Planning a vacation that includes staying at a national park? Go east! Eastern park lodges may be less glamorous than their grander western counterparts, but you'll find plenty of scenic, bucolic locations and, frequently, lower room rates. Consider these five lodges east of the Mississippi.
Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia
This narrow, 18-mile-long Atlantic island is packed with photoworthy scenery, including salt marshes, sand dunes, and oak and pine forests. The stately 15-room inn is pretty darn nice, too. Built by Andrew Carnegie's brother Thomas for his daughter in 1900, it became an inn in 1962 and is still overseen by the Carnegie family. The 200-acre property is perfect for activities such as biking and birding, but guests particularly love the island's wild horses. Room rates start at $525 a night but they're all-inclusive: You get three meals a day, cocktail hour snacks, equipment (bicycles, beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, fishing gear), history and wilderness tours, and ferry treks to and from the island. Book six to 12 months in advance.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
This white Greek Revival farm home has everything you want in an inn. It's cozy (only six rooms), historic (built in 1848) and close to major park sites (a five-minute walk to Brandywine Falls). Located about 30 minutes from Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport, the house features a front porch with tree-lined views and a library stocked with books and games. You also get candlelit breakfasts in the dining room (the staff bakes its own bread and serves fresh chocolate chip cookies each evening). The inn gets busy, so call about reservations: “We could have openings for the next day but be completely full three weeks later — it's like roulette,” says innkeeper Katie Hoy. Room rates start at $158 a night and availability increases from November to March. Don't be deterred by cold weather: The picturesque property looks especially beautiful in the snow.