I have a quote in my kitchen that says: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” That’s how I felt last week during my visit to the Woolverton Inn in Stockton, New Jersey. While I’ve gone on many big adventures during my life after 50 and 60, including all the way to Lapland in 2018, I realized after taking time to unwind at the Woolverton Inn, that sometimes there is great beauty in the little places nearby — if one takes a moment to stop, breathe and seek them out.
The complimentary invitation for a mid-week getaway couldn’t have come at a better time.* “Do you want to join me for a restorative retreat at an idyllic country estate near the banks of the Delaware River?” I asked my boyfriend L. L needed a break from work and I needed to continue to find ways to slow down. “It’s only about an hour drive. It’s close to the quaint towns of Lambertville, NJ, and New Hope, Pa.”
“A far away place – close to home”
The Woolverton Inn is “a far away place – close to home” says the tagline and that’s exactly what it is. Fodor’s called the Inn “One of the loveliest settings in the valley…romantic and secluded.”
Our GPS guided our travels along the river bank past farm stands and antique shops. “Make a sharp right turn,” said the GPS as we headed up a steep hill into the forest to find our overnight oasis.
We were greeted by Mary Passalacqua, who owns the Inn with her husband Mario. Woolverton began operating as an Inn in the 1980s and Mary and her husband are the 5th owners after purchasing the Inn in 2016. Ooh, ooh, ooh, Mary is a post 50 entrepreneur and she’s living out her dream to own and operate an inn. How exciting is that? I’ll be sharing an interview with Mary in an upcoming blog post.
Now back to our visit…
Welcome to Woolverton
“Welcome to Woolverton,” said Mary as she introduced staff members and showed us around the Manor House. “The estate dates back to the 1790s when Revolutionary War veteran Lt. John Prall Jr. purchased the estate from the local sheriff, later selling it to the Woolvertons in the early 1800s. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Inn was owned by St. John ‘Sinjin’ Terrell founder of the Bucks County Playhouse and the Lambertville Music Circus.”
We walked through the living room, where celebrities from Ella Fitzgerald and The Supremes once entertained. It felt like we were stepping back a century or two to a simpler time in American history. We passed by the dining room, where hot coffee and tea are available each afternoon with fresh-baked treats, and where a three-course breakfast is served each morning.
Out the back door is a long porch where heaters were recently installed for added warmth. If it hadn’t been raining I would have sat down on one of the white rocking chairs to look out over the surrounding 300 acres of farmland and forest. Nevertheless I admired the pretty view. Mary said this spot is popular for picture-taking during wedding receptions.
In the front of the Manor House, is a lovely outdoor sitting area with a fountain and a vegetable garden that is filled with fresh produce and herbs during summer months. “The vegetables we grow are used as ingredients for our seasonal menus,” said Mary.
Before heading to our cottage, we met the most famous “residents and unofficial mascots — Lucy, Kern, Karen, Kristin and Ike, five sheep that roam the serene ten-acre property. “We shear the sheep and clean and sell the wool yarn for knitting,” added Mary.
A relaxing stay in the Sojourn Loft
There are 14 lodging options at the Inn between rooms in the Manor House and individual cottages around the grounds. Each one is uniquely named and decorated. We opted for the travel-themed Soujourn Loft, a private cottage. It is a two-level suite with a king size bed and sitting area. There are two fireplaces – one downstairs and one upstairs. In the second floor loft is a double whirlpool tub and hammock as well as a bathroom with a shower fit for two.
The amenities are overflowing. Mary has thought of everything for a relaxing stay including terrycloth robes (my favorite hotel amenity), Egyptian cotton towels and bed linens, and a mini-fridge filled with complimentary soft drinks and bottled water.
The best part is there is no television. Yes, you heard that right. There is internet if you wish to log on — to truly escape I suggest not. Instead bring a good book like L and I did, curl up in one of the soft leather chairs, turn on the fireplace and surrender into silence. It’s equally nice to just sit and meditate while looking out at the sheep pasture or indulge in an afternoon nap.
Dinner at Brian’s in Lambertville
We took Mary’s recommendation and made dinner reservations in advance at Brian’s in Lambertville. The BYOB bistro offers a three-course, $45 fixed price menu during the week. Reviews of the restaurant rate it one of the best in town and rightly so.
Chef Brian Held owns and runs the 40-seat restaurant located in the center of town. According to a 2012 review in The New York Times, Mr. Held is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who previously owned a critically acclaimed French country restaurant in Newtown, Pa.
Everything on the menu sounded so appetizing that it was difficult to choose. I ordered Arugula Salad with Shaved Reggiano Cheese and Roasted Hazelnuts to start. It was a huge salad and the lemon vinaigrette dressing was nice and light. L paid extra for Lemon & Crab Risotto — it was worth the additional fee. For entrees, I selected the Halibut which was tender and flavorful with a sprinkling of pepper. I asked to have the Lemon Brown Butter with Capers and Croutons served on the side and only used it for an occasional dip. L selected Salmon with Tarragon Sauce. Our entrees came with a delicious potato crepe and sautéed veggies.
For dessert, I splurged on Bananas Foster Brioche French Toast. OMG it was a best-ever dessert!
Note: We ate lunch in Lambertville earlier in the day at the casual Caffe Galleria and liked it very much. One caveat visiting Lambertville is to keep a roll of quarters in your car to feed the meters. I think we needed four quarters or more per hour and the meters max out at four hours. If you’re a shopper, Lambertville has some fun gift and clothing boutiques in town.
Sweet slumber and a leisurely breakfast
Back in our cottage, we turned on the fireplace, did more reading and settled into deep slumber, letting the sounds of nature nurture us. Neither of us awoke until 8:30 a.m. – amazing how long we slept thanks to the peace and quiet at Woolverton Inn!
Not having to rush anywhere, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the Manor House. Chef Ed served up a three-course gourmet morning meal. L dined on Eggs Over Mixed Greens & Potatoes with Maple Glazed Bacon while I favored the delicate Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes. Breakfast was so good, so good, so good!
After saying our goodbyes, we plugged “home” into the GPS. Off we went — back into the fast-paced world more recharged and refueled from our mini-midweek getaway. We both agreed how big a difference a little break can make to nourish one’s mind, body and soul.
Have you traveled to one of the Delaware River Towns? Share a comment and LMK what was your favorite thing to see or do or place to eat.
P.S. – Ooh, ooh, ooh, I noticed that the Woolverton Inn has special mid-week packages for Romantic Getaways going on right now. The Fall Midweek Special is good through November 26, 2019 and Winter Wonderland is available between December 1, 2019 – January 31, 2020, excluding dates from Dec 23-Jan 2. Check the website for more information. LMK if you visit and how you like it!
*Disclosure of Material Connection: The Woolverton Inn provided me with a complimentary overnight stay in the Soujourn Loft cottage. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.