California B and B’s Offer Many Choices

Some people hear “bed and breakfast” and they think of an ornate historic home; others have been disappointed to find their bed-and-breakfast was no more than an average, mundane house in the suburbs that was like staying with relatives.

The truth is bed-and-breakfast inns vary wildly from house to house and from inn to inn, and it makes good sense to do some research on the property you’ll be visiting. We all have our preferences and it’s not hard to find a bed-and-breakfast that will suit your particular tastes. In our case, we’ve always preferred the bed-and-breakfast that is more inn than house, more private than communal. And here are a few of the bed-and-breakfast stays we have enjoyed the most:

Casa Tropicana Inn

If you want to tie in a beautiful Southern California beach with your bed-and-breakfast experience, the Casa Tropicana Inn in San Clemente is the place to go. Situated across the road from a gorgeous beach and San Clemente Pier, Casa Tropicana really couldn’t be in a better location if the main purpose of your getaway is relaxation.

Known as the beach community where former president Richard Nixon had his Western White House, San Clemente is an oceanfront city of red-tile-roof Spanish style homes built with commanding views of the Pacific on land that almost seems like it was created to provide homeowners the best panoramic views on the Southern California coast. Spanish-named streets wind and weave their way down to the waterfront below where one of the most charming areas is the tiny enclave of shops, restaurants and vacation properties next to the San Clemente Pier.

It’s there that you find the Casa Tropicana Inn, a five-story inn that is ideal for couples and fits right in with the Mediterranean motif of this quaint beachfront area. Each of the eight guest rooms is designed with many special attributes that include romantic touches like fireplaces, over-size Jacuzzi tubs, the highest quality linens and bed treatments and cozy robes, as well as more practical amenities such as refrigerators, flat screen televisions, DVD players and high-speed internet. Beyond that, the rooms each have individual amenities such as the ocean views and four-poster bed in the room we enjoyed called the Casita Arena.

It was especially nice to have a second-floor terrace — footsteps from our room — where we could enjoy a cocktail or read a good book with a wonderful beach view in the background.

Although the service in general was excellent, the Casa Tropicana is not where you go to have your innkeeper prepare a gourmet breakfast. In fact, the inn’s breakfast is continental style with pastries, yogurt, orange juice and various snacks available for you anytime in the room. Even wine and champagne were available for us anytime and, unlike most mini-bars, these came at no extra charge.

But gourmet food is not very far away: On the first floor of the inn you’ll find the White Horses Restaurant and Bar which boasts numerous dining awards, including being named the best gourmet restaurant in Orange County. Based on our dinner, we completely agree with the judges.

Our time spent in this beautiful beachfront environment was a feast for the senses – unbelievable views, small markets, sidewalk cafes, long beach walks and upscale shopping only minutes away in downtown San Clemente. Friends who joined us on this getaway also pronounced the Casa Tropicana the ideal couples getaway.

Unique Places to Get Married in Maryland – A Guide

One of the hardest things to do when planning your special day is to spend hours scouring the internet looking for a unique, classy, and un-used location for your wedding. I’ve spent the past two days in searching for that oh so elusive perfect spot. I’m going to save you all the trouble I went through and compile all the spots I found through obscure Google searches and message boards and put these locations in one place. Welcome to your one stop shop for unique wedding locations all over Maryland. For your convince I’ve put them into genre such as “Castle Theme”, “Relaxed Theme”, etc. so if you’re really in a knot, you don’t have to spend your whole day looking when you could be finding the perfect pair of shoes to go with your dress. Here we go:


Cloisters Castle: This private home that was commissioned and completed in a twenty seven year span screams with uniqueness. From the exterior built of Butler gold and gray stone, gables taken from a medieval house in France as well as medallions from a 16th century Venetian home, it’s a work of architectural brilliance. Located in Luthersville, MD this venue is surrounded by sixty acres of trees and a lovely garden. Its insides are furnished with authentic medieval pieces and antique furniture. The fireplace was even commissioned to be built from an antique chest carved with Renaissance figures. Famously, it was the site of actor Will Smith’s and Jada Pinkett’s wedding in 1998 but that hasn’t put a damper on the delightful and unforgettable atmosphere the house creates. Either the outside or the inside can be made available and there is only one event per day, allowing your day to be uninterrupted in its magic. The fee for rental allows for up to ten hours on the grounds and more time can negotiated through the contract via an extra hour’s fee. The venue comfortably fits 175 guests and as a bonus the staff acts as your wedding planner directing set-up, timing, and valet parking.

Maryvale Castle : Functioning as a preparatory school, Maryvale Castle boasts huge grounds complete with wedding chapel if the bride doesn’t envision herself walking down the castle’s much talked of grand winding staircase. Built in 1917 in Greenspring Valley, MD, this treasure houses an oak-paneled Great Hall, a solarium, and a bridal suite. A stone manor house sweeping off in both directions takes its influences from Warwick Castle in England with its Gothic arched windows, port cochere, and imposing gray towers. A rental agreement includes four hours of time which includes the rehearsal time and full use of the property. However, because it is still a working school, hours on the weekdays are more restricted than weekends. With an indoor guest capacity of 125 people and an outdoor capacity of 200, this venue is worth the strict appointment-only tour.


Montpelier Mansion: A mansion straight out of a Jane Austin piece, this brick Georgian structure sits on seventy acres of land flanked by dogwood trees. Built between 1781 and 1785 this national historic landmark is open to the public for tours and festivities and once housed George Washington and his wife Martha. It is also home to an uncommonly found 18th century summer house which is beautifully preserved. The maximum capacity inside and outside is somewhat small, eighty-five guests total, but the unique floor plan with crown molding and period furniture lends itself to an opulent and old-fashioned charm all its own. For people set on a Sunday wedding this venue isn’t for you as they don’t allow rentals on Sundays, however, having free reign over this delicate place is well worth the date change. Located in Laurell this mansion radiates country elegance akin to many a bride’s favorite novel, complete with circular stone driveway.

