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Shared between the states of Virginia and Maryland, Chesapeake Bay is one of the world’s largest estuaries, consisting of a network of open harbor waters, winding rivers, extensive marshlands, and sheltered inlets. While the aquatic bounty attracts hordes of enthusiastic fishermen, there are numerous other activities for visitors to discover. Kayaking, water skiing, wake-boarding and jet skiing provide entertainment out on the water, while on land visitors can play rounds of golf on scenic courses, explore historic towns, or bike along peaceful country roads. With such a large area and variety of landscapes, hotels range from contemporary complexes to rustic rural retreats, ensuring that the perfect holiday accommodations can be found for every traveler.
Best Overall: Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa
Set in an excellent location that offers easy access to nearby attractions such as the Railway Museum and the Water Park, Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa is a modern resort in the style of a classic beachfront property. Guestrooms contain standard hotel furnishing and amenities, with large flower portraits adding a touch of warmth and color to the décor. Several rooms overlook the water, with private furnished balconies for enjoying the view. A big attraction is the game room, which is open 24/7 and filled with all the latest video pull-tab machines as well as regular bingo sessions. Other amenities include a full-service spa which offers massage, body, facial, and acupuncture treatments and amenities including Vichy showers, a sauna and couples’ treatment rooms. The Rod ‘N’ Reel Restaurant serves fresh local seafood crafted from a closely-guarded recipe, and a café terrace doles out light meals and delectable desserts. With the resort currently undergoing a multi-million-dollar upgrade and renovation, it is sure to continue to offer the premier waterfront hotel experience in the area for years to come.
Best Budget: Lowes Wharf Marina Inn
Jutting out into Ferry Cove at the end of the eponymous quay, Lowes Wharf Marina Inn is a great value property that provides an island-like setting along with boat-berthing facilities and a variety of hotel services. Guestrooms are small and simple but they contain comfortable beds, LCD TVs, private bathrooms and waterfront views. An artificial beach at the front of the inn is decked out with sun chairs and beach umbrellas, as well as games like corn hole, ring toss, and beach volleyball. Bonfire pits also offer an ideal place to congregate with drinks — from the patio bar — at the end of the night. A billiards table is found inside the bar, and the beach regularly hosts live music performances. The boat dock contains facilities such as fuel pumps, power and water hook-ups and a pump-out station, while a ship-and-tackle store provides boating and fishing necessities.
Best Boutique: Kent Manor Inn
Surrounded by fields and woodland and overlooking the sparkling waters of Thompsons Creek, Kent Manor Inn is ideal for guests who value privacy, tranquillity and authentic historical character. Guestrooms and suites are classically designed with ornate rugs lining hardwood floors and period furnishings including four-poster beds, padded couches, armchairs and polished wooden tables. All rooms come with a private bathroom, while some contain additional features such as private terraces or working fireplaces. Although the overall décor is faithful to the property's history, rooms do contain modern amenities including flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and USB ports. Outdoor activities such as kayaking, bicycling and volleyball are available to keep guests active, as well as more relaxed pastimes including corn hole and table tennis. A complimentary continental breakfast is served in the dining room and, although there is no on-site restaurant for lunch or dinner, there are number of dining options in the nearby towns of Stevensville and Chester.
Best for Luxury: Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa & Marina
On the outskirts of the historic colonial city of Cambridge, the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay offers the region's ultimate pampering package. As the name suggests, the hotel faces over a scenic private marina and is surrounded by the smooth, grassy greens of the River Marsh Golf Club. With an abundance of activities both on land and in water, the hotel is an ideal choice for families as well as active couples and single travelers. Guests can indulge in soothing massages, body and facial therapies and beauty treatments at the spa, which contains private treatment rooms, a steam room and a sauna. The resort has three pools, including a year-round indoor pool, a fun family pool with water slides, and a peaceful infinity pool. Contemporary rooms are decorated in a colorful, slightly retro fashion and come with all the expected conveniences. Five restaurants and bars around the property offer everything from regional seafood specialties to classic American fare.
