Pair Holiday Shopping with inn getaways in Vermont

Rabbit Hill Inn Christmas Tree in the Parlor with 1800 white lightsA National Retail Federation recently predicted that holiday spending will be up by 4-percent this year for an all-time high of $730.7 billion dollars in total holiday spending.  Their survey conducted in October also found that an astonishing 39-percent of shoppers started their holiday shopping before November.  Fear not, last minute shoppers.  The Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) have the perfect solution for avoiding the holidaze shopping crowds with plenty of R&R built inn.  Make this the year you shop small and stay small all in one ideal getaway.  Over the next few weeks we’re going to explore the ideal places to shop and stay in smaller towns offering unique stores for that hard-to-shop-for person.  You’ll start each day in one of 11 beautiful and distinctive New England Inns fueled each morning with fabulously fresh and creative breakfast.  Spend the day exploring eclectic shops and galleries, then return for afternoon tea and sit a spell by the fire or in welcoming private guest room.  This year, take is slow and small by shopping these local stores known, loved and recommended by DINE innkeepers.

We’ll start the Distinctive Inns of New England Holiday Shopping series in Vermont.  We asked Leslie from Rabbit Hill Inn and Angela from the Grafton Inn about their best holiday shopping recommendations and they offered some fabulous ideas.

From Leslie at Rabbit Hill Inn

On her Holiday Shopping Guide found on the  Rabbit Hill Inn’s blog, Leslie points out her top ten favorite holiday shopping ideas.  From the outlets in North Conway, NH and Tilton, NH to the unique shops on Littleton’s Main Street, there are a number of fabulous ideas on this post.  She offers up recommendations for a variety of options for those who

Holiday trees at Rabbit Hill Inn

Brian and Donn put up numerous trees at Rabbit Hill Inn over the holidays cut from the Rocks Estate

love Vermont Craft Brews. She even offers a gift-buying tasting tour with something for you to try and then buy for that special person on the list.  She ends with an all-time favorite – The Rocks Estate – in nearby Bethlehem, NH where you can find and cut your own Christmas tree or pick out a beautifully decorated wreath.  Be sure to bring your Christmas cards to be mailed here too, so they’ll be postmarked from Bethlehem!  While all of the ideas on Leslie’s list are her favorite stores, she tells us, “I really love them all… but anything from White Mountain Canning Co, Laughing Moon Chocolates, or Ziemke Glassblowing Studio would make a totally fab, unique gift.”

After spending a day exploring stores in Vermont and nearby New Hampshire, return to the inn for their signature afternoon tea and pastries followed by dinner in the candlelit dining room or a drink in the Snooty Nose Pub, topped off with a soak in your private tub or fall asleep to the flicker of flames in  your guest room.

From Angela at the Grafton Inn

If you want the quintessential Vermont gift, not to mention traditional and vintage items that are age-old list toppers, Angela recommends visiting the Vermont Country Store.  There are two Vermont Country Store locations near the Grafton Inn – in Rockingham and Weston. Both  stores are with a beautiful drive from the inn.  Here you’ll find everything from old-fashioned candy you loved getting in your stocking as a kid, to cool cooking gadgets and of course, the famous Vermont Country Store toys stuffed animals.  Independently owned and operated by the Orton Family since 1946, the Vermont Country Store follows the tradition of quality and tradition that is a driving mission of all 11 of the Distinctive Inns of New England.

A little closer to the inn, the Grafton Cheese Shop is literally across the parking lot from the Grafton Inn. Here you can take a tasting tour of all the fabulous cheeses made by the Grafton Cheese Company.  Yet, this store does not live by cheese alone.  According to Angela, “They sell a lot of other Vermont products like maple syrup, mustards,  Blake Hill Chutney and Preserves etc.”.

Grafton Inn holiday photo with snow surrounding the inn

Grafton Inn, all dressed up for the holidays; complete with a blanket of snow to add festivity.

After a day of shopping and the gorgeous drives in and around Grafton, you’ll be ready for a drink in the Pine Room Bar or Phelps Barn.  Sit beside a flickering fire in the newly created Pine Room Bar followed by fine dining in the 1801 Tavern (formerly the Old Tavern Restaurant), or for a much more casual burger and a local craft  beer (plus other casual fare offered) try the Phelps Barn Pub.

Both the National Retail Federation and bnbfinder, the largest independently owned online B&B directory, found from surveying travelers that gift cards top the Christmas List (especially for women) this year.  Further, bnbfinder found by in their traveler surveys that gift cards for travel, and specifically for B&B travel, was the number one request from their traveler surveys.  Don’t forget to add a gift certificate for your favorite DINE inn to your holiday shopping list. They make the perfect gift for that person who has everything but time to relax.  And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to go too.  Now that’s the ideal present this holiday season.

In Maine:  Captain Jefferds Inn in Kennebunkport & Camden Maine Stay Inn in Camden

In New Hampshire:  Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness & Chesterfield Inn in West Chesterfield.

In Vermont:  Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford & Grafton Inn in Grafton

In Massachusetts:  Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead, Gateways Inn & Restaurant in Lenox, Deerfield Inn in Historic Deerfield and Captain’s House Inn in Chatham on Cape Cod.

In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic.