Right now, when the world seems to be getting scarier by the day, travelers long for - no, are desperate for - an escape close enough to drive to, but far from the maddening and frightening crowds. Each of these 17 getaways from Virginia to Maine revolve around a charming inn or B&B that, though not excessively opulent, will nevertheless soothe your soul, be it through views, food, art, innkeepers or all of the above.
As always, you can find more in-depth information on these and other destinations in Northeast USA through GetawayMavens.com.
Oxford House, Fryeburg, ME. Right on the Maine/New Hampshire border, Fryeburg is closer to NH's White Mountains than it is to the lobster and whales of the coast. As such, it's one of the most remote and out of the way of any town on this list, and therein lies its charm. Contempo-country rooms are easy on the eyes, but it's the friendly welcome, outstanding food and knockout view that will keep you coming back.
Inn Of Acadia, Madawaska, ME. The Northeastern most point of the continental USA, a good six hour drive from Portland, 18 miles from Mile 1 of US Route 1 (in Fort Kent), and right across the narrow St. John River from friendly Canada, Madawaska tells the story of the French Canadians - the Acadians - who "missed the boat" during the British Expulsion in the mid-1700s and settled here. Most locals are bi-lingual French and English, and are, as a whole, a happy group. You'll witness how happy they can be at Aroostook County's only boutique hotel, Inn of Acadia, and it's hopping-on-weekend-live-music-nights Voyager Lounge and excellent restaurant. The place gets packed with groups of laughing, joke-telling, dancing Arcadians. The rest of the world seems so far away.
Greenville Inn, Greenville, ME. On Maine's largest inland body of water, Moosehead Lake, it's easier to fly in via floatplane than to drive to this pristine northern Maine wilderness. But yes, you can drive and once you're here, it's a joy to stay in a former mansion, now a fine inn perched atop a hill overlooking the tiny Moosehead Lake harbor. Take a 3-hour boat cruise, sign up for an early morning Moose (Photo) Safari, or, in winter, bring your snowmobile and ride on miles of groomed logging roads. With an amazing restaurant, comfy-cozy rooms and warm and welcoming owners, the Greenville Inn has all the essentials to make this away-from-it-all feel like home - if home spoiled you rotten.
Holidea House, Bethel, ME. Home to elite boarding school, Gould Academy and just down the road from Sunday River Ski Resort, Bethel does have its share of seasonal visitors. But in warmer months, it's a sleepy kind of town, and most magnificent during fall foliage. With new owners, John and Jeannette Poole, the newly refreshed Holidea House, within steps of indie shops and restaurants, is champs at making you feel all warm, fuzzy and small townish. John puts out a selection of liqueurs and aperitifs complimentary with your stay. And Jeannette's baking skills, which you will first experience upon your arrival and again during breakfast, are fast becoming legend.
Ash St. Inn, Manchester NH. How can a trip to the largest city in the State (NH's "Queen City") be an escape from crowds? It is if you stay on a lovely residential street in Manchester's only B&B. Owned by Rob and Margit Wezwick (since March '15), the 5-bedroom Ash St. Inn, renovated in 2000 to its early 1900's luster, retains its Victorian charm, and is located two short blocks from the fantastic Currier Museum. Margit, a cell biologist PhD who grew up in a family-run Guest House in Germany, and Rob, a high-tech guy with a degree in Culinary Arts, provide a delicious, anticipatory and appealing guest experience.
Inn at Ellis River, Jackson, NH. The White Mountains of New Hampshire have been drawing tourists for over 150 years, with North Conway a crowded hotspot in season. Jackson, in the mountain's eastern region, is a bit more subdued and Christmas card perfect in winter. The Inn at Ellis River, just out of town, gets my vote for value and ambience. Homey, cozy and country-cute, and set on a stone-dappled river, the Inn features a swimming pool, billiards room with bar, warmly generous new owners and a hot made to order breakfast.
Inn on the Green, Middlebury, VT. Home to Middlebury College and the wonderful Morgan Horse Farm (yes, it's open for tours!), Middlebury, VT does have a removed from the world aspect. Most visitors stay at the larger Middlebury Inn, but the Inn on the Green offers a more intimate experience. Renovated in 1995 to its just-post-colonial roots, and with only 11 rooms, it's perfect for people looking for both privacy and a small B&B experience (a rare combo). Each room is a study in colonial and Federalist antiques, with original wide-plank floors, and modern amenities (like flat-screen TVs and upscale toiletries). Breakfast is delivered to your room each morning (there's no dining room and no need to socialize), so you can come and go in relative anonymity.
Farmhouse Inn at Robinson Farm, Woodstock, VT. The most compelling reason to come to this resort town in the center of Vermont is its outstanding beauty, and the story it tells about the history of land conservation in this country. Most people stay at the venerable (and wonderful) Woodstock Inn. But for a getaway from the getaway, stay in the more modest Farmhouse Inn at Robinson Farm, where your morning omelet is made with eggs fresh from hens out back and your room is country chic. Owners are a delight, and won't steer you wrong when it comes to dining out.
Hidden Valley B&B, Washington CT. A most refined and elegantly furnished Dutch Colonial, in a most refined and "gentleman farmer" celebrity-favored region of Connecticut, Hidden Valley B&B is tough to find, but once you do you'll want to stay. Simmer in a stone hot tub embedded in the beautiful flagstone patio that takes up the length of the rear of the home. Filled with potted plants and flowers to splendid effect, the patio is the perfect perch from which to gaze at the verdant (seemingly unpopulated) valley below.
