“It’s actually Run of the River Inn & Refuge,” corrects the inn’s Veronica Freund, and soon after pulling up in front of the two-story, slope-roofed, wood main structure it’s obvious why. The reward for the trip from Seattle (two and half hours west) is an inn that sits snugly in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, on the edge of Icicle Creek.
Load up on breakfast—perhaps a ranch omelet, and fruit from the inn’s own garden—and then hike to Eightmile Lake (it’s 6.5 miles round trip). Or stay closer to home: borrow a picnic basket from the inn and pick up supplies in crazy-quaint and nearby Leavenworth. Plan C? Bombard the senses with whitewater rafting in Tumwater Canyon. River rocks surround the bathtubs, too, if that’s more your speed. Each of the inn’s six rooms has a spa tub.
The golden-cheeked warblers don’t seem to know that Songbird Meadows is only ten minutes from the Texas Hill Country’s Johnson City. The endangered bird—along with chickadees, cardinals, and painted bunting—love to camp out in the inn’s cedar trees. “They’re stunning,” says innkeeper Patti McLead, who’s a birder herself. “They’re like, God had a good day painting.”
The B&B has three standalone and well-appointed cabins, which sit on 18 acres of land that also feature oak and chokecherry trees, as well as a pond and a birding blind. Every morning breakfast arrives at guests’ doorsteps; any leftover Cowboy Quiche can go into an in-room ‘fridge. There’s a grill for DIY barbecuing, or drive to Johnson City and visit Texas Hill Vineyard for a glass of Kick Butt Cabernet.
Water bookends the 95-acre Firefly. To the west is the Toccoa River, to the east is Hothouse Creek. Welcome to fly-fishing heaven. The Hothouse is stocked with trout, which means fishermen could be catching—and releasing—rainbows for hours.
The lodge is also something to marvel: tongue-and-groove construction, huge beams, an octagonal living room with a cathedral ceiling, and a rare, 19th-century square grand piano. The 55-foot covered deck is the perfect perch for spotting deer and eagles, and retreating to one of the lodge’s three rooms—the Rainbow Suite has a claw foot tub—helps a visitor feel like Atlanta is a world (instead of only two hours) away.
About 550 of the Fort Lewis Lodge’s 3200 verdant acres are dedicated to livestock like Black Angus cattle. Much of the rest—and it’s plenty—is for guests. The lodge is near the ridge-like, 4,400-foot Shenandoah Mountain, and workout options include hiking and mountain biking (Fort Lewis loans bikes). The name might not imply it, but the Cowpasture River is clear and begs for swimmers.
The menu starts with lodging choices: stay in a log cabin, family suite, or a room inside the lodge’s singular brick silo. There’s opportunity for even greater retreat: the Riverside House is two miles from the lodge (but still on Fort Lewis property) and an adults-only oasis. Come breakfast time, fuel up on oatmeal-cinnamon pancakes with local maple syrup and sausage made from farm-raised pork.
It’s straight out of a dream: stand on the deck of a Leaves and Lizards hilltop cabin and gaze at the 5,500-foot Arenal Volcano, a deeply contoured, green monolith. The buffer between the volcano—which last erupted in 1968—and the lodge is four miles, and the jungle lands and national parks that separate the two offer reassurance and more. The northern Costa Rican locale, which is about three hours from San Jose, is home to toucans, howler monkeys, and two-toed sloths. Leaves and Lizards arranges horseback rides, and river rafting on the Sarapiquí. Or chill out in the turquoise blue Rio Celeste.
On the Inn’s 26-acre property, every one of nine standalone structures has remarkable views. The Hobbit House is built into the hillside; its sunken shower is open to the sky. Every morning guests can help milk the cows and collect freshly laid eggs.
A traveler reaches the back of beyond when, after driving 12 hours from Boston and then taking a three-hour ferry, he lands at the remote, southwestern end of Nova Scotia. “We don’t give out bottles of spring water,” says Trout Point Lodge co-owner Perret, a Louisianan transplanted to the Great White North. “You can drink that straight from the faucet.”
However there’s no need to rough it, even if the lodge nests inside the semi-barren Tobeatic Wilderness Area and its moraines and esker fields. The three-story main lodge, built from Eastern Spruce, is furnished with oriental rugs and Tiffany-style lamps. The fare is heralded (Associated Press), idiosyncratic (sometimes Cajun-Acadian), and tasty: perhaps pancakes, house smoked-salmon, and homemade yogurt for breakfast; and black-eyed peas with shrimp and homemade fettuccine topped with a wild mushroom sauce for dinner. Come evening, turn to the skies; the inn is a designated Starlight Tourist Destination that’s virtually free of light pollution.