From Nantucket to the Florida Keys: Where to Find Summer Bliss on the East Coast

From Cape Cod’s windswept dunes to Florida’s sugar-sand strands, these beach resorts sizzle with dreamy summer vibes

Read More

When the Northeast's swampy summer arrives, you know it's time to make a hasty retreat for cooler, saltier climes. For those of discernment and taste, the East Coast's sun-drenched shores are summer personified—an effervescent, timeless escape from the city's swelter. From Cape Cod's windswept dunes to Florida's sugar-sand strands, these beach resorts sizzle with dreamy summer vibes.

Days slip into glorious successions of lounging on pristine private sands, nibbling lobster rolls dripping in lemon butter, and convivial clambakes as the sun slips below the horizon in sizzling oranges and reds. It's a spectacular sensory treat only the seasoned beach connoisseur can truly appreciate.

Meanwhile, the sporting set finds their bliss along New England's storied summer colonies: Newport, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, to name a few. One day it's sailing regattas launched from gilt-edged yacht clubs, the next polished lawn games like croquet presiding over manicured emerald expanses. Equestrians can explore miles of secluded trails, crisscrossing through enclaves from South Carolina to the Hamptons, winding through fragrant maritime forests straight out of a Wyeth painting.

Those seeking a delectably low-key scene head to the hideaway isles from Maine to the Florida Keys. These unpretentious East Coast beach towns are where seersucker and boat shoes reign, cocktail hours commence promptly at five, and quaint local traditions banish any whiff of Hamptons’ scene-iness. No matter where you drop anchor, the East Coast's grande dames and escapist isles deliver summer's eternal allure like nowhere else on earth. The shore-sculpted romance is palpable, from cozying up in breezy linen robes on your oceanview veranda to savoring the sublime simplicity of freshly shucked oysters chased with crisp rosé as twilight fades over beautiful beaches. This, fellow travelers, is the summer we deserve—and the definitive list of luxe hotels to book.

Wequassett Resort & Golf Club

  • 2173 MA-28, Harwich, MA 02645

This idyllic 18th-century colonial mansion-turned-luxury resort is Cape Cod's crown jewel, a Hamptons-esque retreat for Boston's elite. Nestled in postcard-perfect Chatham, the eight-acre property seamlessly blends timeless New England elegance—think Nantucket seafoam hues and driftwood accents—with delightfully indulgent modern amenities. Cozy cottage rooms offer Molton Brown amenities and plush robes primed for lazy mornings, while newer accommodations flaunt balconies with views of Pleasant Bay's shimmering waters. The seafood-centric dining spotlights hyper-local fare, from the buzzy tavern to the poolside breezy New England-style cookhouse. Trade the polo mallets for boat shoes to enjoy exclusive access to two prestigious public courses, plus the private beach, tennis oasis and all the sun-kissed water adventures this special peninsula affords.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club. Wequassett

White Elephant Nantucket

  • 50 Easton St, Nantucket, MA 02554

White Elephant reigns supreme on Nantucket's bustling harbor, an elegant anchor beckoning mariners in crisp whites and Sperry boat shoes. This classic New England grand dame masterfully blends breezy maritime charm with modern indulgences like the harbor-view spa's restorative treatments and the Shoreline Suite for decadent lounging. Sunlit rooms evoke weathered captain's quarters with rich mahogany accents and crisp navy fabrics—a sophisticated take on classic nautical style. Decompress at the private beach or book a sailing excursion—arriving by boat is practically mandatory. Between the port wine receptions with artisanal cheese plates, inventive locally-caught seafood at the restaurant and Nantucket's inherent preppy sophistication, the island's allure is utterly inescapable here.

White Elephant Nantucket. White Elephant

The Boca Raton

  • 501 E Camino Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432

This sprawling palatial Mediterranean-inspired resort epitomizes South Florida's Roaring ‘20s decadence in the most grandiose way. Architect Addison Mizner conceived the Boca's terracotta-roofed, salmon-pink aesthetic, which grandly presides over 200 manicured acres complete with a championship golf course, 16 tennis courts, a dreamy half-mile private beach, a yacht marina and 14 dining destinations helmed by the culinary titans at Major Food Group. The redesigned Boca Raton Tower's airy coastal-chic guest rooms offer sweeping Atlantic Ocean vistas, while the historic flamingo-hued Cloister Inn unapologetically channels Jazz Age decadence. Find your slice of paradise between the sumptuous accommodations, impeccable recreational facilities like six pickleball courts and tropical grounds—it's a sun-drenched oceanfront resort fantasyland untouched by time.

