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Best Affordable Beach Hotels for Summer

Laura Begley Bloom
Executive Editor
May 22, 2014

You can smell it in the air. In a matter of days, summer will be here, and it’ll be time to grab that glass of rose and hang out on the porch, listening to the tree frogs in the bushes and the waves offshore. There’s nothing I like better than heading to an affordable little hotel for a long summertime weekend. Here are some of my favorite places in the U.S. and Hawaii that make the most of the season.

Panoramic View Resort – Montauk, New York

My husband and I have a small house in the Hamptons, almost at the tip of Long Island, and when we don’t have enough room for extra guests, we send our friends to the Panoramic, set on a cliff on the outskirts of Montauk. A converted motel, the hotel still has a retro feel, with kitchenettes and terraces overlooking the wide beach. Rates start at $175 in summer. And when you want some action, the happening surf town of Montauk is a 10-minute drive away. 

(Courtesy: Panoramic View Resort)

Nebo Lodge – North Haven, Maine

The only way to reach this stylish inn on a small island in Penobscot Bay is by ferry. Once you’re at Nebo Lodge, life slows down a bit. There’s not much to do besides biking, hiking, hanging out on the beach, or strolling along the tiny main street. The hotel’s farm-to-table restaurant is so good that Mainlanders take the hour-long ferry ride from Rockland here just for dinner. And great news: the rooms, with their claw-foot tubs and wainscoting, start at around $100 a night. 

(Courtesy: Nebo Lodge)

White Gull Inn - Door County, Wisconsin

When my parents used to live in Wisconsin, we loved going to Door County, a narrow peninsula jutting out into Lake Michigan that is known as the Cape Cod of the Midwest. It’s a fitting nickname for a place with villages like Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, and Sister Bay. Set in an 1896 farmhouse, the White Gull Inn is the classic place to stay, with its wide porch and cottages out back. If this hotel were actually in Cape Cod, rooms would cost upwards of $500 a night; here they start at $170, including breakfast. Don’t miss one of the area’s traditional fish boils and a slice of cherry pie: Door County is the home of the tart Montmorency cherries.

(Courtesy: White Gull Inn)

Bay Harbor Village - Bay Harbor, Michigan

For many years, I’ve done reunions with my college friends in Bay Harbor, a waterfront town on the lake in northern Michigan near the town of Petoskey. Everyone knows Mackinac Island—which is not that far away—but for my money, this is the area where you want to be in summer, with its antique shops and restaurants serving local comfort food. With rates start at $175 a night, Bay Harbor Village is a great find: it’s set right on the edge of the sailboat-dotted lake.

La Casa del Camino – Laguna Beach, California

Laguna Beach may have a bit of a strange rap, thanks to its reality-television notoriety, but in fact, it’s an artsy Orange County town not far from Los Angeles that makes for an ideal weekend escape. Soak in the local surf culture at the oceanfront La Casa del Camino, where some of the rooms have boards hanging on the wall and photos of local waveriders—not to mention great prices, from around $144 a night. One of my other favorite places in Laguna is the Montage Resort: it costs quite a bit more to stay here, but you can always just stop in for a drink in the lovely bar or a massage in the luxe spa.

(Courtesy: La Casa del Camino) 

Island Inn at 123 West – San Juan Islands, Washington

Off the coast of Washington state, the San Juan Islands are an incredible place for sea kayaking, wildlife spotting, and all-around relaxing. Base yourself in the town of Friday Harbor at the Island Inn at 123 West, where the slogan is “Ready Set Slow.” The contemporary-chic hotel has rooms with kitchens, if you want to cook food that you sourced at the local farmers market, and amazing views of the harbor and the ferries gliding by.

(Photo: Thinkstock) 

The Inn at Mama’s Fish House - Maui, Hawaii
Located just off Maui’s famed Hana Highway, the Inn at Mama’s Fish House is a funky little collection of cottages. It has that quintessential vintage Polynesian look that you want from a Hawaiian hotel, loads of personality, and easy-on-the-wallet rates from $175. Don’t miss dinner at the neighboring Mama’s Fish House Restaurant, which serves just-off-the-boat fish in a coconut grove on a white-sand beach.

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