Hit The Road: 18 Nearby Getaways
Summer destinations from seaside chic to country charm.
Hit the Road: 18 Nearby Getaways
Summer destinations from seaside chic to country charm.
Expedient & Elegant Escapes.
Here are 18 weekend destinations that transport your soul (but not your body) far, far away.
Now that the warm weather is here, every week offers a new vacation option. Whether you want a restorative, romantic, or active adventure, all you need is a set of wheels (a convertible would be nice), and perhaps a traveling companion, to escape the everyday. Don¡¯t be afraid of the distances. A few hours of scenic driving can put you in a different state of mind¡ªas well as a different state. And you won¡¯t have to hire a house-sitter, stop your mail, or even empty the fridge to get far, far away. Rose Ciccone, associate editor of the BedandBreakfast.com Report, an online newsletter offering a comprehensive B&B directory, database, and reservation network, and a contributing editor to the guidebook series, America¡¯s Favorite Inns, B&Bs and Small Hotels (St. Martin¡¯s Press), chose ten of her favorite destinations for you and your loved ones to enjoy. And our in-house avid travelers, Features Editors Nancy L. Claus and Laurie Yarnell, weighed in with eight more getaways. So put the top down and let¡¯s go!
THE INN AT BOWMAN¡¯S HILL
New Hope, PA
The Inn at Bowman¡¯s Hill is one of those places you¡¯ll want to return to again and again, not only to enjoy the inn¡¯s charm, elegance, and hospitality, but also to experience it during the different seasons. After announcing ourselves at the inn¡¯s black wrought-iron gate, my husband, Frank, and I followed the driveway down to the beautiful stone English-style manor house. The grounds of the one-year-old inn are lovely with lanterns lining the driveway and flower baskets overflowing with blooms. Adjacent to the main house is a carriage house fronted by a walled English courtyard. Innkeeper Michael Amery, who hails from the U.K., designed and laid every stone in this courtyard himself. Wall planters, lanterns, and benches surround the center fountain that, he says, is a nod to his wife Lynne¡¯s Italian ancestry. (Lynne was recently awarded the Spirit of Hospitality Innkeeper of the Year award for 2006 by the Pennsylvania Tourism and Lodging Association.) The conservatory abounds with orchids, bougainvillea, and other tropical plants that can be enjoyed along with the cascading waterfall.
The formal terrace at the rear of this beautifully landscaped property overlooks the pool as well as the pond and a lovely gazebo. In season, breakfast is served outdoors or under an arbor on the vine terrace. When the weather cools, breakfast is served in a cozy, wood-paneled, pub-like room with a massive stone fireplace and tables for two. Mike¡¯s heritage is reflected in his offering of a traditional English breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, saut¨¦ed potatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, fried bread, and fried tomatoes). If you prefer something lighter, fresh fruit, yogurt, and cereals are set out with the fresh brewed coffee and hot tea service.
Each luxurious guest suite is uniquely decorated with family pieces, artwork, and period reproductions, complemented by flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and Bose CD/radios. King featherbeds, down pillows, luxurious bedding, gas fireplaces, and individually controlled thermostats add to the comfort of the rooms. The upholstered custom-made headboards are stunning. The exquisite Italian-tiled bathrooms, featured in every guest room, have oversized whirlpool tubs, comfy bathrobes, thick towels, heated towel racks, and an assortment of toiletries.
Frank and I stayed in the Pond Vista Guest Room in the Carriage House, which has a common area on the second floor with a fireplace, ample seating, and a chest filled with board games. A typically thoughtful touch is the sideboard, holding individual tea trays you can take to your room. Set for two, each tray has a hotpot, an assortment of teas, individual coffee bags, and sweeteners. A small refrigerator holds bottled water, cheese, and creamer.
This is a charming retreat for a getaway¡ªeither a weeklong or a weekend-short. The artsy and charming New Hope and Lambertville areas offer much to do. Shop at the boutiques and antique stores and visit the galleries; in season, the Bucks County Playhouse has wonderful theatre events. Peddler¡¯s Village, a shopping and entertainment complex housed in a charming, 18th-century-style country village, is a short ride from town in nearby Lahaska, Bucks County. Take a walk or bike the towpath along the canal and work up an appetite.
One great thing about staying at fine B&Bs: you can always count on the innkeepers to give you excellent dining recommendations. Mike and Lynne suggested Marsha Brown¡¯s Creole Kitchen on Main Street in New Hope. We were not disappointed. Note, however, that parking in town can be tough, with meters active until very late in the evening, year round. Bring lots of quarters!
¡ö The Inn at Bowman¡¯s Hill, 518 Lurgan Rd., New Hope, PA; (215) 862-8090; $295-$455; 6 rooms (including two suites); www.theinnatbowmanshill.com.
Glasbern Country Inn
Located near Allentown, an old steel-mining town made famous by the Billy Joel song, Glasbern, a 35-room inn, is perfect for relaxing and unwinding, enjoying fine dining and luxury lodgings. The inn comprises several buildings, including the original 19th-century post-and-beam barn, a farmhouse, and out-buildings, which were renovated by owner Al Granger after he acquired the farm property in 1985. In recent years, several other Pennsylvania barns were moved to the property, where they were reconstructed and now provide a variety of accommodations.
Each of the buildings is distinct. The Carriage House, Farmhouse, Gate House, Pack House, and Stables all have suites, some bi-level. The Garden Cottage is private with a spacious living room and high ceilings. The Barn, which has large standard rooms on the first floor and rooms with whirlpools or patios on the lower level, is where the Glasbern¡¯s charmingly rustic restaurant is located.
We stayed in the bi-level Farmhouse suite which features a living room on the first floor, complete with a wood-burning fireplace and a large whirlpool tub for two (robes and oversized towels are provided). The adjacent sitting room has a wet bar and a TV/DVD.
The slate floors are heated, a nice amenity come wintertime. Beautiful French doors open to a lovely private patio with wrought-iron tables and chairs from where you can look out onto a vast expanse of green. The bedroom and bath are up a short staircase; and just in case you and your partner can¡¯t agree on what to watch, there¡¯s a second television in the bedroom.
But I¡¯d strongly suggest leaving the set off. Instead, take advantage of the beauty that¡¯s right outside your door. In the winter, the assortment of evergreens is stunning. Weeping hemlocks and large holly bushes bright with berries stand out against the background of snow. In spring and summer, you can enjoy the perennial gardens and the inn's organic vegetable garden. (The veggies grown there come freshly picked onto your breakfast and dinner plates, and the pasture-raised meat comes from the farm.) In addition to an outdoor pool and hiking trails, an on-site fitness center is available.
If you have the urge to do more than just relax, not to worry. A thirty-minute drive will take you to the outlet capital of Reading. Or, if you¡¯d rather be taken back in time, consider a day trip to the Lancaster area to experience the Amish and Mennonite cultures. Or, if you¡¯re up for an adventure, go for a hot-air balloon ride or hunt for antiques.
And, come evening, make sure to bring back a hearty appetite. The restaurant, with its glorious 28-foot-tall cathedral ceiling and exposed beams, has a wonderfully intimate feel. At dinner, the room appears to be lit by just the glow from candles on the table and, in winter, from the fireplace. On every table, flower arrangements and pewter plates are set. The contemporary American menu is outstanding, and the wine list is exceptional. The restaurant is open seven nights, but on Saturday evenings a prix-fixe menu only is served ($55 per person).
In the morning, a hearty farm breakfast is served. Come hungry. Start with the continental buffet that includes juice, fresh fruit, sweet home-baked breads, cereals, and yogurt. Your choice from the featured hot entr¨¦es of Belgian waffles, eggs, or omelets, is brought to your table.
¡ö Glasbern Country inn, 2141 Pack House Rd., Fogelsville, PA; (610) 285-4723; $130-$450; 35 rooms; www.glasbern.com.
SEA CREST BY THE SEA
Spring Lake, NJ
Sea Crest by the Sea is a charming Victorian inn at the Jersey shore that has always made it to the top of my ¡°Best Porch¡± list, for good reason. The wrap-around porch offers comfortable seating in a quiet neighborhood and is so close to the water that you can smell the ocean from it. And the inn is only a half-block from one of New Jersey¡¯s finest beaches (Spring Lake is four towns¡ªand just four miles¡ªsouth of Asbury Park).
Since taking ownership several years ago, owners Barbara and Fred Vogel have enhanced Sea Crest by reducing the number of guest rooms in order to make the accommodations more spacious and luxurious. Today, each of the eight guest rooms has a large bath, a whirlpool for two, and a fireplace. Decks and steam showers were also added to some suites. All have comfortable bedding, either Swedish DUX beds or featherbeds that you can just sink into. The luxurious bed linens are by Frette. My husband and I enjoyed the ocean views from the deck of our room, the Captain¡¯s Quarters.
All of the rooms have TVs and VCRs, some have DVD players, plus refrigerators stocked with an assortment of beverages, including spring water and a chilled bottle of wine. Luxurious robes and slippers are provided; towels are large and fluffy, and an array of fine amenities await in the bathroom. And for good measure, each room beckons with a box of Godiva chocolates. Can you say, ¡°Pampered?¡± I found the information book in the room to be delightful¡ªa warm welcome with restaurant reviews and recommendations based on visits by the innkeepers and their staff, information on where to find bicycles, beach towels, etc., as well as information on area attractions. Barbara and Fred even included photos of their staff with short bios and stories about each employee.
Tea is served every afternoon beginning at 4 with a wide assortment of homemade desserts prepared by the inn¡¯s chef. Cheese, crackers, and fresh fruit are offered along with yummy cakes and pastries. Afternoon tea at inns is not to be missed; in addition to all the treats offered, teatime is usually the most social time of the day. We had a very convivial group of visitors from several states¡ªwe wished we¡¯d been staying longer so we could have gotten to know them better. Early morning coffee is available at 7:30; my advice is to take a cup out on to the porch and enjoy the ocean breeze, weather permitting. Breakfast is buffet style with several hot dishes (our favorites: Belgian waffles, English bangers, and a delicious potato casserole), fresh-baked scones, specialty breads, fresh fruit, yogurt, and cereals, along with juice, coffee, and tea.
Spring Lake is a charming seaside town with a two-mile long boardwalk¡ªall commercial free!¡ªoverlooking a pristine beach. Borrow a bike from the inn or walk and explore the town. The architecture is beautiful, and you may run into a celebrity or two: Mary Higgins Clark has her home here, as does, I¡¯m told, Katie Couric. Divine Park surrounds Spring Lake (the lake is actually spring-fed), and the path around affords lovely lake views. Enjoy the variety of shops and galleries along Third Avenue.
When you are ready for dinner, you will find several wonderful restaurants in the area, from a casual waterside fish market to upscale dining at a beachfront caf¨¦. We chose to dine at a new favorite, the Black Trumpet, which, like many restaurants in the area, does not serve alcoholic beverages, but you are welcome to BYOB. We took along our bottle of wine from the inn; our dinner cost $125, including our tip.
When you return from your evening¡¯s activities, you will find an assortment of cordials in the dining room, along with an evening treat. We enjoyed the hand-made pecan candy, fresh cookies, and biscotti in front of the fire in the parlor. In warmer weather, we¡¯d recommend that wonderful porch.
¡ö Sea Crest by the Sea, 19 Tuttle Ave., Spring Lake, NJ; (800) 803-9031; $310-$490; 8 rooms; www.seacrestbythesea.com.
The FAIRTHORNE B&B
Cape May, NJ
In 1970, Cape May was designated a NATIONAL Historic District with 600 restored and preserved Victorian structures, many of which have been converted to bed and breakfasts. One of the loveliest is the Fairthorne, ideally located within walking distance of both the beach, the Washington Mall, and many restaurants.
Built in 1892 by a whaling captain, the Colonial Revival home, with its leaded stained-glass windows, has been converted into a gracious inn, which houses to six guest rooms that are romantic and comfortable without being fussy. The wall coverings used throughout the inn are lovely, and the Victorian furnishings exquisite. The beautifully decorated and appointed rooms in the main building and adjacent cottage all have private baths, air conditioning, televisions, and VCRs; most rooms have gas or electric fireplaces. Our queen-size sleigh bed had a comfy mattress enhanced by beautiful linens. Bathrooms are light and airy; in addition to fluffy towels and hair dryers, luxurious bathrobes are provided.
Early-rising guests can enjoy coffee at 6 am. A
candle-lit breakfast is served at two seatings¡ªthe first begins at 8:30¡ªin the dining room at a large communal table. The Fairthorne¡¯s signature breafast includes fruit, muffins, juice, coffee, tea and an entr¨¦e. The entr¨¦e of the day when we visited was perfectly prepared eggs Benedict. After breakfast, we poured ourselves another cup of coffee and enjoyed it on the expansive veranda while we planned our day.
A trolley- or carriage-ride tour of town is a wonderful way to learn your way around ¡°the Cape,¡± as it is called by
Cape May¡¯s beach has been ranked one of the top ten in America. You can walk over to the 1859 Cape May lighthouse, not far from the inn, climb its 199 steps, and enjoy the panoramic view of the Jersey Cape, the southernmost tip of New Jersey, where the Delaware River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse is located on the grounds of Cape May Point State. If you¡¯d rather save your energy for other sports¡ªsay dining¡ªyou can just enjoy the lighthouse from the beach and grounds of the park.
About that other sport? You can begin it rather early, around 3:30, when afternoon tea is served. Do sample Diane¡¯s cheese spread and chocolate-chip cookies. What about dinner? Ask innkeepers Ed or Diane. They¡¯ll be happy to offer suggestions and provide menus from local restaurants. They¡¯ll also make the reservations.
¡ö The Fairthorne, 111 Ocean St., Cape May, NJ, (609) 884-8791 or (800) 438-8742; $140-$280; 9 rooms; www.fairthorne.com.
Deacon Timothy Pratt Bed & Breakfast
Old Saybrook, CT
When we first met Shelley Nobile, we were impressed
with this young woman who gave up a career as an electrical engineer to pursue her love of history, antiques, and decorating. She purchased the Deacon Timothy Pratt House, a historic (c. 1746) center-chimney Colonial home in 1995, and immediately began restoration. The many fine original details include wide-plank wood floors with hand-forged nails, exposed hand-hewn beams, wainscoting, and seven working fireplaces. When Shelley opened her B&B, it featured just three guest rooms, but she has since expanded it to seven, including three in the adjacent building, the James Soda Fountain & Gallery, originally part of the Pratt Tavern owned by Deacon Timothy¡¯s brother, which she restored and opened to guests in 2001.
This dynamic young woman has received accolades from local residents for both restoration projects. The soda fountain, with its original 1896 marble counter, operated late into the 20th century and was eventually turned into an art gallery. Shelley has kept the soda fountain and the art gallery intact, while renovating the rest of the building and adding guest accommodations. The soda fountain and art gallery are open all year long, as is the adjacent Beautiful Impressions rubber stamping gift shop.
Shelley¡¯s flair for design is evident in the guest rooms as well as in the common areas. Fresh flowers and dried arrangements are used throughout the house. The room colors, the hand stenciling, the wallpaper, and the fabrics enhance the period d¨¦cor. Guest rooms are tastefully furnished with romantic four-poster or canopy beds, fireplaces, and comfortable seating. All rooms have cable TV, wireless Internet, and phones with data ports and Jacuzzi. My favorite room is the Library with its deep red-accented walls, white woodwork, and a working fireplace original to the building.
Beverages and cookies are available during the day, and sherry is set out in the dining room in the evening. You will find books and magazines in the parlor. During milder weather, take advantage of the expansive grounds with pretty
gardens, inviting sitting areas, hammocks, and a handsome two-
century-old maple tree with swing.
Breakfast is served by candlelight in the elegant dining room. The glass doors of the original built-in corner cupboard expose the fine china and crystal used at breakfast. The inn¡¯s culinary trained chefs prepare breakfast and snacks. We enjoyed a wonderful assortment of baked goods that included muffins and rosemary focaccia bread served with homemade orange butter. We started with fresh fruit cups, and our entr¨¦es, cr¨ºpes topped with caramelized bananas, were delicious.
The Deacon Timothy Pratt House and the James Soda Fountain & Gallery are located in the historic district of Old Saybrook, on gas-lit Main Street, within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Old Saybrook is a small New England seacoast town bordered by both the Connecticut River and the Long Island Sound. The inn is only a mile from the beach, and a short drive will take you to area attractions that include Mystic Seaport, casinos (Foxwoods¡ªsee page 107¡ªand Mohegan Sun), and the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat. Shelley has area maps and will assist in planning a scenic walking tour and coastal bicycle trips. She can also help with restaurant recommendations and reservations.
¡ö The Deacon Timothy Pratt Bed & Breakfast, 325 Main St., Old Saybrook, CT, (860) 395-1229 or (800) 640-1195; $120-$220; 7 rooms; www.pratthouse.net.