Chester Bulkley House, Wethersfield, CT. Just a few miles from Hartford, Wethersfield's Historic District is a living history village in the best of ways. Wethersfield was the setting for the children's book, The Witch of Blackbird Pond and where George Washington met with Rochambeau to discuss Revolutionary War strategy in May 1781 (and yes, he slept here). The Colonial Dames saved a slew of Wethersfield homes and buildings, many of which, like the Webb, Deane and Stevens homes, have been magnificently restored and are open for tours. Bed down next door to the Visitor's Center at the Chester Bulkley House - a white brick beauty built in 1710. Wide floorboards, listing this way and that, are original to the home, stately common rooms are peppered with Colonial knickknacks, rooms are filled with antiques, and a Candlelit Gourmet Breakfast is served every morning in a stunning dining room.
Harvey House Guesthouse: Catskill NY. We love cats as a diversion, so why not go up the Hudson River to Catskill, NY where dozens of fiberglass felines are artfully flaunted around town. Stay in an equally artsy main street guesthouse, where each suite is a funky take on the artist-owner's interior design ethos - and most furniture, accessories and art is for sale. Plan, also, to tour the home of The Father of the Hudson River School of landscape art, Thomas Cole, who lived and worked here.
Fairlawn Inn, Hunter, NY. Just a mile or two from Hunter Ski Resort, the Victorian Fairlawn Inn is a fine place to stay in the Great Northern Catskills. Updated with an inviting patio, fantastic architectural features, and a wild, don't-know-where-to-look-next fantasia of Victoriana (including Tiffany Lamp reproductions), the Fairlawn is a terrific "offbeat" foodie spot to bed down. Owner Chuck Tomajko recently repainted the exterior in Autumn Gold and New London Burgundy - a color combination that pops from the roadway (you can't miss it). He does his own catering in a kitchen bejeweled by a crystal chandelier, and his breakfasts are divine.
Smythe House, Saugerties NY. Saugerties is not a tourist or resort town, so doesn't swarm with people "in season." Deemed one of the Ten Coolest Towns in America by Budget Travel Magazine, Saugerties is one of the most down-to-earth, friendly and community minded burgs on this list, with not just one, but two independent bookstores. (No big surprise that the most gracious late-night talk show host, Jimmy Fallon, was raised here). There's a beautifully restored lighthouse offering overnight accommodations, a sanctuary for abused and neglected farm animals - Catskill Animal Sanctuary - and the Smythe House B&B, owned by Culinary Institute of America (CIA) hot shots. Walk into this whimsical 6-guestroom, "anti-Queen Anne" Victorian, built in 1890 in a hodgepodge of styles, to a "sensory orgy." You'll find Buddha's to 300 year old barn beams in the bedrooms (from a local barn reclamation), and in the backyard, a man-made fishpond, play-sets and tremendous soul-soothing views of the Catskill Mountains. As you can imagine, breakfast is spectacular.
Island Inn and Suites, St. George's Island, MD. Life can be frantic, but never at this gloriously tranquil place where the Big Question at check-in is "do you prefer a "sunrise" or "sunset" view room?" There's no town, just this renovated inn with waterfront on two sides and a trendy restaurant, the Ruddy Duck, next door. You don't need any more than that.
Back Creek Inn, Solomons, MD. Hunt for ancient fossilized shark's teeth, join a yoga class in a winery, and get ready to chill out supremely in this waterfront B&B. You have to make a determined effort to get to Calvert County - Southern Maryland on the unexplored Western Shore of the Chesapeake. But the effort is so worth it for its tranquility. As for the Back Creek Inn, you won't be able to resist the "creek" views from the backyard of this charming 7-room inn, decorated in "comfy-country-cottage." You'll get goose bumps over spectacular sunsets and the Cordon-Bleu-level gourmet breakfasts, served in a charming dining room.
Lewes, DE: Blue Water House B&B, Dogfish Inn, etc. There's nary a franchise hotel in Lewes - on the Delaware end of the Lewes-Cape May, NJ Ferry. But there's a selection of lodgings, each to fit a different whim and personality. Lewes is known for its fishing charters and very active and entertaining Historical Society, but it is gaining traction in the culinary scene and yep, there are some incredibly quirky inns. My favorite is the riot of color that is Blue Water House B&B, refurbished as a modern art gallery gone wild. There's free, unlimited wine and beer for guests (though most do not take advantage) and sizeable, fun and ultra comfy themed rooms. Alternately, the Dogfish Inn - in a gutted and hipsterized motel - wins many nods of approval for its link (same owner) to Dogfish Head Brewery, just a few miles away.
Bennett House B&B, Manassas, VA A charming and stately two-room B&B on a dead end street in a residential neighborhood, The Bennett House was a family home until Jean and Curtis Harrover's kids grew up and out. Now, it makes for a perfect base to explore this region with jaunts into Washington DC, Civil War Battlefields, and one of the best Military Museums - The National Museum of the Marine Corps- in the country. Just five blocks from the train station ("an hour and $18 roundtrip to DC!"), you can leave your car at Bennett House and not have to worry about parking in the big city. But that's not the only reason to stay here. Curtis can quip and banter with the best of them, and Jean's breakfasts - the likes of fresh baked scones and stuffed French Toast - are wonderful. Rooms are antique-sweet and the beds are deliriously comfy as well. Just a few blocks from the charming Old Town Manassas, you don't have to go far for boutique shopping, and great restaurants.