The Boca Raton's spa pool. The Boca Raton

Beach Plum Farm

  • 140 Stevens St, West Cape May, NJ 08204

Tucked on 62 acres of fertile farmland just far enough from the bustle of Cape May, Beach Plum Farm is elevating this overlooked corner to a gourmet agritourism destination. The working farm cultivates over 100 varieties of organic produce and raises both chickens and prized Berkshire hogs, with the ultra-fresh ingredients forming the backbone of their culinary offerings. Hungry visitors flock to the charming “Amish barn” cafe for remixed American classics like frittatas and salads bursting with just-picked flavors. But the most coveted experience is the acclaimed farm-to-table dinner series featuring multi-course menus spotlighting the seasonal harvest, like heirloom tomatoes, garden kale and open-fire roasted pork. Complementing the culinary experiences are six quaint cottage rentals, including the 1700s Whaler's Cottage with exposed beams and a frontier-era fireplace, and the 1850s Plum Barn carriage house reborn with modern farmhouse flair like a screened porch. It's an authentic taste of the Garden State's agricultural heritage.

Beach Plum Farm. Beach Plum Farm

Faena Hotel Miami Beach

  • 3201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

Argentine visionary Alan Faena didn't just launch a Miami hotel—he transformed an entire neighborhood into the surrealist-inspired Faena District, alongside starchitects like Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu. The Faena Hotel dazzles with its gilded cathedral entrance, fever-dream murals and retro Old Hollywood glam interiors crafted in a collaboration between filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and costume designer Catherine Martin, while the holistic Tierra Santa Healing House spa takes a uniquely indigenous South American approach to wellness. Set up camp on the beach under one of the hotel’s signature striped umbrellas. Dining spans trendsetting Asian stunner Pao by Paul Qui to rustic open-fire Argentine sorcery at Los Fuegos from culinary wizard Francis Mallmann.

Faena Hotel Miami Beach's Penthouse suite. Faena Hotel

Wanderer Cottages

  • 195 Sea Rd, Kennebunk, ME 04043

These 17 chic white clapboard cottages channel an effortlessly cool surf shack vibe—think Martha's Vineyard meets Malibu. East Coast creatives and Faherty-clad preppies flock here to lounge by the saltwater swimming pool, play lawn games like bocce and bike to Kennebunkport's iconic lobster shacks, craft breweries and upscale boutiques. Interiors blend vintage surf photography with custom-made rope-wrapped boards for a nostalgic yet elevated ambiance. No on-site restaurant, but staff happily guides you to local haunts like the founder's hip Batson River brewpub. Complimentary breakfast bags are a seamless touch. It's the Vacationland getaway without the stuffiness or summertime sticker shock.

Wanderer Cottages' one bedroom. Amy Fronczkiewicz

Ocean House

  • Bluff Ave, Westerly, RI 02891

How best to describe Ocean House? As an exquisitely revived early 1900s seaside mansion transcends eras while retaining impeccable New England exuberance. Guests are transported to Watch Hill's Gilded Age glory, from the airy Victorian interiors with soaring ceilings and intimate parlor salons to the groomed Impressionist-worthy croquet lawns and civilized seaside rituals like beach bonfires and gourmet lobster boils. The 49 renovated guest rooms pair period flourishes like mahogany accent tables with modern indulgences like Bluetooth speakers. Coast restaurant redefines New England farm-to-table fare, ingeniously incorporating Native foraged ingredients, while the Bistro serves creatively refined comfort fare. For those seeking a rarified yet relaxed respite, it's here that contemporary luxury coexists seamlessly with yesteryear's salty refinement.

Ocean House. Ocean House

Little Palm Island Resort and Spa

  • 28500 Overseas Hwy, Little Torch Key, FL

This ultra-exclusive four-acre private islet resort in the Florida Keys is quite literally a world apart—accessible solely via private yacht transfer. It's the unplugged tropical paradise A-listers crave for decompressing off the grid. Just 30 sumptuous thatched-roof bungalow suites epitomize a dreamy South Seas aesthetic with colonial decor like canopied beds, indulgent outdoor showers/tubs and no televisions—just swaying palms, secluded hammocks poised for spectacular ocean sunsets and sworn-to-silence staff. This is an adults-only property, and with no children permitted, the beach vacation vibe is uniquely serene, revolving around adventuring by kayak or paddleboard, fishing for your dinner and then savoring inventive Florida Straits cuisine by romantic candlelight. The attentive staff will cater to your every whim, whether that's a private beach picnic or sailing the vintage wooden Truman boat.

Little Palm Island Resort and Spa.

1 Hotel South Beach

  • 2341 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Occupying a full city block along Collins Avenue, this LEED-certified refuge was developed for the environmentally-conscious luxury traveler. Brazilian architect Debora Aguiar's elegant, nature-inspired design permeates every corner, from the living green walls and grotto garden to the reclaimed wood and poured concrete accents. The 425 guest rooms are cocoons of mindful luxury, kitted out with hemp mattresses, organic linens, shower water filters and even terrariums. For the ultimate indulgence, the 3,600-square-foot Oceanfront Presidential Suite dazzles with its pool table, media room and sweeping Atlantic views. With its prime beachside setting, four pools including a gorgeous rooftop, an 18,000-square-foot wellness and fitness center and a kids camp, 1 Hotel delivers an unrivaled eco-escape in South Beach’s most desirable nook.

