Inn the Mood for Love

Romance writer Nora Roberts takes a novel approach at her Maryland B&B

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If You Go

Getting There

Inn BoonsBoro is just over an hour from Bethesda. Take I-270 toward northern Frederick, merge onto I-70 west toward Hagerstown, then take Exit 49 onto U.S. 40 Alt toward Braddock Heights/Middleton. Stay left at U.S. 40 Alt W/Old National Pike into town. The inn is on the right.

Staying There

Inn BoonsBoro (1 N. Main St., Boonsboro, 301-432-1188, has seven of eight rooms with literary couples as their themes. Rooms located in the front of the inn have doors that open onto the porch overlooking Main Street; rooms in the back have a porch that overlooks the courtyard and parking lot beyond. Rates, from $225 to $305, include a full breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m., access to the dining room fridge, which is stocked with water and soda, evening wine and cheese, and passes to Fit In Boonsboro, a fitness center owned by Roberts and her husband on the opposite side of the parking lot. Occupancy runs high year-round. The schedule for Nora Roberts’ book signings at Turn the Page Bookstore typically comes out after the first of the year. Once it’s released, those weekends at the inn typically sell out well in advance.

Eating There

Roberts’ son Daniel Aufdem-Brinke owns these two places a book’s throw from the inn. Vesta delivers.

Vesta (2 S. Main St., Boonsboro, 301-432-6166, is an über-casual, family-style restaurant with an open kitchen and wood booths (as depicted in Roberts’ The Next Always). New York-style pizza is its specialty, along with salads, wings, calzones, cold and hot subs and wraps. Prices range from $1.99 for a pizza slice to $11.95 for chicken Parmesan. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Dan’s Restaurant & Tap House (3 S. Main St., Boonsboro, 301-432-5224, opened in June and is a classic pub-style restaurant with a craft beer bar. The menu includes delicious Boonsburgers, chicken, steaks and other American cuisine at affordable prices (entrées are $10-$20). Live music on weekends. Open noon to midnight Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Worth a Visit

Turn the Page Bookstore (18 N. Main St., Boonsboro, 301-432-4588, features an excellent collection of Civil War-related books, the latest New York Times best-sellers, book club favorites, and a room devoted to all the Roberts and J.D. Robb books in print. Several book-signing events are held each year, with Roberts (aka, J.D. Robb) and other nationally known writers. Check the schedule online.

Gifts Inn BoonsBoro (16 N. Main St., Boonsboro, 301-432-0090,, also family-owned and adjacent to Turn the Page Bookstore, sells the scented items that correspond with each room at the inn, as well as note cards featuring a quote from many of the novels and even tea matched to each story (chamomile for Jane and Rochester).

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (Harpers Ferry, W.Va., 304-535-6029, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Learn about the first successful American railroad, John Brown’s attack on slavery, and the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War. Cross the bridge to reach the Maryland Heights Trail entrance. Two trail options take you past Civil War forts and to scenic views of Harpers Ferry village and the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Visit for information about the town’s shops and restaurants, special events and history-related visitors centers.

Antietam National Battlefield (visitors center at 5831 Dunker Church Road, Sharpsburg, Md., 301-432-5124, is open year-round, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Labor Day to Memorial Day, and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Stop by the visitors center for an introductory film, join a park ranger for a battlefield talk or drive the self-guided, 8½-mile tour of the site to learn about the Civil War’s bloodiest one-day conflict. Prices for a vehicle pass (good for three days): $4 per individual 16 and older, $6 per family.

Hagerstown Premium Outlets (495 Premium Outlets Blvd., Hagerstown, Md., 301-790-0300, is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Spend a cold or rainy day darting among 100 outlet stores, including Calvin Klein, J.Crew, Brooks Brothers, Kate Spade and Under Armour. Warm up with a French press coffee from Andrea Carmona French Macaron at the indoor food court. Sign up for the VIP lounge online and
receive coupons.

Check and for more information on the surrounding areas.

More Romantic Inns

Inn BoonsBoro isn’t the only B&B within driving distance of Bethesda to focus on romance. Here are some others that aim to put you “inn” the mood for love.

The Inn at White Oak (1 White Oak Trail, Gettysburg, Pa., 866-500-7072, is nestled on 30 acres with gardens, ponds and pastures not far from Gettysburg’s downtown. This grand estate oozes romantic hideaway—especially if you opt for the “Secret Service package” with breakfast in bed. Each of the inn’s six spacious suites (referred to as “Guest Quarters”) features a fireplace, luxury linens and a flat-screen television with DVD player. Common areas include a spa, billiard room, library, theater with recliners, and an indoor heated swimming pool flanked by oversize stone fireplaces. The inn opened in February 2011 and shot to the No. 1 spot on TripAdvisor’s list of Gettysburg inns. Rates: $179-$289; includes hot breakfast, snacks and beverages.

The Hope and Glory Inn (65 Tavern Road, Irvington, Va., 800-497-8228,, a former schoolhouse near the Chesapeake Bay’s western shore, was turned into a playfully elegant inn by Peggy and Dudley Patteson. It features a spa called “Recess” and a bar dubbed “Detention.” The property includes six guest rooms, six quaint guest cottages situated amid the gardens, and seven vineyard “tents,” which are three-bedroom, three-bath cottages, each with a fireplace and each decorated in jaunty chic. Don’t miss the outdoor garden bathroom, available to any guest. It has it all—tub, separate shower, mirror, sink, potted plants and the sky for a ceiling. Rates: $205-$355; includes hot breakfast.

The Inn at Bowman’s Hill (518 Lurgan Road, New Hope, Pa., 215-862-8090,, a six-time AAA four-diamond award winner, sits on a gorgeously manicured five acres next to a
wildflower preserve. Four rooms and two suites each have a king-size featherbed, fireplace and an opulent bathroom with a two-person tub. You can enjoy a gourmet breakfast by the fire, swim in the outdoor heated pool or book an in-suite couple’s massage. Off property, you can visit several piano bars (Bowman’s Tavern is a half mile down the hill from the inn) or take the Bucks County wine trail. Ten of Pennsylvania’s 90 wineries are within a few miles of the inn. Rates: $385-$595; includes gourmet breakfast.

Christine Koubek lives in Gaithersburg and recently completed her master’s degree in creative writing at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn.

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