Wine is not something usually associated with Vermont. Maple syrup and craft beers top the list. Vermont is, however, becoming internationally known for its wine. Within an hour and a bit of West Hill House B&B there are numerous vineyards that welcome visitors and offer tasting opportunities. Two of our favorites are Lincoln Peak Vineyard and Boyden Valley Wine & Spirits.
Lincoln Peak Vineyard is on the route to Middlebury which is a great college town worth exploring. Evolving from an apple orchard to strawberry fields and ultimately to a vineyard, Lincoln Peak Vineyard is now one of the largest grape producers in Vermont. The vines came from a fellow vintner in Minnesota and are a winter-hardy grape variety that is happy in the Vermont climate.
Making a first batch of commercial wine in 2006, Lincoln Peak now produces over 25,000 bottles of wine a year all from grapes grown on their own vineyard. Entering the International Cold-Climate Wine Competitions for four years has garnered Lincoln Peak Vineyard three best-in-show awards along with several gold and double-gold medals.
Lincoln Peak Vineyard opens its 2017 season on May 20 offering visitors a chance to taste some of their 12 great wines with fun names like Starlight, Petite Pink and Ragtime. We stock two Lincoln Peak wines at West Hill House B&B, La Crescent and Marquette.
Like many Vermont enterprises, Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits evolved through a long family history. The Boyden family began farming 800 acres over 100 years ago. Purchased in 1914, the Boyden family started with 28 head of dairy cows. Frederick and Phila Boyden along with their nine children planted the roots of what today is the thriving business.
David, Mark and Stephanie are the 4th generation on the farm. David and his wife Linda, his siblings Mark and Stephanie and the rest of the team, oversee activities encompassing raising beef cattle and organic crops, tending 10,000 maple trees, raising cold climate grapes, making wine and more.
Boyden Valley Winery was one of the first licensed wineries in Vermont. Hardy cold climate vines were planted in 1996 and while waiting for them to mature, the Boydens began to craft fruit wines. Now they offer 20 award winning creative wines. They also took advantage of their other famous Vermont products, cream, apples and maple syrup and have created the most amazing cream liqueur, Vermont Ice Maple Cream Liqueur. The only thing they don’t produce on the property is the glass bottle the liqueur is in!
Their tasting room is a beautiful barn and the family members and staff are not only very friendly but are knowledgeable about all aspects of wine production from the ground to bottle. The tasting room is open year round and special tasting events take place from time to time.
Vermont Ice Maple Cream Liqueur is a much loved constant in the bar at West Hill House B&B.
When you visit West Hill House B&B we will be happy to direct you to these and other near by vineyards. Remember to drink responsibly and have a designated driver.
Serving it up:
Mud season is a gray and rainy time here is the northeast. The snow has melted, the ground is thawing and the rain is coming down. Sometimes a sweet and gooey baked treat is the perfect pick-me-up on a gray and rainy day. This baked treat fits the bill perfectly, a brownie-like cake base topped with nuts, marshmallows and chocolate icing. Due to its bumpy appearance it resembles a bumpy and muddy gravel road during mud season. But of course this tastes much better than mud!
Thanks to my sister for this recipe and while she has never been here in mud season but I am pretty sure she has seen her fair share of mud in the places she has lived.
- 1 c. butter or marg
- 2 c. sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 c. flour
- 1/3 c. cocoa
- 1 c. chopped nuts, walnuts or pecans are a good choice.
- Set the oven for 350°F.
- Cream the above and spoon the batter into a 9×13 greased pan and bake for 30 -35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with 3-4 cups of mini marshmallows, enough to completely cover the cake.
- Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes until the marshmallows are slightly puffy.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chopped nuts on top of the melted marshmallows.
- Cool for 30 minutes.
- 3 c. powdered sugar (icing sugar)
- 2 T. cocoa powder
- 1/3 c. butter or marg, softened
- 2 t. vanilla
- 3 T. milk – you may need to add more
- Mix all the above together. If using an electric mixer or beater, be sure to start the machine at a low speed or you will have powdered sugar everywhere!
- You may want to add some more milk so that your icing is rather thin and can be drizzled across the top of your marshmallow.
