Get Away: Beaches in the Northeast
Plus, Virginia's booming craft beer scene
At Icona Diamond Beach on the Jersey Shore, you don’t have to leave the sand to get to the hotel’s beach bar.
Find Fresh Digs at the shore
Nestled between the amusement piers of Wildwood, New Jersey, to the north and historic Cape May to the south is little-known Diamond Beach. This tiny community is home to a wide, uncrowded beach and a hotel that garnered the No. 7 spot on TripAdvisor’s 2016 list of the top 25 hotels in the country.
Opened in the summer of 2013, the Icona Diamond Beach features all suites and studios, with South Beach-inspired décor in blues and buttery yellows. The building’s sawtooth design allows balconies to have an angled ocean view without gazing at neighboring units. Inside each of the 102 suites and studios is a king bed (or two queens), a sleep sofa and a galley kitchen. Hotel amenities include fire pits for s’mores, a sand volleyball court and an outdoor heated pool surrounded by cushioned loungers.
There’s also a private beach with attendants who help set up gear, lifeguards leading surfing lessons, and food and drink available from the hotel’s Bungalow No. 7 Beach Bar. Icona’s ocean-themed Coastal Blue Oceanside Bar & Grill serves fresh takes on American classics, including a creatively prepared salmon with corn and pancetta succotash. Rates begin at $409.
In addition to Diamond Beach, Icona Resorts is scheduled to open two beach hotels on the southern New Jersey shore this summer. The Golden Inn, a landmark in Avalon for more than 50 years, was stripped to the studs and redesigned with a classic feel reminiscent of Newport, Rhode Island, and Nantucket, Massachusetts. Set behind dunes, the 156-room hotel will offer a pool, restaurant, brew pub and beach bar. Bathrooms in the guest rooms will feature Carrara marble. Note: East-side rooms are closer to the beach; the west side is less expensive. Rates begin at $369.
The Icona Cape May (the former Palace Hotel) is also scheduled to open this summer, with a pool, a half dozen two-room oceanfront suites and 50 studios and hotel rooms. Icona Cape May guests will have access to all Diamond Beach property amenities. Rates begin at $319.
Bellmoor Inn & Spa’s garden courtyard (above). The Jefferson Library (right)
Read in sand or shade
Set around a peaceful garden courtyard dotted with Adirondack chairs, The Bellmoor Inn & Spa in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, makes it easy to enjoy one of summer’s great pleasures: reading. The inn’s Jefferson Library is home to a collection of more than 500 books, including popular fiction titles and classics that you can borrow for the courtyard, the beach, or to read by the fire in one of the library’s overstuffed club chairs. Bellmoor’s 78 traditional cottage-style accommodations come in a variety of configurations. Deluxe rooms feature marble tile bathrooms and sitting areas. Suites have added perks: a fireplace and hydrotherapy tub; and some also include a larger living room with a sleep sofa, and a balcony or patio. Guests in the 12 individually decorated Bellmoor Club suites, located on the fourth floor, have access to a private library with leather seating, additional books and complimentary sodas and snacks. Bellmoor’s new beach shuttle transports guests and their gear the two blocks from the inn to the boardwalk and beach. If you prefer lounging poolside, there’s a large family pool and an adults-only courtyard pool surrounded by magnolia trees, hibiscus and impatiens. Also available: an indoor eight-person Jacuzzi, spa treatments and an afternoon snack spread of tea, lemonade, cookies, cheese and crackers. Rates from $279 per night include a full breakfast with a made-to-order omelet station.
6 Christian St., Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; 302-227-5800; thebellmoor.com
The Brews by Bike Trail follows the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (top). Brewers who grow their own ingredients are featured on The Farm Breweries Trail (right).
Savor a cold craft brew
If a hot summer day and cold beer are synonymous for you, check out Virginia’s booming craft beer scene. The state was home to a handful of breweries just a few years ago, but today there are more than 100. In Loudoun County, the year-old LoCo Ale Trail offers beer aficionados seven self-guided, brew-themed routes to explore, some by bike, some by car. Popular options include the Farm Breweries Trail, the Pints with Pups Trail and the Brews by Bike Trail that follows the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
Before you go, print the LoCo Ale Trail pocket guide and the list of breweries for the trail you plan to follow. The Farm Breweries Trail connects you with the breweries that are also growing the products that go into beer, such as hops and pumpkins. Vanish, a brewery that opened in December, is located in the middle of more than 50 acres of fields and forest in Leesburg and is part of the farms trail. Top Chef alum Bryan Voltaggio helped create the barbecue-focused menu that’s cooked in a smoker outside the brewery’s taproom. This summer’s brews include a grapefruit IPA and a tangerine sour. MacDowell Brew Kitchen in Leesburg is a Brews by Bike Trail favorite for its backyard beach. Last year, MacDowell began its own line of beers, which are served from a bar fashioned from a shipwrecked boat.