Straight out of a storybook, the Sun and Cricket bed and breakfast is tucked beneath crisp and colorful falling leaves on a private lane named after the owner, Tara. Tara stands outside of the carriage house with me at dusk detailing the development of the grounds over the years. Tara Lane lies on a recycled foundation. Her husband and co-owner, John, salvaged what he could use from the old Highway 80 while working in construction. And the couple’s pioneering resourcefulness doesn’t stop there. Tara motions to the tall white barn beside her black horses—a juxtaposing landscape imprinted in my memory. An Amish barn stood miles away years ago that provided the materials for this build. A dance hall for women, opened in the 1930’s, also contributes to the property’s structures where hand-collected rocks are woven together to form walls and libraries of audio books, evidence of Tara’s past life as an audio book reviewer, pop up frequently enough to make you wish you still had your old Walkman.
There are only two places to stay at Sun and Cricket: the fabulous log cabin suite, complete with a lofted bedroom, fireplace, and downstairs which can be rented for an additional fee or the cozy and charming carriage house suite at the far end of the grounds, also equipped with a fireplace.
There’s something uncharacteristically warm about Sun and Cricket, especially in an increasingly cold B&B industry wherein many B&Bs have become more concerned with achieving the stale hotel aesthetic than with continuing the long tradition of intimacy found only in a B&B. Feeling slightly under the weather, I wrapped myself up in the plush spare blankets on the carriage house bed, eating popcorn and sipping on hot chocolate—both of which are standard amenities to the room—along with dvds , audio books, wine glasses and dishware, and even a Checkers board with wooden red and green apple pieces (fitting since they have apple trees on the property).
In the morning, Tara does what I’ve yet to see at any other B&B: she offers a 3 course breakfast to guests, which comes at no additional cost. Sweet and spongy bread paired with coffee and cider prepared my senses for her mouth-watering baked Granny Smith apple which left me drooling just enough to ravenously devour her ‘Baked BLT’ when it was brought to the table (local bacon atop homemade bread with local eggs and cheese and homegrown tomatoes and herbs. One of the most delicious breakfast meals I have yet to try).
With 35 acres to its name, Sun and Cricket boasts hiking trails, horses for riding, an in-ground pool for use during warmer seasons, availability of a masseuse in room, beautiful countryside scenery—and all of this less than 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh’s boisterous downtown. Sun and Cricket is the perfect way to seclude yourself in nature while still in reach of the city.
By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz