By Ben Chapman
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
This Valentine's Day, you don't have to choose between your great loves. Celebrate the holiday with all your crushes by taking your partner to a bed-and-breakfast that specializes in something near to your heart.
Chances are you'll find a match because there are small inns for all kinds: animal lovers, nature lovers, wine lovers, you-name-it lovers.
"Innkeepers put their passions into their businesses," says Mary White, president of BnBFinder.com, a Web-based directory and booking engine for more than 3,000 inns worldwide. "That's why you can find almost anything at a bed-and-breakfast: farming, scrapbooking, cooking, painting or dancing."
February is the busiest month of the year for romantic getaways, according to White, so if you want a Valentine's reservation, book now, as bed-and-breakfasts often have only a few rooms. Here are recommendations for six kinds of lovers. (Some may be sold out for Valentine's Day weekend, but who says you can show your love on only one day of the year?)Nature Lovers
Stonebow Inn (146 Casselman Rd., Grantsville, Md., 301-895-4250, http://www.stonebowinn.com), about a three-hour drive from the District; rooms from about $140.
The bucolic Stonebow property dates to the 1870s, when parts of the inn were built as components of a gristmill complex. The Stonebow is adjacent to four-acre Casselman Bridge State Park, where a single-span stone-arch bridge from 1813 straddles Casselman River, a popular spot for fly fishermen. The inn has four buildings, including the Victorian wood-frame Stanton House, which has four rooms; the River House, with three rooms; and two small cottages. All accommodations have 400-thread-count linens and romantic Victorian touches, such as four-poster beds.
Stonebow is about 19 miles from Deep Creek Lake and Wisp Resort, so although you're far from the resort crowds, those destinations are still an easy drive. Take advantage of outdoor winter activities at Wisp (301-387-4911, http://www.wispresort.com), which include downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing (there's plenty of white stuff this year). Go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride with Pleasant Valley Dream Rides (301-334-1688, http://www.pleasantvalleydreamrides.com). Take a ride with Husky Power Dogsledding (301-746-7200, http://www.huskypowerdogsledding.com).Chocolate Lovers
1825 Inn (4009 S. Lingle Ave., Palmyra, Pa., 717-838-8282, http://www.1825inn.com), about a 2 1/2 -hour drive from Washington; rooms from $114.
If the wind is right, you can smell the Hershey chocolate at 1825 Inn, a wood-frame 19th-century home furnished with early American antiques. The inn has six bedrooms on three stories in the main house, plus two cottages in a private two-acre garden surrounded by trees and tall shrubs.
Innkeeper William McQueen offers a Love & Romance Package: a box of chocolates and a dozen roses, plus whatever else you want to give your sweetie (starting at $45). Nearby, you can take a tour of Hershey's Chocolate World (717-534-4900, http://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld); get chocolaty spa treatments at the Spa at the Hershey Hotel (877-772-9988, http://www.hersheypa.com/accommodations/the_spa_at_hotel_hershey); and indulge in death-by-chocolate cake at Fenicci's of Hershey (717-533-7159, http://www.feniccis.com).Wine Lovers
Woolverton Inn (6 Woolverton Rd., Stockton, N.J., 609-397-0802, http://www.woolvertoninn.com), about 3 1/2 hours by car from Washington; rooms from $145.
Close to vineyards and staffed by oenophiles, Woolverton Inn is a lovely place to enjoy fine wine. The inn's fieldstone main house was built in 1792; it was expanded and given a mansard roof in 1850. The house's eight guest rooms are complemented by five cottages, all styled as farm outbuildings and arranged around a two-acre pasture attended by four sheep. Woolverton's 10-acre parcel has views of the Delaware River and the rolling hills of Bucks County and is about three miles from the riverside towns of Lambertville, N.J., and New Hope, Pa.
Take a drive to scads of nearby vineyards, including Sand Castle Winery (800-722-9463, http://www.sandcastlewinery.com), known for its Riesling and pinot noir; Alba Vineyard (908-995-7800, http://www.albavineyard.com), best for sparkling brut; and Crossing Vineyards and Winery (215-493-6500, http://www.crossingvineyards.com). Pair your wine with Woolverton's cheese platter ($40), which includes goat, sheep and cow cheeses, plus home-roasted almonds, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.Food Lovers
Blue Heron Inn, a Bed and Breakfast (14614 Solomons Island Rd., Solomons, Md., 410-326-2707, http://www.blueheronbandb.com), about 90 minutes by car from the District; rooms from $165.
The four guest rooms at Blue Heron Inn are exceptionally large, and all have water views of Solomons Harbor and/or the Patuxent River. The stately white Charleston Colonial-style home offers a breezy, modern interior. A sloping lawn leads to a dock for guests who arrive by boat.
Innkeeper Amanda Rutledge Comer trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and the Culinary Institute of America. Her French-influenced food is divine. Breakfast might include gourmet frittatas, crepes with dried apricots and pears, and brown sugar sauce. Comer's "Couples That Play With Food Together, Stay Together" package, available weekends in February and March, includes a cooking lesson and four-course dinner. Look for a small bistro to open this year.Animal Lovers
CornerStone Farm (525 Barnes Rd., Red Oak, Va., 434-735-0527, http://www.cornerstonefarm.net), about a three-hour drive from Washington; rooms from $99.
About half of this 92-acre working farm in rural Charlotte County is dedicated to livestock, while the remaining area is hardwood and pine forest, with walking and horse trails, and two ponds. The farmhouse in the middle of the complex has three guest rooms in a simple wood-frame structure that was the living quarters for farmworkers in the 19th century. The family atmosphere is exceptionally casual; you almost feel like a farmhand.
The farm is home to Nigerian dwarf goats (they're good for milking), mini Jersey cattle, guinea hens, turkeys, ducks, geese, alpacas, horses and others. You can pet many of the animals (most are sold as pets or breeding animals) or join the innkeepers on morning and evening feeding and grooming rounds.Art Lovers
The Artist's Inn & Gallery (117 E. Main St., Terre Hill, Pa., 717-445-0219, http://www.artistinn.com), about a 2 1/2 -hour drive from Washington; rooms from $115.
This circa-1848 Federal-style home is set atop a hill overlooking Weaverland Valley, one of Dutch Country's prettiest, in an area known for its Amish and Mennonite farms. The inn is loaded with original art, and Lancaster's busy art studio strip is just 20 minutes away. Decorated with French, English and American antiques, the main house has one guest room and two suites; across the garden is a converted carriage house with three bedrooms and two baths, and down the block is another two-bedroom cottage.
Innkeeper-artist Bruce Garrabrandt shows his work in the inn's gallery-sitting room. His whimsical drawings of offbeat animal scenes and lighthearted depictions of local life are skillfully executed with colored pencil. For more art, go to downtown Lancaster, where such venues as CityFolk Gallery (717-393-8807, http://www.cityfolkonprince.com) and Red Raven Art Company (717-299-4400, http://www.redravenartcompany.com) contribute to a flourishing scene of more than a dozen galleries around Prince Street. Garrabrandt's wife, Jan, is a pastry specialist who creates edible works of art for guests.