Bed and breakfasts are not just for the retired couple looking for an elaborate antiquing-weekend anymore – they’re for travelers who simply can’t stay cooped up in one place for very long without a short break; they’re for people who are curious about the land just outside their backyard, they’re for fans of long drives, for history-buffs, for people who like turn-down service once in a while and big, lavish country breakfasts. There are fun B&Bs, beautiful austere B&Bs, modern and cool B&Bs, antique boutique B&Bs, and even quirky llama-filled B&Bs (seriously) – and best of all, there are bed and breakfasts in tons of charming small towns across America. Need a guide? Read on, to find the coolest, prettiest, most ornate and most charming small town bed and breakfasts.
Located three hours from New York City and an hour and a half’s drive out of Boston, Newport is where aristocratic families like the Vanderbilts and the Astors built their vacation mansions. Its coastal reputation as the yachting capital of the world supports its culture of millionaire vacation retreats. Off of famed Bellevue Avenue and only a short stroll away from some of the largest mansions in the area, Ivy Lodge provides richly decorated rooms to make you feel like a Vanderbilt for a day. Completed in 1886, the stained-glass windows, three-story oak-paneled staircase, period furnishings and brick fireplaces in the Ivy Lodge makes guests feel as if they’ve not just traversed state borders as much as traveled through time. Check out the B&B’s website for last-minute deals or to book a gift certificate for that perfect get-away-from-it-all kind of vacation for friends and family.
Initially built in 1885, destroyed by fire and earthquake in 1906 and rebuilt in 1982, the many-gabled Carter House in Eureka, California, might just be one of the most striking buildings in the country. Brightly painted with hand-trimmed moldings, this quirky house is more than an interesting building to take photos of – visitors to the Redwood Coast can stay in it too! Features inside the Victorian-designed Carter House Inn include great big four-poster beds, fireplaces and lavish whirlpool bathtubs. Wine and cheese tastings are often organized here, and guests are even provided with free wine from the exclusive Carter cellars, cheese, cookies and tea at happy hour. There’s also an upscale but unpretentious restaurant onsite, Restaurant 301, which uses only produce grown in their edible gardens and purchased from local purveyors.
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.
Southern hospitality doesn’t get better than this. Located in the history-rich Natchitoches, 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.
The peach-colored Victorian mansion that houses the Beaufort Inn is one of the most striking inns in the area. South Carolina’s lowcountry is a popular place for day-trippers and B&B weekenders because of its vibrant arts and cultural scene, quiet coastal elegance and diverse terrain grazing unique wildlife. Visitors for a weekend certainly have a handful of lofty accommodations to choose from, but a hot contender for the most beautiful hotel in Beaufort must be its eponymous inn. Nothing short of utterly charming, 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.
Surrounded by 78,000 acres of parkland, Lexington, Virginia, is famed for its scenic drives, rolling hills, rich Civil War history, traceable in their attractions such as the Lee Chapel and Stonewall Jackson House, and more. The Applewood Inn is a cozy little villa nestled into scenic woodlands. It’s a bed and breakfast, but it’s so much more than just beds and breakfasts – a unique draw to Applewood Inn is the llamas that live onsite. Visitors can take a two-hour trek with them and enjoy a picnic lunch. Other activities include fishing for trout and bass in Buffalo Creek and swimming in the pool. In the evening, guests can relax by the fire or grill some steaks on the poolside barbecue.
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. Adventure-seekers around the country find themselves in this seemingly sleepy town because of its huge white-water rafting, but those who wish to stay dry can find tons of entertainment in the natural forests on a canopy tour, or even just hiking or horseback riding around. People not interested in "roughing it" certainly don’t have to at the Historic Morris Harvey House. Built in 1902, this gorgeous grey Queen Anne-style house with a wraparound porch has serviced travelers and wayfarers to Fayetteville since the 1994. Each of its five elegant rooms are appointed with tastefully chosen antiques and most have gas fireplaces. Their breakfasts are expertly crafted and enjoyed by the dining room’s oak table. Located on West Maple Avenue, minutes from the diverse restaurants on Court Street, and nature-adventure attractions of Fayetteville, peace and quiet and a good night’s rest are literally just around the corner from total excitement.
Couples and travelers from New York and Philadelphia looking for a weekend of antiquing, strolling along leave-strewn dirt roads and admiring historic buildings won’t need to waste a lot of gas going to Chester, which is located less than two hours from both cities. A picture-perfect place to stay is the the Neighbour House, a stately white-columned Greek Revival manse with a broad porch and spacious guestrooms. This historic bed and breakfast dates back to 1830 and is on the New Jersey register of historic places. It underwent a renovation in 1992, which respected the historical elements of the building, so guests will be comfortable in their historic environs. The rooms are classically and comfortably decorated, with plush rugs, ornate armoires and four poster beds. Neighbor House is about five miles outside of Chester on a quiet road.
Taos, New Mexico, is a truly distinct American treasure that mixes Spanish influence with American and Native American, creating totally unique communities of people, culture and architectural style. Offbeat but beautiful, historic but rich in contemporary art and always a unique destination, Taos offers diverse attractions for every kind of traveler. Those looking for a genuine Taos experience will find one at the Adobe & Pines Inn, which features a an 80-foot-long Grand Portal, with comfortably appointed wicker chairs and lanterns for observing the sunrise. This hacienda circa 1830 was once a cultural salon, gathering artists from all over Taos like Georgia O’Keefe in the 1930s. Even now it’s an artistic haven, full of original murals and frescos from Juan Mirabal and other area painters. The colors in each adobe room are surreal, lit by unique fireplaces. All in all, it’s a can’t miss bed and breakfast.
Perfect for families as well as couples on a romantic holiday, Geneva on the Lake is a resort village, a carnival town, a swing city and a wino’s retreat. Evoking the buzz and whirr of arcade games and the theme parks of the ‘60s, Lake Erie truly comes alive in the summer. However, guests who would prefer to sleep away from all the neon excitement will find a personal sanctuary at the Lakehouse Inn. A bed and breakfast, winery, spa and restaurant all rolled into one gorgeous lakeside complex, this inn is truly a package deal! They offer intimate suites, secluded cottages and a family-friendly Beach House above the wine cellar that has a two-person jacuzzi tub overlooking the lake. Perfect for a weekend couples’ escape or a girls’ weekend (they offer a Girlfriends’ Spa Getaway that includes a night in one of the cottages with a full breakfast, three hours of spa treatments and a champagne lunch), the Lakehouse Inn proves that Ohio can really be a romantic getaway.