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Sleep on It: Great Themed Bed-and-Breakfasts in the U.S.

When I was young, I had the great fortune of spending some of my summer vacations with my grandparents. Many of the trips we took involved the run-of-the-mill activities kids go crazy for, like backpacking excursions and trips to the amusement park, but I spent many more of my vacations with them at our nation’s battlefields. That’s right, battlefields. Before the age of ten, I had toured Fort Sumter, Fort Pulaski, Vicksburg, Shiloh, Perryville, Stones River, and dozens of other notable Civil War sites, plantations, and warships throughout the South.

My grandfather, a devout Civil War enthusiast who participated in reenactments for many years (he had a muzzleloader, made bullets in the basement, ate hardtack, and even slept out on the field with his fellow “soldiers”), made me realize that people sometimes really just enjoy indulging in history. For people like him, staying at a themed bed-and-breakfast is an ideal way to complete the experience. For others, it’s just plain fun. So whether you’re just wrapping up yet another Sunday with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, you’ve been glued to Dallas reruns on TNT, or you’ve been on a New Wave listening jag for the last week, here are some places you may want to hang your hat (or kick off your go-go boots).

Wild, Wild West
Lost Creek Bed & Breakfast, Chandler, Oklahoma

This romantic getaway features six Western-themed cottages, including the Sheriff’s Office, which has a cell door that was used on a John Wayne movie set. The room’s description even reads: “Walk into this cottage and feel the Duke.” There’s also the Trappers Cabin, Miss Kitty’s Fancy Parlor, and the Red Fox Bordello, a room with “Beautiful pictures of Ladies of the Evening” adorning the walls, which I reckon is probably everyone’s favorite. By and large, this B&B caters to couples and offers many romantic packages and complimentary bottles of wine in select rooms.

All Aboard
Featherbed Railroad Bed & Breakfast Resort, Clear Lake, California

There are nine unique railroad cabooses to choose from at this B&B, located in Northern California’s rural Lake County. Each antique car features its own Jacuzzi tub and is situated on a private beach. A stay at the Featherbed includes complimentary breakfast and free wireless Internet access, as well as use of the dining hall, Ping Pong table, swimming pool, and boat dock. All things considered, it really is like a home—er, caboose—away from home.

Funky Little Shack
Kate’s Lazy Meadow, Catskill Mountains, New York

She may have come from Planet Claire, but now she’s in upstate New York with her very own love shack. B-52s front woman and queen of the beehive, Kate Pierson, renovated a 1950s motel in New York’s tranquil Catskill Mountains with co-owner Monica Coleman and opened Kate’s Lazy Meadow in 2004. The cabins, whose walls are made of nifty knotty-pine paneling, are filled with mid-twentieth-century furniture, tchotchkes, and bright, modish colors—much like Pierson’s famous ’do. It’s quite clear that everything at Kate’s Lazy Meadow has been carefully selected for coolness—including five fully decked-out vintage Airstream trailers—which is why it was probably a shoo-in for Travel + Leisure’s 2010 list of “The World’s Greatest Hotels, Resorts + Spas.”

Call in the Cavalry
Battlefield Bed & Breakfast, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

This B&B makes room for both the North and the South—literally. The Pennsylvania inn has four Union rooms and four Confederate rooms, each featuring handmade quilts and Civil War art. During their stay, guests can enjoy daily interactive Civil War demonstrations, as well as breakfast served by staff clothed in authentic period dress. The inn also offers Friday-night ghost stories and a petting zoo; to top it off, the Battlefield Bed & Breakfast is also a dog-friendly establishment.

Elvis, Larry Hagman, and Then Some
Summer Nites, Wildwood, New Jersey

One thing’s for sure: someone in this family is a big fan of airbrushing. This B&B is described as a 1950s-themed place, so maybe the ’60s and ’70s rooms are there just in case you can’t hack two nights in the ’50s? Not sure. No matter—the walls in every room (and usually above the soaking tub) have been uniquely airbrushed with images of each chamber’s respective theme. The Marilyn room is a literal explosion of pink, along with an image of a nude Marilyn Monroe popping right up out of the tub. The ’70s room features a painted collage of pop-culture characters surrounding the tub, including the Gibb brothers, Diana Ross, and, of course, the quintessential late-night-soap villain, J.R. Ewing.

A Literary Event
Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast, Washington D.C.

Located in the heart of D.C.’s famed Dupont Circle is this four-star Victorian B&B, which features eight rooms with custom furnishings tailored around famed African American literary figures. Some of the authors the rooms pay tribute to are jazz poet Langston Hughes and Nobel Prize–winning American novelist Toni Morrison. The property is steps away from the subway station, the National Mall, the White House, and countless restaurants, bookstores, nightclubs, and movie theaters.

Somewhere in Time
When it comes to traveling, you can be certain of one thing: the experiences you have while you’re away contribute greatly to how memorable the trip is. If you think of hotels as just a place to sleep and are completely satisfied with the Holiday Inns and Motel 6s of the world, fine. But if you’re looking to add a little something extra to your experience, something just a little less ordinary, then hop in your Chrysler or saddle up the mule and mosey on over to one of these fine establishments. You never know—you may discover that you like stepping back in time so much that you find yourself in a petticoat or a micromini and a beehive along the way.

Photo courtesy of Summernites.com

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