Whether your summer is in full swing or you feel like you haven’t even gotten started yet, there’s still time to plan the ultimate coastal cottage vacation– and you should! We’ve compiled a list of our favorite beach cottage destinations along with some suggestions on where to stay, dine and play! Happy trip planning!
No list of coastal cottage vacation towns would be complete without Nantucket. This tiny island off Cape Cod is packed with beautiful beach dunes, unpainted cedar-shingled buildings and perfectly tidy privet gardens—the stuff cottage dreams are made of.
Must-Do: Make your way around the entire island to visit all its beautiful lighthouses, with pit stops at the Jethro Coffin House (a saltbox house built in 1686, the oldest house on Nantucket) and the Basket Museum.
Must Stay: The Nantucket Hotel
Must Eat: Lunch at the picnic tables at Something Natural is a wonderful glimpse into island life.
Must-Shop: The Lion’s Paw
Don’t overlook the south when planning your next coastal cottage vacation. Where else can you enjoy the formal appeal of horse-drawn carriages, manicured parks and antebellum architecture while still lazing the days away in a covered porch on tree-lined streets dripping with Spanish moss? Historic architecture fans will love the cobblestoned squares near Forsyth Park or the Historic District.
Must-Do: Take a tour of Bonaventure Cemetery, made famous by John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Must Stay: The Mermaid Cottages on Tybee Island.
Must Eat: The Olde Pink House Restaurant in Historic Planters Inn is a wonderful example of Lowcountry cuisine in an 18th-century mansion setting. Then make a pit stop at Leopold’s Ice Cream—a Savannah staple since 1919.
Must-Shop: The Paris Market
If the pastel-colored houses with charming porches and white picket fences of this small resort community don’t win you over instantly, then the laid-back Gulf Coast charm of the locals with their Airstreams-turned-food trucks and numerous artist colonies will. Seaside is also a dream landscape for those who love everything from water sports to hiking and biking.
Must-Do: Rent a beach cruiser and gallery hop around Seaside’s more than 50 art venues displaying the local flavor of the area’s abundant creatives.
Must Eat: Cowgirl Kitchen for the scenic spot—and stop by their Feed & Supply shop for gourmet picnic provisions for the next day’s beach trip.
San Juan Island, Washington
With a year-round temperate climate, mellow local vibe and a plethora of outdoor activities (both on land and on sea), San Juan Island is a lush, green getaway for cottage lovers looking to unplug in beautiful environs.
Must Stay: If you’re adventurous, consider a farm stay or one of the island’s many glamping spots. Otherwise, the island is known for its many small B & Bs. We like the Tucker House Inn.
Must-Shop: Funk & Junk Antiques
Charleston, South Carolina
When a town pops up on as many of the nation’s lists of “tops” as Charleston does, it’s easy to see why it’s a must-visit. From the area’s vibrant history and award-winning cuisine to beloved cinematic landmarks that have attracted Hollywood for decades, Charleston is the romantic’s destination.
Must-Do: Shop Broad Street or Mount Pleasant or any of the numerous places The Notebook was filmed. Then take a carriage tour of the city before you stroll down Rainbow Row to admire the colorful charming rowhouse exteriors on your way to Market Square for some shopping.
Must Stay: The Restoration Hotel
Must Eat: Sample the Courtyard Garden life with the Palmetto Café, and take in a local lunch in a lush green outdoor setting.
Must-Shop: Page’s Thieves Market
Carmel by the Sea, California
With a dramatically rugged coastline, world-renowned golf courses and legendary restaurants, this California hamlet is not your run-of-the-mill seaside town. In fact, it’s a host of contradictory characteristics: an artsy Bohemian past contrasted with the million-dollar mansions that line Pebble Beach, the charming village-like appeal of a cobblestone downtown set against the chic boutiques and small wineries. One thing’s for sure—it’s a town with tons of personality and something for everyone.
Must-Do: Be a looky-loo at local architect Hugh Comstock’s storybook cottages in the heart of the village.
Must Stay: Tickle Pink Inn—try to book a stay at the
Must Eat: La Bicyclette, for cozy and unpretentious French-Italian fare.
Must-Shop: Jan de Luz for fine French linens.
In the market for more travel ideas? Check out this post on Historical New Orleans.