Newport Rhode Island, the Ocean State

May 3, 2012

It’s the middle of summer and the heat is rising. What is the best way to escape? Traveling north to Newport, Rhode Island. This coastal city, located in Aquidneck Island, is not just a relaxing getaway with resorts, restaurants and amusements, but also an area that is rich in history. Enter through Bellevue Avenue and you’ll instantly see how history effortlessly converges with the present.

Activities and Eateries
One of the first aspects of Newport you are bound to recognize are the grandiose architectural structures. After the Revolutionary Era, the city entered the Gilded Age and flourished with summer retreats like the The Elms and The Marble House. In the 1980’s, these estates were estimated at most, $11 million dollars. Now, reappraised at double or even triple the amount, the Vanderbilt mansions are open as historical landmarks.

In addition to the Mansion viewings, there is also the Newport Art Museum and Art Association, located just a short distance from the mansions, at another historical landmark called the Griswold House. There, you will have a chance to see the current work and versatile skills of other Newport artists.

To get an in-depth view of the mansions plus Newport’s natural surroundings, it is highly encouraged to leisurely walk along the Cliffwalks. Along this eastern shore, you will also catch refreshing, ocean breezes and breathtaking views of the water.

There are more recreational ways to appreciate the city besides walking and site seeing. Visitors can golf a full round of holes at Newport National Golf Club, play tennis at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, or participate in sailing tours leaving Bannister’s Wharf.

There are lists of unique Newport restaurants, each set apart very differently from the next. David Ray’s Clark Cooke House, located by the Bannister’s Wharf, is a perfect example. It is a quaint, five-level restaurant famous for tender meat and fresh seafood. You can choose to dine in your own fashion: eat privately in The Club Room or eat and dance it off at the discotheque in The Boom Boom Room. A second place is La Maison du Coco’s truffles and French pastry shop. Because the shop is found only in Newport, it’s the perfect excuse to try one of pastry chef Michele Luca-Verley’s delicate sweets. Make the dessert trip even more exciting and exclusive and ask to learn how to make a puff pastry.

Hideaways
The resorts in Newport are impeccable. If you wish to stay at the bucolic Castle Hill Inn, a beachside 19th century mansion, then you will have six different types of rooms to choose from. In addition to its award-winning resort, the Castle Hill also has a fine-dining restaurant for guests. With their food, diners can enjoy a complimentary view of the sunset.

Forty 1° North Marina Resort is indeed “not just a location, it’s a destination,” as their tagline states. The Marina is also located next to the water, however unlike Castle Hill, it has a more modern flair. If the interior décor does not show it enough, then maybe the Apple iPads placed in each guest room will. During your stay, take advantage of the resorts two restaurants: The Grill, which provides a more up-scale dining experience; or Christie’s, where the atmosphere is filled with lively color.

A third hotspot is the Viking Hotel, which is re-vamped and better than ever. This past March, the hotel completed the last of their renovations. Now, if you are looking for something that encompasses both traditional and modern elements, this luxurious hotel is a good choice. An added bonus to this hotel is that it’s found to be particularly accommodating because of its easy accessibility to other fine-dining restaurants and amusements.

The Best of Both Worlds
While the once family owned mansions remain as public attractions, there are other Victorian houses like Thomas Quinn’s Laurelawn, also along Bellevue Avenue, which are still homes. Quinn, a lawyer and Georgetown resident, was born in Rhode Island and grew up spending many summers spent in Newport.

Though he says that he holds D.C. close to his heart, he cannot deny the other weight of sentiments attached to his private summer getaway. It is where five Quinn generations have shared memories, such as engagement parties for his two sons and a post-debut party for his niece. He summed up Newport saying, “It’s not just one thing, but a variety of things including the weather, the old world charm, architecture, the variety of interests, the colorful people, top notch golf, tennis, sailing, and most of all, the fresh air and ocean.”
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Matha’s Vineyard & Nantucket


Like Georgetown, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island are two New England destinations where rich history, boutiques, food and culture all come together. These two islands are unarguably ideal for any Georgetowner to visit. While both are havens for travel, they are also uniquely different. Which destination is a matter of personal preference, but who knows, you may like both, so why pick just one?

Martha’s Vineyard Island
Also called “The Vineyard,” the island is accessible by boat or plane only. Traveling by a ferryboat takes approximately 90 minutes, depending on the port and weather conditions.

Within the island are six towns, each area possessing something to call its own. Just to list a few, in Chilmark, there is The Yard, a seasonal live-performing theatre; Farm Neck Golf Club, an 18-hole course in Oak Bluffs; and a boat cruise to watch the sunset from the waters at Charter Cruise, located in Edgartown. The island’s compact size is in the traveler’s favor. With communities located so closely together, visitors can walk, take a bus, or ride a water taxi to navigate through town.

You will instantly find other reasons to fall in love with this northeast Atlantic gem. The Vineyard is also packed with world-class accommodations for families and couples. Travelers should look into Hob Knob, a boutique hotel located near the coast in Edgartown. This resort encompasses everything from guest rooms to bed and breakfast villas.

The Hob Knob’s Rejuvenation Spa also provides incredible therapeutic services. If relaxation is what you’re looking for, then you can’t possibly leave without a Hob Knob Signature Facial or Ocean Deep massage.

Winnetude Oceanside Resort is another great place to stay. Conveniently located just 250 yards from South Beach, guests will be inundated by the resort’s activities, accommodations, and dining experience (Lure Grill’s). From Winnetude, Guests can get a taste of nostalgia by taking an antique fire truck ride, go bicycling, or take a yoga class out on the lawn.

