Cottage Core Travel: A New England Guide To Historic Houses & Gardens – TheTravel


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If you find yourself drawn to etoile prints, bubbling baroque fountains in the middle of carefully overgrown gardens, and images of rolling hills dotted with farms, then you may be a fan of cottage core. Downtown Abbey, Bridgerton, and Little Women have created a new demand for the decorative arts and antique vibes, and New England’s history, architecture, and landscape make up the American epicenter of all things cottage core romantic.

New England’s historic houses span various eras, representing hundreds of years of European decorative history and style. No matter which era of cottage speaks to you, visit one of these historic houses and their gardens to have your Kate Sharma moment among the flowers. Fair warning it’s BYOB wicker basket. And viscount optional.


Related: The Atlantis of Cape Code

Roseland Cottage

Equal parts Madonna Inn and Victorian Gothic, Roseland Cottage is a house museum managed by the Historic New England consortium of historic properties. Its distinct pink exterior remixed with gothic revival windows and roof lines is the perfect backdrop for a whimsical modern meets historic beauty photo opportunity. During the springs and summers, the gardens are in full, technicolor bloom, only rivaled by the beautiful stained glass windows inside the parlor.

Aside from the stunning pink façade, Rosehill Cottage houses some incredible oddities including America’s oldest surviving indoor bowling alley complete with antique bowling balls and pins on exhibit. Don’t forget to try out the “behind the scenes tour” (an additional ticketed event) to see all the hidden nooks and crannies.

This site is fairly easy to travel to by car, and there is ample parking for visitors. You can even attend a concert in the gardens! Roseland Cottage is open from June to October.

  • Location: 556 Route 169, Woodstock, Connecticut 06281
  • Admission: $15 adults, $13 seniors, $7 students and children

Castle Hill On The Crane Estate

Do you like your cottages a little more seaside mansion-y? Check out the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the summer-time retreat of Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane, Jr. While this historic house would put most castles to shame, the Cranes considered this their coastal cottage… it was the Gilded Age after all.

The sweeping allée is the perfect place to have a picture-perfect frolic—frolicking of course being an essential tenant of the cottage core. There are various guided tours inside the house for an additional ticket, including one that takes you all the way up to the cupola on the roof. It provides stunning views of the allée, with its Roman-inspired sculptures, the beach, and the seaside below. You can just feel the restorative airs from there.

If you prefer a garden setting, the grounds house a proper Italian, sunken garden. This garden, and the estate itself, may look familiar to you—it served as the filming site for the Paris and Europe scenes in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 film, Little Women. The property is managed by the Trustees of Reservations, a non-profit that owns and operates a series of historic houses, farms, and art museums throughout New England. The Great House is open April through October on select days, and the grounds are open year-round.

  • Location: 290 Argilla Road, Ipswich, Massachusetts 01938
  • Admission: For the grounds, $10 for adults, $5 for children (ages 6-14), and Free for under 5 years old; Tours of the House are an additional fee

Bidwell House Museum

A little bit more classic cottage with gardens that will give you hydrangea envy, the Bidwell House Museum is a perfect place to explore the Georgian agrarian lifestyle. Bring your wide-brimmed straw hat and traverse the trails surrounding the 18th-century house. Take some time to enjoy the meticulously restored gardens and be sure to take a peek at the Heritage Vegetable Garden for all of the farm-to-table inspiration you’ll need to make that coq au vin—served on antique China of course.

The museum is an independently run non-profit that organizes various events and tours throughout the year, including an annual fundraiser that showcases the grounds’ fantastic blooms. The Bidwell House is open from May to October while the grounds are open for activities year-round.

  • Location: 100 Art School Road, Monterey, Massachusetts 02145
  • Admission: Grounds and Gardens are free of charge, though donations are welcome; Tours are available by appointment and need to be booked in advance.

Castle In The Clouds

Just as idyllic as it sounds, the Castle in the Clouds, also known as the Lucknow Estate, was the mountainous getaway for the Plant Family. The entire premise for this building’s architecture is that of harmony with nature and though the building boasted all the modern amenities of the early 20th century and luxe interiors, the exteriors featured local materials from Maine and New Hampshire. Stone textures are featured all around the property, achieving a pastoral, mountain log cabin version of cottage core. Bring your best floral embroidered shawl.

Castle in the Clouds has breathtaking views of the forests and lakes below, and a modern visitor can go dine in the Carriage House Restaurant, enjoy a casual sandwich and ice cream from the café, or hike around the property knowing they’re high on a hill. The property is open from May to October. New Hampshire is also home to many living history sites, so while you’re up there, check it out!

  • Location: 455 Old Mountain Road, Moultonborough, New Hampshire 03254
  • Admission: $20 for adults, $10-15 for children, veterans, and seniors; Admissions include both the grounds and interiors of the house.

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