October Country Inn
Although the location is ideal -- close to historic Woodstock, Vermont, and to skiing, mountain biking, and hiking -- the main reason guests keep returning to the OCI is for the genuine warmth and hospitality of owners Richard Sims and Patrick Runkel. At this old-fashioned country inn, you can chat, read, or doze by the fire, tan by the swimming pool, feast on Patrick's superb family-style dinners and tasty breakfasts, and truly relax. Guest rooms are on the small side but are comfortable and pleasant. The Long Trail Brewery is an easy stroll down a quiet country lane, so there's no need to drive after sipping a sampler (or two). Adults will enjoy Woodstock's many galleries; families should visit the Billings Farm Museum and the Vermont Institute for Natural Science, home to injured owls, hawks, falcons, and eagles.
INFO October Country Inn, 800-648-8421; www.octobercountryinn.com; $129-$159; includes breakfast and dinner for two; ten guest rooms.
Four Columns Inn
Ambitious guests can spend their days exploring southern Vermont, from Manchester's outlets to area golf courses and antiques shops, but we forgive those who never use their cars after arriving at the Four Columns. Close at hand are a lovely swimming pool, hiking trails, and the picturesque Newfane green, complete with a general store, antique shop, and deli. Favorite guest rooms include Nos. 16 and 17 in the Garden Wing, and Suite No. 3 with double whirlpool and woodstove in the original building. The Tavern Room is a comfortable place to enjoy a drink before or after dinner; it has a wall mural of historic Newfane and an antique pewter bar. Under the supervision of long-time chef Greg Parks, count on delicious dinners and fine service; try the locally raised lamb. Innkeepers Gorty and Pam Baldwin make the inn even more appealing with their exceptionally warm and hospitable style.
INFO Four Columns Inn, 21 West Street, 800-787-6633; www.fourcolumnsinn.com; $125-$325; fifteen guest rooms.