Bed and breakfasts offer all the comforts of home, and then some, with none of the worry.
As Kansas celebrated its 138th birthday on Jan. 29, a new venture with deep roots in the state's history also celebrated a landmark.
The Victorian Veranda Country Inn officially opened for business, becoming the newest addition to Douglas County's list of bed and breakfasts. The enormous house north of Lawrence at 1431 N 1900 Rd. has 10 guest rooms with their own bathrooms.
Although the Victorian-style house has all the comforts of a modern home, owner Rob Phillips said he took care to provide guests on the 57-acre development with an atmosphere reminiscent of the early 1900s.
"What we tried to do here is make a place that in our imagination would be what a turn-of-century, well-to-do farmer would have," Phillips said.
Behind the three-story yellow house, a draft horse barn with 14 stalls provides grooming space for his horses.
Phillips, general manager of The Eldridge Hotel, organizes the annual Old Fashioned Christmas Parade in downtown Lawrence.
The price of a room includes a carriage ride, and when in full operation, the bed and breakfast will offer horse rides to the general public.
A wide veranda borders three sides of the house, and there is a reading porch off the library.
"Can you imagine how this is going to be in the summer?" said Phillips, who manages the inn with Beverly Ray.
In an area once known for its potato fields, Phillips has planted a large garden near the house. In late February, he turned the earth on the patch of ground with the help of two of his Belgian draft horses and an antique plow.
The oldest bed and breakfast in Lawrence doesn't have the wide open spaces of the Victorian Veranda Country Inn, but the Halcyon House does offer quick access to downtown and Kansas University.
The Halcyon House, opened in 1985, is managed by the mother-and-daughter team of Esther and Constance Wolfe.
With 8 bedrooms and 6 1/2-bathrooms, the house at 1000 Ohio has a spacious living room that opens into a warm kitchen featuring wall-to-ceiling windows.
"This is where we have the most fun," said Constance Wolfe, who cooks meals at the bed and breakfast.
Esther Wolfe said the bed and breakfast industry has boomed in the past 15 years; when the Halcyon house opened for business, the only other bed and breakfast in the state was in Wichita.
"You have to be very careful to make it work, but the concept of a bed and breakfast is becoming so popular that it's helped," Esther Wolfe said. "People who live in Lawrence even stay here. It's a nice way to get-away without doing a lot of traveling."
Rooms with a view
Almost a year after it opened, the Circle S Guest Ranch and Country Inn north of Lawrence continues to capitalize on its unique surroundings. The inn, at 3325 Circle S Lane, is about 10 miles north of Lawrence in Jefferson County.
Mary Beth and Mitchell Stevenson used an interior designer to ensure each of the 12 bedrooms had its own identity.
Guests can choose from among the Hunt, Cowboy, Post Rock, Paisley, or Garden rooms, and relax in the former silo which offers a spa.
There are fishing ponds on the 1,400-acre working ranch, along with opportunities to hike or bike.
Cozy and private
For someone who is looking for a truly private retreat, Bob and Betsi Anderson rent two houses in Old West Lawrence on a daily or weekly basis. Not quite a bed and breakfast, the Rose Cottage and Cozy Cottage don't have an attendant on the premises.
The renovated cottages feature two bedrooms, a formal country living room, a complete kitchen, and a formal dining room. The full baths offer relaxing whirlpool bathing. Both cottages can accommodate up to four people, and a continental breakfast is included. For more information, call 843-2044 or 843-9083.
Despite a wave of popularity for bed and breakfasts, Lawrence recently lost the Carriage House, 643 Tenn. Owner Dave Penny said high taxes and the bureaucracy of city codes didn't make the venture worthwhile anymore.
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.