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5 Historic Beach Resorts That Are Surprisingly Affordable

  • Inn of Cape May, Victorian Hotel on the Beach, 5 Historic Beach Resorts That Are Surprisingly Affordable
    Jason Varney

    Inn of Cape May ~ Est. 1894

    Just 48 miles south of Atlantic City's gaudy glitz, the streets of Cape May are lined with exquisitely preserved Victorian treasures, including this century-old seashore fixture. The water's pretty cold year-round, but you can always rent a tandem bike and ride to nearby Cape May Lighthouse, or sit in a rocking chair on the broad porch and listen to the surf tumble in the distance (800-582-5933; Sold out? Built as a private home in 1850, Angel of the Sea, a half-block from the ocean, became a hotel around 1905. Rates include breakfast, beach chairs and bicycles (from $105 in the late fall; 800-848-3369; 

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  • The Breakers Hotel, Aerial View, Swimming Pools, Beach, 5 Historic Beach Resorts That Are Surprisingly Affordable
    The Breakers

    The Breakers ~ Est. 1896

    The palatial Breakers sits near where the Gulf Stream comes closest to the Florida coast — go snorkeling just off the hotel's beach and you may see a mother and baby manatee. Inside and out are quiet nooks. Sip tea under the chandeliers of the towering lobby or shop on posh Worth Avenue — aka Rodeo Drive East (888-273-2537; Sold out? A few blocks from the beach, the Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club has an intimate charm that has made it a yacht-and-jet-set fave since 1926 (from $184 in the summer; 561-655-7740;

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  • Hotel Galvez, Palm Trees, Flowers,  5 Historic Beach Resorts That Are Surprisingly Affordable

    Hotel Galvez & Spa ~ Est. 1911

    It's easy to see why they called it Queen of the Gulf when it opened, with its mahogany ceilings and gold-leaf-topped columns. Walk (carefully) out onto the granite breakwater that juts into the warm Gulf of Mexico (409-765-7721; Nearby, Big Reef Nature Park is home to 500 bird species (800-425-4753; Sold out? The guest registry at the lavish Tremont House Hotel includes historical figures like Ulysses S. Grant and Buffalo Bill (from $139 in the fall; 409-763-0300;

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  • Swimming Pool, Hyatt Santa Barbara, Palm Trees, 5 Historic Beach Resorts That Are Surprisingly Affordable
    Hyatt Santa Barbara

    Hyatt Santa Barbara ~ Est. 1931

    One of the world's great beaches spreads below if your upper-floor room balcony faces the ocean. Art galleries and restaurants are a short shuttle ride away (805-882-1234; Sold out? Two blocks from the beach, the Montecito Inn features its founder, Charlie Chaplin, in its logo. The place still has an air of old-Hollywood glamor (from $139; 805-969-7854; 

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  • La Valencia Hotel, La Jolla, California, 5 Historic Beach Resorts That Are Surprisingly Affordable

    La Valencia Hotel ~ Est. 1926

    North of San Diego and above rocky La Jolla Cove — a favorite wedding spot — the "Pink Lady" is steps from a small sandy beach. You may want to sit in the quiet hotel courtyard with a drink, admiring the mosaics and murals. For the best dining view in town, head to the 10th-floor Sky Room restaurant (858-454-0771; Sold out? The sandy beach is closer to your door (and wider) a few miles south at San Diego's 124-year-old Hotel del Coronado, one of America's grandest grand hotels (from $299 in the fall; 800-468-3533; A block in from the Del is the charming 1906 Lodge, one of the area's best-kept secrets (from $209; 866-435-1906; Both are a quick walk from the modest little house where L. Frank Baum wrote his Oz books.

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  • Inn of Cape May ~ Est. 1894
    Jason Varney
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