Finally -- Holiday Season is here! And with it, the warm feelings and the spirit of giving and the smiles and the family get-togethers and the relatives' fly-ins from all over the country and the first frost (and the first snow) and the football and the gifts and the roaring fireplaces and the holiday decorations and the food (and the food and the food and the food!) and the scarves and the hikes through leafless woods and the...Holiday Spirit!
And here are my five favorite places to experience the joy of Thanksgiving:
#5 - THE HOTEL SAUGUTUCK, SAUGUTUCK, MICHIGAN - The Hotel Saugutuck actually started out in 1865 as an ice house for the Clipson Brewery. It's been a lot of things since, among them a tannery, a door company, and a lumber mill. Today, however, it's an historic hotel embedded in lush greenery, with a dozen rooms and three two-bedroom cottages, along with stunning views of Lake Kalamazoo. It's a few blocks from the Norman Rockwell-esque village of Saugutuck, with galleries, shops, and restaurants. The B&B has a romantic ambience, and a quiet serenity that's guaranteed by the adults-only policy. The gourmet breakfasts are fit for a king (and queen!), and delivered to your room each morning, and dessert is delivered in the evening. The Saugutuck Hotel calls itself "a luxury Bed & Breakfast," and the amenities certainly justify that title. Each of the cottages has its own private deck. There's a winery and a brewery nearby, along with several historic Allegan County lighthouses. And Saugutuck is on Michigan's "Art Coast," so named for the artists, writers and other creative types here.
#4 - MAGNOLIA HOUSE BED & BREAKFAST, FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS - Magnolia House is an intimate, charming place with only five bedrooms...which means every guest gets personal attention. And it's in an intimate, charming town, too. Fredericksburg was settled by German immigrants in the 1850's, and along its middle-European streets you can find plenty of schnitzel, strudel, bratwurst, and Gemütlichkeit (warmth and good cheer), along with tiny little "Sunday Houses" built by the settlers to house their families went they all went into town to church on Sundays. And just outside of its streets you'll find the winding country roads and the wineries and the grazing horses of the Texas Hill Country. The B&B is located in a quiet residential neighborhood, and it's only a short walk to Main Street, which is lined with antique shops and art galleries and little shops with wooden floors and little bells that ring when you walk in. The B&B itself is landscaped with a patio and a koi pond and, of course...magnolia trees. Everything at the breakfast table is made from scratch, and you'll love the specialty of the house - homemade scones with local, just-picked peaches.
#3 - WILD HORSE INN, FRASER, COLORADO - Wild Horse Inn was hand-crafted with 400-pound logs, stone, and giant picture windows bringing the outside in, through which you'll get magnificent views of the Continental Divide. And each room has a private balcony or deck, on which you'll experience the clearest skies you've ever seen and the freshest air you've ever breathed. This quintessentially-Western inn is a B&B with both lodge rooms and cabins. It offers a library, hot tubs, complimentary cookies and on-site massage services, along with breakfasts to remember. Special Winter Wonderland packages include a private sleigh ride through scenery that will leave you awe-struck. Each room features electric fireplaces, and cozy robes and slippers. And when you stand outside and take in the rolling meadows with waving wildflowers, and the dramatic snow-capped peaks in the distance, you may never want to leave. But, on the other hand, you just might...because within minutes away are the ski resort at Winter Park, three different ranches, and the picturesque mountain village of Grand Lake, where the crystal-blue alpine lake of the same name stays frozen from autumn until around Memorial Day!
#2 - HINES MANSION BED & BREAKFAST, PROVO, UTAH - This brown-brick, European-style mansion was built in 1895 by Russell and Kitty Hines, who had acquired quite a fortune through their local mining and real estate ventures. Today Hines Mansion is a luxurious nine-room B&B, in the authentic Western town of Provo, sitting in the midst of the scenic Utah Valley. In Hines Mansion, you're surrounded by rich Victorian elegance. Each of the rooms is decorated differently, and all have two-person tubs and fluffy robes. Each room also has its own name, such as Whispering Willow, Winter Dreams, and Victorian Rose, and some have very unique touches; for example, "Library" has a winding staircase. And the beautiful Victorian parlor is adorned with a marble fireplace, fun games, and an ambience that's just as warm. Breakfast features gourmet items like strawberry-stuffed French Toast, and fresh-baked cookies or muffins are offered in the evening, along with popcorn for those movie-night munchies. And Provo is one of the coolest towns in the West, with red-brick or wooden storefronts, several excellent museums, performing arts venues, Brigham Young University sports and cultural venues, sidewalk cafes, funky shops, and an assortment of wonderful restaurants and interesting cuisines usually found only in much larger towns.
And now, my choice for my top place for a wonderful Thanksgiving Getaway...
#1 - THORP HOUSE INN & COTTAGES, DOOR COUNTY, WISCONSIN - Door County is a peninsula sticking out into Lake Michigan. It got its unusual name from Colonial mariners, who noted that navigating the ferocious seas around it (and avoiding the fate of the sunken ships under it!) was akin to being at "Death's Door." Today, though, Door County is a scenic place delightfully stuck in time, with little fishing villages, historic lighthouses, picturesque little towns with wooden shops and galleries, and mile after mile of deep-green pastures filled with grazing horses and cows and red barns with big silos. Thorp House Inn & Cottages is in the village of Fish Creek. It offers six charming cottages and six elegant guest rooms, furnished with brass beds or Victorian accents or carved wooden furniture or thick rugs or warm fireplaces. Or all of the above. All of the cottages have fireplaces, and some have hot tubs. Built in 1903, Thorp House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Guests in the main inn receive a country breakfast in a turn-of-the-century dining room, while guests in the cottages are close to the good restaurants in town. Thorp House Inn & Cottages is on a hill overlooking the quaint shops and restaurants of Main Street. And Door County is wonderful to explore. The county has its own Wine Trail, with seven distinct wineries. And while you're here, don't miss the wintertime sleigh rides offered by Mayberry's Carriages!