Traveling the MidAtlantic, I always thought that the impersonal experiences of a hotel suited me well. But that’s before I stayed in some upscale bed and breakfast inns. So, I’ve described four especially good ones. The Baladerry and Richard Johnston Inns are located in entertaining towns with lots of great attractions. The Iris Inn and Carlisle House are both Select Registry Inns; consult the Select Registry list for more luxury inns located throughout the United States. And enjoy your weekend getaway!
The Carlisle House in Carlisle (2 hours north of Washington DC in South Central Pennsylvania)
Carlisle might not be on your “must visit” list, but it should. This charming college town will entertain and delight you, between the fantastic bistros like Cafe Bruges and Issei Noodle, to the handmade crafts at American Artisan Gallery, to the friendly farmers market in the town square on Wednesday afternoons. This is locavore foodie heaven, and right outside of town, are farm stands like Carlisle Country Market with as many as 70 kinds of apples and other produce grown on these picturesque rolling hills. Carlisle is also the home of Dickinson College and has a hipster vibe. Consider taking a class at The Kitchen Shoppe Cooking School, or just stop in to browse; you won’t believe their selection of cooking tools and food. And don’t miss my favorite place, the wine bar and bistro called Castlerrig Wine Shop. The wine shop is steps away from the Carlisle House which is one of the rare members of the Select Registry, so you know it meets every measure of quality, luxury and comfort. The gracious innkeepers treat guests to an elegant breakfast each morning featuring fresh made quiche. They stock your room with everything you never knew you needed, and generally make you feel exceptionally comfortable. This Inn is modern despite it’s historic distinction as a Circa Civil War Victorian. The guest rooms are generous in size, some with multiple rooms and suites. I loved staying in Molly’s Room–the shower had six shower-heads! The beds have luxe sheets, the towels are plush, and the furnishings are most conducive to settling in for a complete night of relaxation. The Carlisle House would be a perfect place for a family with older kids, a couple seeking rest and romance, or for writers like me, looking for solitude to do her best thinking! You can even plug in your Tesla, because the innkeepers have installed an electric charger in the free parking lot.
148 South Hanover Street, Carlisle, PA 17013
www.thecarlislehouse.com Phone: 717-249-0350
Richard Johnston Inn in Fredericksburg (1 hour south of Washington DC in Fredericksburg, Virginia)
Fredericksburg is an infinitely walkable town. You can park your car once, and not return until it’s time to drive home. Stroll from one end of town to the other and you’ll find upscale restaurants, hip boutiques, antique shops and fascinating historic sites like the Mary Washington House–George Washington’s mother lived here most of her life. Fredericksburg may be a historic town, but it’s alive with energy and creativity. There are lots of cultural activities–art studios, theatre, and the National Park battlefields directly outside of town. Visit the creepy Apothecary, or Fredericksburg Museum to learn how doctors created the concept of triage during the battles of Spotsylvania, Chambersburg and Fredericksburg. Situated on the banks of the muddy Rappahannock River, the historic Richard Johnston Inn – located at 711 Caroline Street, is an ideal home base for your explorations. The house is decorated in 1770 period style, with classic antiques and four poster beds, but also has modern amenities, like free wifi, free transportation from the train station and a business office. The Innkeeper bakes fresh muffins daily and prepares a gourmet breakfasts every morning. There is a charming sitting room and welcoming garden where the innkeeper grows her own herbs. For $50 per night extra, you can bring your furry friend. I stayed in the lovely Olivia Room, with a canopy bed, street view and fireplace.
The Iris Inn in Staunton (2.5 hours from Washington DC in Waynesboro, Virginia)
Staunton is an architectural wonder on the foothills of George Washington National Forest. The birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson, Staunton has everything a traveler needs for an entertaining retreat–historic sites, museums, first class restaurants, gorgeous scenery and cute independent shops. Besides being unimaginably gorgeous, the region’s Blue Ridge Mountains have lots of killer hiking and biking trails. Hike to the breathtaking Crabtree Falls, the highest waterfall in Virginia, or head to nearby Wintergreen Resort or Massanutten Resort for some skiing and snowboarding. After all that exercise, you’ll need a comfy place to rest your head. That brings me to the Iris Inn featuring the “tree house of my dreams” as I’ve nicknamed them. The Iris Inn’s mountain cabins boast cutting edge furnishings, a working fireplace, flat screen television, and secluded personal hot tub on the deck. They all have rainwater showers with views of the woods, a private balcony, small kitchen, and motorized shades that descend with a push of a button. These cabins are designed for couples who want to feel pampered by amenities, and are inspired by spectacular sunsets. In the evenings, the friendly innkeepers welcome you to socialize a bit with a complimentary wine gathering. Perched on a ravine, most of the rooms face the Shenandoah Valley’s textured hills and dales. The hectic world seems far away when guests nestle into a rocking chair on the deck, or read by the fireplace.
191 Chinaquapin Drive Waynesboro, VA 2298 firstname.lastname@example.org theirisinn.com
The Baladerry Inn in Gettysburg (About 90 minutes from Washington DC in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)
Gettysburg is famous for its legendary battlefields, but a recent visit to this area helped me realize there is so much more. The town is located in Adams County, a region known for having fertile farmland, and you can visit the orchards, wineries and ciderys using the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail guide. Gettysburg also has inventive craft breweries, like Appalachian Brewery, with a beer flight that impresses the most knowledgeable enthusiast. Sample wine at Gettysburg’s three fine vineyards–Hauser, Reids or Adams Wineries–all welcome visitors to taste and enjoy light bites. It’s best to stay overnight after all that sampling, and Gettysburg offers several comfortable options–like the the classic, new Wyndham Gettysburg or at a historic inn. The inns really have a lot of character, and their proprietors are the perfect advisors when it comes to knowing what to see and do. One notable bed & breakfast I visited is The Baladerry Inn. Originally built in 1812, the inn was called Bushman Farm when it was used as a field hospital for the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. Today, the Baladerry Inn is fully updated with the latest luxuries, and surrounded by lush landscaped grounds. The owners have paid close attention to detail to make every room comfortable, contemporary and restful. Their breakfast is a sumptuous three course meal made with local ingredients from close-by farms. You’ll love the huge great room with a roaring fireplace that beckons you to relax.
The Baladerry Inn on 40 Hospital Road baladerryinn.com
Gettysburg, PA 17325 (717) 337-1342
So, next time you’re thinking about a vacation that is truly restful, cozy and full of character, consider one of the MidAtlantic’s wonderful Bed & Breakfast Inns. Tell them Renee sent you!
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.