- Cut into squares with a sharp knife dipped frequently in hot water. A cool knife will pull the marshmallow off the cake.
Dishing it out:
For me, mud season is greeted with mixed emotions. I love winter. I’ve successfully skied Mad River Glen, do my fair share of shoveling and don’t mind driving in the snow. Although I hate to see the snow disappearing, there is excitement in knowing that the spring flowers will soon be appearing in our gardens. Meanwhile we all manage to get through mud season by knowing which gravel roads to avoid and which can be more easily traversed.
It is the moisture in the soil from the melting, thawing and the rain that allows Vermont to be the ‘Green Mountain’ state. This past winter Sugarbush Resort, just mile from us, recorded 363 inches of snow at the top of the mountain, just one inch short of the 1995-96 record snowfall. It was indeed a great 2016-17 winter.
Whether you visit West Hill House B&B in the winter, spring, summer or autumn, you will be guaranteed a warm welcome and a plate of home baked goodies will be waiting on the sideboard.
Mud season is upon us here in rural Vermont. A time when the snow melts, the ground thaws and the rains come. Although the ski season has come to an end many B&B owners like ourselves remain open and welcome guests while we catch up on the B&B ‘honey-do’ list.
Mud season is a perfect time to get away from your day-to-day routines and enjoy relaxing at a B&B with your special someone. It is a quiet time in this part of the country, and although the skiers have left, the roads still lead to the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont —if you follow the driving directions. Of course on our website we do provide you with a 98% mud-free route to our B&B.
Yankee Magazine had a lovely oh-so-true story this month entitled ‘Hard Drive’ which described perfectly the challenges of not only mud season but, mud season in combination with GPS.
Vermont has 8,600 miles of unpaved roads (that’s twice the length of the continental US) and only 6,000 miles of paved roads. Those who live here appreciate the gravel roads and the beauty found along these roads less taken.
One of the challenges of mud season is that many of the gravel roads turn to a wonderful chocolaty brown layer of mud. While looking innocent enough, in some places the mud is ready to challenge you: will you make it through or will you be caught.
During mud season Vermont’s B&Bs want to help you journey smoothly so we all recommend the same thing, “We live here and know the roads well — please read through our recommended directions and don’t let your GPS or mapping website lead you astray!”
The subtitle of Yankee Magazine’s ‘Hard Drive’ story is “The GPS crowd learns that when it comes to country roads, some are less taken for a reason.”
Absolutely true! While GPS may give you the shortest route, that route might actually turn out to be a farm road or a gravel-road mountain pass deep in mud. In winter you may be led to a road actually closed in winter one which has been closed in winter since the beginning of time!
The key words are “we live here and know the roads well”. While the route we suggest may be a bit longer, the timing is usually within minutes of the same and in the long run may require lots less time than waiting for a tow truck to pull you out of the mud!
We want you to arrive happy and relaxed, not stressed out!
So what’s to do in Mud Season you ask? Plenty. Here are a few suggestions:
- Sign up for a Brews and Snooze tour
- Visit the Valley Arts gallery or take part in one of their special classes
- Shop at the ‘Almost World Famous Warren Store’ they have a great deli too!
- See the vast array of Vermont artisan talent at the Artisan Gallery Shop
- Get a jump on Christmas decorations at All Things Bright and Beautiful
- Check out the paintings and photographs by local artist at the Parade Gallery in Warren
- Enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants. While some are closed in mud season, there is still good dining to be had. Perhaps even dinner at the B&B.
- Visit the waterfalls or one of the other self-driving tours we have created for you
- The Three Mountain Café is a good stopping spot for a bite to eat and to check out local antiques
- Visit The Store for all things kitchen related and they have classes as well
We are ready help you get started on your Vermont get-away. Check out out our Spring Showers bring May Flowers special or just give us a call at 802-496-7162 to make your relaxation reservation.
A beautiful, warm and sunny mid-April day just begs to be enjoyed so, having no overnight guest to attend to, we set out to enjoy the afternoon and view the works of area artisans.
