Gustavus, Alaska: Glacier Bay Country Inn

For anyone keen on experiencing great wildlife, the Country Inn’s barrier to entry—a four-plus hour ferry ride from Juneau—is quickly forgotten. Dine on a stout, traditional breakfast and watch strapping coastal brown bears graze on strawberries in a nearby meadow. Observe moose, fox, and wolves walking past the inn’s five cabins, which each have a porch, flat-screen TV, and soft flannel sheets (the main lodge itself has an additional five guestrooms). Three miles away is the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, which can be explored via raft, sea kayak, and boat. There’s birding (fox sparrows, warblers, and puffins among nearly 300 species), whale-watching (humpbacks), and world-class halibut and salmon fishing.

Catch a huge fish around Excursion Inlet—the halibut can weigh hundreds of pounds—and the Country Inn will turn it into a meal, or innkeepers Jim and Carla Lindblom will see that the fish is fileted, vacuum-packed, frozen and shipped. The inn’s own dinners always include seafood, such as salmon in a green peppercorn sauce, and locally grown produce.

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Tucson, Arizona: Hacienda Linda

Hacienda Linda backs up against Saguaro National Park West and its forest of towering cacti, and features two watering holes known far and wide by locals. From either of Hacienda’s two guestrooms you can watch javelinas, rabbits, owls, coyotes, deer, jackrabbits, and bobcats stop for a drink. “I’ve seen a hawk and a jackrabbit call a truce at the water,” says co-owner Linda Leonard.

The inn is also a spectacle. A 250-year-old saguaro anchors the courtyard. Lights and elaborately painted concrete decorate the patio. The B&B is decorated with original art and rough-hewn beam ceilings, and guests can enjoy unobstructed views of wildflowers, cacti and the Tucson Mountains. The King Suite has an outdoor shower for two and a claw-foot tub. Sample French toast with organic raw agave syrup for breakfast, and—if you don’t feel taking like the half-hour journey to Tucson for your evening meal—stuffed chicken breast with feta cheese, spinach and sundried tomatoes for dinner.

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Irvine, Kentucky: Snug Hollow Farm

There’s no need to bring a pair of headphones to Snug Hollow, because music is everywhere. Whippoorwills sing. Barred owls sound off. Wild turkeys gobble. “The beauty of this place,” says Barbara Napier, who has owned the inn for 14 years, “is hearing the coyotes holler at night.”

Actually, there’s endless beauty on the 350-acre Central Kentucky farm, which is at the end of a mile-long gravel road, twenty minutes from the state “craft capital” town of Berea, and an hour’s drive from Lexington. Stay in the two-bedroom farmhouse—the Pearl has its own porch, and a king and two twin beds—or the Cozy Cabin, a 185-year-old chestnut log cabin. Walk paths carpeted in electric-green grass and lined with wildflowers. Feast on homemade braided rosemary bread, oatmeal-cornmeal blueberry pancakes, and salads sourced straight from the farm.

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(Photo: Gilbert Hetherwick)

Saugerties, New York: The Grouse House

Welcome to East Central New York’s Grouse House—and the squirrel version of the X Games. Innkeeper Gilbert Hetherwick built a series of feeders, connected by chains, pipes, and bridges, that attract the local squirrel population. “Every morning there are a dozen of them out there,” he says. “They do tricks for you.” Hetherwick’s ridge-top inn, which is only 10 minutes from Woodstock and fewer than two hours from Manhattan, has one guestroom: a third-floor nest complete with a covered porch and commanding view of the Catskill Mountains. “Nobody will bother you here,” Hetherwick assures. He quietly stocks the guestroom kitchenette daily, with local, freshly baked muffins and pastries. The coffee comes from New Orleans’s Café du Monde.

Entertainment extends well beyond the inn’s hot tub and guestroom’s 45-inch television: A quarter-mile long walking trail navigates the Grouse House’s three acres, and cushioned benches dot the trail. Guests may spot fox, deer, and black bear on the B&B’s three acres, and the house is a birder's paradise.

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(Photo: Rodney Campbell via Flickr/CC Attribution)

Old Fort, North Carolina: Inn on Mill Creek

Well inside the Pisgah National Forest, birds and birders alike migrate to the Inn on Mill Creek. The whippoorwills sing at night, and there are warblers of many varieties (cerulean, black-throated green, Swainson’s). The birds seek solitude and shelter in the rhododendron thickets and other undergrowth that thrives at elevation (2,300 feet) and beneath the area’s maple, beech and birch trees. Mill Creek may be just 25 minutes from Asheville, but it’s also on the North Carolina Birding Trail, and down a long stretch of dirt. “Our road will never be a shortcut to anywhere,” says innkeeper Brigette Walters.

Mill Creek breakfasts satisfy appetites with pumpkin Belgian waffles and fruit salad boosted by apples grown on site. Ten minutes distant is the restaurant-filled town of Black Mountain. (Order the tasty bacon-spinach-tomato sandwiches at the Veranda Cafe.) Extend the culinary journey as far as Asheville and choose from the area’s 21 craft breweries (try Highland and its Black Mocha Stout). Return to the inn ready to reset. Mill Creek has six rooms in two buildings; groups of six can share the Deck House, which has a common-area kitchen and overlooks the B&B’s pond.

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West Bend, Wisconsin: Hidden Serenity Bed and Breakfast

Hike a trail over some of the 24 acres accessible to Hidden Serenity guests and you’ll encounter more than the glacier-formed, loose terrain that is Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine.  Native to this wilderness are huge wild turkeys, as well as stout fox squirrels and pileated woodpeckers. Nearby ponds attract other birds. Wood ducks, scarlet tanagers, and black-capped chickadees can dot the skies and hardwood wilds. Meanwhile downtown Milwaukee is only 40 minutes away.

About those woods—savor the views of the hickory and cherry trees from Hidden Serenity’s glassed-in and tall great room. The structure houses four guestrooms (Timber Trails has a spa shower, with jets in the walls and room for two) and a billiard table, too. Feed on innkeeper Sally Cochran’s cooking, such as pancakes complemented with a buttery lemon sauce, while deer walk past the covered front porch. Then head next door to an unusual and welcoming zoo. The 100-acre Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary hosts bison, mink, wolf, and other animals, with ample room to roam.

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