The panoramic views also serve as a perfect backdrop for any occasion and often serve as the setting for family reunions, weddings and reception at the Oceanside.

But the island’s biggest attractions are its beaches – a total of six sandy shores ring the island:Joseph Silva, Moshup, Menemsha, South Beach, Lighthouse Beach, and Norton Point. Each beach is exclusive and private enough for visitors to enjoy the surrounding waters and sun with minimal interruptions.

In addition to these natural attractions and recreational activities, there are many other events and restaurants. Fine dining attractions such as The Atlantic not only serve delicious meals, but also host bands for entertainment. The Sweet Life Café, an eatery serving French-American infused cuisine, and The Grill on Main, a participating Martha’s Vineyard’s Restaurant Week establishment, are other great “must taste” restaurants. For a full listing of events and participating Restaurant Week locations, visit Georgetowner.com.

Nantucket
Lawrel Spera, the public relations and marketing manager of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce described this vacation getaway, saying, “Nantucket has so much to offer and is the perfect combination of the old and new, the historic and the modern sophisticate. More than 800 pre-Civil War homes line the cobblestone streets of town among world-class lodgings, restaurants, shops and galleries. Beyond stretch miles of bike paths, pristine beaches and conservation lands to explore – there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.”

Nantucket is a bit farther out, about 26 miles from the coast, and is the only official historic district on the water. Like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket is accessible by a ferryboat or airplane; however, unlike The Vineyard, the area is more spread out, allowing ocean breezes to sweep the island.

Just because summer is almost over, do not hesitate to visit Nantucket and its ten beaches in September or in April. Associating this destination only with the warmer seasons is a commonly made assumption, but it is in fact temperate throughout the year. Because Nantucket is located in the ocean’s jet streams, the waters are actually cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Regardless of when you visit, the Union Street Inn is a Fodor’s Gold Choice Award bed and breakfast boutique that is sure to keep you warm or cool, depending on the season. It is designed with a rich combination of past and present and also comfort that is undeniable. The calm and family-oriented getaway draws visitors in like a cozy home.

Another quaint stay to consider is White Elephant Hotel Residences. Picketed in by a white fence and porch, this luxury hotel is Nantucket’s latest accommodation. Everything about White Elephant, the fine interior touches, the pool, cabanas, and last but not least, the spa, all factor in to make this resort picture perfect.

Depending on your vacation’s timeline, there is also a plethora of events and activities that take place such as: The Nantucket Wine Festival, fishing, and boating, four-wheeling down The Wildlife Refuge Natural History Excursion and other specified events listed in a calendar of “Special Event Weekends.” In addition, Nantucket is the home to award-winning James Beard restaurants and other fine-dining restaurants such as Brant Point Grill or Galley Beach, which overlooks the harbor and sunset. Be mindful though, that these dining opportunities are limited. Some restaurants like The Topper’s are open seasonally from May to October.
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Last Taste of Summer: Crabs


You can’t experience a real summer in Washington without covering a few bases. First, you need to sweat all the way through your work clothes in the August humidity. Second, you need to head to Meridian Hill Park on at least one Sunday evening to hear the weekly African drum circle. Third, you need to walk around the Dupont Circle Farmers Market to experience the bounty of summer produce. Fourth, you need to pick up a wooden mallet and whack the bejeezus out of a freshly steamed blue crab leg—and eat whatever you find inside.

There may be a few things we forgot, but there really is no Delmarva summer experience as quintessential and satisfying as digging into your very own bucket of Chesapeake blue crabs. While perhaps it used to be that a meaty, blue pincer was hard to get without driving all the way out to a crab shack on the Chesapeake waterfront, there are enough authentic crab houses in the Metro area today to satisfy even the most stringent crab purists.

Corn, hushpuppies, coleslaw, a wedge of lemon, a pair of nutcrackers, and a large roll of butcher paper is all that friends and families need to experience this summer treat at its finest. And now is the last chance to enjoy these crustaceous hallmarks before the season winds to a close. Whether eating out or going down to the Wharf to pick up your catch alive and fresh, here are some choice places in and around town to get some quintessential Maryland blue crab and enjoy the end of summer the way everyone should.

Dancing Crab Restaurant
Wisconsin Ave., NW
Tony Cibel, a native Washingtonian, is kind of the seafood king of northwest Washington. He is responsible for Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place, Rockfish Raw Bar & Grille and Nick’s Riverside Grille, to name a few. The Dancing Crab, a Washington institution for over 20 years, is also within his seafaring domain. And it’s as authentic as a Maryland-style crab house comes. The restaurant only serves Chesapeake crabs when “the big ones are available”—and if they’re not, they ship their catch fresh from Louisiana, helping out the area’s recovering economy.