Our afternoon outing started in Middlebury, about 45 minutes from the B&B, where we stopped at the Vermont Coffee Company for coffee and some lunch. The Vermont Coffee Company is a small company that began slow-roasting small batches of coffee in 1979. As they note, “All the coffees we buy are organic and fair trade. While on their own these aren’t ‘quality standards’ they are standards for a higher quality of living for the farmers who grow the coffee.” (Open weekdays only, until 2PM.)
Our guests love the dark roast that we use for our breakfast coffee. Buy Vermont Coffee Company coffee, save the brown paper wrappers and trade them in for some cool stuff – a travel mug? Perhaps, but saving up for a special Vermont Teddy Bear with a “Friends” t-shirt won’t take too much longer!
Next stop was Bristol nestled at the foot of the Green Mountains just over the Gap from Warren. The town dates back to 1762. While many of the buildings date from a later time period, the entire downtown is a National Historic District. The town green has been a central part of village life throughout the town’s history. The Bristol Band has presented outdoor summer band concerts in the gazebo on the town green every Wednesday from June through Labor Day since shortly after the Civil War.
Two beautiful shops on the main street in Bristol that are not to be missed bring to light the incredible talent of Vermont artisans.
Art On Main is a charming community supported artist cooperative showcasing the talents of artisans from around the state. This small gallery exhibits and sells an abundance of delightful creations, the work of over 80 artists both well known and newly emerging talent.
A wide variety of media are represented including hand thrown pottery, exquisite jewelry, textiles in various styles, woodenware, fine art, glass, small furniture items and photography.
The creations are attractively displayed making each item a treat for the eye. Numerous community events are scheduled throughout the year at Art On Main: rotating exhibits, featured artist series, open studio weekend, artist demonstrations and an emerging artists exhibit.
Vermont Tree Goods is an absolute joy to visit. This local company mills lumber and creates the most incredibly beautiful furniture from recycled heirloom trees that have reached the end of their growing years. Through the transformation into furniture, these magnificent beings extend their legacy by living on in homes and businesses. Using trees that are too large to fit into the usual lumber mill saws, Vermont Tree Goods artisans take the large trees and using their vision create what the tree wants to be made into.
From bedsteads to bookcases and tables to trivets, each piece of wood has a story. Each piece is hand crafted, natural-edged, Vermont grown and Vermont made. The pieces have timeless design and so stunningly finished that the grain of the wood cries out to be caressed. Unfortunately, in 2016, the largest elm in the entire northeast succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease. Fortunately however, at the end of its life Vermont Tree Goods and the Nature Conservancy worked together to continue the legacy of that beautiful tree and may lovely pieces have been created from the wood of this historic tree.
All the tables, benches and home goods crafted from this magnificent red elm by the VTG artisans are branded with the unique VT Elm logo, a silhouette of the tree.
We are proud that our guests are able to be part of this legacy as we have four teapot trivets made from this stately elm.
Before heading back to West Hill House B&B we stopped at a favorite, the Bristol Café, to sit outside in the warm sunshine and enjoy a mug of tea and some home baked goodies.
With explorations over for the day we headed back home and across the Gap to Warren.
If you are ready to escape from your usual routines for a while, your explorations can be just around the corner. We invite you to come stay with us at West Hill House B&B, adjacent to the Sugarbush Resort and Golf Club and just a few miles from the town of Bristol. Let us work with you to plan your road trip in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont.
How many words can you think of that contain the word moon? 10? 25? 50? More? Well done! An internet search finds over 190 words containing the word moon. Here are but a few…
- Moon: The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits planet Earth, being Earth’s only permanent natural satellite.
- Man-in-the-moon: Although there is said to be a man in the moon whose face is always looking at us, Neil Armstrong was actually the the first man to set foot on the Moon.
- Moonstone: n. A variety of feldspar valued as a gem for its pearly translucence.
- Moonlight: n. The light reflected from the surface of the moon.
- Moonshine: n.Illegally distilled liquor, especially whiskey. Also called regionally white lightning.
- Blue Moon: a song written by Rodgers and Hart in 1934 which has become a classic and recorded by many.
- Moonwalk: n. A dance step in which the dancer creates the illusion of walking forward while actually sliding back one foot at a time.
- Honeymoon: n. The traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in intimacy and seclusion.
Did you include Babymoon in your list? Yes, babymoon. It’s not a tiny moon however it is a popular “moon” to be enjoyed by parents-to-be.
