dominique Ellis

I love a good drive through the sleepy backwoods of the South, especially in the early months of summer. Everything is hazy and steamy. People move at a slower pace. Check out some of the sights I found along the way (that tree!) and check out my rules for hitting the country roads of the South for the day. It’s a great way to escape the grit and grime of the city.

Some Suggestions:

  • Stop. Anywhere and everywhere. If something grabs your eye, pull over. Breathe the air in and try to imagine what your daily life would be like in this setting. It makes you appreciate the simple clarity that only comes from country living.
  • Treat yourself to some country sweets and treats! If you see a roadside stand or old timey general store, pull over. My must-haves are always snoballs (nectar flavored), boiled peanuts and creole tomatoes. So good.
  • Roll down the window. Like I said, the air is different in the country. So are the sounds and smells. Let your hair down and enjoy it.

 

Raceland, LA | Dominique Ellis

Raceland, LA | Dominique Ellis

Raceland, LA | Dominique Ellis

Raceland, LA | Dominique Ellis

Raceland, LA | Dominique Ellis

 

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued.