The 12 Best Historic Inns in American Small Towns

These historic inns are perfect complements to their charming small towns.

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

These historic inns in small towns are certainly cool, but more than anything, they return to the time when multigenerational homes made sense, pieces of infrastructure weren’t immediately disposable and life happened with interactions and engaging the senses rather than through a pixelated screen. Check out these very cool inns and take some history away with you.

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12. Logan Inn in New Hope, Pennsylvania

Situated by the Delaware river and cut through by the Delaware Canal, New Hope is a small, pretty village in the heart of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It has a reputation as a center of arts and people come from across the United States to visit its galleries, antique shops and experience its vibrant culinary scene. It is also full of history, as the settlement was founded in the early 18th century as a mid-journey resting point between New York City and Philadelphia.

A perfect complement to the town is the Logan Inn, which was opened as a tavern in 1722 by New Hope’s founder, John Wells. Its rooms have a Revolutionary War theme and the owners are passionate about the region’s history. It is also famed for being among America’s most haunted buildings...

11. The Morris Harvey House in Fayetteville, West Virginia

Small-town hospitality, gorgeous historic buildings and all the excitement of the New River Gorge are what makes Fayetteville, West Virginia, one of America’s coolest small towns. Tourists flood the town in droves during peak rafting season, but if white water doesn’t suit your fancy, there are tons of fun ways to explore nature in the area, like canopy tours, hiking, horseback riding and more. In town, visitors can wander through elegant streets lined with local eateries, boutique bed and breakfasts, unique art galleries and independent shops housed in impeccably restored Victorian, Romanesque Revival and other architecturally significant buildings.

For an elegant night’s stay, the Historic Morris Harvey House in the Historic District was built in 1902. This gorgeous Queen Anne-style house with a wraparound porch has serviced travelers and wayfarers to Fayetteville since 1994. Each of its five elegant rooms are appointed with tastefully chosen antiques and most have gas fireplaces. Located on West Maple Avenue, minutes from the diverse restaurants and boutiques on Court Street and the Treetop Canopy Tours as well as all of the nature-adventure attractions of Fayetteville, peace and quiet and a good night’s rest is literally just around the corner from total excitement.

10. The Pack House Inn in Edenton, North Carolina

Find any angle of Edenton in any season and, more likely than not, it’ll be picture perfect. The prettiest town in North Carolina is perched on the north side of Albemarle Sound like a basking swan; large columned white houses with wrap-around porches staring out at the expansive harbor and, behind them, streets of boutiques and cafes.

After wandering around historic house museums and soaking up the coastal views, visitors can sleep in classic luxury at the most adorable little inn in North Carolina. With 23 rooms spread over three distinct and equally handsome and historic buildings, the Pack House Inn has got accommodation to suit anyone’s needs.

9. Abilene's Victorian Inn B & B in Abilene, Kansas

Abilene flourished as a cattle-ranching town, encouraged by the development of the Kansas Pacific Railway through the town. Railroads were laid, and plains were occupied by stockyards breeding cattle and horses. Individuals who prospered in this time built exorbitant mansions and businesses and connected those edifices with pavement as the 20th century churned on. Those buildings have been preserved as Old Abilene Town, a historical neighborhood of restored 19th century buildings.

One such edifice, Abilene’s Victorian Inn, has retained the same Midwestern hospitality and elegance since 1887, when it was built. It went from entertaining the well-to-do of Abilene society, such as the Eisenhowers, to, more recently, wedding parties, honeymooners, Red Hat Ladies, and others. This inn encourages community – guests enjoy homemade breakfast together in their dining room, hang out on the large porch out front or congregate around the two pianos. Visitors looking for small-town Victorian elegance should definitely look into Abilene’s Victorian Inn.

8. The Beaufort Inn in Beaufort, South Carolina

Combining a beachfront location in the South Carolina Lowcountry with beautiful antebellum architecture, Beaufort has become a popular destination with those seeking a quiet coastal escape. It’s strong arts and cultural scene and annual festivals are set against the backdrop of its long and fascinating history – early in its existence it became embroiled in Native American resistance to colonization and a little later it faced the threat of Spanish invasion. Its role in the Revolutionary War and the years following, the area cultivated great wealth from cotton plantations and the slaves who worked on them – this sordid past and affluence breathes through the architecture of its historic downtown.

The Beaufort Inn has seen the march of mixed progress during its century-old existence; its cottages have been the very settings of the Beaufort Female Benevolent Society, the Clover Club (which founded Beaufort’s first lending library which lead to the public library system), as well as the drafting of the Articles of Secession which led to the Civil War. It later served as a voter registration center for decades during which untold numbers of freed slaves registered to vote. Apart from all of that, it’s simply a charming place to stay for a night: its verandas overlook colorful gardens and the historic town beyond, while its rooms are luxuriously appointed in a range of styles. The inn also has its own restaurant, the Southern Graces bistro, which is open to the public and popular with Beaufort residents.