Babymoon: n. A relaxing and romantic vacation taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born.
Whereas a honeymoon is a celebration of your new life ahead, a babymoon is a celebration of the old life you’re about to leave behind, well hopefully not leaving behind but celebrating the life you are about to bring into to your world.
General wisdom says you and your significant other are entitled to a babymoon during each pregnancy. After all, you’re about to embark on seemingly months of straight up nighttime feedings (where you may even get a chance to see the moon!), dirty diapers, and crying so you might as well try to get in a little relaxation while you can.
No matter the season, a babymoon should not be the sightseeing adventure of a lifetime rather a chance for the two of you to relax and rekindle your relationship before your baby comes and life changes in ever so many ways. Some babymoon couples head to sea and sand, some to countryside gardens, and some to the peace of the mountains.
So if it is the fresh air and peaceful mountains you are looking for, Vermont is the place to be. Outstanding bed and breakfasts invite relaxation, additionally many offer Babymoon Specials which may include such treats as a romantic dinner for two, couples’ massages with a special prenatal massage for mom, chocolates of course and a small keepsake for baby. Nearby pathways and mountain trails invite walking and our friendly locally owned shops offer everything from hand crafted children’s toys and snuggly quilts for the new little one to that something special to remember your trip by. Especially noteworthy are the excellent restaurants with healthy, locally grown food which is a treat to body and soul.
Therefore, if you are parents-to-be, we invite you to book yourselves a babymoon and relax in beautiful surroundings of West Hill House B&B nestled in the beautiful, peaceful Green Mountains of Vermont.
Maple syrup and Vermont go together like, well, maple syrup and pancakes! Forty years are required to grow a sugar maple tree large enough to tap. A tree ten inches (25 cm) in diameter is considered minimum trappable size for one tap. A grove of sugar maples is called a sugar bush or sometimes a maple orchard. It takes 4-5 taps to produce enough maple sap (40 gallons – 150 liters) to produce one gallon of syrup. Would you like to see it in action?
The Vermont Maple Open House Weekend will be held the weekend of March 25th and 26th in 2017, and you can experience it right here around West Hill House B&B.
The West Hill Sugar Orchard is a short walk from the B&B and is a small scale, locally operated and community supported maple syrup producer. The orchard gathers its sap by bucket and boils it over a wood fire using traditional maple sugaring techniques. Owner Glenn and his associated will be ready to welcome you for a visit over the weekend!
For breakfast we shall of course be serving maple syrup to accompany Susan’s delicious dishes, and maybe even as part of breakfast dessert. Newly produced 2017 will be available to purchase packaged in Glenn’s signature glass bottles decorated by his own wood prints. To help you enjoy this special weened we have created a special package just for you!
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It’s summer vacation time and no matter where your travels may take you, it is nice to be given a warm welcome upon arrival at your destination.
Fredericksburg Texas, now there’s a town that knows how to welcome folks!
Some years ago, I went on a girls-weekend to A Place In Time B&B in Fredericksburg, TX. We chose the Ruby Bell Suite on the second floor as it was perfect for the three of us. We received a warm greeting from Jon (innkeeper/owner) as well as from the local shopkeepers and restaurant staff we met as we explored the area. In the intervening years I have continued to receive their newsletter, which highlights events going on at the B&B as well as festivals and activities in the town. The newsletter makes me feel welcomed all over again. While visiting this delightful town may not be in your immediate plans, I highly recommend a visit to Fredericksburg, TX because it’s a friendly and welcoming.
And why is this such a friendly and welcoming place? Because as the town points out…
Isn’t this a wonderfully creative idea? Now we can’t all rename the streets in our towns but we can all give a warm welcome to visitors. Hospitality always gives visitors and guests feel a warm feeling. Whether you are greeted in your own language; Welcome! !Hola! Aloha! Bienvenue! Willkommen! Ciao! Välkomnde! or perhaps Witja!, or you meet with helpful folks when you need directions, receive excellent service in a shop, are greeted with a cheery smile from a local or are welcomed by the names of the streets, it’s a good feeling.