1 Hotel South Beach's rooftop pool. ERIC LAIGNEL

Sea Island Resort

  • 100 Cloister Dr, Sea Island, GA 31561

This legendary, award-winning resort exudes timeless European sporting estate grandeur amid Georgia's maritime forests. The stately Lodge features hardwood floors, exposed beams and private balconies overlooking rolling fairways or the Atlantic's restless waves. Newly opened oceanfront cottages provide expansive living rooms to luxuriate in after indulging in the incredible recreational facilities—three championship golf courses redesigned by dynamic duo Davis Love III and brother Mark, equestrian stables fit for a Kentucky Derby contender and a rejuvenating spa. In the evenings, bagpipers serenade guests on the shoreline at sunset, a tradition as entrenched as the century-old maritime oaks. Multigenerational travelers are spoiled with family-friendly activities, from tennis and archery to fishing primers and kid-focused treatments. It's decidedly Gatsby-era chic, so pack your seersucker.

Sea Island. Sea Island

The Rockaway Hotel

  • 108-10 Rockaway Beach Drive, Queens, NY 11694

The Rockaway Hotel brings stylish yet unpretentious city-cool to the laid-back Queens beach town of the Rockaways. Designed by the acclaimed firm behind Brooklyn's beloved Wythe Hotel, the light-filled accommodations blend breezy sophistication with nostalgic surf culture touches like blond wood accents and vintage photography. The show-stopping panoramic rooftop bar boasts sweeping vistas of the Manhattan skyline across Jamaica Bay—an ideal perch for trendsetters sipping craft cocktails and snacking on shared plates like smoky eggplant dip or the whipped ricotta with spicy hot honey. On the ground floor, Margie's pays homage to local matriarchs with upscale comfort classics like lobster rolls and linguine brimming with fresh-shucked clams. Beyond the buzzy dining spots, complimentary fitness classes and close beach access, with reservable cabanas, epitomize the hotel's low-key beach town spirit. No Hamptons attitude at this Rockaway Beach hotel—just an authentic taste of summertime New York City cool.

The Rockaway Hotel. Kyle Knodell

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

  • 1 Sanctuary Beach Dr, Kiawah Island, SC 29455

The quintessential Lowcountry experience awaits at this plantation-style resort, set on a lush private sea island just 21 miles from Charleston's cobblestones. Upon arrival, bellhops in knickers and argyle await to whisk you past soaring murals of sun-dappled marshes into your modern-meets-Old South chamber. Cloudlike featherbeds, breezy floral drapes, mahogany furnishings and aromatic British toiletries create a genteel yet sumptuous ambiance. This unhurried natural sanctuary offers myriad diversions beyond lounging—30 miles of paved trails winding through maritime forests, 10 miles of uncrowded white sand beachfront, acclaimed golf courses designed by legends like Pete Dye and exquisite dining options. It's utter Lowcountry serenity, from picnicking in blooming meadows to dolphin-spotting by kayak on tranquil marshes.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Casey/Let It Fly Photos

The Breakers Palm Beach

  • 1 S County Rd, Palm Beach, FL 33480

Favored by the jet-set since 1896, the Breakers Palm Beach epitomizes Florida's Golden Age glamour like no other. The Renaissance-inspired main building makes a grand first impression even prior to check-in, with its 200-foot loggia-flanked lobby dripping in Murano glass chandeliers. But beyond the opulent Italianate architecture lies a modern, dynamic 140-acre beachfront oasis. Accommodations channel breezy coastal elegance, while the exclusive 21-room Flagler Club adds luxe perks like a dedicated concierge and private lounge. Days are spent indulging in seemingly endless amenities, from the oceanfront beach club, with four outdoor pools, and rejuvenating spa to acclaimed golf and tennis facilities. When hunger strikes, guests have their pick of diverse dining experiences headlined by Flagler Steakhouse and Echo.

The Breakers Palm Beach lobby. Courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach.

We noticed you're using an ad blocker.

We get it: you like to have control of your own internet experience.
But advertising revenue helps support our journalism.

To read our full stories, please turn off your ad blocker.
We'd really appreciate it.

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

Below are steps you can take in order to whitelist on your browser:

For Adblock:

Click the AdBlock button on your browser and select Don't run on pages on this domain.

For Adblock Plus on Google Chrome:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Enabled on this site.

For Adblock Plus on Firefox:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Disable on

Then Reload the Page