The nonprofit Trustees of Reservations, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, calls all of its 100-plus properties that it cares for across the state “special places,” but very few of them offer a place to rest your head. In fact, there are just two guest houses, both significant in their own way and two campgrounds, also equally different, where you can spend the night. On occasion, other properties may host special overnight programs, but it’s not common. Here’s a look these unique properties.
The Inn at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate
You can play out your Downton Abbey fantasies at the 10-room inn located on the rolling hills of the Crane Estate in Ipswich. The showpiece of the Crane Estate, of course, is the grand “Italian Villa,” but while the Crane family was having it built in 1910, they spent summers at this “cottage.” It was originally a farmhouse, built in the mid-1800s, and later turned into a summer home. Once the main house was finished, the Cranes turned the farmhouse into a guest house. In 2000, the Trustees of Reservations opened it as an inn. Each of the luxurious rooms is quite different and there’s not a phone or television to be seen, offering a true retreat from the world. You can settle in, wander the grounds, and take in views of the salt marshes and Atlantic Ocean. Guests also enjoy free access to Crane Beach, with beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas available to borrow, as well as hybrid bikes, and a full breakfast is included.
The Guest House at Field Farm
This inn should be on any midcentury architecture or art fan’s to-do list. The former home of Lawrence and Eleanor Bloedel, both avid modern art and furniture collectors, was designed by Edwin Goodell Jr. in 1948. The inn, which has just six guest rooms, looks as if the Bloedels just stepped out for a minute. Inside, the living room, where you can lounge at will, is a Noguchi coffee table, Kagan sofas, and a reproduction Eames chair. Outside, there are 13 sculptures, including works by Richard M. Miller and Herbert Ferber, dotted around the house. Views of Mount Greylock can be seen from the house, as well as a small pond, where the family used to swim and ice skate. Visitors, not limited to inn guests, can tour the The Folly, a three-bedroom, pinwheel-shaped shingled guest cottage, designed in 1965 by modernist architect Ulrich Franzen, during the summer, and year-round, anyone can enjoy the four miles of trails on the 316-acre property.
Tully Lake Campground
Located in Royalston right on the edge of the 200-acre Tully Lake, this tent-
only campground is especially great for anyone who wants to get out on the water. There are 35 walk-in sites (the Trustees provides carts to haul your gear in), plus canoe and kayak rentals on site. There are lots of small inlets and even a couple of tiny islands to enjoy a picnic, so bring a cooler. Choice sites on the water fill up as soon as reservations open up in March, but there isn’t really a bad site on the property. The campground features modern bathrooms and showers, and besides the boat rentals, you can rent fishing poles, GPS devices for geocaching, and disc golf equipment. There’s also a horseshoe pit, volleyball net, and cornhole board. The 22-mile Tully Trail, which runs by the camp, is a popular hiking trek.
Dunes’ Edge Campground
If you prefer saltwater to fresh water, then camping at Dunes’ Edge in Provincetown is for you. It’s open from late May through early October and features 85 wooded sites for tents, pop-ups, and vans and 15 sites with electric and water hook-ups for motorhomes. While not right on the beach, Dunes’ Edge is adjacent to the Cape Cod National Seashore and offers a gorgeous and serene setting to camp, but it’s not as remote as it seems. Within two miles of the campground, you can go swimming at the beach, head out to fish or sail, or enjoy the bustling town. Bring a bike (or rent one) and just leave your car at camp.
Kim Foley MacKinnonKim Foley MacKinnon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.