Yep,they say that the hurricanes scared some folks away from Florida. Well, I just came up with a really good reason for you to revisit the state. Florida contains some of the finest Bed and Breakfast inns in the nation, and below I present some of the ones that stood out to me.
1. The Addison is a serene 14-room inn representing a unique blend of old-style elegance with modern amenities. Traditionally, the values may seem to clash but the builders and owners have merged them together in a beautiful blend. This Inn was selected as one of the ten Best Overall Inns of 2009-2010 by BedandBreakfast.com. It also consistently maintains a number one ranking on TripAdvisor.com. Located on Amelia Island in the historic district of Fernandina Beach, the rooms feature porches for relaxation and an enchanting fountain courtyard. The area is a nature-lover’s paradise with pristine beaches, four major State Parks and a National Park. One can bike, hike, play golf, horseback ride, shell, bird watch, or go backwater or deep sea fishing. Signature breakfast dishes include fresh fruit smoothies, breakfast in a boat (baked potato shell stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheese, and crumbled bacon), banana pancakes with pecan toffee syrup, spicy breakfast quesadillas, praline French toast, and perfect Peruvian coffee.
2. If you can look past the wild and funky website, the Cedar Key B & B is an inn well worth visiting! Located in the second oldest city in Florida, the historic inn was built in 1880. Originally, the town was known for its cedar, out of which Eagle and Eberhardt pencils were produced; today its claims to fame are clam farming and tourism. Besides boasting some of the cleanest and most comfortable lodgings imaginable, this inn’s draw is also the amazing array of activities in the area: boating, kayaking, air boats, fishing, bird watching, playing with dolphins, biking, hiking, scuba diving, plus a famous Arts festival and the October Seafood Festival. Or if you like football, attend a Florida Gators game in nearby Gainesville. A few nice added features of the inn is the pet friendly status, last minute specials, delicious breakfast, and an endless array of amenities such as teas, cookies, biscotti, hot chocolates, coffees, and a bottomless jar of the freshest homemade cookies you’ve ever placed in your mouth.
3. Casa Grandview is located in the vibrant, upscale city of West Palm Beach. This Bed & Breakfast combines some of the most desirable features of the secluded and quaint B & Bs with the services of a luxury resort. The Casa offers romantic cottages, quaint bungalows, art deco cabana suites, stylish tropical coastal villas, and classic city oasis retreats. What a fabulous array of choices, many with kitchens, elaborate baths, and spacious living areas. The owners stock each suite with only the best gourmet foods for your breakfast, and, if desired, for additional meals. Everything you need is available including complimentary Wi-Fi, HD TVs, premium satellite service, music and movie channels, iPod docking stations, and CD players. You can even check emails and surf the web while catching some rays poolside or dozing in a hammock. You will be waited on with 5-star service or left alone for some glorious privacy. Whatever you want is what you get at Casa Grandview.
4. Elizabeth Pointe Lodge is a Nantucket ‘shingle style’ inn that overlooks the rich blue Atlantic. What can I say? USA Today deemed this oceanfront inn as one of the 10 greatest places to sit on the porch. Travel and Leisure magazine recognized it as one of the fifty great beach resorts in our nation. The book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die, tagged this as a place where the emphasis is on pure relaxation. The Road Best Traveled distinguished the inn as one of the 12 Best Waterfront Inns in America. The honors go on and on. Besides offering full concierge service and 24 hour room service, there are also gourmet treats offered all day, a lavish wine and hors d’oeuvres reception each evening, and an oceanfront breakfast with scads of sumptuous offerings in the sunroom. In every way, Elizabeth Pointe is determined to go above and beyond your needs and expectations.
5. Florida Trend Magazine states that the Herlong Mansion of Micanopy, Florida is “easily Florida’s most elegant Bed & Breakfast.” In case you don’t know, this quiet little town is south of Gainesville, near Cross Creek, the village the author of The Yearling made famous. The ten fireplaces and high ceilings of the inn are perfectly accented with mission oak woodwork and mahogany inlaid floors. Photos can never do justice to the warm beauty of this place. Wide verandas between enormous pillars on the first and second floors contain cushioned swings that overlook an impeccably manicured lawn with ancient towering oaks. The breakfast isn’t wildly fancy but offers delicious traditional fare such as homemade biscuits and perfect omelettes, rich coffee, and apple bread. And, if you like, you can have a candlelit four-course dinner catered with roses, champagne, the works. Treat yourself to casual elegance for just one night, or more…
6. The Seven Sisters Inn is located in Ocala, Florida, region of rolling green hills and thoroughbred horse ranches. Built in 1888, the Queen Anne Victorian home was judged a “Best Restoration Project” and is listed prominently in the National Register of Historic Places. One startling uniqueness of this inn is the rooms, which feature décor from the four corners of the globe. One enters through elaborately carved Indonesian doors, then there is a Bengal Safari room, a Cape Cod Lighthouse room, an Egyptian Treasure room, an Oriental Zen-like room, and a room from Old Paris featuring imported French fabrics and décor. Visitors feel as if they are traveling the world as they lounge in front of their fireplaces or relax with spa showers, Jacuzzi, Victorian soaking tubs, and heated towel bars. And when you wake the next morning, get ready for an award winning breakfast on white china and crystal, including three-cheese French toast with Ginger Peaches, Eggs Pesto, Chicken Puffed Pastry, Raspberry-Oatmeal pancakes, or Tomato-Zucchini Quiche. The “Seven Sisters” will make you happy.
7. The Williams is a beautifully restored antebellum mansion located in the historic seaside village of Fernandina Beach. There are three separate buildings, each offering rooms for guests: the Williams House, the Hearthstone House, and the Carriage House. You will be captivated by intricate moldings, massive pocket doors, true wood floors, and hand-carved mantles created from heart pine, cherry, or mahogany. Sweeping verandas, original tiled fireplaces and crystal chandeliers make visitors feel as if they’ve slipped into a time warp. If you appreciate the days when great pride and craft were marks of the homes of the wealthy, you will love the William’s House. But it isn’t just a home to wander. The owners cater to your whims, including your desire to wake to a breakfast you’ll remember. Your first course will feature fresh fruit and muffins, scones, or pound cake. Your second course may include strawberry croissant French toast or blueberry strata. Enjoy this with fresh orange juice or rich Colombian coffee. No one will leave the William’s House either hungry or unhappy.
8. Can you keep a secret? There is a Bed & Breakfast inn in Key West called Atlantis House. This is one of those places you will not want to tell your friends about, lest the next time you want to book a night there, it will be booked two or three months ahead. It has only two exclusive rooms: that’s right, the Master suite and the Garden suite. The owners, Steve and Kayla Kessler designed, built, and maintain the property themselves. The inn is nestled in a lush tropical garden bordering the roiling Atlantic. Not long ago, this inn was awarded “The Best of the South” award from BedandBreakfast.com, and it was deserved. I just don’t know how they found the thing. If you want, you can kick back on your own sun deck or spend some romantic moments in the breezy, vine-covered gazebo. Or if you’re a little more adventurous, Steve happens to be a licensed Captain and with his boat, The Contender, he’ll be happy to take you fishing. Then Steve and Kayla will prepare you the perfect dinner with “the catch of the day,” or maybe a lobster Steve caught for your dining pleasure. Steve can also offer private, guided snorkeling tours of the most beautiful coral reef in the Continental United States. Then, after a hard day of sunning or fishing, Kayla, a massage therapist, can massage all your troubles away. Now remember, this is our little secret, cross your heart.
9. Palmer House is an inn nestled in a little town called Lithia, Florida. This is another B & B that was listed by BedandBreakfast.com as one of the “Best in the South” for 2009-2010. It’s a very tranquil place with grandfather oaks, butterfly gardens, hammocks, and bicycle trails. But, hang onto your hats, because nearby are almost all the tourist attractions Florida offers, including Orlando’s. In fact, Lithia is the perfect location from which you can go for day trips either to Busch Gardens or the Tampa Bay Bucs on the Gulf coast or Disney World and Universal Studios on the Atlantic coast. You’ll get home in time for some cookies and milk before bedtime and you’ll awaken the next morning to fresh coffee, quiche, a breakfast casserole, and their signature dish, almond-crusted French toast.
10. On charming Anna Maria Island, near Sarasota, Florida, you will find the Harrington House. It is actually comprised of the Main Inn, the Carriage House, the Huth House, and the Dodt House. You thus have the option of staying in a bungalow, a beach house, a villa or a condo. You can lounge on your balcony opening out onto the Gulf of Mexico, you can kayak with the dolphins, tour the island by bicycle, or swim in the Gulf or the heated pool. Nearby Sarasota and Bradenton offer the Ringling Museum of Art, Selby Botanical Gardens, the Bishop Planetarium, shopping at St. Armand’s Circle, or fine dining at Longboat Key. But, whatever you do, don’t miss the Harrington chef’s most popular breakfast dishes: Buttermilk Pancake Sundae or Jo’s Bacon and Crab Roll.
Yes, in a state chock full of Bed & Breakfast inns, these are a few of the ones I wanted to introduce you to. Maybe there are others to equal some of these. However, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of those described above. It’s time you discover the world of difference between a typical hotel and a Bed & Breakfast inn.