Romance in a Small Town

Main Street, Boonsoboro: On the left, the porches of the Inn BoonsBoro, looking across the street to Vesta.

Main Street, Boonsboro: On the left, the porches of the Inn BoonsBoro, looking across the street to Vesta.

Nora Roberts' trilogy centers on the restoration of the historic Inn Boonsboro and, of course, love.

Nora Roberts’ trilogy centers on the restoration of the  Inn Boonsboro and, of course, love.

Nora Roberts fans already know about little Boonsboro. For readers of this enormously popular romance and mystery writer, this isn’t just some historic town on the historic National Road. It’s where Roberts lives, runs several businesses (including the Inn BoonsBoro) and has made the setting of a recent trilogy of romances.

On the stairs of the inn this tiny mouse looks like it's about to scurry away but it's welded securely into place on the bannister.

On the stairs of the inn this tiny mouse looks like it’s about to scurry away but it’s welded securely into place on the bannister.

Roberts’  contributions to the 18th century town are considerable. The Inn Boonsboro, which sits on the crossroads of  well-traveled Route 40 and Shepherdstown Pike, faced a grim future. But Roberts decided to restore its stone facade, mansard roof and deep porches, toss out the pigeons roosting there and turn it into an inn of romance and fantasy.

Vesta is a casual, family style pizzeria also serving subs, salads, paninis and wraps.

Vesta is a casual, family style pizzeria also serving subs, salads, paninis and wraps.

Need a beer? Dinner in a historic setting? See Dan (named for Nora's son, who operates this newcomer on Main St.)

Need a beer? Dinner in a historic setting? See Dan (named for Nora’s son, who operates this newcomer on Main St.)

She and her family also operate two of the restaurants in town.  Vesta serves pizza; Dan’s has a great selection of beer and hearty fare in a tavern setting.

Shoppers can head to Turn the Page bookshop for books by Nora and other local writers and books of local interest, or Gifts Inn BoonsBoro for locally produced arts and crafts, the soaps and other amenities of the inn or recommendations about what to see nearby.

The Gifts Inn BoonsBoro features locally-made arts and crafts.

The Gifts Inn BoonsBoro features locally-made arts and crafts.

Need something whimsical? See Josie.

Need something whimsical and vintage? See Josie.

Visitors to Boonsboro will find other fun little shops as

Sweet delights from Kristi's Bakery and Cafe.

Sweet delights from Kristi’s Bakery and Cafe.

well. Stop in Crawford’s Confectionary (look for the sign that says Guns and Ammo) for a cheap but tasty breakfast or grilled cheese — and hunting supplies. Bring cash; no credit cards are accepted. Or set a spell for a meal or delicious pastry at Kristi’s Bakery and Cafe. And don’t walk past  Josie’s on Main without stopping in for a pair of earrings, bit of antique linen or something vintage for your home.

On the path to the monument, wooden signs recall key moments in Washington's life.

On the path to the monument, wooden signs recall key moments in Washington’s life.

Tiny Boonsboro is in just the right spot for those who love to stroll the main street of a small town, or stroll through a state park, pay tribute in a Civil War battlefield, or get into some serious hiking along the Appalachian Trail. Washington Monument State Park, just a few minutes east on Route 40, boasts the oldest monument to George Washington, built by the townspeople of Boonsboro in 1827 (two years before Baltimore’s monument was dedicated.) Antietam National Battlefield is only seven miles away. Gettysburg is 41 miles away. Harpers Ferry is 16 miles away. Shepherdstown, West Virginia, has its own small-town charms, 16 miles away. And if you like your towns slightly larger, head to Hagerstown or Frederick for their historic sites, museums, pretty streetscapes and good restaurants.

Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester would have felt right at home in the room named for them.

Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester would have felt right at home in the room named for them.

If you want to spend the night, plan to reserve well in advance for a room at the Inn BoonsBoro. Valentine’s Day weekend has been booked for months. A reservation is the only way to get inside. No tours, Nora fans — The innkeeper has to respect the privacy of her guests.

Each room has its own signature scent. But if you smell honeysuckle, it means the resident ghost, Lizzie, may be near.

Each room has its own signature scent. But if you smell honeysuckle, it means the resident ghost, Lizzie, may be near.

Every room but the Penthouse is named for a romantic fictional couple — all of whom have happy endings. You'll find the novels and movies about them in each room. In the Penthouse is a book of poetry.

Every room but the Penthouse is named for a romantic fictional couple — all of whom have happy endings. You’ll find the novels and movies about them in each room. In the Penthouse is a book of poetry.

Inside, the inn has been decorated with romance and fantasy in mind. It’s not so frou-frou the man in your life will feel uncomfortable — but it’s sweet enough for a girls’ weekend away, too.  A handsome library, fireplaces everywhere, a porch for taking in the view (or gazing into your loved one’s eyes), and bathrooms both technologically advanced (check out the toilets!) and luxurious add to the charms of the inn.

I know I usually focus on a day away — and Boonsboro does make a great day away. But if the opportunity presents itself, this is one of those times to make it a night away, too.

Happy Valentines Day.

© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

One response to “Romance in a Small Town

  1. My husband was biking in this area last spring and thought it was lovely. I’m not sure if he went to this particular town or not. I love discovering small towns–so thanks for the guide to this one. Thanks for liking my blog too!

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