Traveler: Story Inn

Novel Approach: Winters at Story Inn make for an enchanting plot twist.
Located on the edge of Brown County State Park, the hamlet of Story is famous around Indiana as a fall hotspot. Horseback riders tie up. Harley riders cruise in. Hikers take a load off. Then, in the winter, the village turns sublimely still, like something out of a snow-dusted Currier & Ives setting. The comfy cottages at Story Inn become a place to hole up and slow down this time of year, when non-peak rates start at $109 per night on weekends. Ironically, the cure for the cabin fever you’re feeling about now might be an actual cabin—as long as it’s just a few crunchy steps away from trails, a great restaurant, and a perfect cozy bar.

An 1851 former general store houses the front desk and a gourmet restaurant, which serves plenty of biscuits and gravy, soup, and Indiana-sourced entrées for a weekend of ease and relaxation. Chef-driven dinners are more of a fine-dining experience than you might expect, and the wine list is excellent. Later, the basement’s low-tin-ceilinged Story Still Tavern, circa Prohibition, fills up with a few locals, guests, and off-work staff into the wee hours. Someone will tell you about the town’s renaissance, starting when a guy named Benjamin (with no last name) and his wife (who did have one) turned the place into a destination. A dog might end up inside, lying on the floor, and not even the Department of Health would complain. It’s convivial and warm, and you can drink as much as you want because you’re not going to drive anywhere.

During the day, you might choose to stay in your pajamas—who would know? But should you become restless, those hiking trails that are crowded in peak season will be yours alone. Birds are easy to spot on snow-covered branches (it’s the season to see eagles), and red winterberries peek out from under the white. The innkeepers can point you toward an old cemetery, or a stream where it’s fun to hunt for geodes. A dip in a Jacuzzi, available in two cabins, feels great afterward. The Old Mill Loft has a soaking tub made from a horse trough instead.

Story Inn is busy on Valentine’s Day, but the rest of the month is perfect for whisking someone away on the spur of the moment. What’s more romantic than spontaneity?