But as crabs go, The Dancing Crab is tops. It’s also a happening place, filled with regulars that have been coming since the place opened. They do karaoke on Saturday nights, trivia on Wednesdays, and Ladies’ Night specials every Friday. 4611 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202.244.1882

The Wharf
Maine Ave., SW
If you’re brave enough to cook crabs on your own, the Wharf on the southwest waterfront off Maine Avenue, is a wealth of fresh daily catch. You can get most fish that you’re looking for there, and in the summer months their specialties are shrimp and crab. The Maryland blue crabs this season are piled in monstrous twitching towers on beds of ice, fat and blue and beautiful. There’s no big secret to cooking them. Throw them in a big steamer with plenty of Old Bay – make sure there is vinegar in the water – and steam until they turn red.
Still, if you’re too impatient to cook them yourself, you can get them steamed from some of the vendors and eat them there on the spot. Either way, you won’t go wrong. 1100 Maine Ave., SW

Bethesda Crab House
Bethesda, Md.
Imagine your favorite dive bar. Now add picnic tables and mountains of steamed crabs and you’ve got the recipe for the Bethesda Crab House. A long-established institution in the area, the menu is short and sweet: crabs, crab cakes and crab legs. But they do them right. Their crab cakes are what will really get you coming back time and time again. As they’ll tell you at the cash register, it is nothing but heaps of crabmeat with a little mayonnaise to bind it together. This is the real deal.

There are no french fries at Bethesda Crab House, as the space is small and the fryer would take up too much room in the back. Plus the establishment believes that potatoes would just fill you up so you wouldn’t be able to eat as much crab—and who wants that? This is the perfect antidote for your crab cravings. And don’t forget to get an order of corn on the cob. 4958 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, Md., 301.652.3382

Quarterdeck Restaurant
Arlington, Va.
Hidden among the high-rise apartment buildings not a mile from the Key Bridge, the Quarterdeck is easy to miss. Built into an old house, the interior atmosphere with its wooden plank siding and worn, beachy furniture, would lead you to believe you were somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay or in a low-key seafood shack in Virginia Beach. The patio is double the size of the indoor dining room and the buckets of crabs tumble out of the kitchen until the restaurant runs out.

As delivery status of the crabs are day-to-day, the restaurant encourages patrons to call at the beginning of the day to check for availability and make crab reservations for that evening — if you wait to walk in for dinner, there often won’t be any left by the time you show up. Quarterdeck Restaurant has a policy to serve steamed crabs only when local crabs are in season, so you know you’re getting the freshest catch every time you go. 1200 Fort Myer Dr., Arlington, Va., 703.528.2722

Ernie’s Crab House
Alexandria, Va.
Most quality seafood restaurants don’t do all-you-can-eat crabs, and most crab houses don’t usually dabble too much with the rest of the ocean’s bounty. Crabs have a trend of taking over the entire menu of most restaurants that specialize in them. At Ernie’s Crab House, you get the best of both worlds. On top of killer steamed crabs, their menu offers a wide selection of traditional East Coast-style seafood. Their oyster po’boy and crab cake sandwiches are fantastic.

And they serve up steamed crabs with the best of them. This is the place to go for those who want a little bit of everything the ocean has to offer. 1743 King Street, Alexandria, Va., 703.836.0046 [gallery ids="99225,103529,103540,103536,103534" nav="thumbs"]

A History of Luxury The Greenbrier Resort


In the small community of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, nestled safely within the Allegheny Mountains, lies one of this country’s most longstanding and luxurious resorts. Since 1778, The Greenbrier has hosted distinguished guests from around the world, setting the standard for luxury accommodations nationwide, while continually reinventing itself. Once known by the Southern elite as the “Queen of the Watering Places,” this sprawling estate in the lush foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast. With the very best of comfort and accommodations, spa treatments, leisure pursuits and world-class cuisine, The Greenbrier brings together all the luxuries of the world’s finest resorts with the distinct history and character of the region.

Accommodations

The wide variety of accommodations can facilitate any combination of guests, whether a couple on an intimate retreat or dozens of corporate employees on a not-so-business trip. With an endless variety cottages and suites, guests will find intimate single guest houses and seven-room suite, equipped with wood-burning fireplaces and private porches and patios overlooking the surrounding area. The staff’s attention to detail is impeccable, with no detail overlooked, ensuring an elegance that strikes the right balance between class and comfort.

Leisure

Once settled in, The Greenbrier offers enough activities to keep guests returning with every season. Once winter blankets the grounds in snow, you can explore the crisp outdoors in a horse-drawn sleigh ride or go ice-skating at the resort’s private skating rink. In the summertime, guests go kayaking, rafting, fishing or swimming. From bowling and croquet, to culinary demonstrations and the ancient sport of falconry, there is truly something for everyone.

The highlight, however, is the resort’s collection of four 18-hole signature golf courses, all of which compliment the surrounding mountainous landscape. The Greenbrier mixes spectacular scenery and PGA Tour-tested challenges to golfers why they fell in love with the game. The championship courses—The Old White TPC, The Greenbrier, The Meadows and The Snead, a private resident’s-only course—are skillfully designed to challenge and captivate golfers of every skill level. The resort also features a full-service clubhouse, award-winning golf shop and expert instruction by The Greenbrier Golf Academy.

The resort’s 40,000 square-foot luxury spa is another signature offering, providing an elegant setting to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. Relax in a whirlpool bath or soak up the healing properties of the native sulphur waters. With their wealth of exclusive spa treatments, there are endless reasons to visit this award-winning spa.

The Bunker at The Greenbrier

While The Greenbrier itself is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast, the resort has long housed its own amazing secret of national significance. But after 30 years the secret is out. Carved deep into the mountainside beneath the resort’s West Virginia Wing is an emergency Cold War fallout shelter, once a top secret U.S. government relocation facility for Congress. The declassified Bunker at The Greenbrier is a must-see experience that takes you behind the scenes of a fascinating period in the history of the resort, as well as the country. Now open to anyone interested in reliving a legendary piece of history, Bunker tours provide a unique and in-depth look behind the hidden doors of an American epoch.

