Frank Sturm considers himself an avid New England adventurer and has 15 years of experience in the lawn care industry.
New England offers some of the nation's most historical and beautiful lodging. Listed here are the top lodges and inns you'll find from the coast of Maine to the coast of Rhode Island. By the time you leave all five resorts, you'll feel like you've lived in the northeast for years.
If you long to breathe fresh mountain air, check into the Appalachian Mountain Club's Highland Center at Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. If you prefer a touch of elegance, then the Trapp Family Lodge in historic Stowe, Vermont is well suited to serve you. These are just two out of the five weekend getaways spots in this article, so take a look and share your vacation experiences!
1. AMC Highland Center Lodge in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire
Men's Journal rated the AMC Highland Center as the Best Wilderness Lodge. Outdoor Magazine also rated the lodge a finalist for Best Family Destination. Its features range from quaint, simple and somewhat rugged to luxurious (by a hiker's standards). Nestled into the mountains and valleys of the White Mountains, the Highland Center is many vacationers' starting points to an array of wilderness adventures.
While the resort caters to casual outdoor families, it is also the resting point for many thru-hikers who have hiked long, arduous journeys. This is not a typical resort. You won’t find a bar and restaurant with live music , but what you will find is a lodge that provides its guests with everything they need to enjoy the true star of the show--New Hampshire's wilderness.
The Center: Inside, the lodge's finished wood walls, banisters and columns feel as overpowering as the mountains resting outside its doorsteps, while the sparkling fire gives off a welcoming warmth. After a long day of adventure, relax in its living area or in front of one of its many window seats, grab a cold beverage and open a good book. For those who want to browse their computers, the lodge also has free WiFi.
During the summer, you'll find many guests lounging outside on its quiet patio. The only sounds you'll hear at night come from the feet shuffling in and out of the Lodge or from muffled conversations near the fireplace. While at the Highland Center, you are fully engulfed by some of New England's most beloved scenery.
Lodging: Stay in one of the Highland Center's 34 rooms. Private rooms may range from $63 per adult/per night and $27 per child/per night to $142 per adult/per night. In all, the lodge holds 15 private rooms with a private bath and 19 lodge bunkrooms with a shared bath. Rooms have fresh towels, linens, soaps and all the goodies that make you feel like you are staying in a hotel.
The Highland Center, meeting rooms, dining hall and some rooms with bathrooms are handicap accessible.
Food and Drinks: The Highland Center includes breakfast and dinner in most of it's packages. Both meals are served in simple buffet fashion, which is great for those on the go.
Entertainment: The great thing about New Hampshire is it forces you to relearn how to be a kid. The Highland Center offers guided, easy to moderate hikes from its grounds as well as outdoor workshops, which teach you how to do everything from reading a map and compass to animal tracking. If safe, take a dip in the nearby waterfalls, search for wildlife, challenge yourself on the slopes or test yourself out on Avon mountain, which is only steps away.
Outdoor adventures are a perfect way to test your physical strength and rejuvenate your inner spirit.
2. The Trapp Family Lodge - Stowe, Vermont
The iconic Trapp Family Lodge, a family-owned, European-style resort with a bunch of New England flare resides on 2,500 acres in Stowe Vermont. The lodge is a classic example of luxury meets simplicity. Guests will enjoy lofty rooms and grand villas, as well as pristine views of a countryside that fades into remote mountains.
History: You may recognize the name vonn Trapp from the stage and big screen. The play and film, “The Sound of Music” is a fictionalized story based on Maria Von Trapp, her family, friends and acquaintances. Originally two German films portrayed the vonn Trapp family on the big screen. Then, some years later, their story took center stage on Broadway where it became a big hit. Due to its smashing success, the play was transformed into an American movie, which would later win Picture of the Year in 1965. The Trapp Family Lodge plays "The Sound of Music" movie every Thursday night to both honor their family’s history and put guests in the spirit.
Lodging: Check into one heir 96 rooms and enjoy sweeping views of apple orchards or Vermont’s delicate countryside. Or, do the same from the patio or balcony of one of their grand villas or cabins. They offer an array of different room types. The largest room, the vonn Trapp Suite includes a master bedroom and king bed, kitchenette with a sink, refrigerator, stove and appliances, a large balcony, whirlpool bath and classic wood burning fireplace. This room sleeps five.
