Top 10 Coastal Inns
A Little Inn on Pleasant Bay
The three-acre property overlooking Pleasant Bay includes a small beach, a dock for fishing, a fresh- and saltwater pond, and two dining patios. Dating to 1798, A Little Inn on Pleasant Bay was a reputed hiding place for slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad. The rooms are all washed in white and decorated in pastels and bold tartans; 888/332-3351.
Eat: Nearby ABBA restaurant offers a Mediterranean and Thai-inspired menu of fresh seafood and rich desserts. For breakfast, the inn provides a bountiful European buffet overlooking the bay.
Do: Explore local works along the Arts & Artisans Trails and pick up a few gifts or keepsakes for yourself. Or take a short drive to Skaket, Nauset Light, and Chatham Light beaches for a sunset stroll on the beach.
Tarpon Lodge offers waterside accomodations in the original 1926 inn and auxillary buildings, plus fishing and boating day trips with osprey, egret, and dolphin sightings; 239/283-3999.
Eat: The Tarpon serves always fresh (never frozen!) fish and outstanding blue crab-and-roasted corn chowder. Bert's Bar & Grill in Matlacha, an islet towards the mainland, features tasty seafood, live music, and dockside dining.
Do: Hike the Calusa Heritage Trail that winds among ancient shell mounds and the remnants of an impressive cross-island canal built by the Calusa Indians. Or, rent beach cruisers from Pine Island Cycles; 239/560-0320; or vessels from Gulf Coast Kayak to paddle the area's placid inlets.
Enjoy accomodations as the all-organic bed and breakfast overlooking Bath's Library Park—Kismet Inn. Handstitched linens, a handcarved wood-frame bed, and a to-die-for breakfast will make you feel right at home; 207/443-3399.
Eat: Red's Eats and Five Islands Lobster Co., serve up lobster rolls that are as quintessentially Maine as the setting. Slurp back a few oysters on the half shell overlooking the water at Damariscotta River Grill, or splurge a bit at Solo Bistro where you can find local seafood with an Asian spin.
Do: Take advantage of the beautiful beaches at Popham Beach State Park and Reid State Park. Or, catch a flick or live show at the historic Lincoln Theatre. Also take a peek at the exhibits at the Farnsworth Art Museum. Back in the day, it was the only reason to stop in small-town Rockland.
The 1929 white-stucco, Spanish-Colonial animal-friendly inn reflects the style and personality of its owner―actress, singer, and animal advocate Doris Day. This legendary overnight oasis is only a few minutes' walk from the beach and Ocean Avenue shopping; 800/443-7443.
Eat: Drop by La Bicyclette for it turn-of-the-century French ambience, duck confit crepe, and impressive wine list. Or, enjoy inventive seasonal cuisine such as a chili-crusted ahi tuna salad at Basil Seasonal Dining. After dinner, go to the Cottage of Sweets, which looks straight out of Hansel and Gretel.
Do: Shopping is a must in Carmel. Drop into the Carmel Bay Company for stylish home decor. Take the scenic route along the coastal 17-Mile-Drive where you'll see The Lone Cypress and can stop in at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium you can view a Giant Pacific Octopus, sea otters, penguins, and many more.
Inn at Black Star Farms
When visiting the small marina town of Suttons Bay, stay at the Inn at Black Star Farms is nestled below a hillside if vineyards overlooking 160 acres of orchards, vineyards, and woods that guests can explore; 231/944-1251.
Eat: European café Martha's Leelanau Table offers plenty of fresh options for breakfast and lunch. Boon's Prime Time Pub serves whitefish brought in daily from the docks of nearby Fishtown, and the fresh-ground burgers pack some heat with mixed-in diced jalapeños.
Do: Make sure to explore the town's two dozen shops, which has been a haven for boaters since the 19th century. Catch a independent, classic, or foreign film at the historic Bay Theatre. Or, at Black Star Farms (part inn, part winery, party creamery), take advantage of the wine tastings and cheese making.
A sprawling 19th-century home on Peconic Bay with formal gardens and a private beach and dock, Harbor Knoll is picture perfect. The B&B with four rooms plus freestanding cottage is a short walk to the center of Greenport. But with a Prohibition-era bar and harbor views everywhere you turn, it's hard to imagine you'll ever want to leave; 631/477-2352.
Eat: Munch on crab cakes and fried chicken for lunch at F.O.B. (Frisky Oyster Bar). It will be hard to resist the tasting menu at The North Fork Table and Inn that might include roasted baby beets with local goat cheese, pan-roasted Long Island duck breast, and a chocolate-caramel tart or upside-down caramelized apple tart.
Do: Stop by the White Flower Farm House for vintage French linens, rustic garden furniture, or anything else you need to create the urban-meets-country style of North Fork. Make sure you pick up a map of area wineries at the Long Island Wine Council. You won't want to miss the oldest winery in the area, Castello di Borghese.
The Hope and Glory Inn
Located in the former steamboat port of Irvington, The Hope and Glory Inn's accomodations comprise seven rooms in an 1890 schoolhouse, plus 6 cottages. Although it doesn't overlook water, its owners host weekend crab-and-cocktail cruises aboard their 1952 Chesapeak Bay workboat, The Faded Glory; 800/497-8228.
Eat: Stop by The Local for a coffee and breakfast sandwich, or grab a wrap or salad at lunchtime. The Trick Dog Cafe is a sophisticated but playful dinner spot where you can expect wine-braised lamb shanks or crab cakes.
Do: Trendy shops abound in Irvington. Stop by The Dandelion for clothing, jewelry, and housewares, or The River Cottage to peruse its hodgepodge of merchandise. Get a glimpse into the vessels that helped shape cities and towns along the Chesapeake at The Steamboat Era Museum.
The Inn at Mama's Fish House
Luxe private cottages at The Inn at Mama's Fish House convey a retro-Hawaii feel, with hand-carved koa wood features, fresh tropical flowers, and oceanfront lanais; 808/579-9764.
Eat: One of Maui's most expensive restuarants, Mama's Fish House, is definitely worth the splurge! The fish is so fresh the menu tells you who caught it and where. Find homemade tacos filled with smoky-sweet kalua pork at the super-casual roadside Up in Smoke BBQ. If you're craving sweets, stop by Penguini for a lilikoi-dragonfruit sorbet or strawberry gelato.
Do: Go for a drive along the Hana Highway, starting in the laid-back windsurfing encalve of Paia. Along the drive you'll see gorgeous views, beautfiul waterfalls, little stores selling local specialties, and roadside stands selling banana bread, fish tacos, and more.
Built in 1868, The Gastonian is an award-winning bed-and-breakfast conveniently located near Forsyth Park. 17 elegant guest rooms make up the inn, all with working fireplaces. Guests are treated to personalized breakfast menus and complimentary nighttime cordials and sweets; 800/322-6603.
Eat: Elizabeth on 37th, located in an old Victorian mansion, is a culinary institution. For a more casual dining experience, head to The Shrimp Factory on River Street for seafood bisque and peel-your-own shrimp. After dinner, be sure to pay a visit to Savannah Candy Kitchen for sweet pecan pralines.
Do: Savannah has been called the most haunted city in America, so take a nighttime tour to learn about the hauntings with Old Savannah Tours. Or, if you prefer something less frightening, opt for a tour with Old Town Trolley. Savannah is home to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). Check out one of its galleries, or buy creative work at shopSCAD.
Tutka Bay Lodge
Situated at the southern end of Kachemak Bay, Tutka Bay Lodge is ideal for exploring the Alaskan wilderness. Six private rental cabins, a massive sunning deck, a gourmet kitchen, and even an on-staff masseuse make up this glamorous option in the middle of the wild; 907/274-2710.
Eat: Before making the 25-minute trip by boat over to Tutka Bay Lodge from Homer, stop in at any of the fish-n-ship joints, like the Mermaid B&B and Café for an espresso and great homemade fare. Once you arrive at Tutka Bay Lodge, you won't be disappointed with the fresh local salmon and oysters prepared by Chef Kirsten Dixon, trained at Le Cordon Bleu.