This past August, we went on a Lakes District tour of New Hampshire with two kids in tow. Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to find the perfect lodge with so many amenities that caters to kids, even in New England, where so many families drive to their summer getaway from the nearby cities of Boston, New York and even Philadelphia. Only a couple hour drive from Boston and you’re surrounded by some of New Hampshire’s most beautiful lakes and woody trails, ideal for boating and hiking.
We landed at an old historic bed and breakfast called Follansbee Inn, which is right on the ever so serene Kezar Lake in North Sutton New Hampshire. Full disclosure if you have kids who are addicted to TV and the digital world: this is probably not the place for you. That is, unless you want to give them a healthy detox from that digital world. The inn is right across the street from Kezar Lake, so the views and serenity is about as ideal as it gets. While in my opinion, this getaway is a better choice for a solo reflection trip or a romantic long weekend away for those who love nature, the reason it also makes a good choice for families is its absence of the distracting things from our busy urban day-to-day lives.
First of all, there’s no TV — not in the any of the rooms or in the main sitting areas on the ground floor. For me, this was a godsend, but for others who need a daily dose of TV or movies, it may not a good choice. That said, we did stream movies one evening during our five day stay using their complimentary internet, which was speedy enough to run a movie. The biggest draw of the place is the fact that it’s literally surrounded by trees and nature on all sides, boasting lots of interesting walks and hikes you can take straight from the inn itself and within a few minute drive. My recommendation? Do a digital detox and be okay with it — the rewards will be well worth it!!
A shot taken in the side garden of Follansbee Inn. I really loved this fish.
Follansbee Inn has 18 individually decorated guest rooms, each with a private, en suite bathroom. One of the things that makes this place so unique is not just the fact that each room is completely different, with its own style, decor and colors, but the hallways are loaded with history from its relics, paintings and book cases which will keep you busy for a couple of evenings alone. There’s also a piano on the ground floor which they encourage you to play and a game room. Rather than turn the TV on, how about challenge your k ids to a card or board game in a quaint room oozing with stories to tell. They also have an area where you can keep things cold in a fridge and they offer bottled water, which is useful before heading out for a morning hike.
North Sutton is south of New London in the Sunapee/Dartmouth region of New Hampshire, an area known far and wide for year round activities including canoeing, kayaking, sailing, fishing, hiking, leaf peeping, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling to name but a few. While we were there in the late summer, it’s worth mentioning fall and winter activities as colder temperatures in New England are around the corner. For winter sports enthusiasts, North Sutton is close to Mount Sunapee and Ragged Mountain, two well known New Hampshire ski resorts. Cross country skiers, snowshoe enthusiasts, and snowmobilers can do it all right from the doors of Follansbee Inn. In the summer, it’s all about boating, cycling and hiking of course. And, pure natural beauty that makes rural New Hampshire so special. The old fashioned outdoor porch was one of my favorite things about the place — and yes, there’s a swinging bench for two.
A lake lover? Kezar is absolutely beautiful. Another great feature about the inn is its unlimited use of their canoes and kayaks, which you can take out any time of day as long as one is available. Below is a shot taken a few minute walk down the road to the right of the inn and below it is the same road a little further along where we went bike riding on two separate afternoons. You can literally make it around the entire lake on a bike (even with kids) in about an hour or so — and, I stopped in a few locations to take photos. Follansbee Inn also conveniently offers use of their bikes on the premises — they have quite a few of them in their garage, which is available for your use during your stay. They have several sizes available, as well as helmuts to ensure your safety. We took them out a few times — I’d recommend the route around the lake since the road isn’t very busy and the scenery is lovely!
Inside, the general area is made up of several rooms, so if you want to escape to either the porch or another room, there are a few to choose from — OR, you can find a bench in one of the wide hallways as there are several floors.
The dining room is incredibly traditional with formal table settings. The owner who is from Louisiana heritage, takes great pride in his homemade breakfasts, which change every morning. From fresh fruit, cereals, yoghurts, eggs and sausage, to homemade pastries, some of which had a Scottish influence and others had a German one. There’s a microwave which you can use anytime of day or night and there’s always coffee and tea on hand. Entrees include baked cheese grits, praline bacon, asparagus, goat cheese and caramelized onion frittatas, Angel Biscuits, homemade donuts and more. You can opt to dine alone at one of our two-top tables, or dine with a group of four to eight at one of our larger dining tables, which we chose to do so we could meet some of the other guests. (I’d encourage this, even if you’re on a romantic weekend away).
A traditional Scotch egg anyone? They were incredibly delicious!
Onto the rooms themselves — here are a few shots I took during our stay. Bear in mind that they were taken on an iPhone so the lighting isn’t the best, but you’ll get an idea of just how traditional and quaint the rooms are, all of which will bring you far back in time. Given the absence of digital distractions and noise from TV’s next door, it’s a perfect place to relax and unwind — note that there are plenty of books to read if you forgot to bring one.
The view from our bedroom window…..
If you’re a water lover, then the access to boats will be a huge draw. In addition to kayaks and canoes (which we used), they have a sailboat if you know how to sail and a rowboat which is useful for the fishing enthusiasts among you. Given that we’ve moved into Fall season, its worth noting that nearby in Warner, there’s the annual Fall Foliage Festival which has been running since 1947 on Warner’s main street. Of course, it’s a great area of New England to take in the glorious foliage as well — a leaf peeping heaven for those looking for new destinations to explore from September through November. There’s also farm stands for fresh veggies, apples, fresh pressed cider, and pumpkins. Follansbee Inn runs special fall packages from September 12 through October 21 so be sure to check out their page for more info at http://www.follansbeeinn.com.
For the lazier minded among you, don’t forget that they have a hammock that faces the lake, which is a great way to spend a few hours in the afternoon while reading that novel you’ve been putting off for months. There’s never been a hammock I didn’t like — two thumbs up!!
Follansbee Inn on Kezar Lake
2 Keyser Street, North Sutton, NH 03260