Autumn Escapes

Fall promises a great show this year. Here are some nearby B&Bs from which you can go cruising for color.

Focus On Inns

September 24, 2000|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

Marylanders can expect fabulous foliage this fall because of our cool, wet summer, or so the weather experts are predicting. This may be the year to slip away for a peaceful weekend at a country inn or bed and breakfast, with nothing more exciting on the schedule than a game of croquet.

You don't want to spend your weekend driving, so we've chosen six places that are all less than two hours away by car. Be sure to make your reservations early. With only five or six guest rooms each, these appealing inns fill up quickly, particularly on the weekends. (Ask for details about accommodations: "guest room" may mean a single or a suite, with or without a private bath.)

Blue Bird on the Mountain

14700 Eyler Ave., Cascade, 800-362-9526, 5 guest rooms, $105-$130, includes continental breakfast, full breakfast on Sundays

The former summer home of Walter Taylor, an aide to Robert E. Lee, is now a B&B in Cascade, a quiet mountain town northwest of Thurmont. The house's sunny, comfortable rooms are decorated with cozy furnishings, quilts, wicker and painted furniture. Two rooms have fireplaces. In front is a pleasantly overgrown garden (with a hot tub!), while in back the acre and a half of rambling lawn is filled with trees. For spectacular leaves you can also visit nearby Catoctin Mountain Park or take a fall foliage train tour.

Don't miss: The Rose Garden suite on the second floor. Its enclosed porch with windows on two sides gives you a wonderful view of sunsets and the peaceful backyard.

Possible turnoff: Blue plush wall-to-wall carpeting on the stairs and throughout the upstairs hall has a decidedly non- historic feel.

Beyond foliage: Stress-reduction massages are available but must be scheduled two days in advance.

Lauretum Inn

954 High St., Chestertown, 800-742-3236, 5 guest rooms, $65-$140, includes continental breakfast

At the end of the winding driveway is a late-19th-century gingerbread house with eclectic architecture so strange and wonderful you can't stop looking at it. The pleasant shabby chic interior, while comfortable, doesn't have the same impact. One of its drawing cards, though, is that this really feels like a home, with a comfortable parlor and, yes, a croquet set for guests to use on the rolling lawn.

Don't miss: The parklike vista from the screened porch or hammock under the trees. Deer sometimes come to graze.

Possible turnoff: Lauretum isn't situated in Chestertown's pretty, historic section.

Beyond foliage: Nearby Rock Hall is getting positively trendy, with lots of intriguing shops.

Bishop's House

214 Goldsborough St., Easton, 800-223-7290, 5 guest rooms, $100-$120, includes full breakfast

If you think you have to head to Western Maryland to see spectacular fall color, you haven't been to the Eastern Shore this time of year. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and Pickering Creek Environmental Center are an easy drive from the small town of Easton. Or you can stay in this clapboard and gabled house in the heart of Easton's historic district, never leave the front porch and see plenty of autumn foliage. Its small yard has several huge, beautiful trees.

The rooms combine romantic Victorian furnishings -- lots of lace and frills and working fireplaces -- with air conditioning, cable TVs and whirlpool tubs.

Don't miss: Innkeeper Diane Laird- Ippolito's collection of vintage hats, which decorates the hall on three floors.

Possible turnoff: New this year are phone jacks for computers in each room, so you don't have an excuse not to check your e-mail.

Beyond foliage: Rent a bicycle. Talbot County has flat terrain and great cycling routes.

Yellow Turtle Inn

111 Springdale Ave., New Windsor, 410-635-3000, 5 guest rooms, $85-$155, includes full breakfast

Some B&Bs go all out to provide the total romantic Victorian getaway. The rooms here, for instance, have names like the Queen's Chamber; and the staff serve breakfast in period costume. What set the Yellow Turtle apart from other B&Bs are the New Age elements and the Zen-like emphasis on serenity and tranquility. The inn, which sits on three acres of rolling countryside, is about as pastoral as you're going to get less than an hour away from Baltimore.

Don't miss: A meditative walk in the labyrinth

Possible turnoff: New Windsor isn't exactly the ends of the earth when you want to get away from it all.

Beyond foliage: Maryland wineries are nearby.

Antietam Overlook Farm

Porterstown Road, Keedysville, 800-878-4241, 5 guest rooms, $115-$165, includes full breakfast

Few inns so relatively close to Baltimore are as peaceful and private as this 19th-century-style farmhouse, built by the owners to be a bed and breakfast. Each room has the modern conveniences of a hotel, plus a fireplace and its own screened porch. The ridge-top property comprises 91 acres -- that's a lot of trees and a lot of gorgeous foliage.

Don't miss: The scenic view from the back of the house, which includes Antietam Na-tional Battlefield and the fields and mountains of four states.

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