by Barbara Weibel at Hole In The Donut Travels
As a travel writer who spends more than half of my life on the road I am constantly in search of hotels or motels that are sparkling clean, well-equipped and furnished, and affordably priced. Properties that meet this criteria are surprisingly rare, but during a recent investigation of Florida’s Nature Coast, I discovered one that more than fit the bill: the Two River’s Inn in Dunnellon, Florida.
Dunnellon wasn’t on my planned itinerary, but as I drove through town a sign proclaiming “Boomtown Historic District” caught my eye. I detoured to see the lovely old restored homes and commercial buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue. At the end of the street I found the Two Rivers Inn. Mounted in front of this otherwise unassuming row of concrete block cottages was a full-size statue of the Blues Brothers. I took it as a sign; I’d been feeling a bit blue – maybe this town would cure what ailed me.
In short order the innkeepers had hooked me up with a $59 room. Given the exceedingly inexpensive rate, I was prepared for the worst, and I held my breath as I opened the front door. My jaw dropped in astonishment. This was no dump!
The rooms at Two Rivers are mini suites, with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, smallish living room, and a screened front porch. Each suite has a themed decor: “Equestrian,” “Wine Cellar,” “Palm,” “Plantation,” “Golf,” and “Maui,” among others. My suite was aptly named “Nantucket.” With its high, fluffy bed smothered in throw pillows, its painted furniture, and its cottage-craft wall hangings, it was obviously inspired by a trip to the beach.
The kitchen was fully stocked with pots and pans, dishes, glasses, silverware, a toaster, and a coffee maker, and the motel had even provided free coffee. The acid test was the bathroom, as they are usually less than wonderful in these old buildings. But though small, the bath was a delightful combination of old-fashioned design and modern decor. The screened front porch was even furnished with an outdoor table and reclining chairs. Best of all, free wi-fi was included n the price of the room!
Most intriguing, I learned from the inn keepers, Rhonda and Herbert Moon, that the motel was originally built by the U.S. government as officers quarters during the second world war. After the barracks were no longer needed they were moved from the Dunnellon airport to their present location.
Many of the 70 historically significant buildings located in the Boomtown District are Victorian mansions that have been converted to antique shops, gift stores, florists, real estate offices, and and restaurants. But the architecture is not the only attraction found in Dunnellon. The town’s location at the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Rainbow Rivers makes it popular with boaters, kayakers, and fisherman, and just a few miles up the road is Rainbow Springs, the second largest natural spring in the state of Florida and a perfect spot for swimming and tubing. And while I certainly enjoyed my tour of Dunnellon, it was the Two Rivers Inn that chased my blues away!
Photos courtesy of Barbara Weibel