Gardenview Estate B&B in Washington offers a refuge for sober travelers. Get close to nature and yourself at this vegan inn.
Sitting out on a balcony, looking at pine trees and listening to birdsong while waiting for a hot vegan breakfast to be delivered to my suite, well, if you’re a health-conscious nature lover, it doesn’t get much better than that. Gardenview Estate B&B in Kettle Falls, Washington, offers a refuge for the sober traveler or anyone who values a quiet getaway. If nature is your spiritual foundation, you’ll find it here. But people like me—cradle Catholics who still resonate with many parts of the religion—will roam the grounds soaking up pieces of religious history. Because this place was once a mission and then inhabited by the Sisters of Providence, who built their convent and school here in 1873. If you are seeking out a vegan inn—or simply a great Washington boutique inn—I recommend Gardenview Estate.
Staying at Gardenview, a Washington Boutique Inn
Gardenview occupies a huge patch of land just 41 miles south of Canada. Visitors can rent one of three rooms in the main building or the suite, which is a few hundred feet away and feels very private. We chose the suite, the only dog-friendly space. It’s the most popular room and by far the most spacious. In addition to a large bedroom, you get a separate kitchen with a seating area, a giant bathroom with a separate shower and clawfoot bathtub, and a balcony.
We only stayed for one night, which was way too short. I could easily imagine staying in the suite for a week or two as an idyllic writing retreat. The grounds offer plenty of space to wander. You’d only need to leave to restock food. It’s a quiet place that allows people ages twelve and up.
The Owners of the Vegan Inn
Current owners Jenelle and Tom Cruz are from Vancouver, Washington. Jenelle’s parents were living in Kettle Falls. When the B&B went on the market, her parents fell in love with the property. They asked if Jenelle and Tom would move to Kettle Falls and run the business. “I thought it was a joke. I said, ‘Sure, pay me my salary. I’ll be right there.’ And she said, ‘Well, you wouldn’t have a mortgage anymore.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh. You’re being serious?’”
Jenelle and Tom flew up to look at the estate. “It took us less than 24 hours to decide we couldn’t say no to such a gift. Even though it was kind of scary.”
They went from the Portland/Vancouver metro area of about 2.5 million to Kettle Falls, population 1,650, in October 2020.
In Vancouver, Jenelle worked as a dietician at the VA hospital for eleven years. She loved it, but the pandemic was a big strain. She was ready to give up wearing masks and goggles all day and move to the country. Tom is an IT professional who works remotely. “Grass, trees, and repairs is his role in the B&B,” she said. “And then everything else is me.”
A New Beginning
They opened Gardenview in May 2021. Summers are busy, but fewer visitors come in the freezing northern Washington winter. Jenelle takes advantage of the lulls to travel. Though she was always only a casual drinker, she decided to give it up entirely a year ago. She’s on a couple of sober travel Facebook groups for inspiration. “When I travel, I want a good vegan meal and a mocktail,” she said. Which makes this place feel even more welcoming for sober travelers. You can BYOB, but you won’t be offered any drinks on the premises.
Roaming the Grounds of this Washington Boutique Inn
One of the biggest joys of Gardenview is roaming the grounds. There’s lots of plant life, including the crown of thorn trees. German Dominican nuns—the second order to inhabit the estate—brought these, and they do look exactly like depictions of Jesus’ crown of thorns growing along the trunks of trees.
Six varieties of apples grow onsite. Jenelle is submitting samples to the Old Apple Project, which identifies heirloom varieties. She’s been transforming the mystery apples into compote and apple fritters.
You can walk to the river or relax in a pretty white gazebo. Wherever you go, you might see wildlife. Deer and wild turkeys are most prevalent. But moose, elk, bears, and wolves also live in the area! A bald eagle pair teaches their juvenile offspring to hunt rodents on the grounds.
The estate also has a cool old barn. “We’re not exactly sure about the build date on the barn,” Jenelle said. “It’s on a map I have dated 1910, so it’s at least that old, but it’s probably a few decades older than that.”
It’s uninsurable in its current condition, so Jenelle and Tom leave it to their flying friends. A bat colony lives in the lower-level rafters, and a couple of barred owls also call the structure home. The barn is a proud member of the Washington State Historical Barn Registry.
