In lives so filled with business travel, it’s nice to have a weekend getaway just for fun: Somewhere with no agenda besides relaxing and eating well. The newly opened Groton Inn, in the small town of Groton, Massachusetts, proved the perfect choice.
The Groton Inn had been the centerpiece of this attractive town since the 1700s until it burned to the ground in 2011. You’d never know from the outside that today’s inn was a replacement that opened a year ago, with its wide-columned porch wrapping around the façade overlooking Main Street just as the original had for so long.
But inside, the smartly decorated lobby and public spaces tell a different story. We arrived late in the afternoon and after checking in to our large room overlooking a green hillside, we returned to the lobby for a glass of wine. This bright airy space with comfortable seating areas is decorated by contemporary works by regional artists and by an original mural from the 1800s saved from a local building. The contrast of old and new fits right in with the inn’s own story.
Groton’s tree-lined Main Street invites an early evening stroll to admire the architecture, which features beautiful, late 18th– through early 20th-century styles. A classic New England white-spired church stands atop a hill on the other side of the inn, framed by more venerable trees.
One of the attractions of the Groton Inn for us was the newly opened Forge and Vine, a contemporary restaurant behind the inn. Our table for two was beside a window overlooking
the green hillside we could see from our room. The other side of the dining room opened into a long kitchen with an eight-foot woodfired grill so we could watch the chefs at work.
From a menu that includes starters, shared plates and entrée dishes, we chose shrimp & grits with house-smoked bacon and Vermont cheddar, and crispy Point Judith calamari with chorizo and cherry peppers (although the oysters we saw delivered to the next table were tempting). Entrée choices included grilled swordfish with a coulis of red peppers; Berkshire pork chops with pickled peach and fennel slaw; and Rotisserie chicken with cippolini onions and polenta. We resisted side dishes that included duck fat potatoes and wood-grilled broccolini, and instead chose two particularly intriguing selections from the dessert list: buttermilk-sweet corn ice cream and Peach Bellini. The latter was a creamy chilled mousse redolent of fresh peaches.
We found enough diversions in and around Groton to fill a relaxing weekend. Behind the inn, at the crest of Gibbett Hill is a stone tower, remains of a mansion designed for Charles Bancroft. He was the founder of Boston’s elevated railway, predecessor of the present subway system. We found the trail to the tower not far from the inn.
A few minutes’ drive away in the town of Harvard is Fruitlands, once the site of an early commune founded by Bronson Alcott, father of author Louisa May Alcott. The Alcott farmhouse is preserved there, much as it was during their short stay (the communal farm experiment failed after one winter), and scenes from the new filming of Alcott’s Little Women were shot at Fruitlands. Along with the Alcott connection, Fruitlands is now home to a museum of Native American peoples and an art gallery. The outdoor café on the terrace overlooking the green valley was a perfect spot for a leisurely lunch.
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