In the 10 years we have owned West Hill House B&B we have welcomed guests from every continent (we counted the scientist who had been stationed for a number of months in Antarctica). Whether you come for romance, relaxation or recreation, we will be delighted to say “Welcome!” and extend the hospitality of West Hill House B&B to you. Come visit us and teach us to say “welcome” in your mother tongue!
Have you been reading “Top 10” lists over the last few weeks? If so you will have you see lists of almost everything under the sun, Top 10 Ugliest Cars, Top 10 Best Places to Live, Top 10 Best Companies to Work For, Top 10 Best Universities, and who knows, maybe even a list for the Top 10 Best Top 10 Lists!
Well… here’s our “Top 4” list – Four Great Reasons to come Ski in the Mad River Valley this Winter.
1. Mad River Glen – Mad River Glen – Ski It If You Can. Seriously, don’t miss out on skiing this legendary co-op owned ski area. Ranked by Ski Magazine as one of the most challenging on the east coast of the US, Mad River Glen provides an opportunity for skiers of all levels to ski a variety of trails on natural snow though narrow trails which follow the terrain. Riding the Single Chair, chairlift is an absolute must! Lessons, ski shop and General Stark Pub are hillside amenities. Down hill, telemark, and cross country skiers will love MRG but be warned snowboarders… you will have to look elsewhere for your downhill excitement as no snowboards are allowed.
2. Sugarbush Ski Resort – As one of the largest ski areas in the northeastern US, and with two mountains to choose from, Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, snowboarders and skiers alike will enjoy the range of it’s 111 trails from beginner slopes to the more challenging black diamond runs. Sugarbush is locally owned and offers lessons, a variety of places for foodies, ski shop and accommodations.
3. Blueberry Lake Cross-Country Center– Is a cross country skiers’ delight. Designed for the average skiers, outdoor enthusiast can enjoy the classic or skating style of skiing or can snowshoe on the 11 trails which includes 30km of groomed trails. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available as are lessons. Pre-skiing age children can also enjoy the outdoors in the comfort of a pulk which can also be rented. And for dog lovers, your well behaved dog is welcome and please, remember to clean up after your pooch.
4. Olé’s Cross-Country Center – Offering about 40km of groomed trails, lessons, rentals of both skis and snowshoes, a deli and friendly staff, Olé’s beckons to cross-country skiers of all ages to come and enjoy winter. With relatively flat terrain skiers can explore the trails while getting great mountain views and if quiet woodland trails are your choice you’ll find them here too. There are about 15km reserved for snowshoeing only and today’s modern snowshoes are a lot easier to walk in that the old, oversized ‘tennis rackets’ and you don’t need special boots, your regular winter boots fit these snowshoes nicely.
The Mad River Valley offers skiing of all sorts, comfortable B&Bs and slope-side accommodations, friendly folks, great food, beautiful shops, gorgeous mountains, stately trees, as well as wonderful snow, more mountains, more trees, more snow and lots of fresh, crisp mountain air.
Get your mittens and scarf ready and consider this your invitation to visit Vermont, winter in its natural state. Come experience skiing at its best. We’re ready and waiting for you…what are you waiting for?
The movie White Christmas is indeed a classic and a must see Christmas movie in our family and perhaps yours too. The holidays are not complete without a visit, via DVD, to the the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont.
Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as successful broadway producers, and Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen as a sister, singing act, a twist of fate brings the foursome to The Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, in late December. Dreaming of a white Christmas and that “Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, all that snow” the four arrive and find, to their great disappointment, that there is no snow at all. The sisters find, with few registered guests, their singing contract is to be cancelled. Meanwhile, the two men discover that the innkeeper is their former commanding general.
Despite the lack of guests and the challenge of the weather, the four decide to stay and the story develops as a light-hearted romance suitable for family viewing. With songs sung by Crosby and Clooney and beautiful dancing by Vera-Ellen and Kaye, the movie is a good way to spend a winter evening.
While there is no Columbia Inn, there is West Hill House B&B in Warren, Vermont, a place to enjoy a white Christmas and winter in all its glory.
We can predict with some degree of certainty that we will have a white Christmas and we most certainly have a copy of the movie for you to watch!
