Where to stay for an unusual and quirky night
As COVID-19 cases rise again in the United States, exotic travel couldn’t seem more inaccessible.
But that doesn’t mean you have to resort to a stay or let those PTO days go to waste. Airbnbs are more popular than ever, allowing those with the travel bug to escape – somewhere – even if it’s only an hour’s drive from home.
Tony and Cheryl Vardaro, natives of Edison who now live in Kentucky, saw this firsthand. The couple saw an increase in bookings for their Airbnb property in Palm Strings, Calif., Last summer, a trend that has continued.
“People like to have these getaways closer to home. They’re still a little scared of flying – almost all of our renters were Californians,” Cheryl said. “People like to control their experience and they get used to the amenities around the home where you have your own kitchen and space to spread out. “
The demand was so high that the couple sold this property and bought a larger one, which they also use as Airbnb. He booked “like crazy,” Tony said, which he and Cheryl attribute in part to the pandemic.
“Last summer we noticed a surprising number of bookings immediately and throughout the year,” Tony said. “Usually in Palm Springs, which is a desert town, you can’t rely on rentals in the summer. But we were full with several people coming back to back, and that continued into the fall. “
Here in central Jersey, you can do the same at the unique Airbnbs nearby, which include everything from an alpaca farm to a solar-powered hydrogen home. Here are some of the coolest in the area for a trip unlike your regular trek.
Sixties Straight Cabin in East Windsor
The Hippy Hut in East Windsor lives up to its name. The one bedroom and one bathroom hut would be modest, except it’s adorned with signage, Christmas lights, tie-dye tapestries, and ceiling lights in all shapes, sizes and colors.
“Bring your camera because you won’t be able to describe it to your friends,” the list reads, along with photos of a tree trunk carved as a face; a sofa covered with greenery; and an addiction with an encouraging message,
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On the practical side, there is also a sauna, a hammock, a camping stove, a heated outdoor shower, a mini fridge and a coffee maker. Don’t forget to feed the free range chickens kick with the dried mealworms provided on your way to scoop up their daily fresh eggs.
To go: Hippy Hut in East Windsor; $ 165 per night; bit.ly/3BmaAIF
Luxury Alpaca Farm in Far Hills
At Bluebird Farm Alpacas in Far Hills, you’ll feel far away from the central Jersey suburbs. Book a stay in the loft above their event barn, which overlooks flower gardens and alpacas grazing in the pastures. If you wish, you can also get up close to the herd – take the farm tour or halter training, where you walk an alpaca through pastures and hedges.
Inside the suite, guests will find a double bedroom, a full bathroom, and a kitchenette with a coffee maker, fridge and sink. The modern farmhouse aesthetic here includes imported vintage rugs, hardwood floors, and a “high-end rustic interior,” the Airbnb listing says.
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Don’t want to spend the whole day in the barn suite – or with your furry neighbors? The 15-acre farm is just minutes from Natirar, a 500-acre park offering activities such as bird watching, hiking, and picnicking. Other nearby attractions include farms for summer fruit picking, a craft cider house, a wide selection of antique shops, and country roads ideal for cycling.
To go: Bluebird Farm Alpacas in Far Hills; $ 360 per night; bit.ly/3wW4ZoM.
Restored farm and animal shelter in Flemington
Discover a true farm experience at New Harmony Farm in Flemington, a converted and restored 1800s barn that is also a refuge for rescued animals. It’s home to rescued sheep, turkeys, pigs, ducks, chickens, horses, alpacas, geese and goats who are all groomed and supported by Airbnb-stay recipes. A window in the kitchen also offers a direct view of the bird enclosure.
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Outside the one bedroom and one bathroom house there is a patio, fire pit and camping area, a children’s playhouse, a stream with the ruins of a tavern in 1746 and a play set with a swing and a slide.
Or go for a walk, where you can find nearby farmers’ markets, shops, and hiking trails, as well as quaint towns like Frenchtown, New Hope, and Lambertville.
To go: New Harmony Farm in Flemington; $ 325 per night; bit.ly/36PlWqz.
North America’s first occupied hydrogen solar house in Hopewell
Want to do more than just recycle? Get a taste of the efficient use of energy in North America’s first occupied solar powered hydrogen house at Hopewell. It has operated completely off-grid for 15 years – through two major hurricanes and several Nor’easters – has zero carbon emissions and its byproducts are just pure oxygen and pure water.
The appliances in the four-bedroom house that would normally run on natural gas have been converted to hydrogen, such as the stove, water heater and dryer. The excess power produced is returned to the electricity grid. Additionally, the system integrates both an electric vehicle charging station and a hydrogen refueling station, making it the only private hydrogen refueling station for residential vehicles on the East Coast. It also has a hydrogen-heated hot tub and swimming pool.
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Tenants are offered free tours of the property and energy systems, as well as a Q&A with founder Mike Strizki. If they’re lucky, they could take a ride in his hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai.
Anyone not staying as a guest can still schedule a private tour for a fee. Tours are not scheduled when guests are present, but because the house is a working laboratory and a non-profit organization, there may sometimes be staff members on site.
To go: Hydrogen house project in Hopewell; $ 850 per night; bit.ly/36Tz4uS.
Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member of USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, after becoming a blogger turned journalist following the creation of her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to his food, drink and pleasure stories, please register or activate your digital account today. Contact: [email protected] or @JIntersimone.