The Cliff House ◼ Ogunquit/Cape Neddick destinationhotels.com/cliff-house
Surround yourself with the Atlantic Ocean at the dramatic Cliff House, where every stylish room features an ocean or coastal view, and even the restaurants and spa pay their respects to the sea. Guests can enjoy locally roasted coffee on their private terrace, or s’mores by the ocean-view fire pit. The inn’s recreation staff also can help plan a kayaking (not to be missed), fishing, lobstering, or surfing adventure. Take in the local beaches of York and Ogunquit, or simply put your feet up by one of the three pools and hot tubs located at Cliff House. The neighboring villages of Perkins Cove and Ogunquit offer quaint shops, galleries and museums. Return to a farm- or fisherman-to-table-inspired dinner at The Tiller, or relish a brown butter lobster roll at Nubb’s Lobster Shack.
Sebasco Harbor Resort ◼ Sebasco Estates | sebasco.com
A favorite of “Maine Travel Maven” Hilary Nangle, author of “Coastal Maine,” this 550-acre oceanfront resort on the Phippsburg Peninsula has long been a top choice for families, blending contemporary amenities with old-time ambiance, eye-candy scenery, children’s programs and special events like lobster bakes. The array of recreational facilities, including oceanfront saltwater pool, tennis courts, 9-hole championship golf course, and 3-hole regulation course, plus boat tours, sailing trips, kayaking and mountain biking excursions, candlepin bowling and a spa, is dazzling. Enjoy spectacular ocean views from a rocking chair on the large screened front porch, the Lighthouse (built in 1945), the Harbor Village Suites balconies and patios, the Fairwinds Spa Suites, or the decks of one of the more than 20 cottages.
Attean Lake Lodge ◼ Jackman | atteanlodge.com
Built on the largest island in the lake, Attean Lodge is surrounded by water. Waterfront offerings include sand beaches, miles of shoreline to explore, hiking on the resort’s 20 miles of trails, birding, wildlife photography and fishing. There’s also whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River, and paddling the peaceful Moose River to spot the resident wildlife. The private cottages sleep up to eight and feature full bath, private porches and wood-burning fireplaces. Established in the late 1800s, the founders’ heirs still run the lodge with impeccable service, fine food and comfy accommodations. Likewise, Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps (katahdinlakewildernesscamps.com) shorefront cabins in Baxter State Park offer a true chance to unplug, with no cell service, no electricity and no running water. Getting here requires an effort — either hiking 3-plus miles or flying in via floatplane — but that’s the price to get away from it all.
Manor on Golden Pond ◼ Squam Lake, Holderness manorongoldenpond.com
Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda put Squam Lake on the map with their 1981 film, “On Golden Pond.” This tranquil lake still ripples quietly below this stately manor house on Shepard Hill, surrounded by tall pines. Built by English developer Isaac Van Horn, the manor’s interior is filled with turn-of-the-20th-century details, including carved balusters on the grand staircase, elegant mahogany paneling and original Grueby tiles surrounding the fireplace. Guests can soak in the air and ambience during afternoon tea in the library, or at dinner in the paneled Van Horn dining room over pan-seared Magret duck or local bourbon-braised lamb shoulder accompanied by a selection from the manor’s extensive wine cellar.
Purity Spring Resort ◼ East Madison | purityspring.com
For more than 100 years, this waterfront resort has treated visitors to eye-popping scenery, magical vacations and thousands of memories. Purity Lake has etched shorelines and sandy beaches that permit swimming, water skiing and stand-up paddleboarding. Canoe and kayak enthusiasts can explore hidden coves, bogs and heaths. The hills beckon hikers and mountain bikers, while the outlets of nearby north Conway are bound to attract shoppers. Choose from 52 rooms in four different settings with seasonal rate options that include lodging, home-style meals, recreation programs and use of resort facilities.
WilloughVale Inn & Cottages on Lake Willoughby ◼ Westmore | willoughvale.com
Located on formidable Lake Willoughby in Vermont’s magnificent Northeast Kingdom, the Willough-Vale Inn and Cottages is a true four-season escape. From a cozy lakeside or lake-view cottage to a room at the inn, guests can spend hours planning summer, spring and fall activities. Visitors can use the inn’s kayaks and canoes, go scuba diving (legend has it that the lake is the final resting place of many bootlegger trucks that were ditched during Prohibition after their run from Canada), or just read a book in a comfy lounge chair. But I can’t mention the Northeast Kingdom without recommending the Kingdom Trails, a truly special network of mountain bike routes in nearby East Burke. You’ll feel particularly grateful for WilloughVale’s double Jacuzzi after a day spent pedaling along these trails.
Basin Harbor Club ◼ Vergennes | basinharbor.com
With 700 acres of Vermont landscape alongside beautiful Lake Champlain, the Basin Harbor Club invites visitors to simply unwind. Weary guests can stay close and relax at the pool or enjoy a massage, while more adventurous types can engage in any one of a dozen different activities, including a round of golf on the club’s 18-hole championship course, fishing or sailing on the lake, art classes and hiking and cycling through the local countryside. Accommodations include the original farmhouse, a contemporary Adirondack-style lodge and 70 family cottages. Dining at Basin Harbor is a worthwhile experience, whether you choose the casual Red Mill Restaurant, the more formal Ardelia’s or dining al fresco on the North Dock.
Echo Lake Inn ◼ Ludlow | echolakeinn.com
Set on a scenic waterfront in the lake district of central Vermont, this historic country inn was renovated from the original structure built in 1840. Today, this inn beckons visitors to simply chill on the front porch or jump into any number of activities, including rowboats and canoes, a hot tub, swimming pool and tennis courts. Fish on nearby Black River and head over to Okemo just five minutes away, where you’ll find great mountain biking, golf and the Adventure Zone, and hiking and horseback riding nearby. Echo Lake Inn offers 23 rooms, a family suite and seven condominium units. Most rates include a bountiful breakfast. The renowned restaurant’s creative cuisine and excellent service have been featured in Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines.
Nantasket Beach Resort ◼ Hull | nantasketbeachresort.com
Built on a 3-mile stretch of sandy white beach, the Nantasket Beach Resort has a regal bearing, standing tall and brilliant with an unmistakable sense of traditional New England charm. Enjoy spectacular sunrises and views of three of Boston’s historic lighthouses. Fullservice amenities include concierge service, an on-site restaurant, indoor pool, fully equipped fitness club, oceanfront conference center and an array of excellent restaurants and attractions within walking distance, scattered among eclectic shops and boutiques. Situated close to Boston and close to Cape Cod, Hull is a gateway to Plymouth, and to many of New England’s popular tourist attractions and noteworthy sites.
Emerson Inn ◼ Rockport | emersoninnbythesea.com
I’m hesitant to even mention the Emerson, located close to my backyard on Boston’s North Shore.
The Atlantic Ocean, Pigeon Cove, a heated outdoor swimming pool and a seaside terrace for meals combine for an exceptional escape. This lovely resort features 36 guest rooms, two bedroom suites, and adjacent cottages with more room for larger families. All have private baths, spa tubs and private enclosed balconies. The ocean views and amenities are inspiring. Dine in the Grand Cafe, relax on the veranda, walk the beaches and shop-filled streets or take a treatment in the La Petite spa. Cape Ann’s only grand bed and breakfast provides the quality and service of yesterday with the modern touches of today.