Skiing at Mad River Glen and Sugarbush will be in full swing with people from around the world enjoying the opportunity to ski some of New England’s best slopes. On the Sugarbush golf course just behind our Handsome Red Barn, is a perfect hill for sledding on one of the Mad River Rocket Sleds created here in Warren. If your pace is slower, there are miles of cross-country skiing at Olé’s and Blueberry Lake only 10 minutes from West Hill House B&B. If skiing isn’t for you, our snowshoes are perfect for exploring around our property or farther afield.
If you’re not an outdoors type or your skiing days are past, there are numerous artisan shops, small stores and coffee shops to visit but that will have to wait for another blog.
If a white Christmas to you means looking at snow through a window, how about curling up in a big chair by the fireplace and losing yourself in a good book, or playing a board game with your special someone.
If you are dreaming of a white Christmas look no further than Vermont in winter. Winter in its natural state!
Farmers and consumers both benefit from the CSA scenario. Farmers have time to market their food before the start of their long days in the fields, they receive payment for their produce early in the season which helps with their cash flow, and they have the opportunity to meet the people who purchase the results of their labors.
Consumers benefit as well with absolutely fresh food full of vitamins and flavor, they learn about new foods and new recipes, they know where their food is coming from, and they develop a relationship with “their farmer(s)”.
Here in the Mad River Valley there are several CSA programs underway and we recently bought a “share” in Muddy Boots, a CSA collaborative effort between three organic farms, Kingsbury Market Garden, Wood’s Market Garden and Burnt Rock Farm. Other smaller producers will also be involved so we will have the option of also receiving fresh bread, butter, sunflower oil, dry beans and a variety of other wonderful items.
Muddy Boots recently had an open house where we met one of “our farmers”, Aaron of Kingsbury Market Garden, who was getting his tractor ready for onion planting, and Marisa of Bragg Farm in Fayston, one of the smaller producers, who will be providing butter and cheese products.
Not only did we meet these two, we met a new-to-us food, Claytonia, which is quite delicate in appearance, tastes somewhat sweet, is full of vitamin C and will make a lovely addition to a salad of fresh greens.
This year at West Hill House B&B we will be incorporating items from our CSA share into our breakfasts so you, our guests, will be able to taste fresh, farm-to-tummy produce from our neighbors.
Yes, a Red Chair is traveling throughout New England and having a great time visiting B&Bs, historic sites, museums, gardens and beaches.
Keep your eyes open, it may be coming to a B&B near you!
The 3rd annual Stars and Stripes Air Show on June 30 will bring excitement to the Sugarbush Airport in Warren with vintage planes, stunt flying by both planes and gliders, glider rides, classic motorcycles, food and fun for children and adults alike. Tickets may be purchased on line or at the gate. Check out the air show website for more information and some video of last year’s show. Sorry but dogs and coolers must be left at home.
If cooking is your delight, you can learn to impress your family and friends at the cooking classes at The Kitchen at The Store in Waitsfield. Chef John shares his wisdom and makes learning in the kitchen most enjoyable.
On Saturday, Chef’s Table-Aound the World offers participants not only the opportunity to create food from 4 different countries but to eat it too!
July 2 and 3 will have you creating scrumptious pies at the Butter, Sugar & Sin-Pies class and the Easy Entertaining-Soups and Paninis classes. The best thing is you don’t have to be an expert cook to take these classes, they are fun for all skill levels.
Of course on the 4th of July is the world famous, wild and wacky, 4th of July Parade which makes its way down the main street of Warren to the delight of thousands, yes thousands, of spectators. Family fun, kids games, music, food an more follow the parade in the town as well as up at Sugarbush. The parade starts at 10AM but be there early, no cars are allowed in town but buses will be making the circuit from various parking places to town. The day closes with a bang a fireworks will light the sky over Sugarbush starting shortly after 9PM.
As well as all these activities, don’t forget there are mountain walks, energetic hikes, river and lake kayaking, refreshing swimming holes, eclectic shopping, golf and plenty of relaxing to be had here in the valley.
Join the residents of the Mad River Valley and celebrate the 4th of July Vermont style. With the many lodging opportunities here in the Valley, from welcoming B&Bs to condos and rental houses, there will surely be something perfect for you.
See you soon!