A Shenandoah Valley Gem
Opened in June on 80 palatial acres in Staunton, Virginia, The Blackburn Inn mixes modern artsy décor with nods to the historic redbrick building’s past. Constructed by master builder and Thomas Jefferson protégé Thomas Blackburn in 1828, the Jeffersonian-style property features vaulted ceilings, light-filled hallways, original heart pine floors and a reproduction antique drafting table that serves as the reception desk. Each of the inn’s 49 guest rooms features plush pillow-top beds and spacious marble bathrooms with frameless glass showers; some have soaking tubs.
Relax at Second Draft, Blackburn’s intimate bistro and bar, and nosh on a Southern pimento cheese panini or a goat cheese flatbread pizza (aim for a spot on the wraparound front porch in good weather). Take the spiral staircase to a rooftop cupola for 360-degree views of the quaint town of Staunton.
Rates begin at $149 and include a breakfast of pastries, fruit, yogurt and locally sourced artisanal cheeses.
The Blackburn Inn, 301 Greenville Ave., Staunton, Virginia; 540-712-0601, blackburn-inn.com
First held in 2016, southern Delaware’s Winter WonderFEST offers a trifecta of festive activities to put you in the holiday spirit: a Christmas Village, ice rink and lights display. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal grounds are transformed into a colorful Christmas Village with a giant Ferris wheel, games and holiday-themed carnival rides. Warm up with cocoa and cocktails in a large heated tent dubbed The Lodge. Skate under the lights to holiday tunes at the open-air Visit Delaware Ice Rink, also at the ferry terminal.
Less than 2 miles away, a 1½-mile drive-through Light Spectacular transforms Cape Henlopen State Park with more than 100 displays, including a giant igloo, leaping gingerbread man and juggling snowman. On opening night, Nov. 17, you can tour the lights on foot ($35; $20 kids; prices include a T-shirt, light fare and other goodies). The remainder of the season, car passes are $15 in advance and well worth it for the express lane into the show (call 302-727-0221 to reserve); $20 at the gate. Hours are 5-9 p.m.
Spend the night on Lewes’ waterfront at The Inn at Canal Square, which is known for its holiday finery. Several of the coastal-themed rooms have balconies. Two-bedroom suites feature a wood-burning fireplace. Rates from $140 per weekend night, continental breakfast included. A two-night WinterFEST package includes admission to the Light Spectacular and an $80 dinner credit, and starts at $475 on weekends. (122 Market St., theinnatcanalsquare.com)
Winter WonderFEST runs from Nov. 17 through Dec. 31. The light festival and Christmas Village are open Friday through Sunday; the ice rink is open Tuesday through Sunday. winterwonderfestde.org
New in New York
Located in New York City’s NoMad neighborhood, just blocks from the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden, Mondrian Park Avenue is a 20-story hotel with the swanky feel of a Manhattan apartment. Opened last November, the hotel has 189 rooms and suites, each with plush linens, oversize rain showers, an LCD smart TV, leather wing chairs and a minibar stocked with locally curated treats and create-your-own cocktail kits. Many rooms offer “floating” writing desks that can swing alongside a chair or bed, and some rooms on the top five floors come with a private balcony.
Cleo, the hotel’s restaurant, serves Mediterranean fare, including Moroccan lamb, grilled Spanish octopus and kebabs. An indoor-outdoor lounge and terrace named 15 Stories is a musical oasis by night and a relaxing space for late afternoon light bites and sunset views. Bring your pup and book the Bark Avenue package, complete with a dog bed and a “Bark Box” that includes all-natural treats and a toy (a recent Chinese-themed box contained a dumpling-shaped toy). Dog walking is available upon request.
Rates at Mondrian Park Avenue start at $459 per night. 444 Park Ave. South, New York, New York; 212-804-8880, mondrianparkavenue.com