A B&B State of Mind
Inns offer tranquility, conversation and historical charm
By Felix Winternitz
Think you need a change of setting but don’t want to travel far or stay in some antiseptic chain hotel?

Then try one of the Tristate’s many charming B&Bs, some located close to home, some found an hour or two away. You can recharge your batteries, meet an array of fascinating proprietors and fellow guests, and enjoy a weekday or weekend in some fantastic — and historic — Italianate, Federal, Colonial and Victorian mansions, all brimming with antiques and architectural touches:

Amos Shinkle Townhouse
Built in 1854 by entrepreneur Amos Shinkle, this inn lies in the heart of Covington’s historical Riverside District amid courtyard gardens. The B&B — overseen by Bernard Moorman and Anthony Waters — is ornately decorated with rich cornices, an Italianate facade with a cast-iron filigree porch, grand chandeliers and oak floors. Breakfast includes eggs, bacon, goetta, pancakes and French toast. 215 Garrard St., Covington. (859) 431-2118.

Burlington’s Willis Graves B&B
A finely appointed 1830s Federal-style getaway, Burlington’s Willis Graves is ideal as a peaceful retreat. The brick home is owned and operated by Nancy and Bob Swartzel. Special touches include canopy poster beds and gas fireplaces. For breakfast, choose from a menu of crème brûlée French toast or lemon waffles with blackberries. 5825 N. Jefferson St., Burlington. (859) 689-5096.

Christopher’s B&B
This B&B is in a unique building: the former Bellevue Christian Church in the town’s historic district. Brenda Guidugli and family spent a year stripping the sanctuary to its frame; only the floor, stained-glass windows, and painted tin roof remain in the interior. A balcony was also added in the renovation that wraps around three sides of the second story. 604 Poplar St., Bellevue. (859) 491-9354.

Empire House
Less than an hour’s drive from downtown Cincinnati, the Empire House is one of the highlights in the quaint town of Rising Sun. This charming, restored 1816 inn is run by innkeepers Steve and Karen Berger. It’s well within walking distance of the Grand Victoria Casino. There’s a river view, balcony with swing, landscaped gardens and seven suites. 114 S. Front St., Rising Sun, Ind. (812) 438-4064.

First Farm Inn
If you love fishing or riding horses, consider the First Farm Inn. Dana Kisor and Jennifer Warner operate this B&B in an updated 1870s farmhouse set on 20 acres among the rolling hills and bluffs above the Ohio River. First Farm offers farm ponds stocked with bass, as well as horseback riding. 2510 Stevens Road, Petersburg. (859) 586-0199.

Gateway B&B
This 1878 Italianate townhouse was recently featured on an HGTV program about exquisitely renovated homes. Rooms are decorated in Victorian charm, with many antique musical instruments throughout the house (player pianos, Victrolas, and the like). Owners Ken and Sandy Clift serve a full country breakfast, including the inn’s famous pancakes with 7-Up. 326 E. Sixth St., Newport. (859) 581-6447.

Grace and Glory B&B
Grace and Glory is a turn-of-the-century Colonial retreat. Hosts Bill and Lorraine have outfitted the home with such touches as four-poster feather beds and claw-foot bathtubs. A full breakfast is served in the formal dining room. 3539 Shaw Ave., Hyde Park. (513) 321-2824.

Hardy’s Bed & Breakfast Suites
Al and Phyllis Hardy have transformed four Victorian homes, all on the same property, into eight private suites for that relaxing get-away or adult group event. The Hardys provide fresh baked desserts and robes in every suite, custom decorated by Hardy’s Interiors. A candle-lit breakfast is served each morning. 212 Wright Ave., Lebanon. (513) 932-3266.

Hatfield Inn
Lebanon dentist Dr. Robert Haas and his wife, Penny, operate their family home as a B&B. The 1810 farmhouse, situated on 55 acres, has been in their family for a half-century, and it has expanded to include seven bedrooms, all with queen-size beds and private baths, and some with hot tubs. The leisurely breakfasts sometimes last for hours, what with all the socializing, and feature a menu of farm fresh eggs, French toast, casseroles and more. 2563 Hatfield Lane, Turtle Creek Township. (513) 932-3193.

Murphin Ridge Inn
Proprietors Sherry and Darryl McKenney welcome you to this country inn, a restored 1826 farmhouse located in the heart of Adams County’s Amish country. Each room features a private bath, while some include cathedral ceilings, porches or fireplaces. There are also nine log cabins. 750 Murphin Ridge Road, West Union. (937) 544-2263.

Parker House
Mark and Patricia Parker serve as proprietors of this 7,000-square-foot Queen Anne Victorian mansion that was built in the 1870s. Breakfast fare is waffles, French toast or pancakes. 2323 Ohio Ave., Clifton Heights. (513) 579-8236.

Rosemont Inn
The Rosemont Inn is located on the banks of the Ohio River in the historic town of Vevay. The inn, built in 1881 by a wealthy merchant shipping family, is a Victorian Italianate with five bedrooms. Featured on the Food Network, proprietor Linda Awand cooks up a full-service breakfast. 806 W. Market St., Vevay, Ind. (812) 427-3050.

Schussler House
An 1849 Federal/Greek Revival home, Schussler House is located in the heart of the architecturally splendid downtown Madison (the entire district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places). This B&B includes three guest rooms decorated in antique furniture and featuring canopy four-poster beds and private baths. Hosts Mary Jo and Dave Herrala provide a breakfast that can include house specialties such as omelets, French toast or ham and potato strata. 514 Jefferson St., Madison, Ind. (812) 273-2068.

Signal House Bed & Breakfast
This early 1800s Greek Italianate — overlooking the scenic Ohio River — has been expertly transformed into a quaint B&B by proprietors Vic and Betsy Billingsley. Amenities include a three-room private suite with bath and two guest rooms (with shared bath). 234 N. Front St., Ripley. (937) 392-1640.

Story lnn
Off the beaten path, the Story Inn’s motto is “One inconvenient location since 1851.” Actually, the bustling town of Nashville and its famous crafts community (with 250 stores and galleries) is conveniently located nearby. Proprietors Rick Hofstetter and Erin Drake run this former general store, still decorated with toys and sundries of the 1920s. 6404 S. Indiana Highway 135, Story, Ind. (812) 988-2273.

Tuggles’ Folly B&B
Hosts Dean and Debbie Tuggle welcome you to their retirement dream, a 15-acre estate overlooking the Ohio River. A full country breakfast includes homemade biscuits and gravy, eggs to order and fried peaches. 9377 Holmes Hill Road, Aurora. (812) 438-9399.

White Garden Inn
Are you a gardening buff? This Victorian-style B&B, owned by Linda and John Alexander, features five bedrooms, each decked out in a garden theme. Breakfast includes a choice of stuffed French toast, quiche, blueberry pancakes or soufflés. 6194 Brown Road, Oxford. (513) 524-5827.