For someone who seldom cares for fancy things, I make up for it by being a big time sucker for fancy hotels. I have often joked that one of my dream jobs is to be hired by luxury hotels around the world to test and improve their facilities for families traveling with kids. Come to think of it, who wouldn’t like that!
When we took our road trip to VA and DC a few days ago, we found ourselves at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast called Walden Hall in Culpepper, VA which fit my bill for “fancy”. It was a serendipitous find on the internet for which Devang gets full credit! We had so much fun staying there and exploring the surrounding area, that I haven’t stopped talking about it to anyone who will listen!
Even though the online pictures looked great, I have to admit that I was a little worried about staying at a B&B with kids. Mostly I was afraid that we would be too loud for other guests staying there too, and that keeping our kids from touching all the nice furniture and antiques in the house would be hell. Devang was a step ahead though and booked the Emerson Pool Suite, which is in its own wing of the house and literally 10 steps away from the pool, fire-pit, and the awesome lounge area outside.
We spent a total of three nights at Walden Hall. Arjun woke up at 6:30am every morning to feed the chickens and say hello to Henry the rooster. I think he would have spent the entire day by the chicken coop if we had allowed. With a cup of coffee I would follow him as he walked from our front door to the coop all by himself. He had the path memorized and it was way too cute to see him get excited over the whole thing! On our last day, at our special request, Andy who owns 40 Icelandic chickens of her own, took us inside the coop so the kids could see how she collects the eggs! That was pretty amazing even for me.
Every morning we ate a really delicious and gourmet breakfast prepared by Eric, the innkeeper. He was more than gracious to customize for the kids which ended up being so helpful! Depending on our mood we either ate in the the common dinning room with other guests and a view of grazing cows, or in the spacious kitchen in our own room.
For the rest of the day we took day trips to see some of the really awesome area attractions which included Luray Caverns, Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (where it snowed), and Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson. Along the way, I couldn’t get over the green pastures and the infinite amounts of grazing cows, horses, ponies, and sheep. And the beautiful barns!! I honestly would have loved to photograph every single one of them if it didn’t mean stopping frequently and adding hours to our drive!
We made food stops in various small towns along the way, and had dinner in downtown Culpepper one night which is lined with cheese and tea shops, vintage stores and boutiques, along with some great restaurants!
One of the evenings we stopped at Bald Top Brewery in nearby Madison, VA, which came recommended by the staff at Walden Hall (they own it). The small but awesome brewery is at a top of a small hill surrounded by a working farm. They had a big pit-fire going with a food truck on premise. The kids made friends with other kids and pets, and basically just ran up and down the hills while Devang and I sat on a picnic blanket. This was hands down the most amount of sitting we have done while on a vacation with kids.
After dinner if the kids weren’t already passed out, we made our way to the huge game room in the B&B which included all sorts of stuff that we couldn’t get enough of. We watched Finding Dory in the theatre one night (and now I get why some people have these rooms in their home… it was pretty freakin awesome). Asha also become a fan of several arcade games including Ms. Pac Man. A friend visited us one of the nights after the kids had fallen asleep and we simply stepped out to the pool area and turned on the fire pit. It was a perfect adult time without having to worry about who was keeping an eye on the kids.
The only two things I can think of that would make this an even better B&B is a rain-shower in the bathroom with strong water pressure, and curtains that have more black-out power given that my kid was up with the rooster every morning!
All in all this place ended up being a perfect family getaway and let me check off two of my constant fantasies – living on a farm and spending time in fancy hotels. We hope to make it there again this summer when the weather is a bit warmer so that we can fish in their pond, use their fancy telescopes to watch the night sky, and make more smores in the outdoor fire-pits!
Oh and someone needs to open a hill-top brewery in Raleigh with cows and pastures … make it happen please!