Homes Away From Home

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The Little Hobbit House's cozy bedroom with a dramatic stone wall (Photos by Jeremy Sykes)

The Little Hobbit House

After an eight-month renovation of the former dental lab beneath their Meadow Vista home just outside Auburn, Birdie and Glenn Galbraith opened this 400-square-foot residence—complete with a separate entrance and full kitchen and bath—to visitors in February 2017 under the moniker The Little Hobbit House. While you won’t find circular doors or low ceilings in this pint-size dwelling, you will find a snug mountain escape bedecked with an air of whimsy and boasting breathtaking river views.

Above: Hosts Birdie and Glenn Galbraith don't need to leave home to take in an expansive view of Bear River. Below: A sign of the Middle-earth times

From the sign at the front door that reads “Speak friend and enter” (a Lord of the Rings reference) to the farm-fresh eggs from the on-site chickens (available upon request), the details charm at every turn. Birdie’s affinity for quirky kitsch—champagne corks painted like mushrooms, handmade ceramics, toadstool figurines—is displayed throughout the small den, lending fanciful notes to the earthy tones, rough-edge wood shelves and Middle-earth-style hutches with wrought-iron accents.

From left: The always-available private deck and corner table for two; eggs for breakfast, courtesy of the couple's backyard chickens. (Eggs photo by Christine Carlson)

Vacationers can unplug from modern life with a set of wooden dominoes, or go forth and explore the bucolic 12-acre property—the Shire, if you will—via a series of short, scenic trails, for which the Galbraiths provide a vaguely Tolkienian map and gracious guidance. Take a picnic lunch down to “the ponds,” a brook that flows into shallow pools, or grab the provided cushions and perch on Vulture Rock to watch the sun set over Bear River below. In the end, the best strategy here is probably not to have one at all—just relish in the unexpected journey and see where the roads take you. $175 per night plus fees. —Jessica Rine