These innkeeper-run establishments are usually historic homes with a unique past and serve as a perfect home away from home. No two rooms are alike, and the service is second to none. And of course… there’s the breakfast! They’ll be no cereal eating at these inns. Instead, you’ll wake up each morning to a home-cooked breakfast fit for royalty. It’s the ultimate pampering indulgence. To get you started with planning your getaway, we’ve selected five top-notch B&Bs, all within a few hours drive of Ocala. Each one is unique in its own way, and if you need just a little more enticement, we’ve included a recipe of one of their signature dishes just to seal the deal.
Grandeur on the Gulf
With beautiful Gulf of Mexico views, the Cedar Key Bed & Breakfast was built in 1880 for the Eagle Pencil Company’s superintendent. The main house consists of six bedrooms furnished with the utmost attention to comfort. Each room features a high ceiling with paddle fans, lace curtains and beds described as “the most comfortable this side of heaven.” Soak in the tub of your private bathroom, then nestle up in the supplied plush terry cloth robe while you enjoy the view from your room. Feel like traveling light? Don’t worry. In each room you’ll find such amenities as hair dryers, body wash, shampoo, premium glycerin soaps and even makeup removal supplies. Your hosts Bill and Alice Phillips want you to feel as comfortable in their home as you do in your own. If you’re interested in spending more than a night or two, the Tree House Suite is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. This spacious suite features a full kitchen, living room, cozy bedroom and a private balcony, all wrapped in the branches of a 400-year-old live oak tree.
If laziness is No. 1 on your agenda, why not pop some popcorn, snuggle up on the couch and choose from a variety of DVDs supplied by Bill and Alice? If seclusion is what you’re interested in, the Sunrise Suite is located one mile off the grounds of the Cedar Key Bed & Breakfast. This two-bedroom suite is situated directly on the Gulf of Mexico facing southeast. Every morning you’ll be greeted by some of the most magnificent sunrises in Florida. And again, don’t forget about the breakfasts! Wake up every morning to a delicious home-cooked breakfast and plenty of free treats throughout the day. Be sure to sneak a few of the “best ever” chocolate chip cookies from the b&b’s bottomless cookie jar!
Combining History With Luxury
Acknowledged with several accolades, the Addison on Amelia Island combines history with luxury. This bed and breakfast includes three buildings surrounding a courtyard lush with gardens and greenery. The elegant fountain serves as a relaxing centerpiece. The main building was originally the home of merchant Frank Simmons in 1876 and has had a rich history serving as an infirmary, doctor’s office and rooming house for mill workers over the decades. Several renovations have preserved the historical integrity of the building, while adding the accommodations modern guests expect. The original heart of pine floors, tall ceilings and five fireplaces all remain. For innkeepers Bob and Shannon, the Addison is their pride and joy. After a five-year search for the perfect bed and breakfast, they fell in love with the Addison. Today,they make every effort to accommodate their guests. Join them for a home-cooked breakfast every morning before heading out to explore the island. On Amelia Island, visitors can stroll along 13 miles of pristine beaches, enjoying the abundant native wildlife and unique plant life. For fans ofhistory, the island has a rich past teaming with the lore and myth of nobles, Indians and pirates. Be sure to visit Florida’s oldest operating bar, the Palace Saloon, while visiting.
The Addison is also within walking distance of Fernandina Beach’s historic district, complete with a variety of eclectic shops, art galleries and distinctive restaurants. After a busy day, join Bob and Shannon for a complimentary happy hour with the other guests to unwind and make plans for the next day’s sightseeing.
Southern Comfort At Its Finest
Described as “The Ultimate in Southern Comfort” by previous guests, this historic building was built circa 1906 and was the former home of William Watt, the inventor of the corrugated cardboard used in transporting oranges.