In order to enhance the experience of the Bunker, The Greenbrier worked with the Virginia Historical Society on an on-site exhibition gallery, featuring artifacts and reproductions representing the security and communications area, dormitories, VIP lounges and medical clinic on top of old photos of the facility and a video on the history of the Cold War. Guests will learn about the groups who met there and enjoyed theme parties and dinners without ever realizing they were in a top-secret government facility designed to be the workplace for Congressional staff in the event of an emergency.

And the event space is still open. If you’re looking for a nontraditional meeting space or event location, The Bunker at Greenbrier might just be the place.

The Greenbrier Clinic

Formed in 1948 by progressive business leaders, The Greenbrier Clinic is based on the philosophy that a healthy executive is the cornerstone of a healthy business. The Clinic’s founders reasoned that taking good care of company executives is a solid investment in the company’s future. Today, thousands of visitors come each year to combine a relaxing, luxurious holiday with the Clinic’s unparalleled diagnostic evaluation, care and unparalleled personal attention.

Over the years, this sensible concept has proven itself with executive patients. And visitors to the Clinic still have ample time to enjoy all of the resort’s luxurious amenities. But above all, The Greenbrier Clinic delivers the highest quality diagnostic health care. The Clinic’s state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment assures maximum comfort and safety to patients. And a friendly relationship between doctors and patients is encouraged by the medical staff, fostering trust and enhancing personalized care. The Clinic’s emphasis on preventive health counseling encourages healthy individuals to safeguard their most valuable asset: their wellbeing.
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Between the sheets: The Secret World of STDs in Assisted Living Facilities


For what seems like forever, I’ve been working to raise awareness about the alarming increase in STDs in the over-50 population. The biggest semi-secret is the supposed safety of Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs). All too few are neither aware of, or want to openly acknowledge that our parents and grandparents are still having sex! It’s like when we were kids and we said “yuk” at the idea of our parents “doing it.” Even with Alzheimer’s and dementia, though recent factual memory fades and inhibitions wane, desire remains.

I recently met with an RN who works in an ALF in Florida who confirmed my fears. “People are shacking up all the time,” she said on condition of anonymity, “but nobody really talks about it. It’s often innocent…there are a lot of ‘lost husband/wife’ cases, people pretending to be married because they don’t know any better…They can’t help it. They forget who they are and where they’re supposed to be sometimes. It’s an issue that everyone has come to know, on some level or another, but nobody’s taking any action to discuss it, much less help prevent it.”

Education and acceptance are the keys to unlocking a safer future for our older population. Many people over the age of 50 have never been tested for STDs, much less feel the need to. The majority of safe-sex programs are for the younger generation and statistics show that they work. Our well-seasoned population didn’t grow up talking about STD’s, and they still don’t. They’re often unaware that they could get an STD and, more often than not, doctors don’t consider that these elders are having sex. As a result, they often misdiagnose STD infections.

To find out what is being done about it, I contacted the Executive Director of one of the most respected ALFs in the DC Metro area. In addition to providing leading health and residential support to their residents, she explained the main priority when addressing residents’ sexually active lifestyles is “to protect the residents that cannot make their own decisions.”

While facilities like this one maintain a high degree of resident care, the unfortunate reality is that many facilities don’t, or can’t because of budgetary and staffing circumstances. And though we can’t fight the staffing problem, we can increase the educational element.

Ideally, ALFs could incorporate safe-sex education programs into their activity schedules, similar to those taught in high schools. Also, a conversation about sexual activity and STDs should become a standard part of every ALF intake interview.

It would be easy to blame the health care industry, but the truth is that those actually doing the work are doing the best that they can with what they have, under the legal guidelines set for them. For now, the responsibility of protecting our grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters ultimately lies with us—as family members, as friends, as a community who cares—to talk to our loved ones and to have “the conversation” about STDs and safe sex.

Autumnal Romance: Plan Your Getaway to These Virginia Inns


Autumn is sneaking up on us. The nights are growing colder and the clouds are holding back the sun’s warmth to prepare us for the coming season. In these precarious weeks between the end of summer and the onset of winter, it is the perfect time for those of us itching for a relaxing weekend getaway. Pastoral bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels surround the D.C. area. The landscapes of these mountain and riverside resorts are in a state of autumnal serenity, and the weather is still warm enough to enjoy nearby attractions.

Within 100 miles of the District liea a wealth of vineyards, rustic Inns, elegant cuisine and pastoral countryside to keep you satiated through the winter.

Keswick Hall at Monticello
Just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, lies the Keswick Hall at Monticello. A little more than two hours away from Washington, this Hotel is a great combination of a romantic Inn and a large resort. Guests travel here from all over the world to stay at this intimate haven, rated the number-one small resort in the country by Conde Nast. Located in the heart of Virginia, it is the perfect spot for a long weekend getaway.

The Keswick Hall at Monticello offers a range of activities designed for couples. From couples massages and private cooking classes with the estate’s Executive Chef Dean Maupin, to private golf lessons, fireside billiards and couples tennis matches, there are countless activities to suit any mood. For wine enthusiasts, the Keswick has its own private vineyard and offers tours of the other renowned Charlottesville vineyards nearby. Having all the amenities of a large resort with the intimacy of home, you can spend an entire weekend exploring the wondrous fall terrain of Keswick Hall. Keswick.com.