Glenveiw Mansion: Situated in Rockville, MD as part of a Rockville Civic Center Park the house is within the neoclassical tradition sporting pillars and an infinite number of beautiful black shuttered windows looking out over the lawn. The dining room is veiled in class and luxury as are its floor-to-ceiling dark paneled wooden walls and long oval windows. The conservatory shines with old-fashioned chandeliers whose light bounces off the Italian green marble floors. The rest of the house is touched with intricate details pertaining to the period in which it was first built housing a number of turn of the century, one- of- a- kind antiques sure to make any wedding memorable. Maximum capacity for this venue is 225 guests and amount charged allows for two hours of set-up and one hour of clean-up. Some strict drawbacks to possible brides are the impossibilities of seated dining, no cooking allowed on-site, and no red-dyed beverages of any kind.

Stronghold Mansion: On top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, MD the completely white mansion with pillars and latticed widow’s peak lends itself to the country simplicity surrounding it. The straight lawns emphasize the well designed rock walls that glide around the property housing a variety of elegant but simple flora and fauna normally seen in a country garden. The shimmering, circular lake to the side of the house has large willow trees surrounding it and making a path towards the house itself where the architecture inside matches the outside in its refined gentile decor. A standard contract allows for 7 hours and includes set-up and clean-up times. . Additional hours can be negotiated. Maximum number of guests in attendance is 200 and the rental includes 40 by 57 inch tent over the patio and can be added on to encompass the lake area as well. Parking is limited as there are only 85 spots available and clearly marked by the owners , small shuttle buses are permitted.

Liriodendron Mansion: An 1898 ornate masterpiece encompassed by a landscape dripping with flowers, this antique summer home in Harford County leaves nothing unchecked in your imagination. Whether it’s the Grecian old-world architecture built around intricate carvings, urns of flowers and stone pillars, or the wisteria vines that form a canopy over the porch for a otherworldly rehearsal dinner, the house is awash in magic all its own. The Palladian styled mansion reminds guests of a fairyland surrounded by woods and fountains with a variety of romantic stone sculptures throughout the grounds. Maximum capacity is 150 guests outside, 100 guests inside with seating and there are plenty of guests parking. The renter has a choice of 6.5 hrs on weekdays where as on weekends they must choose between both rental times and party times in a wide selection of choices. Wedding rehearsals are extra payment as well as table and chair rental fees, but this is no different from most other venues.

Tudor Place: This home to Martha Washington’s late granddaughter, Martha Custic Peter, is bursting at the seams with rich history and warm, comfortable elegance. The house itself was built in 1805 by Dr. William Thorton who was also famous for building the first United States Capital and The Octagon building in Washington, DC. Inside the house there are over one hundred objects belonging to George and Martha Washington and it’s all been documented in an archived collection of letters, diaries, books, and photographs. As far as guests, the mansion can hold up to 35 guests for a wedding ceremony and for parties over 35 guests they must pay extra. This venue is for ceremonies only and the reservation includes an hour block of time for that ceremony. They also have their own on sight photography for a fee.

Ceresville Mansion: With a variety of ceremony options to suit any bride as well as an in-house consultant to coordinate everything smoothly, this Mansion comes with superior services. Whether the perfect wedding uses their white Grecian Pergola surrounded by dogwoods in bloom, or the terrace climbing with Ivy and backlit with candles shimmering over the reflecting lily pool, it will be something to remember. The white and black sweeping Cape Cod style home was built in 1888 alongside rivers, hillsides, and a ten acre meadow also open for events. Much of the original architecture as well as the antique furniture and fireplace are still the same as 1888. This venue has everything covered in the rental fee from seven hours of event coordination to all the outside details a catering company would normally provide like linens and a dance floor. Every Thursday evening they also offer an unusual wedding discount for those on a budget and cut the price nearly in half for the same services as a Friday or Saturday wedding event. The venue can provide for up to 200 guests and also gives a complimentary list of Food and Beverage minimum pricing so it is free of confusion and out of the way.

Inns and Taverns:

Slades Inn and Tavern: A Victorian dream painted in lively light blues and dark blues, this Inn sets itself apart with two matching circular turrets, high brick chimneys and a white wrap-around porch that Anne of Green Gables would envy. The laid-back romantic space is in Fredrick, MD a few minutes away from Baltimore. The land is dappled with greenery and horses while the exciting night-life and history of the city are in close proximity. Enjoy an easy day as all the guests are accommodated with places to stay after the reception and perhaps even stay past the ceremony for a honeymoon to enjoy hot air ballooning or a carriage tour. From beginning to end of that extraordinary day, Slade’s takes care of everything from “his and hers” massages, bridal party hair and makeup sessions, as well as brunches and teas. Indoor buffet seating is for 100 guests whereas larger parties can be accommodated with tents for seated dinners and dancing for up to 150. Once the party is over, guests too busy having fun can tumble up to their rooms leaving the bride and groom clear and free of worry.

Morningside Inn Teaming with wildlife such as Heron, Deer, and Red Fox, the visuals of this open, out-doors setting guarantees a one of a kind wedding atmosphere. In Fredrick, MD with three hundred acres the Inn dates back to the 1900’s where it functioned as a bank barn. Newly restored the structure still has its original dark, heavy structural beams which serve as accent to the clean Amish lines of the house. Once rented, every bit of acreage is yours to do with as you please and the choice of ceremony is limitless. The dining room allows for two levels of fun, a more casual mix on the lower level and elegance on the upper level. They also house their own on site flower shop and Event’s planning that includes, photography, videography, and musical entertainment.