Are you a fan of gingerbread trim and elegance from yesteryear? Do I have a bed and breakfast for you. At Gainesville’s Sweetwater Branch Inn, baby boomer travelers experience the intricacies of Victorian architecture, a shady garden’s peacefulness and owner Cornelia Holbrook’s homemade crepes for breakfast.
Sweetwater Branch Inn is actually a collection of two restored Victorian homes, McKenzie House and Cushman-Colson House, plus McKenzie Gardens and four cottages. When I visited, the cherub-themed Isadora’s Room in McKenzie House provided a well-appointed, convenient headquarters for exploring North Florida. What boomer princess wouldn’t love the turret where stained glass windows surround a comfy window seat? And, the climb up two flights of narrow stairs to my romantic room helped work off the comprehensive breakfast served each morning in the dining room at Cushman-Colson House.
Within walking distance from the Sweetwater Branch Inn, Gainesville’s historic downtown area offers shopping, dining (I enjoyed dinner at Paramount Grill) and stage productions at the Hippodrome Theatre located in the historic Federal Building. Or, a short drive takes you to the University of Florida to view the collections at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. While you’re there, don’t forget to walk across the parking lot to the Florida Museum of Natural History for a stroll in the Butterfly Rainforest.
With Paynes Prairie State Preserve only 15 minutes away, I spent an afternoon hiking to see the alligators. Returning to Sweetwater Branch Inn, I ended my stay sipping wine on the front porch at Cushman-Colson House, comparing Gainesville adventures with the other guests. Between us, we had spent the day hiking, exploring museums, visiting students at the University of Florida, kayaking in the area’s clear springs and attending a theatre performance.