The Homestead
Resting on 3,000 acres of Allegheny Mountain terrain, The Homestead is a luxury mountain resort that has been spoiling their guests since before the American Revolution. This National Historic Landmark of a retreat is ranked among the world’s finest spa destinations, and has enough activities to keep you busy through the entirety of winter.

There are a variety of suite accommodations from which to choose, including pet friendly rooms. Their world-class spa alone would nearly be worth the trip—even more so in the autumn months, when skin is particularly sensitive to the dry, cold atmosphere. Revitalize the mind, body and spirit with a hydrotherapy treatment, and then, if the mood is right…go see a movie at the in-house theater, or swim in the naturally heated indoor pool, play tennis on the indoor courts, ice skating, bowling, snow tubing. To say the least, The Homestead understands how to make the most out of any season.

With nine restaurants to choose from, guests can dine in almost any manner they please. Put on your evening’s best to enjoy French American cuisine at 1766 Grille, or enjoy a poolside lunch wrapped in a beach towel with a view of the snowcapped mountains just outside the window.

With so many unique opportunities just hours away, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the intimacy and the solitude of fall. TheHomestead.com

Goodstone Inn and Estate
The Goodstone Inn, with 18 rooms spread about a rustic estate, is a choice romantic destination, and fall is its peak season.

There are many different activities available at The Goodstone. The estate grounds hold possibilities for hiking, biking and canoeing, all of which are included in the rates. For explorers, The Goodstone Inn can arrange activities such as hot air ballooning, horseback riding and history tours, while the many wineries in the area are a good choice for those seeking a more gastronomic experience.

As fall season is the peak season for The Goodstone, they are already almost fully booked for October and November, but limited vacancies are still available. Goodstone.com.

The Inn at Willow Grove
Moving south, The Inn at Willow Grove is located close to the town of Orange, Virginia. Just under two hours’ drive from the District, this eclectic country inn presents itself as an upscale, luxury retreat. Recently renovated, the Inn has 11 rooms and a gourmet restaurant. The surrounding scenery combined with the beauty of the Inn attracts guests throughout the year.

With heated floor tiles, soaking tubs and fireplaces, the accommodations are worth the trip alone. You might find yourself not wanting to leave the room. But should you want to explore, there are plenty of things to do. Guest favorites include horseback riding and wine tours to the various wineries in the area. Additionally, the can help arrange hot air balloon trips, civil rights and historic battlefield tours and even skydiving for the brave at heart.

The Inn at Willow Grove is almost fully booked for the weekends in October and November, with some availability in the weekdays. TheInnAtWillowGrove.com

The Ashby Inn and Restaurant
In the town of Paris, Va. lays The Ashby Inn and Restaurant. Just an hour outside the city, this popular travel destination offers respite for those jaded city dwellers seeking nature’s tranquility. A small Inn with 10 double rooms, it still has a restaurant of 70 seats that fills up every Saturday.

For adventurous couples, nearby Sky Meadow State Park, which can be seen from the porch of the inn, offers great hiking and other outdoor activities. If you are looking for less strenuous quality time, the nearby town of Middleburg is well known for its antique shops and local stores, and it’s historic downtown is worth just strolling through. Another great activity for those who want to relax but explore is a trip to any number of the over twenty local wineries located within 30 minutes of the inn.

As this resort is tremendously popular, they are almost fully booked during the weekends leading up to November, so call in to see what’s left! AshbyInn.com

The Inn at Monticello
Just a stone’s throw from Monticello proper, The Inn at Monticello is a five-acre Bed & Breakfast, and a convenient base of operations while exploring all that nearby Charlottesville has to offer. Just far enough outside the city to enjoy the rolling landscapes from your private porch or cottage, and down the street from a handful of vineyards, the Inn is still only a ten-minute drive from the center of town.
Once in Charlottesville, across the street from the UVA campus, visit the Corner. A stretch of coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores and nightspots frequented by the academic and local community, the Corner is a local watering hole, and a perfect place to enjoy a simple cup of coffee with a good book, grab dinner, or have a few drinks. Among the scenery, UVA’s historic chapel and the “Academical Village” are noteworthy sites particularly beautified by the autumn foliage.

Restaurants to check out around Charlottesville include The Ivy Inn Restaurant and Hamilton’s at First and Main. Producing cuisine inspired by seasonal and locally grown ingredients, The Ivy Inn offers classic American fare with modern twists, such as pumpkin ravioli or veal osso buco with sautéed local bok choy. At Hamilton’s at First and Main, inventive pairings such as roasted halibut stuffed with chèvre, or crab cakes with lemon-basil aioli are the highlights of the menu. InnAtMonticello.com
The Inn at Little Washington

When discussing luxury dining and accommodations in Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington garners the same reactions that one gets if mentioning Disney World to a four-year-old. The love child of renowned restaurateur Patrick O’Connell, a self-taught chef often accused of having “perfect taste,” and a pioneer of the local, organic movement, The Inn at Little Washington is one of the most highly decorated restaurants and hotels in the country—and just about the only nationally lauded two-for-one.
This time of year, O’Connell’s celebrated kitchen is honoring the bounty of fall, one of O’Connell’s favorite occasions to have fun with the season’s best ingredients. TheInnAtLittleWashington.com [gallery ids="100310,107972,107983,107979,107976" nav="thumbs"]

‘Fowl’ play in easton, Md.