If you truly want to bath in Vermont’s charm, stay in either of their vistas of guest houses. Two or three bedroom villas include state-of-the-art kitchens, rustic fireplaces, free WiFi and enchanting views. The guest houses are located steps from their main lodge and include most of the amenities of the villas.
Entertainment: While here, you’ll want to have some fun. Bring the skies, the mountains are waiting for you. Put on the snow shoes and take a hike up to the family’s Chapel. On your way to the Chapel, you’ll walk right across the paths of cross country skiers. Both are perfect outdoor work outs. And after you've sucked in enough mountain air, relax in the lodge's hot tub and steam room and get a massage. They also have a small game room and an indoor swimming pool.
3. Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham, Massachusetts
Listed by Travel & Leisure Magazine as one of the top resorts in the world and the best hotel on Cape Cod by Boston Magazine, Chatham Bars Innoffers you a world of luxury in a simple, New England town. The Inn was built in 1914 for the wealthy, but since then, it has gone through a wealth (no pun intended) of renovations that will please everyone.
If you stay at Chatham Bars Inn, you will receive a two for one deal. First, you’ll take in sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean while you rest in their opulent suites and dining experiences. And two, you can have fun in the classic town of Chatham, Massachusetts. Walk down streets lined with picturesque shops and galleries or sit back and listen to the sweet sounds of their free summer concerts.
Lodging: The Main Inn holds several room types and suites, all of which are bathed in eloquent decorations and woodwork. Choose from their ocean view rooms or upgrade to their 1120 square foot presidential suite. The latter contains two separate bedrooms, two fireplaces, a marble bath, a wet bar and an expansive dining and entertaining area. Walk onto the patios of every suite and you’ll feel the gentle ocean air wisp across your face.
If you prefer a bit more privacy, check out their ocean front shingle-style cottages. While here, you’ll feel like you have true ownership over your vacation. Cottages suites are built in a variety of styles and placed a good distance from each other. For adults who want the ultimate luxury experience, check into the Harbor Inn’s Spa Suites. These suites contain a sauna, steam showers, fireplaces and hydrotherapy bathtubs--most of the items people don’t own in their current homes.
Food and Drinks: When you visit the Cape, you will eat some of the freshest food in the world. The Inn offers a selection of dining types that will cater to your different moods. Feeling a little classy? Their STARS restaurant offers premiere steak, fine wine and panoramic views of the ocean. Their more casual restaurant is the Sacred Cod and their outside dining options include the Veranda and Beach House. Both offer views of the oceans.
If you want to entertain a party, the Chatham Bars Inn also offers private dining. And if you just want to get a little wild, ask them about their private boat taxi, which will take you “Joe’s Beach Bar and Grill” or “Nauset Beach Club” in Orleans, MA.
Entertainment: Sometime luxury can make you feel a bit stuffy. So, when it does, you need to just get outside and have some fun. Chatham Bars Inn offers private boat shuttles to quiet beaches along Cape Cod where the only other guests may be some sea gulls or seals. On the resort, you can also play tennis, exercise in their fitness center, swim in their pool or take a boat or sailing tour.
For those not used to life along the ocean, Chatham Bars offers whale watching from their 52’ yacht. The city of Chatham is also home to a 4.5 mile bike trail, golf courses and nature walks. While here, I also recommend you check out Chatham's lighthouses. Their lighthouses offers seasonal tours and they are in close proximity to Chatham Bars Inn. The resort also offers guests with children specifically designed programs to ensure their child or children have just as much fun as the adults.
4. The Pomegranate Inn in Portland, Maine
The Pomegranate Inn takes you away to a dream world--a world you might not have enough time to explore. Its startling colors venture from one side of the Inn to the other and its intricate statues almost seem to come to life beneath local art work.
The many personalities of this Inn makes up for its lack of size, which isn't a bad thing. Each bedroom is decorated differently so you'll always be in for a treat when you revisit. They cook traditional New England meals just right and understand that the final product is all in the details. For example, it's important that the right amount of local syrup be poured on your pancakes and not too much. And after your meals, what is more exciting than taking in a piece of historical New England--Portland--while you sip down a few cold, hard beverages.
Lodging: The Inn holds eight bedrooms with their own flavor and personality. Fine silk linens drape the stain glass windows and soft beds, while floral motifs and exotic patterns adorn the walls. While the rooms' decors boast of tradition and history, every corner still feels fresh and vibrant. Wallpaper may be an outdated design concept, but it actually feels refreshing and unique tapered to the walls.
All rooms own working fireplaces with attractive mantels, private baths and televisions. Rates range from $139-159 per night.
Food: Indulge in a gourmet breakfast whose swath of colors, textures and designs are as visually treating as the Inn's architecture and vintage paintings. Sip on your roasted coffee or fresh organic teas as you scoff down french toast, eggs, or blueberry pancakes.
For those who had a wild night observing the Inn's whimsical art work or took to the streets of Portland, sleep in and eat breakfast thereafter.You can ask the front desk to drop off a breakfast basket at your door. It'll be filled to the brim with fruits, pastries and tasty juice.
Entertainment: If a picture is worth a thousand words, than the Pomegranate Inn is a compilation of novels waiting to be read. You'll never be bored as you stroll its boldly decorated hallways and savor over the succulent paintings of local artists. Have you been waiting to read the novel that has sat on your bedside table for months? While the Pomegranates' engrossing ornaments may sound like they'd be a distraction, their elegant, historical overtones actually invite you to open the first page. It's as if the forgotten sport of reading is a welcomed necessity here.
When you're done engaging in the art, breath Maine's fresh air and saunter down to historic Portland. It's only steps away from your front door. Depending on the time of year you can enjoy nearby skiing, Christmas tree lighting's or graceful horse and carriage rides. In the summer, enjoy nature walks, live shows, outdoor events and concerts. Or, jump from pub to pub and drink down New England's classic wines and craft brew beers.
5. The Chandler at Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island
Built in 1873,The Chandler at Cliff Walk provides guests with an opulent, but comfortable stay along Newport's renowned Cliff Walk. In fact, it was the first mansion and only hotel built along the Cliffs. During your stay, enjoy breathtaking views from the array of unique guest rooms, exquisite food cooked in their world-class dining areas and live entertainment along its city's historic cobblestone boulevards.
The 3.5 mile Cliff Walk is staple feature of the Inn. The Walk starts at The Chandler and wraps around one of Newport's beautiful, rigid coastlines. During your walk, you'll pass powerful, but delicately and painstakingly designed Gilded Age mansions. It is a wonderful adventure for anyone staying at the Chandler.
Lodging: You've been to plenty of hotels that boast about their room's special features like big screen TVs or sweeping views of some sort of scenery. And while these rooms may deliver on their extravagant promises, they also lack individuality. Their rooms don't give you a reason to come back. So, once you've seen one, you've seen them all.
This is not the case with The Chanler. The Inn's 21 rooms each have theirl name and exhibit a specific period-style of décor. While the Inn's rooms have kept their traditional 19th century, European style theme, they've been upgraded to meet the requirements of modern vacationers. Bask in the warmth of oversized Jacuzzi tubs, saunas and 6-jetted and/or rainheaded showers. And yes, there are TVs and sweeping views of the ocean.
You can choose from the somewhat cheaper Manor room or upgrade to the very popular ocean villas, which overlook the Cliff Walk and Atlantic Ocean. The Garden and Ocean Villas contain private entrances and outdoor hot tubs.
All rooms include a complimentary breakfast, wireless internet, newspaper delivery and mineral water.
Food and Drinks: Breakfast is complimentary with your room, so ensure you take advantage of this nice feature every morning. The Chanler serves casual, but delectable lunches in their Veranda. What was once the old mansions' outdoor patio, is now closed off, but it still provides you with incredible views of the ocean. For dinner, rest your weary body at the Spiced Pear. The servers will take care of you and their food will put your mind and body at ease. The elegant room spotlights an impressive fireplace and ocean views..
Entertainment: Due to the lack of parking around The Chanler and in Newport, the Inn suggests you take their luxury SUV, on-call shuttle to wherever your heart desires. The summer is an amazing season to spend time in the city. There are plenty of places for you to drop a line in the water and fish or sprawl out on the beach. If you are new to the area, take a tour on a charter boat. If you'd rather stay on land, sign up for horseback riding lessons. Later stroll Newport's historic, cobblestone streets. I'm sure you'll find some knick-knack to bring home in one of the city's many shops.
The Atlantic Beach Club is a hot spot for college-age adults who spend all day playing volleyball, basking in the sun and listening to live music in the afternoon. And yes, at night things may get a little loud and crazy. If you'd rather hang with an older crowd, there are plenty of other sports bars, Irish pubs and jazz and blues clubs to bring you into the wee hours of the morning.
© 2014 Frank Sturm