The quaint inn consists of five guestrooms that are described as “spacious and beautifully decorated” by visitors. Hosts Gordie Johnston and Patti Tims are eager to greet guests each morning with a delicious homemade breakfast and once again each evening to hear about their daily adventures over complimentary wine and cheese. The quiet and peaceful grounds are impeccably kept and are a quick two miles from downtown Mount Dora.
After one of Gordie’s filling, yet nutritious, home-cooked breakfasts, step out to explore the village of Mount Dora, shopping for souvenirs at the antique and specialty shops that line the streets. If you’re feeling adventurous, check out Central Florida Nature Adventures for an eco tour and explore the beautiful waterways of the area. After dark, a trip to the Mount Dora Brewing and Rocking Rabbit Brewery is a great way to spend the evening. Enjoy live music every Friday and Saturday night and an open acoustic jam session every Sunday. You’ll have a story or two to tell the innkeepers when you return!
Romance In Florida’s Oldest City
The Bayfront Westcott House is one bed and breakfast you must explore if you’re planning a romantic getaway. One of only a few inns located on the Matanzas Bay, this luxurious waterfront locale transports you back to the gilded Victorian age. With the period antiques that adorn each room, the Bayfront Westcott House maintains the same charm as it did when it was originally built in 1880. Plus, the romantic additions are perfect. Couples can request a room with a double hot tub and snuggle up together by the fireplace. Surprise your special someone by arranging for a bouquet of roses or fresh chocolate-covered strawberries to be delivered to your suite. Sip champagne together, and enjoy the spectacular view of the bay from the second-story deck.
Begin each morning with a decadent breakfast of Eggs Benedict Excellente with their signature Heavenly Hollandaise Sauce. You can choose to dine in on the courtyard or the veranda or, for a luxurious treat, have breakfast served in your room. After a hearty meal, takeadvantage of the abundance of things to do in Florida’s oldest city. The old brick streets are lined with specialty shops, art galleries and fine restaurants to satisfy every palate.
Be sure to visit some of the historic sites while you’re there, like the Castillo de San Marcos fort, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth or the oldest wooden schoolhouse or jail. Or if you’re looking for something a bit more modern, St. Augustine is home to the Ripley’s
Believe It Or Not Museum, which is sure to awe and amaze.
Return to your home away from home and meet up with the other guests over a delicious spread of complimentary hors d’oeuvres. After a break, either head back out to enjoy the St. Augustine nightlife or stay in and finish the evening off with an in-room massage. No matter your preference, the Bayfront Westcott House, coupled with the charm of St. Augustine, is perfect for a romantic rendezvous.
Beauty On The Bay
If you’re looking for a waterfront retreat but still want to experience some outstanding dining and culture, look no further than the Sea Breeze Manor. Situated on the beaches of the Boca Ciega Bay, this finalist for the Rand McNally/USA Today “Most Romantic Destination” award originally served as a private residence from its construction in 1926 until 1996, when it was purchased and restored. In 2002, Lori Rosso took over the inn after a 20-year career in Washington, D.C. At Sea Breeze Manor, she offers guests a refuge from the stresses of everyday life with a luxurious, yet peaceful, atmosphere. The main house consists of six guestrooms, each decorated with a unique Caribbean flare. Guests enjoy a spacious sitting room, private bath and personal balcony or patio with either a waterfront view or overlooking the tropical garden. Or, guests can stay in one of two private cottages, which are pet friendly for your furrycompanions. Wake up every morning to a full breakfast that incorporates some of the freshest ingredients around, and enjoy complimentary snacks and refreshments all day. Head down to the charming town of Gulfport where there really is something for everyone.
Within a six block radius, you’ll find over 30 restaurants, shops and services. Stroll through the area paths, parks and waterfront nature preserves where you’re sure to spot dolphins and manatees. If you’re looking for some more action, excitement and nightlife, Gulfport’s Casino Ballroom and Catherine Hickman Theatre are two stops to check out, along with an eclectic mix of fine dining establishments. And, don’t forget, you’re just a short drive from Tampa and the surrounding area and attractions.