Every year for the last four decades, a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has opened its doors to the world, inspired by the winter tradition of migrating wildlife. But the Waterfowl Festival in Easton is not just about ducks and geese anymore. With such a broad range of attractions offered at the festival, it might well be called the Waterfowl-Art-Eating-Strolling-Shopping-Watching-Learning Festival. Celebrating its 41st year, the Waterfowl Festival kicks off with a donor party on Thursday, Nov. 10 and runs through the weekend.

The festival is billed as many things. It is a homage to the migrating Canadian geese, soaring southward overhead throughout the weekend’s festivities. It is a showcase for local Chesapeake Bay area artists. It is the home of the World Championship Calling Contest, complete with stunt dog demonstrations and decoy auctions. And if, like me, you’re a city dweller through and through, you can only imagine what a Calling Contest entails—but that’s why you need to go! (I don’t think it refers to calling for takeout, at which I might already be the World Champion.)

According to the festival’s organizers, the calling contest—which, for the record, is a duck calling contest—attracts audiences of over 600 people, and covers six contests, setting the stage for an exciting evening. Whether a novice or a master quacker, anyone is welcome to try their hand. Proud duck and goose callers representing at least 16 states and Canada make the journey to Easton each year in order to compete for the coveted titles. And one of last year’s winners was Easton local Mitch Hughes. Watching Hughes defend his title is surely worth a look—or a listen.

The festival is also a dog-lover’s daydream. Some of the biggest attractions at the festival are the featured dog events—particularly dogs in motion. Judges measure so-called “Dock Dogs” on the distance they can jump from the dock into water. Divisions range from novice, an under ten-foot leap, to super elite, which constitutes jumps over 25 feet. And a few lucky Labs and Retrievers get to show off their fetching and swimming skills as well.

In addition to things with wings and tails, 400 exhibitors will be offering everything from master classes in painting and photography, to wine and food tastings, to a fishing derby for kids. Needless to say, ducks are a pretty dominating theme. There are decoy carving and waterfowl painting classes, a duck stamp exhibit and competition, and a chance to view antique “waterfowling artifacts,” some dating from as early as the 19th century.

Another reason to visit the festival is for Easton itself. The town goes all out dressing up for the festival, as volunteers decorate the old streets and historic buildings. Organizers expect Easton and the surrounding area to draw about 15,000 visitors during the festival. But the volunteers are as diverse as the festival-goers. Many come from Talbot Country and throughout Maryland, but still more come from other states around the region to help out; they are business leaders, teachers, government officials and members of volunteer groups.

And perhaps most importantly, the non-profit Waterfowl Festival, Inc., helps to preserve the life it so vividly celebrates. Over the past four decades, the festival’s organizers and volunteers have raised more than five million dollars to protect water birds and their habitats. The money goes to projects throughout the Atlantic Flyway, with a particular focus on the Chesapeake Bay.

“Whether you buy a cup of soup or a sweatshirt or a piece of art, it is the waterfowl that are benefiting,” says Megan Miller, the festival’s events and communications coordinator.

But the weak economy has hurt sales, and this year’s success hinges on whether the stock market is up or down and what the weather is like. Tickets sell after a good week on Wall Street, with blue skies and temperatures in the 80s. And what’s good for the festival is good for the birds. It costs ten dollars to get in, though the classes and the competitions are extra. But no matter what the outcome, one thing is for sure, says Megan Miller: “It’s all about the birds.”

For more information, visit on the event visit WaterFowlFestival.org
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Oh Shucks: Best Oyster Bars and Festivals


For true Washingtonians, oysters are more than just a seasonal treat—they’re in your blood. Chesapeake Bay oysters have been a culinary and cultural mainstay for over a century. In the early 1900s, this city had over 150 oyster bars, which were frequented by politicians and day laborers alike. Those salty little pearls, small in size and full of flavor, bring us together, bridging the gap between blue-collar informatlity and culinary opulence. The District is still full of places to indulge our cravings, from Old Ebbitt Grill—where tickets for their Annual Oyster Riot last year sold out in ten minutes flat—to Hank’s Oyster Bar, which offers a half-priced raw bar every night from 11 p.m. to midnight.

And the surrounding Delmarva area is brimming with festivals and restaurants celebrating these briny little treasures. Oysters are in season in a big way, and there is plenty of time left to partake in this regional, epicurean eccentricity. So don’t waste these prime “R” months—head toward the water and try out these seaside bars, shacks and festivals for all the shucking oysters you could ask for.

Oyster Festivals

At the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., you can learn how to harvest your oysters and eat them, too. At the museum’s annual Oysterfest, sample Chesapeake Bay oysters right out of the water while exploring an oyster nursery, learning how to make a dip-net and viewing the museum’s restoration of the skipjack Rosie Parks, which once sailed the bay dredging for oysters.
Attendees will be challenged to an oyster slurping contest, while local chefs will be challenged to an oyster stew-making competition, with the winners of both taking home the grand prize of bragging rights for the rest of the year.

With other activities such as riverboat cruises, face painting, scavenger hunts, a touch tank, live music and cooking demonstrations, there are plenty of amusements for all ages.

There will also be educational opportunities to learn about the bay’s oyster culture, which is not only vital to the ecosystem but also part of the region’s heritage. A century ago, the bay had perhaps the largest populations of oysters in the nation, and though their numbers dwindled enormously due to over-fishing and pollution, they have been making a thundering resurgence over the past decade thanks to rehabilitation efforts and preservation initiatives.

