The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, the nights are getting longer — it’s the ideal time to hit the road. Check out our local action-packed fall foliage routes or opt for a weekend getaway just a little farther from home
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Inn at Millrace Pond, Hope, NJ
A bed-and-breakfast mixes modern comfort with a historic setting
By Greg Olear
New Yorkers often delight in thumbing their nose at all things Jersey — even transplanted New Yorkers who grew up in the Garden State, like me. After all, what’s the purpose of crossing the border when we have so much natural beauty and culture here? But there are certain spots in my native state sufficiently charming to warrant a two-hour road trip. One of these is a town called Hope, located in the mountainous Northwest Skylands region of New Jersey. First settled in 1769 by Moravians, a Protestant sect founded 500 years ago in the mountains of what is now the Czech Republic, the town retains its historic character — lots of limestone houses with herringbone doors, all organized around a millstream — and has a distinctly New England feel.
Here, on the fringes of a wood, not ten miles from the Delaware River, sits the Inn at Millrace Pond (908-459-4884). The rustic bed-and-breakfast, whose centerpice is an old stone gristmill — once the center of town — was lovingly constructed out of gorgeous gray stone by Moravians who had first settled in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (Unlike the Puritans of New England, Moravians held the arts in high esteem.) A charming mix of 18th-century aesthetics and 21st-century amenities, the inn now comprises 17 rooms in three buildings: the gristmill itself, a stone cottage, and a farmhouse built in 1808.
The 18th-century Inn at Millrace Pond provides up-to-date amenities in a historic setting. The former gristmill offers 17 rooms, plus a cozy dining room to enjoy a fireside drink or relaxing meal
It’s true — it doesn’t get much more romantic than an 18th-century gristmill. But the layout makes the Inn at Millrace Pond ideal for both families on vacation, who usually stay in the farmhouse or the mill, and couples on romantic getaways, who sometimes repair to the stone cottage that looks like the set from a bodice-ripping romance novel.
Each building has a different feel, but all eschew the busy, precious style of some B&Bs for a simpler, more understated look: exposed beams, white walls, dark wooden furniture, hardwood floors with braided rugs. If you could somehow transport some of the original Moravian missionaries who settled here in 1769 into the inn, they’d feel right at home — although you’d have to explain how to work the TV and the Wi-Fi. “So many B&Bs are frilly, like sleeping inside a jewelry box,” says Bill Kirkhuff, who owns the inn with his partner Jonathan Teed. “Our rooms lean toward fully colonial — the rooms are not overdone.”
Visitors can wander around trails on 23 rolling acres, play a game of tennis, or simply contemplate the inn’s fascinating history: Powered solely by water from Millrace Pond, the gristmill operated continuously for almost 200 years before being taken off-line in 1956, when a newer facility rendered it obsolete. By then, the missionaries were long gone — they’d abandoned the village in 1808, consolidating their forces in Bethlehem. For several decades, the gristmill sat untouched. Then, in 1996, a discriminating entrepreneur realized that the lovely stone buildings, in a bucolic setting but less than a mile off Interstate 80, would make a lovely bed-and-breakfast. And the Inn at Millrace Pond was born.
When it’s time to eat, the dining room (also open to the public), with its rough-hewn beams and historic character, does not disappoint. Kirkhuff and Teed have gone for “more traditional” fare, but Teed reports that one of their signature dishes is their take on lobster pie: four ounces of lobster tail, four more ounces of lobster, all chunked together in a sherry sauce. You can also enjoy a glass of wine by the gorgeous fireplace in the Fireside Lounge. And, although in some of their printed materials they call their breakfast “continental,” fear not. Teed says he is known as the “omelet king” and will whip up whatever you desire; lots of homebaked breads, yogurt, cereal, and more ensure that you are really treated to a “full breakfast” each morning.
FALL SPECIAL: $249 per couple per night includes two welcome cocktails and a $60 credit toward the dining room.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
September is an ideal time to enjoy the park’s 67,000 acres and 100 miles of trails, or to simply bask in the visual glow of the autumn foliage along the Delaware River. Check out the park’s Web site for up-to-date foliage reports and to find particularly scenic routes.
One of a plethora of pick-your-own farms in the area. Come for the jack-o’-lanterns. Stay for the apple pie. Opens Labor Day weekend.
Hope, NJ; 908-459-5351
Land of Make Believe & Pirates Cove
With its old-school rides and games — plus top-notch water slides and rides (including the famous Black Hole) — this throwback amusement park, built in 1954, is the ideal day trip for families with young children.
» Next stop: Frost Valley YMCA, Denning, Ulster County