Following years of careful civic planning in accordance with George Mitchell’s original vision, The Woodlands has everything residents need. Unless a job or special event draws us outside peripheries, we’re just fine right where we are to live, work and play. On occasion, however, a change of scenery is good for the soul. For those with a yen to explore our stretch of the greater Houston area, there are nearby locales that clear the mind, entertain the kids and satisfy the palate.

Less than an hour’s drive from The Woodlands, nestled in one hundred acres of rolling Willis, Texas countryside is a farmhouse J.C. Hill built for his family in 1885. Time and the elements had taken a toll on the place when the Bradbury Family purchased the house and land in 2017 with a vision for restoration, expansion and repurposing. The result is Historic Hill House and Farm, an enchanting Bed and Breakfast featuring first-rate service, accommodation and recreation.

The main house, the barn house and two cottages offer seven well-appointed rooms and suites for overnight booking. Upscale farmhouse in design and comfort, these rooms offer true repose. Dining here is an equal treat. The talented and passionate culinary team at Hill House serves fine country fare three times daily to guests in the same dining room, incidentally that same room has been hosting friends and family for over one hundred and thirty years.

Active families enjoy time by the swimming pool at Hill House, fishing from a massive pond, hiking, jogging, biking and wildlife watching among its ample acreage. Inside the pool barn, an activity room equipped with board games, lawn games, crafts and puzzles are yours for the taking. And for those seeking a more tranquil escape, there is massage, painting and photography lessons and enough distance from the real world for midnight stargazing.

Hill House is a perfect location for family reunions, book clubs, yoga, writing or corporate retreats. A recent restoration of the Hill’s historic barn has added a dreamy venue to the property; 7500 square feet of climate-controlled country-chic ambiance. Not surprisingly, Hill House has additionally become a sought-after wedding location.

Roughly the same distance from The Woodlands, halfway between Conroe and Plantersville on Highway 105 is a similar escape. Named Melrose House when it was constructed in 1854 by Richard Willis, this humble yellow farm-style home and its grounds quickly became a central location for social gatherings in Montgomery County. During the Civil War, resident and local surgeon Dr. John Irion treated patients here, and Sam Houston is rumored to have been a frequent guest.

Several subsequent owners renamed the place for their use as a private residence. When the Weems family purchased the property in 2012, the goal was to restore the original social aspect of the historic property. Following renovation, the estate was reopened to the public as the Hodge Podge Lodge, a delightfully rustic Bed and Breakfast and event venue.

Current owners Jeff and Mistie Angelo recently acquired the dream and took it up a notch, adding a pergola, an open-air pavilion and other wedding and event accoutrement to the grounds. The greatest challenge, and pride for Jeff, a ‘retired-refired’ entrepreneur, was the addition of a commercial kitchen and restaurant inside the historic house without compromising its delicate original features. The Eatery at Hodge Podge Lodge has become a celebrated addition to the gourmet dining scene in Montgomery. Head Chef Rick Adams along with Jeff Angelo (also a chef) created The Eatery’s nicely balanced menu of hearty entrees, light salads and sides. Locally sourced produce and meat, and dishes made daily from scratch are hallmarks of the operation’s excellence.

Whether in need of a location for a girl’s weekend getaway, a nearby escape for the family, or a beautiful environ for time alone to read or write, the Hodge Podge Lodge fits the bill.

Article by: Karen Carroll

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