By Highroad Cam
The words “charming” and “quaint”, used to the degree of overkill in travel writing, actually apply to my next statement. The Phineas Swann, a dog-friendly Bed and Breakfast Inn in Montgomery Center, VT, is both charming and quaint-quintessentially so. It is a beautifully restored Victorian farmhouse, with gardens, set halfway down Main Street, just down the road from the church and corner grocery store, that has become a kind of iconic gateway to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (although technically not in it).
Also, the Phineas Swann, following a complete renovation eight years ago by owners Jay and John, has brought a level of comfort, class, and style to the town that has been gratefully welcomed to the region by locals and tourists alike. And to thrive here, like the Phineas does, says a lot about the “Swann”. After all, the Northeast Kingdom and its surrounding areas have tough winter weather, are quite remote, and demand of its inhabitants a certain ingenuity and disposition to survive. Of course it is not an empty and vast Siberia either. It is also a magnificent place with spectacular geography, wildlife, plant life, culture, and yes, weather too. Obviously, it is an outdoors-person’s dream and the Phineas Swann can point and guide you where to go in any season for countless activities – downhill skiing and snowboarding (Jay Peak), cross-country skiing, dog sledding, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking, antiquing, and more. Or you may just want to stay in the inn, and why not? – it has all you could want.
The Inns and Outs
The rooms are beautifully decorated with many antiques (Jay was in the antique business in New York City for decades), have cable TV and many DVDs, and accommodate your dog. There are also meticulously decorated sitting rooms and parlors, loaded with antique furniture and art, in which to read, have coffee, snack, or even listen to the player piano. Hot- tubbin’ overlooking the garden is an option too.
And let’s not forget the food. The breakfasts that the Phineas Swann serve up, and the presentation, were amazing - worth the price of admission right there. The blueberry pancakes, local sausage, eggs, VT coffee, fresh fruit, and cranberry juice were savored by me and my travel companion Georgiejet (sans sausage) – true breakfast people. It was also nice mingling in the sun-filled dining area with a couple of hikers from Ontario and a Rhode Island family of four who were excited about an afternoon river kayak run. Georgiejet, Baci (our chocolate Labrador), and I, Highroad Cam, had our own plans. We were off to the Hazen’s Notch State Park, only ten minutes away, for a hike. It was perfect. The sky was cloudless, the temp was 75 degrees, and the trail we chose was gradual with many open vistas (not too dark and woodsy). It was breathtaking – summer in Vermont! (Paris in the spring couldn’t be better).
After a two-mile loop or so (Baci may have run ten miles) we drove to Jay Peak and had some calamari and a Switchback beer beneath the snowless ski slopes on the outdoor deck of The Foundry. For dinner that night it was The Belfry – just a few miles up the hill from the Phineas Swann-great cheddar burgers as well as many other tasty dishes. It is a rustic local tavern, so important to these rural areas, where people of this unique Montgomery Center/Jay area can meet up and catch up.
Home Away From Home
This part of Vermont does have its own character and is definitely a place worth visiting. Archer Mayor, a well-known Vermont author describes it well in his book “Border Lines”.
GeorgieJet and I recommend it highly, any time of year, and especially from the home base Phineas Swann. Unwind and discover – you will love it.