Delving into Gardenview’s History
The Sisters of Providence arrived in Kettle Falls from Vancouver, Washington—just like Jenelle and Tom—and opened a school called Sacred Heart Academy in 1873. They taught both white and Native American kids. Girls boarded, and boys were day pupils. They closed the school and left the property in 1921. The grounds remained vacant until 1934, when a Dominican order came from Germany and moved into the Kettle Falls estate, renaming it Our Lady of the Valley Convent. They lived there and ran a school until 1970, when they sold the property and moved to Spokane.
During the 1970s, the property was a boys’ reform school. Staff tried to teach boys useful things like farming and running a printing press rather than stealing cars. In the 1980s, a family bought the property and demolished the giant building, reducing its size to the large family home—or small B&B—that stands today. They sold the home to Bev and Al Parent, who finally opened it as a B&B in the 1990s. When they got too old to manage running an inn, they stayed on and used the property as their private home.
Several nuns visited the property to meet Jenelle and Tom. Some former ranch hands from the boys’ school days have also stopped by. Jenelle loves to learn more about the property’s history and to pick up more stories for the optional history tour she gives guests.
People often ask whether Gardenview is haunted. Jenelle hasn’t experienced ghosts, but guests have glimpsed a spirit in the old unused gym in the same building as our suite.
An Onsite Cemetery at this Vegan Inn
Not every B&B comes with a cemetery. And while Gardenview doesn’t officially own the cemetery, it’s in the middle of the grounds. The cemetery belonged to the Dominican sisters and is called Our Lady of the Valley. Rows of 22 tightly packed cement crosses mark their not-so-final resting places. In 2011, what was left of the sisters was exhumed and relocated to Spokane to be with the rest of their order. Their headstones were also moved.
Al Parent made the cement crosses to mark the places where the sisters used to be buried. The only two occupied graves belong to former owners Al and Bev Parent, who wanted to rest in the cemetery. Identical cement crosses mark their graves.
“He left us the mold, so if one ever breaks, we can make a replacement,” Jenelle said. The cemetery is technically a separate piece of land owned by the Parents’ children, so they can visit the graves whenever they want.
Since the sisters were buried in wood and had been in there a long time, Jenelle was not sure how much there was to exhume—or whether the remains were really contained. And since bears and wolves roam the area, Jenelle and Tom often find bones on the property. “I’m like, how do I know if it’s a human bone?” she said. “So I do a lot of Googling of bones.” She figures most of the bones probably belonged to deer.
Eating at a Vegan Inn
Right at 9 am, I heard a knock at the door of my suite. I stepped out to find a tray set up with beautiful waffles covered in huckleberry compote, vegan bacon, butter, and syrup on the side. Jenelle was already halfway back to the main building. She waved and said hello, the picture of discreet service.
One of Jenelle’s favorite parts about taking over Gardenview was that it aligned with her ideal of compassion for animals. “Being able to run a vegan business and not have to work around animal products feels good for me,” she said.
She estimates that at least 25% of their guests are vegan, but she doesn’t have any hard stats. As a dietician, she is well-suited to accommodate any other issues and asks about food restrictions and allergies on the reservation form. Since I’d written that we don’t drink alcohol, she even left the vanilla out of our pancakes, in case we’re that strict. We’re not, but I appreciated her attention to detail.
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When You Visit This Washington Boutique Inn
Kettle Falls is a quiet town, but there’s plenty to do. People come to the area to hike and do water sports in nearby Lake Roosevelt, a dammed portion of the Columbia River. Lots of people bring their own boats. We brought a standup paddleboard. Antiquing is also popular.
But many guests opt to relax on the estate. They can play board games in the front room of the main house or hang out by the fire pit in the gazebo. They walk and do yoga on the grounds. During my visit, Jenelle talked with a local provider about starting an in-room massage option. It’s a beautiful property that promises to get better and better. Gardenview Estate is more than a vegan inn. This beautiful Washington boutique inn offers a quiet respite for anyone wanting a sanctuary while enjoying the Pacific Northwest. Reference Wander With Wonder when planning your next trip to a fabulous B&B, a visit to Washington state, or looking for more ideas on sober travel.