Along the route to all our stories, Coastal Living writers and editors uncover some lodging gems.
April Point Resort and Marina
Quadra Island, BC
Here in the "salmon capital of the world," April Point Resort has long attracted fishers. Its glorious location overlooking Gowlland Harbour on Canada's Inside Passage, makes the camplike inn a treasured destination for newcomers and repeat guests. With Arts-and-Crafts details and green and red trim, the wood-frame lodge houses 43 comfortable rooms. For those here to fish, the day starts early. Motorboats rev up at misty sunrise and head out with expert guides. Guests clean and compare catches upon return. There's also nature cruising, hiking, kayaking, or exploring the island by scooters (available at the lodge). Take a boat shuttle for reciprocal dining privileges with Painter's Lodge, a sister inn across the strait. Or stay put, snuggling up by April Point's fireplace and sipping an excellent apple martini. The resort is open from May to mid-September. Rates: $139-289 Canadian; 800/663-7090 or aprilpoint.com. ―Jennifer Chappell
Inn at the Market
Located smack in Pike Place Market, with a commanding waterfront view, this 70-room boutique hotel attracts repeat visitors. The understated lobby opens onto an enclave of shops and the not-to-be-missed Campagne restaurant. Its French-bistro menu draws locals and tourists alike, and it's the source of evening room service for the hotel's clientele. The inn's interiors tend toward tailored neutrals, providing a soft palette against the vitality of cityscape, mountain, and Elliott Bay vistas. For a panorama, stake out an Adirondack chair on the fifth-floor deck. So much lies within a short walk of the inn, there's no need to use your car. Guests feel more like residents than transients in this hip and bustling neighborhood. Rates: $200-525; 800/446-4484 or innatthemarket.com.
Sea Ranch Lodge
The Sea Ranch, CA
Respite is a given at the Sea Ranch Lodge, two-and-a-half hours north of San Francisco. Designed by Charles Moore, whose architecture is hailed for its alliance with nature, the lodge summons solitude. Ten miles of hiking trails hem the mighty ocean. Waves beat the bluffs and spray the air with a salty mist you'll taste on your tongue. All but one of the 20 luxurious rooms present water vistas. At the lodge restaurant, you can't go wrong with chef Jeffrey Longenecker's nightly tasting menu, though even his splendid food may take second billing to the dining room's views. At sunset, guests watch the horizon's entertainment. Stoke up on a hearty breakfast to build energy for beachcombing. Rooms 19 and 20 enjoy fireplaces, whirlpools, and private courtyards, but room 20 has no ocean view. Ask for a corner room. Rates: $205-395 (including breakfast); 800/732-7262 or searanchlodge.com. ―Paige Porter
Harbor Court Hotel
San Francisco, CA
Next time you take your heart to San Francisco, check in to this bayside charmer on the energetic Embarcadero. Housed in a historic YMCA building, the hotel's 131 modest-size rooms boast surprisingly sleek decor, with half-canopied beds in shades of copper, plum, and avocado. The hotel capitalizes on its proximity to the Financial District, Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, and Pacific Bell Ballpark. But the real reason to stay here is what you'll see out your window: San Francisco Bay, Treasure Island, and the Bay Bridge to Oakland. Ask for a waterfront room. Rates: $189-469 (top price for the glorious penthouse suite, with floor-to-ceiling windows); 800/346-0555 or harborcourthotel.com. ―Paige Porter
Inn at Morro Bay
Morro Bay, CA
Between Big Sur and San Luis Obispo, pleasant hotels, B&Bs, and small inns dot California's Central Coast. But for a tony but affordable destination resort, get off U.S. Highway 1 and head into the community of Morro Bay. The inn, surrounded by more than 2,000 acres of Morro Bay State Park, basks in the aroma of eucalyptus trees and the cry of herons. Guests enjoy views of towering Morro Rock, rising from the bay. Architecture for the inn's 97 rooms and one studio cottage brings a touch of Cape Cod to the Left Coast. Walk to town for browsing, check out a bike, take a guided nature hike, or drive to nearby wineries and Hearst Castle. Or just stay put and schedule a massage. Two hotel restaurants offer a choice of casual or fine dining. Rates: $99-429; 800/321-9566 or innatmorrobay.com.
Lahaina, Maui, HI
Ancient Hawaiian royalty used this part of Maui for retreats, and a whaling village thrived here in the 1800s. The area now blends its past with diverse sources for water sports, mountain biking, a vital art scene, and some of Hawaii's best local restaurants. And it's all just outside Lahaina Inn's front door. Half of the 12 compact rooms have vivid water views from their small lanais; the others look to majestic island mountains. This 1938 two-story building survived numerous incarnations until it fell into the hands of a local antiques buff with a passion for restoration. That former owner meticulously transformed the place. Now it feels like an authentic late 19th-century inn―only with lovely baths, central air, and other modern touches. David Paul's Lahaina Grill, accessible from the ground-level lobby, counts among Maui's best. Rates: $119-175 (including Continental breakfast); 800/669-3444 or lahainainn.com.
Marriott's Grand Hotel, Resort, Golf Club and Spa
Point Clear, AL
Since 1847, this oak-studded landscape on Mobile Bay has been home to gracious lodging. After historic rebuildings, additions,
and a $40 million renovation, the full-service resort lives up to its name. Look beyond the still-utilitarian check-in area
and suburban-like architecture of 1940s-60s anchor buildings, because major updates give compelling reasons to visit this
lushly beautiful setting. The beach has been greatly expanded, and fine, white sand perfectly seams the resort's verdant grounds
to the salty bay. The feature pool offers a waterfall, hot tub, whirlpool, and water slide. Fine furnishings, limited-edition
prints, and handsome bed and window treatments make fresh fashion statements in all 405 existing and new rooms. Ditto the
dining rooms. And a new 20,000-square-foot spa offers the latest services, introduced by its European-born director, Susie
Marquez. Bought by Marriott in 1981, the hotel is now locally owned but remains a Marriott franchise. Stop by the bell desk
for a chat with de facto historian Chester Hunt, a member of the staff for nearly 43 years now. Rates: rooms, $129-229; 30
suites, $300-1,000; 800/544-9933 or www.marriottgrand.com.