Civil War Sesquicentennial: History Comes Alive at America’s B&Bs

Celebrate the 150 anniversary of the American Civil War at historic inns at the major sites.

You’ll get a close-up view of the conflict through the lens of its heroes. Stay at a luxury B&B that served as a Confederate hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg. See the cannon garrisons at Fort Sumter and then return for tea at an antebellum inn where heads of state once met. Get pampered during an overnight stay at a former Virginia plantation where Civil War skirmishes took place.

These are the types of experiences provided by Select Registry Distinguished Inns of North Americaä. This elite portfolio has B&Bs near Civil War sites, from Virginia to Missouri, Mississippi to Pennsylvania. If your summer getaway plans include sesquicentennial commemorations, enrich the experience with a stay at a beautifully refurbished antebellum bed and breakfast. You’ll find a mix of historic charm and modern comforts like Wi-Fi, fine dining and spas.

Select Registry inns must pass rigorous, ongoing inspections, so you know you’re in for a top-notch experience. Here are just a few examples of the collection’s bed and breakfasts that provide great base camps for your foray into this defining moment in America’s life. For more B&Bs, visit http://www.selectregistry.com.

Inn at Herr Ridge (Gettysburg, Pa.)The inn’s main house was a Confederate hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg. Built in 1815, Inn at Herr Ridge is roughly a mile from Gettysburg National Military Park. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this B&B today has 16 guestrooms, each artfully decorated with fireplaces, Jacuzzi baths and featherbeds. Some rooms also have private decks. Stroll the streets of historic Gettysburg. Or, travel back to 1863 on horseback for a tour of the battlefield with a re-enactor in period costume. After a day of exploring historic sites, guests retreat to the inn for spa treatments and fine dining complemented with selections from the Wine Spectator-award winning cellar.

Antietam Overlook Farm (Keedysville, Md.) No Civil War recount is complete without a trip to Antietam National Battlefield, a site that saw hand-to-hand combat on the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. Nestled on a tranquil 95 acres high atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 19th-century inn overlooks the battlefield and the historic village of Sharpsburg, Md. Guests take in extraordinary views of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. This six-room bed and breakfast features rustic wood finishes, stone fireplaces and period antiques. Guests are close to major war sites like the battlefield and Harper’s Ferry. Today, winery tours, hikes along spectacular mountain trails and white-water rafting are part of the action.

Thomas Shepherd Inn (Shepherdstown, W.V.)Not far away on the banks of the Potomac River, Thomas Shepherd Inn sits in downtown Shepherdstown. The Civil War looms large here, just a few miles from the site of one of the armies’ grimmest showdowns, the Battle of Antietam. Today, the town charms with brick sidewalks lined with shops, artisan crafts and restaurants, all within walking distance of the inn. This 19th-century, Federal-style bed and breakfast has six guestrooms with original hardwood floors and plush canopy or sleigh beds. In addition to touring Civil War sites like Antietam National Battlefield or nearby Harpers Ferry, guests enjoy water sports on the Potomac and retrace America’s roots hiking on the Appalachian Trail and biking along the C&O Canal Path.

John Rutledge House (Charleston, S.C.) – Travel back to April 1861, when Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor, marking the war’s official start. Located in the city’s historic district, John Rutledge House puts guests close to the harbor. The antebellum B&B retains its grandeur with an elaborately carved Italian marble fireplace, canopy beds and original parquet flooring. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1763 as the residence of its namesake, a signer of the U.S. Constitution. History buffs can view gun batteries at Fort Sumter and return to the inn for afternoon tea in the ballroom where presidents and statesmen – including George Washington – have met. For dinner, Charleston’s renowned restaurants are within easy reach.

Fairview Inn (Jackson, Miss.) – Explore Civil War hotspots, like the Vicksburg National Military Park, from the comfort of this small luxury hotel that boasts a 2,000-volume library dedicated to the War Between the States. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this colonial revival mansion has 18 guestrooms, a spa, game room, meeting rooms, restaurant and full bar. Suites recall the gentility of the Old South with fireplaces and elegant antique furnishings. The onsite Sophia’s Restaurant serves Sunday brunch, lunch and gourmet dinners complemented by an extensive wine list. Fairview Inn is close to Civil War sites as well as downtown Jackson’s arts, museums, and shopping.

Goodstone Inn & Estate (Middleburg, Va.) This luxury inn is set on 265 acres of once-occupied battleground in what is now Virginia Wine Country. Guests enjoy breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, strolling through farmlands, where Civil War skirmishes occurred. This 18-century estate has gardens, stables and spa services onsite. Goodstone Inn Restaurant features French cuisine with fresh ingredients sourced from the inn’s organic herb and vegetable gardens and complemented by an extensive wine list. Not far away, guests take guided tours honoring those who fought in the war’s first major land battle, Bull Run, before retreating to homey comforts of Goodstone’s luxurious guestrooms and suites.

Southmoreland On The Plaza (Kansas City, Mo.)The Missouri Civil War Sesquicentennial shines a light on Kansas City. Here, the Battle of Westport was one of the biggest ones fought in the North and South’s brutal tug-of-war over western Missouri. Southmoreland On The Plaza is minutes from the battlefield, in the heart of what is now the city’s historic arts, entertainment and shopping district. Each guestroom has a special feature, such as a treetop deck, wood burning fireplace or Jacuzzi. After an enriching day of Civil War history, withdraw to any of the inn’s 13 luxurious guestrooms or cozy up in front of a fireplace with a glass of evening sherry.

On the 20,000 inns and B&Bs across North America, only 400 have qualified for membership in Select Registry. For historic and elegant B&Bs near you, visit www.selectregistry.com/.

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