A mere three hours to the southwest of the natural magic of Glacier National Park in Montana sits another exceptional, if even more otherworldly, getaway. To the delight of J.R.R. Tolkien obsessives everywhere, we speak, of course, of the Hobbit House of Montana, a 1,000-square-foot replica Hobbit hole built into a hill. As you'd fantasize, this home is nestled in an equally perfect Shire, decked out with a tree-stump troll house, an elven castle, a meandering fairie stream, as well as Gandalf entering the Shire on his cart.
As stories like this always seems to start, the Hobbit House was originally meant to be a guesthouse, but things took a turn after the son of carpenter and proprietor Steve Michaels mentioned that it kinda looked like something out of Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings.' After that, Michaels was on an epic quest of his own, remaking his 20-acre parcel into a Shire fit for a Hobbit (and all those who admire the species).
Michaels' Hobbit hole has all the modern conveniences: a granite-countered kitchen, a full king-size bedroom and Hobbit guest room; flatscreen HDTV and Blu-ray player; XM Radio – and a complete library of Tolkienalia, naturally. Everything is hand-crafted and meticulously detailed, from the Gandalf's-hat lamp shades and the One Ring hanging from a rafter, to the magically glowing mushrooms lining Hobbit Lane (the aptly named street on which the hotel is located). And, yes, the front door is a gigantic, perfectly round slab with the doorknob in the center.
Bilbo Baggins' house is just down Hobbit Lane and you can spot it by the sign, on which is written: "No Admittance Except on Party Business." You'll probably be doing your own partying with all the props that Michaels' property provides: a Gandalf wizard outfit, hairy oversized Hobbit feet for all, and some special mugs for hearty mead. When the split log fire has sufficiently warmed your bones and the mead has gone to your head, you just might hatch a quest of your own, like a visit to Quinn's Hot Springs, located halfway back to the glaciers. Though it's not Middle Earth – it's technically still Middle America – Michaels' Shire is just as enchanting. [$245 per night; HobbitHouseofMontana.com]