Elizabeth Seward is back from a B&B getaway outside Pittsburgh. Here she dishes on the delights of her stay.
Straight out of a storybook, the kind filled with tales of backwoods fairies and nature-inspired mysticism, is a bed-and-breakfast situated just 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh: Sun & Cricket. It’s tucked beneath a shady stretch of trees on a private lane named after the owner, Tara Bradley-Steck.
Bradley-Steck stands outside of the carriage house with me at dusk, detailing the development of the grounds over the years. Tara Lane was built on a recycled foundation. Her husband and co-owner, John, salvaged what he could from the old Highway 80 while working in construction years ago and lugged the remains back to their land for the purpose of laying down Tara Lane. And the couple’s resourcefulness doesn’t stop there.
Tara motions to the tall white barn beside her black horses. It was built from sections of an Amish barn that stood a few miles away. A dance hall for women, opened in the 1930s just down the road, also contributed to the property’s structures: its hand-collected rocks now form the building’s walls.
There are only two places to stay at Sun and Cricket: The Log Cabin suite, which has a lofted bedroom and a wood-burning fireplace downstairs, or at the far end of the grounds, the cozy and charming Carriage House suite, which is also equipped with a fireplace.
There’s something surprisingly warm about Sun & Cricket, particularly compared to many B&Bs which I have come across that are now trying to achieve the antiseptic hotel aesthetic rather than continuing the long tradition of intimacy found only in a B&B.
Feeling slightly under the weather, I wrapped myself up in the plush spare blankets on the Carriage House bed, eating popcorn and sipping on hot chocolate–both of which are standard amenities to the room–as are DVDs, audio books, wine glasses, and dishware. There’s even a checkerboard with wooden red and green apple pieces (fitting since they have apple trees on the property).
In the morning, Bradley-Steck offers a three-course breakfast to guests.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Sweet and spongy bread paired with coffee and local cider prepared my senses for her mouth-watering baked Granny Smith apple. That was followed by her ‘Baked BLT’, local bacon laid atop homemade bread with local eggs and cheese and served with homegrown tomatoes and herbs. It was one of the most delicious breakfasts I’ve tried.
With 35 acres, Sun & Cricket boasts hiking trails, stalls for those who wish to Bring Their Own Horse, an outdoor swimming pool, a masseuse who will (by appointment) come to your room to spoil you into relaxation, and beautiful country scenery–and all of this less than 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh’s boisterous downtown.
Photos: Ben Britz