7. Steel Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast in Natchitoches, Louisiana

Southern hospitality doesn’t get better than this. Located in the history-rich Natchitoches, the first established town in Louisiana, amidst 19th-century architecture, former plantations, distinct Southern and Creole restaurants and the picturesque delights of the Cajun countryside, the Steel Magnolia House is a beautiful 1830s house located on the Cane River. Architecture fans will enjoy the historical elements that can be seen throughout this cultural treasure. Although the house is largely known for being the set of the movie Steel Magnolias, it has had a long history behind it: it was a hospital during the Civil War and is rumored to have had some involvement in the Underground Railroad. Now, visitors can enjoy any of its five beautifully restored rooms, soak in their backyard swimming pool, stroll through the scenic gardens, engage in conversation with the proprietors in their elegant common rooms and even catch a screening of the movie that made this house iconic.

6. Congress Hall in Cape May, New Jersey

Located a 2.5-hour drive from New York City and only 1.5 hours out of Philadelphia, Cape May is a great day trip or weekend getaway for those looking to escape from the city and visit a quaint coastal destination. Built in 1817, Congress Hall is a sight to behold in itself, as well as a comfortable place to lay one’s head. This sprawling bright yellow Victorian-era structure – the oldest seaside resort in the country – is host to wedding parties, conferences and resort tourists relaxing at the sea spa. Rated as one of the "Top 45 Hotels in the Northeast" by Condé Nast Traveler, Congress Hall is an excellent choice for Cape May visitors.

5. The Pig Hill Inn in Cold Spring, New York

Located one hour from New York City, Cold Spring is perfect for city-dwellers who need a breath of fresh air, literally. Cold Spring is resplendent with state parks snaked over with hiking trails, local farms and a winding coastline along the scenic Hudson River.

Hands down, the most homey place to stay in town is the romance-heavy Pig Hill Inn. Built in 1825, this historic inn offers individually decorated rooms with antique and reproduction period furniture. They serve a full breakfast every morning of blueberry pancakes, apple crumble cake, American-style eggs with all the fixin’s, delivered to their guest’s room. If breakfast in bed doesn’t sound appetizing (nobody likes bacon-greasy sheets), their elegant glass Victorian Conservatory offers a great view of the garden.

4. The Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticut

Essex, Connecticut, may be the most truly New England town in all of New England. As an early shipping and shipbuilding town, Essex played a key role in the war of 1812, suffering the Great Attack from the British coming in through the Connecticut River. Since then, the town has retained its great American pride, as well as its small-town friendliness. Its streets are peppered with historic buildings and houses built in Federal-style architecture – distinctly all-American, some dating back to the birth of the country.

One such building is The Griswold inn. Built in the late 18th century in the midst of the Independence, the Inn is the oldest continuously operating inn in the United States. Visitors will find a truly authentic maritime lodging experience untainted by the passage of time – the sea shanties sung in the dining room are just as boisterously loud as always, the liquor still flows by the barrel at the Tap Room and the staff are just as welcoming as the brothers who first founded the Gris’.

3. The Atlantic Inn in Block Island, Rhode Island

Twelve miles off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island has been an island getaway for more than a century. With its rolling hills, miles of beaches and quaint Victorian buildings, this tiny island attracts avid fishers, beach loungers, seafood enthusiasts and New Yorkers who just feel like unwinding by the sea.

The Atlantic Inn is the perfect place to say when visiting Block Island. Steeped in old-world elegance, the inn has been welcoming visitors since 1879 and has even hosted U.S. presidents. Each of its 21 guest rooms are decorated with antique furnishings, but with the inn's long verandah and hilltop setting, you won't be spending your time in the rooms.

2. Inn at Cooperstown, New York

People make their way to Cooperstown, NY, because it’s the home of baseball. More specifically, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which is what makes Cooperstown a must-see destination for any big fans of America’s favorite pastime. But though Cooperstown is a baseball town, that isn’t all it is: there are plenty of sights to see in Cooperstown, music to enjoy, art to be absorbed, beer to swig, and lakes to canoe.

For a charming stay at a charming inn that’s conveniently located in Central Cooperstown, The Inn at Cooperstown is a hop and a skip away from the Brewery Ommegang, Otsega Lake, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Fenimore Art Museum. From the outside, this fully-restored 1874 inn looks like a sprawling mansion, but inside it contains all the comforts of a home away from home. It’s definitely one of the top lodging choices in Cooperstown, along with the Otesaga Resort Hotel.

1. The Harry Packer Mansion Inn in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

The historic town of Jim Thorpe is a tiny mass of Victorian architecture, historical attractions and unique shops surrounded by steep hillsides, green-draped mountains and lush forests, the same spread of arresting scenery that earned the town the nickname "The Switzerland of America."

Located in town, a stately and elegant Victorian-style mansion is the setting of the Harry Packer Mansion, which is one of the more unique places to stay in Jim Thorpe. For one thing, it was one of the homes that Disney used for inspiration when designing their ride "Haunted Mansion." But fear not, as the folks at Harry Packer Mansion assure us that the house is actually not haunted. But capitalizing on its setting, the hotel does host "Murder Mystery Weekends," which are a shockingly good time.

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