To celebrate Chesapeake Bay oysters, head out to Oysterfest on Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit Cbmm.org.

In a small town in Virginia, the locals are gearing up for the fast-approaching Annual Urbanna Oyster Festival, now in its 54th year. What started as a small gathering to promote the local economy has now grown into a two-day event that draws some 75,000 people from across the region.
The festival features over 125 craft booths, more than 50 food vendors, wine tastings, two parades – the Fireman’s Parade and the Festival Parade – and the crowning of a Festival Queen and a Little Miss Spat. And of course, there will be mountains of oysters, cooked or served raw in their myriad forms.

Attendees can participate in an oyster shucking competition, browse through vendors selling everything from jewelry to furniture, and learn about the rich local history at the Oyster Festival Waterfront. The exhibits will highlight the restoration and preservation of the bay and its oyster industry, while providing live music and cruises. You can even attend demonstrations that will teach you how to be a pirate.

The festival will take place Nov. 4 – 5 from 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. Visit UrbanaOysterFestival.com for more information.

Oyster Bars

If you can’t make it to these festivals, don’t worry—you haven’t missed your chance to sample the best of oyster season. There are plenty of oyster bars surrounding D.C., big and small, white collar and blue, which offer up the freshest catch any day of the week.

In Annapolis, three oyster bars never fail to please an oyster-loving palate: O’Brien’s, McGarvey’s and O’Leary’s.

O’Brien’s Oyster Bar is the restaurant with history. The building has been some form of eatery or watering hole since it first opened as the Rose and Crown in 1744. It has been a tavern, a pizza pie shop, a cabaret, and was even rumored to be a brothel before it settled in its current incarnation as a celebrated seafood haven. Let’s hope it stays this way. Don’t miss out on their Chesapeake fried oysters—they’re the best around.

McGarvey’s Saloon & Oyster Bar is the great neighborhood pub. Relax in a casual atmosphere with a beer, an order of their delicious crab dip, and a dozen oysters. Voted Best Bar and Best Raw Bar last June by the Readers’ Choice Awards for The Capital Newspaper, this bar is clearly a people-pleaser. With oysters served raw, steamed and Rockefeller-style, there’s plenty of briny fare to sample.

O’Leary’s Seafood Restaurant is the fine dining restaurant. Enjoy fresh oysters while surrounded by paintings rendered by restaurant owner Paul Meyer himself, whose vision for O’Leary’s “attempts to capture the combination of sophisticated fine dining and ultra-fresh ingredients within a contemporary Annapolis environment.” Pique your appetite with Oysters Italienne, baked with prosciutto, basil, garlic and Parmesan cheese.

In Solomon’s Island, Md., try the appropriately named Solomon’s Pier, which serves the kind of delicious oysters you’d expect from a town surrounded by water. Munch your way through a basket of fresh-fried oysters while enjoying the view through the restaurant’s wide, arching windows overlooking the water.

But maybe you want an expert’s opinion on where to go to get your bivalve fix. Noted chef Jordan Lloyd of the Bartlett Pear Inn, in Easton, Md. has some excellent recommendations. For great oyster shacks, Lloyd says, it’s good to get off the beaten path. He and his wife Alice, who own and operate the inn and restaurant, recommend Brasserie Brightwell Café & Comptoir in Easton, which offers an oyster-loaded raw bar, and The Bistro St. Michaels, whose Oysters Du Jour are always worth the trip.

But Lloyd doesn’t have to go far at all for great oysters – Pear, Bartlett’s restaurant, has its own version of Oysters Three Ways that would knock the socks off even the most critical oyster connoisseur. Pear, which was awarded five stars by Open Table and received a near perfect score across the board by Zagat, serves its guests six Chincoteague Bay oysters, four prepared cold and two hot. The first pair is served cold with pickled shallots and tobiko caviar; the second pair, also cold, is plated with lemon preserve mignonette and ponzu sauce; and the final hot pair is served Rockefeller style with leek fondue and bread crumbs. With such delicious oysters, you might be inspired to spend the weekend away at the cozy inn and try them every day.

To try Lloyd’s Oysters Three Ways for yourself, visit Easton, Md. For reservations, email Reservations@BartlettPearInn.com.
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In Between the sheets: A Turn-On for Old People


Phyllis Diller sure has an imagination, doesn’t she? “The best contraceptive for old people is nudity.” What was she talking about? Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of visually unattractive people out there in the “over 50” population. But the last time I checked, there are also a lot of visually unattractive people out there in their 20s and 30s, too. And while I would never say it to a mother’s face, not all babies are adorable, either.

We don’t all look like weather vanes with everything pointing south, though sometimes it takes effort to defy normal wear and tear. Personally, I don’t love exercise, but I do yoga and Pilates three times a week and, even at 70, much younger gentleman quite often flirt with me. But even those who admit to outside help work hard at staying in shape. For example, there’s Cher with her slim and fabulous body and Dolly Parton with her breasts riding high as mountain tops and a waist so small you could pick her up by it. And don’t even pretend that Tina Turner didn’t age like a goddess, either!

Fortunately, for us fabulous older women of a certain age, the men out there aren’t all Robert Redford look-alikes. George Clooney is getting closer to my age every day. Richard Gere grew hotter and more handsome every year after “Pretty Woman,” and I don’t care who you are or what you think, but Sean Connery is still a smokin’ hot piece of man.

