Have you ever been to Savannah, Ga., or Victoria, British Columbia? They are known for those quaint little establishments, oftentimes historic, where you can stay the night and receive the most important meal of the day (and their specialty) -- breakfast.
Bed and breakfasts are not your ordinary accommodation, they are a complete experience. But you don't have to go to Savannah or Victoria to get it. We are lucky enough to have some pretty charming B&Bs right here in the Bradenton area. Each is unique in its own way, from the location to the innkeeper right down to the style of the home.
Our area offers three B&Bs in three different locations.
The Londoner Bed and Breakfast is in the heart of historic downtown Bradenton (thelondonerinn.com).
The intimate six-bedroom house was built in 1911 by Ryan and Beulah Dowling, who owned a local feed store. During the Depression, the Dowlings turned their home into a boarding house and later became known for their European-style tea room.
London natives Jon and Jenny Taylor brought the home back to life with a British flair. Each of their guest rooms is decorated to reflect a different area of London complete with photographs, posters and interesting facts. The Londoner's crowning glory is their afternoon tea, which is open to the public and features imported English tea, finger sandwiches and cakes.
The Palmetto Riverside Bed and Breakfast is a hidden gem (palmettoriverside.com).
The Riverfront property was bought by Julius Lamb in 1913 out of a Sears and Roebuck catalog. The home was assembled in Chicago and then made its long journey first by train and arrived in the city of Palmetto by boat.
The building is celebrating its 100th anniversary and as part of the celebration, Wim and Meike Lippens -- innkeepers originally from Belgium -- are serving their own private label champagne. If you are a real adventure seeker, Wim can give you a tour of the area like no other: He's a certified helicopter pilot.
Looking to go somewhere tropical this summer? Head to the Harrington House on Anna Maria Island where you will feel miles away (harringtonhouse.com).
The historic home on the beach was built in 1925 and was one of the largest homes on the
island. The main house was built entirely of coquina-block shell, a typical building material used in the last 400 years in Florida. It was home to many prominent families on the island, including one of the first mayors of Holmes beach, Max Ingham.
The innkeepers, Frank Davis and family, have welcomed guests into their bed and breakfast since 1989 with their invitation to "come as a guest, leave as a friend."
Summer's quickly approaching, and for many of us our minds are turning to vacations, travel and simply getting out of town. Instead of gassing up the tank or booking flights, I encourage you to think about staying in one or our charming bed and breakfasts full of history and character, right here in our own corner of paradise.
Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, can be reached at Elliott.Falcione@BACVB.com or 941-729-9177, ext. 222.