THE INN AT WESTON
The Inn at Weston, located in the charming village of Weston (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), provides (1) a romantic setting, (2) lovely rooms, and (3) gourmet dining¡ªa perfect recipe for a delicious Vermont getaway, thanks to innkeepers Bob and Linda Aldrich along with Scott Hendricks, who are wonderful hosts.
After checking in, my husband and I were pleased to partake in the afternoon tea set out in the well-stocked library. We were duly impressed by the expansive grounds with views of the West River and with Adirondack chairs conveniently available for relaxing. The inn is comfortably elegant from the common areas to the spacious guest rooms. Many of Bob Aldrich¡¯s beautiful orchids find their way from the greenhouse to the inn. Fresh flowers and plants can be found just about everywhere. Be sure to ask for a tour of the greenhouse; it contains one of the largest (and most breathtaking) private orchid collections in the Northeast.
The inn is within walking distance of the famous Vermont Country Store, well-known for its Vermont-made products, and shops that feature Christmas collectibles and home furnishings. Nearby is the Weston Playhouse located on the village green, which, during the summer season, presents summer-stock theater. For a real treat, take the short drive to the famous Weston Priory, a Benedictine monastery, where the Brothers, touted for their beautiful music, welcome visitors.
We did just that and returned to the inn for dinner in the darling main dining room. Chef Michael Kennedy¡¯s dishes are both innovative and delicious. We loved everything¡ªthe pesto flatbread with tomatoes, spinach, red peppers, and fresh mozzarella; the tender, luscious steak; and the sweet sea scallops. The award-winning wine list is excellent. Live piano music accompanied dinner, which made the experience even more romantic. The restaurant¡¯s bar is cozy and has a separate pub menu for casual dining. But in the summer, I¡¯d
recommend the Gazebo, a perfect setting to enjoy a cocktail or a meal.
Accommodations are located in the Main Inn, the Coleman House, and the more expensive Carriage House. The rooms each offer a variety of amenities; some have whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, and TV/VCRs. Our room, the Peabody in the Main Inn, was
lovely with a private deck for warm weather and a fireplace for chilly nights.
Early risers can take wake-up mugs of coffee back to their rooms, while a multi-course breakfast with several entr¨¦e offerings is served in the dining room later each morning. Take my advice and don¡¯t do without an order of the homemade blueberry pancakes.
¡ö The Inn at Weston, Scenic Rte. 100, Weston, VT; (802) 824-6789; $185-$385; 13 rooms; www.innweston.com.
THREE MOUNTAIN INN
Retreat to southern Vermont and enjoy a
stay at the Three Mountain Inn. Located in the quiet village of Jamaica, on scenic Route 30, this charming 1790s, 15-room country inn, run by Jennifer and Ed Dorta-Duque, is steeped in history.
Sit down to a full breakfast while planning your day. A short walk away is the entrance to Jamaica State Park, which has several walking trails including one that takes you to Hamilton Falls, a 125-foot cascade. The inn will pack a picnic lunch for you to take along and send you off with complimentary entry tickets and a trail guide to boot. During the summer months, take advantage of the inn¡¯s swimming pool¡ªeither before you leave in the morning or after you return in the afternoon. If you decide to visit Three Mountain Inn in the winter, you can enjoy nearby Stratton Mountain, which skiers well know has excellent downhill and cross-country skiing, as well as Bromley, Mt. Snow, and Magic Mountain ski resorts. (The three mountains to which the inn¡¯s name refers are, however, Ball, Turkey, and Shatterack Mountains.) Other area winter activities include snowmobiling, sleigh rides, and ice-skating.
The village of Jamaica boasts the wonderful Elaine Beckwith Gallery, with its assortment of graphics, etchings, and paintings, in addition to several unique stores such as Jennie Blue, featuring custom-made pottery, and Margie¡¯s Muse Handweaving and Gallery, which offers hand-made scarves and sweaters. Nearby villages offer antique shops, museums, live theater, and concerts. Brattleboro, which is about a half-hour away, has numerous bookstores where you can locate those hard-to-find titles as well as first editions.
Have an urge to shop? A short drive will take you to the designer outlets and factory stores in Manchester where you will find everything from Baccarat crystal
to the Giorgio Armani Company Store. Also in Manchester is Hildene, Robert Todd Lincoln¡¯s historic home, which is open to the public year round. In addition to tours, special events take