To a degree, Phyllis Diller is right. And for the sake of the joke, I’ll let it go. After all, it is pretty funny. But let’s be real for a minute: your body won’t ever look as good as it did 10 years ago. Not everyone can be lucky enough not to not bulge, sag or droop in places. And staying super thin doesn’t mean you don’t get knobby elbows and knees and lines that seem to etch overnight. It’s not our age that shows in our bodies. It’s how we treat our bodies that shows our age. Diet and exercise are keys to health and vitality. If you don’t eat right and exercise often, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for a life of turning the lights off to undress.

The final decision-maker for whether or not you’re going to be attracted enough to someone in order to head for a home run is desire, which comes from the brain. The brain, of course, is your biggest sexual organ. It combines all of the sensory stimuli that you receive when you’re in a sexual situation and then decides whether it wants to be “turned on” or “turned off.”

So, effectively, it really doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s or 120, fat like Albert or slim like Jim, Sloppy Sally or Fancy Nancy, black or white, vegetarian or meat Viking, you are perfect just the way you are. This very minute, there is someone out there looking for you! You can and deserve to get your groove on.

Playgroup Rivalries


One of the best parts of living in Georgetown is the array of secret lives glimpsed through windows, down pathways, and even underground. In the basements of two churches on the east side of Georgetown bubbles a life of intense industry and social tumult, hurt feelings and life-long friendships. And that goes for the one-year-olds and their parents.

Open an ugly brown metal door and step into a world of bright floor mats, busy babies and equally engaged parents and caregivers. This is Blue Igloo, a playgroup for kids ranging from six months to three years.

The schedule here runs from “transportation toys and tumbling,” at 9 a.m., to “songs, bubbles, puppets,” an hour later. It all wraps up by lunch, after story time and clean up.

Blue Igloo was founded in 2000 in a rebuff to Georgetown’s other playgroup, the 35-year-old Intown. Like the papal schism, the creation of a new gathering place for the pre-pre-school sent waves through a certain section of Georgetown. Which one is better? Where are my friends going? Will all the cool people go to Intown while I am stuck at Blue Igloo? Or vice versa? But as the population that rides in strollers continues to boom, there are plenty of applicants for both playgroups, and, to the outsider, the two groups seem to be almost exactly the same.

Blue Igloo is now the morning home to 55 kids and their caregivers. It is mostly moms, though the occasional dad comes by for an hour or two. It is a French, Spanish, English and sign language immersion program, according to the director, Sabria Lounes. And the children learn key skills, even if they don’t necessarily learn them in French.

“The kids learn to sit, for snack they sit, and they get into a routine. I have to write recommendation letters for kids for the next schools, and these things matter,” says Lounes, who has been running Blue Igloo since its creation.

Gavin, who is two and a half, “gets to interact with other kids, he loves to come here, he loves the singing, he loves the snack most of all,” according to Myrtle Perry, Gavin’s nanny. She says she, too, loves Blue Igloo. “I talk to everybody, all the mothers and the nannies, I look forward to coming here every day.”

Two blocks away at Intown, the scene is much the same. One and 2-year-olds buzz around doing animal puzzles and playing with plastic cars. 45 families are enrolled at Intown and, like Blue Igloo, Intown often has a waiting list of families eager to get in. Get over the admissions hurdle and you get an emphasis on child-centered learning.

“We’re focused, right now, on sensory materials,” says Mandy Sheffer, Intown’s director. “Soft and hard, finger paints, there’s a lot that goes on behind what we do with the kids every day.”

“It is nice to come to a space where the play and structure is thought-out,” says Jacqueline Bourgeois, the mother of 15-month-old Ferdinand. “At home, I don’t know how to do that. I am learning as much as he is.”

And therein lies the real success of Georgetown’s busy playgroups. They are places for moms. Moms need the companionship and learning time offered by Intown and Blue Igloo as much as their kids do. They learn when should a kid quit using a pacifier and what other parents feed their kids. They find potty training tricks, tips for getting along with others, and how to create tight bonds. Nobody needs to get out of the house more than a new mother with a little kid. This is a place to go.

“I’ve made my closest friends here and it has been a wonderful place for us both to come and socialize,” Intown’s Elizabeth Taylor, the mother of Mac, 16 months, says.

“Parents get to talk to other parents,” agrees Annie Lou Berman at Blue Igloo. “We’ve made really great friends here,” she adds, as 2-year-old Teddy scuttles up to see her. “We’re all in the same life stage,” nods Karina Homme, mother of Sebastian, who is 20 months old.

There is a certain type of family called to these pre-pre-schools. One mother refers to her playgroup as “the cocktail party set.” Most are from Georgetown, though a few come from as far away as Alexandria. About half the moms work, though on a recent day the nannies outnumbered the parents at both places. The parents have to pony up between $3,000 and $4,000 for block building and snack eating. And Georgetown’s playgroups mostly funnel into the private pre-schools, and from there into the private elementary schools.

Of course, there are occasional storms in the world of the bouncy-bounce. Two-year-olds won’t share. Parents try to ditch their “duty days” (dates on which they are required to show up and help out) by sending their nannies instead. And the playgroup admission committees sometimes mess up by letting in imperious parents who can’t seem to get along with anyone, or parents who insist that their bodyguards accompany field trips, or the one child who bites: a serious no-no in little kid land.

And then there are the scary parents who really do seem to think Intown leads to Princeton. But they are few. For most of them, Georgetown’s playgroups lead to a sense of community, fast friends, and, most importantly, a place to go on a rainy October morning.