Best for Foodies: The Inn at Chesapeake Bay Beach Club & Spa
Fans of the farm-to-table movement and of high-quality artisanal foodstuffs should look no further than the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club. The resort's signature restaurant Knoxie’s Table serves a varied and ever-changing menu that utilizes both local seasonal produce and herbs and vegetables picked from the chef’s garden. In The Market, artisanal produce, cheeses, condiments, infused oils and jams, as well as craft beers and small-batch wines, are sold along with a café menu of gourmet sandwiches, organic soups, and healthy breakfast bites. The resort also provides close access to waterfront Hemingway’s Restaurant and the casual but popular Stevensville Crab Shack, both of which specialize in local seafood dishes. The resort tastefully combines contemporary design with rustic charm; guest suites feature hardwood floors, marble fireplaces, and French windows leading onto private balconies. There is also an on-site spa that provides massages, facial and body treatments, manicures and pedicures, and other beauty services.
Best for Golf: Kingsmill Resort
With three 18-hole championship golf courses right on hotel grounds, Kingsmill Resort is a paradise for those who love the links. The scenic River Course offers vistas of the surrounding lakes and rivers, while the challenging Plantation Course and the aptly-named Woods Course are set amid leafy woodlands. The Golf Academy provides professional instruction and personal training sessions to help guests improve their technique and pick up new tricks. Of course, the resort also appeals to non-golfers with clay tennis courts and a large outdoor pool complex that features a lazy river ride, water slides, and a zero-entry pool with fountains. Chaise lounges, umbrellas, and fire pits are placed on the lawns surrounding the pools for guests’ enjoyment, and a heated indoor lap pool allows visitors to swim regardless of weather. An elegantly-designed spa offers a full range of relaxation, health, and beauty services and five restaurants provide fare ranging from light snacks to gourmet cuisine and seafood specialties.
Best for Romance: Inn at Perry Cabin
Set directly on the shores of the Miles River, the historic Inn at Perry Cabin offers a relaxed and intimate setting for a romantic getaway. Guestrooms and suites feature authentic décor and indulgent amenities, including working fireplaces, deep soaking tubs and private terraces with river views. The spa offers a full range of services, including custom couples’ massages and herb-infused facial treatments, and contains a steam room and a heated outdoor pool in a flower-filled courtyard. Guests can partake in a variety of outdoor activities, from kayaking on the lake or riding bicycles along country roads to sailing on vintage yachts and fishing for rockfish and striped bass. After the day’s activities, guests can dine in the charming, old-world atmosphere of Stars restaurant, where regional specialties are served in the graceful dining room or on the alfresco river-view terrace. Afterward, guests can retire to Purser’s Pub, where comfy antique club chairs and a crackling fireplace create the perfect venue for enjoying a post-dinner libation.
Best for Families: Great Wolf Lodge
With spacious, comfortable guest suites and a massive water park with diversions for adults and children alike, Great Wolf Lodge proves to be the perfect playground for traveling families. The water park is housed indoors for year-round enjoyment and it features water slides, tube rides and surf simulators — for starters. There's also a shallow zero-entry pool with geysers and fountains as well as several hot springs. Beyond water sports, the lodge offers a number of land-based activities, including an exhilarating ropes course suspended high in the air, a mini-golf course and a bowling alley. Guestrooms — decorated with rustic natural timber — are basic but comfortable, and come with TVs, full bathrooms and kitchen appliances such as microwaves, mini-fridges and coffeemakers. Several onsite restaurants serve contemporary American cuisine while a Dunkin' Donuts outpost will appeal to little ones with a sweet tooth.
Best B&B: Inn at the Canal
A beautifully-restored Victorian townhouse set on the shores of sheltered Back Creek, Inn at the Canal offers visitors privacy and old-fashioned hospitality. The carefully-curated ambiance is evident throughout the property, with guestrooms featuring homey antique fittings and furnishings like soft embroidered linens, feather-bed toppers and hand-carved four-poster beds. Windows offers a variety of views, including over the water and some rooms come with private furnished balconies for further enjoying the scenery. All rooms come with private bathrooms, though some feature European soaking tubs. High-speed Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs are also provided in every room. Superb fare includes a gourmet farm-to-table breakfast, while chocolate-chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and brownies make for a delicious and indulgent snack. Based in the picturesque town of Chesapeake City, activities in the local area include winery and brewery tours, boat tours, and lots of walking and biking trails.