Previously known as the historic Clifton estate, Sugar Water Manor encompasses 68 acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, about a 2.5-hour drive from Baltimore. With roots dating back to the 17th century, history surrounds you in this bucolic landscape. Located along the protected waters of the Manokin River, Sugar Water Manor provides a haven for eagles, osprey and an abundance of farm animals.
Not your ordinary bed and breakfast, Sugar Water Manor takes hospitality to a new level. The owners, David and Dana Zucker, welcome you to their pastoral paradise in Westover, Maryland as if you’re part of the family. I know because I’ve been there…twice.
Introducing Grandkids to the Farm
Two years ago, I took two of my grandkids for a visit. At the time, they were 13 and 11. My younger grandson, Benjamin, paid close attention to the photos of his cousins and immediately asked if I could take him to Sugar Water Manor. This year Benjamin – who is now 12 years old – and I made it to the farm.
Every legit farm stay begins with an introduction to the locals. At Sugar Water Manor that includes 10 goats: Oscar, Willie, Otis, Chester, Magnolia, Willow, Jack, Hank, Ted and Mable! These friendly residents were an absolute joy approaching us for petting and occasional goat kisses. In addition to goats, Sugar Water Manor is home to over 30 chickens, guinea fowl, ducks, geese and roosters. Keeping an eye on all the livestock is Zoe – a gorgeous Great Pyrenees who takes her role as guardian very seriously.
A rescue dog, Zoe is deaf. Introducing Benjamin to Zoe, Dana explained the importance of letting her approach him. It didn’t take long for this loveable creature to walk up to Benjamin letting him pet her. Once she knew he was on her team, she sat up on her back legs holding her paws out waiting for a hug. She’ll take kisses too and it is absolutely priceless.
Sugar Water Manor also provides a home to three beautiful cats who stop by to visit from time to time. And at the main house, you’ll meet the family dogs, Sadie and Max – two of the most lovable furry friends you’ll ever find.
A Place Where Chores Are Fun
Like most 12-year-old boys, Benjamin detests chores at home. But at Sugar Water Manor, chores on the farm kept him happy, focused and determined. He checked in with Dana and her farm helper, Gabby, each day to see what chores they had for him. Each day he helped collect fresh eggs from the chicken and ducks. He fed the baby geese and even helped get the goats ready for a check-up with the vet.
At times, I suggested we venture out to explore nearby attractions. He declined saying, “I don’t want to be late for my chores.” Those words had never before been uttered from his mouth!
Also on the farm, gardens render fresh veggies, fruit and herbs. And the bees are busy making honey in their hives. Benjamin steered clear of the bees, but he did pick a few strawberries which happened to be a favorite of a chicken named Cinnamon.
More Fun on the Farm
From lending a helping hand as a farmer for the day to collecting your own fresh eggs each morning, there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained. Paddle into the sunset in complimentary kayaks or on paddleboards. The Manokin River is tidal making so it’s shallow enough during low tide to wade out into the river. Evenings are spent relaxing around the fire pit making s’mores. There are no TVs making Sugar Water Manor an ideal place to unplug and reconnect. You’ll find plenty of board games for some old-fashioned fun. Sugar Water Manor is home to the first in-ground pool in Somerset County, so diving into the pools means you’re swimming in history.
Accommodations at Sugar Water Manor
There are three lodging options available for booking at Sugar Water Manor: The Farmhouse, The Homestead and The Loft.
The Farmhouse boasts beautiful views of the property from each window. This three-bedroom, 1.5-bath home includes a full eat-in kitchen as well as a separate dining room. The first floor features a big cozy family room with a half bath and a screened-in porch. The second floor has 3 bedrooms, a king, queen and a double as well as a full bath with a rain-head shower.
The Homestead provides beautiful views of the river, garden, both barns and lovely sunsets. The ground floor includes a cozy family room, a full kitchen, a separate dining room, and a screened-in porch you’ll never want to leave. The second floor has 2 bedrooms, one with a queen bed and one with a double bed as well as a full bath with a rain-head shower.
Ideal for couples, the Loft is located above the apiary workshop. The Loft is an expansive king room with a spa bath. The walk-in shower has a rainforest head. From one side of The Loft, you have a view of the fields and on the other, the apiary, gardens and river.
An incredible cook and hostess, Dana delivers a tray filled with freshly baked treats and fruit each morning. Every treat is delicious but her vanilla scones were the best I’ve ever eaten!
Things to Do Nearby
Although I couldn’t convince Benjamin to explore beyond the farm, there are plenty of things to see and do within an easy drive of Sugar Water Manor. During my first visit, we ventured to nearby Deal Island. The island is home to the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area which protects 13,565 acres of tidal marsh and wetlands. Ducks, geese, swans and bald eagles are among the waterfowl that call this area home. Hiking and biking around the marsh impoundment or kayaking within it brings you closer to the waterfowl. Don’t forget to bring insect repellant! Accessible via a bridge from the mainland, Deal Island is an authentic waterman’s community known for its skipjack boats which are unique to the Chesapeake Bay area.
Another highlight of Deal Island, a walk on the sandy shores of Deal Island Beach often leads to the discovery of sea glass. Beaches on the island hold artifacts from the past including Native American pottery.
The one thing that did lure Benjamin away from the farm was Linton’s Seafood in nearby Crisfield, Maryland where he hastily devoured a seemingly unending amount of crab legs, shrimp and clams on day one. For day two, he devoured the Maryland Blue Crabs in equal measure.
Get to Know Sugar Water Manor
If my article doesn’t make you want to drop everything and head to the farm, Dana’s morning posts on Instagram will. Each day she videos the opening of the chicken coops as chickens, ducks, roosters and geese start the day squawking down a wooden ramp. She then says good morning to the goats and, of course, Zoe in the barn. Watching the day come to life and the animals start the day makes me smile every morning. I bet you’ll smile too! You’ll find her on Instagram stories at MomsGoodEats. And when you’re ready to book your farm stay, visit www.sugarwatermanor.com. Tell her Terri sent you!