Coast to coast, America's most romantic resorts welcome lovers to beaches and islands. Whether you come for the warmth, the toe-teasing surf, the starry nights, or the pleasures of a hotel that knows how to pamper guests, a sanctuary by the sea does wonders for the spirit. Here are some of our favorites.
Just seven miles from Portland, the Inn by the Sea has everything a couple might want for romance: a picturesque setting, spacious suites with fireplaces, an innovative chef, spa services for two, glorious gardens, and direct access to mile-long Crescent Beach. Yes, it gets cool up here early, but the summer is glorious. But there's something to be said for romantic windswept walks on the beach year-round.
Chatham Bars Inn, which opened its doors in 1914, has one of the best locations on Cape Cod. Not only does this landmark New England resort occupy a prime seashore spot by the Atlantic Ocean but it also is a midpoint for visitors to the Cape. So much of this coast beckons couples, from Hyannis and Falmouth to the west, where ferries to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket depart. North of Chatham are Wellfleet and Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod, which also have accommodations of all types that invite you to put your toes in the sand.
In vacations as well as real estate, the three key qualities are location, location, and location. Ocean House, perched high on a bluff halfway between New York City and Boston, with beaches that span both the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound, has it in spades.
This grande dame originally opened in 1868 and hosted summer guests for generations (in the years before air conditioning, its breezy beachfront setting was a big draw). Completely rebuilt on the same footprint, the hotel began its second life in 2010 and its guest rooms were renovated in 2017.
Much of Connecticut's coast faces the Long Island Sound, so the water is warmer and the waves gentler here than on Long Island's Atlantic shore. The name says it all at Water's Edge Resort: High atop a hill, this sprawling member of Historic Hotels of America boasts a private beach and views of the Long island Sound from its indoor and outdoor eateries. It’s especially appealing for weekend visits, as the Sunday Brunch is exceptional. Start perhaps with a seafood course, including fresh shrimp, local oysters, sushi, and smoked tuna and salmon. And leave room for dessert: The tempting array offers everything sweet from crème brûlée to cannoli.
Montauk, at the eastern extreme of Long Island, is home to this beachfront resort where the land meets the Atlantic Ocean. It doesn't get warm enough to swim in till mid-summer, but the beach is great for long runs, sunning, building sand castles and star-gazing.
It's a far cry from a laid-back beach resort, but for couples who like action, Caesars is in the thick of it. Located right on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and overlooking the Atlantic, from Caesars there's direct access to the beach beyond the sand dunes. Of course, you may get distracted by the casino, the Pier Shops (which include an Apple store), and the top-flight restaurants both in the hotel across the way.
If the wind is right, you can feel the spray of the ocean while you sip a beverage at this Ocean City B&B at the state's southern tip. Located right on the boardwalk, this quaint 1930s-era seaside cottage is a great people-reaching spot. Previous guests say the breakfasts are "to die for." And you'll have plenty of nearby places to choose for a lunch or dinner seafood feast.
The Cavalier is the hotel that made Virginia Beach, Virginia famous. Founded in 1927, the hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, yet it has kept up with the times: It's now a member of Marriott's Autograph boutique hotel collection and enjoyed a total refresh in 2017. Guests have access to a variety of recreational activities, including indoor and outdoor Olympic-size swimming pools and the only private beach in Virginia.
Located just north of Duck on the wild and beautiful Outer Banks, the Sanderling encompasses a variety of accommodations. Couples will be happiest in the serene South Inn, which has top floor views overlooking the water, king-sized beds, and proximity to an adults-only swimming pool. And with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Currituck Sound on the other, there's a vast number of ways to get wet, from jet packs and jetskiing to kiteboarding and parasailing to kayaking, charter fishing and dolphin tours.
Since it's just off the South Carolina coast and only 21 miles from Charleston, Kiawah Island affords couples a city-and-beachside vacation. The pristine island getaway features 10 miles of sandy shores and a variety of places to lodge. A favorite with couples, The Sanctuary is a beachside mansion with spacious rooms, a spa, golf, 12 restaurants and bars and genuine Southern hospitality.
To protect Cumberland Island from development, Congress named it a National Seashore in 1972. Since Greyfield Inn pre-existed the designation, it has remained the only accommodation on Cumberland. It's surrounded by more than 200 oceanfront acres, where you may catch a glimpse of the wild horses that have roamed here for generations. The Colonial-style hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America.
Secluded in the Florida Keys, Little Palm Island lies 3.5 miles off shore from the mainland and can only be reached by boat or seaplane. The palm-fringed beach is relatively small and the water is calm. The 30-foot Island Girl is used for taking guests on snorkeling and scuba diving excursions. Or maybe you just want to chill, have a drink and watch the horizon from afar. When you stroll around this utterly romantic island, you'll find private enclaves with inviting lounge chairs set two by two and hammocks strung.
A high-hrise that stands across the highway from the beach and the water, Harrah's Gulf Coast provides a walkway to protect you from the traffic. If a pool's more your style, the resort-style pool deck has cabanas, daybeds and an outdoor bar and lounge that create a party vibe. And when it's just to hot to be outdoors, there's always the casino or spa in the cool air-conditioning.
On a peninsula with 86 miles of private beaches at its doorstep, this property offers a variety of accommodations. Since this is a family friendly resort, for the best in privacy, couples ought to choose one of the bungalows with its own swimming pool — although these aren't directly on the beach. To reach the "sugar shores," you'll need to take a shuttle to the clubhouse. For fun, rent jet skis, go parasailing or reserve your own chairs and umbrella for a lazy day in the sun.
Galveston Island has withstood devastating hurricanes, bad times and good. And through it all, Hotel Galvez has flourished. Thank's to a first-class restaurant (and amazing brunch spread), spa with meditation garden, outdoor pool, and the beach across the highway, this iconic hotel is a true island haven.
A national Historic Landmark, the legendary Hotel del Coronado opened in 1888 and remains one of the last great resort hotels on the Pacific. This grand dame's distinctive, red-shingled roof evokes the mission heritage of San Diego, while her white-painted Victorian woodwork is as ornate and delicious as a wedding cake. Film fans may recognize the wide, palm-fringed beach where the cast of Some Like It Hot frolicked — and so can you.
On a cliff overlooking Whale Cove and a ten-minute walk to the beach, Whale Cove Inn gets consistently excellent reviews from guests. And if you're patient, you don't even need to board a whale-watching tour boat; depending on the time of year that you visit, you may spot these aquatic giants from your suite's private deck, complete with a Jacuzzi.
Offering both city and water views, Seattle's Edgewater is a convenient urban hotel that's close to Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Olympic Sculpture Park, and other local attractions. Although there's no beach, waterfront rooms overlook the Olympic Mountains and Elliott Bay. Console yourselves in the hotel's Six Seven Restaurant & Lounge, named Best Hotel Bar by Food & Wine and a purveyor of fine wines, local beers, and creative cocktails.