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Strategic Retreats


Spring Lake, N.J.

One of the loveliest towns on the Jersey shore, Spring Lake offers two miles of commercial-free beach and boardwalk, beautifully restored Victorian homes, a charming main street, and sparkling spring-fed lakes. Secluded among holly trees, Hollycroft's rustic log-and-stone architecture gives it the feel of an Adirondack lodge. Venture capitalists should book the Lord of the Manor suite, an enormous log-beamed room with a huge rock fireplace, private lake-view porch, and a spacious bathroom with a double soaking tub. A great value is the Ambleside Room, with a double canopy bed, a porch with a swing, and a private bath across the hall. Wonderful buffet breakfasts are served until 10:30 a.m., so you can sleep in. Make advance reservations for innovative cuisine at Whispers, in the Hewitt Wellington Hotel, but buy a bottle of wine at the Bottle Shop on Third Avenue.

INFO Hollycroft, 800-679-2254;; $125-$295; seven guest rooms.

Chestnut Hill on the Delaware
Milford, N.J.

A glorious stretch of the Delaware River, just a few hours from the city, runs between Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Hunterdon County, New Jersey. On the Jersey side, one of our favorite stops is Chestnut Hill. Choose the bright and sunny Rose Garden room for its wonderful views of the river and a relaxing whirlpool tub. Teddy's Place, a room tucked under the eaves, takes its name from the many bears in residence; you'll love the "loo with a view." For maximum space, book the adjacent Country Cottage, complete with a private veranda, living room, bedroom with a fireplace, stocked kitchen, and more. When it's hot, grab a tube and float off the inn's dock, or go directly to Point Pleasant and rent a tube or kayak from River Country. Its employees will haul you upstream in an old school bus; then you float effortlessly back downstream. Feeling more energetic? Towpaths on both sides of the river, once trod by mule teams pulling cargo boats along the canal, are perfect for hiking and biking. And in the nearby Ringing Rocks County Park, a two-mile walk takes you to Upper Black Eddy, whose boulder-strewn fields contain rocks that ring like a bell when struck with a rock or hammer. Serious shoppers will want to head downriver to New Hope and Lambertville. Just a block from the inn is the chef-owned Milford Oyster House. In this 1829 home turned intimate restaurant, we feasted on steamed mussels, seared tuna, and striped bass. You'll be surprised at the quality of the wine selection at the Milford Market across the street.

INFO Chestnut Hill on the Delaware, 63 Church Street, 908-995-9761;; $90-$150; seven guest rooms; no credit cards.

Woolverton Inn
Stockton, N.J.

You can look out over 300 acres of meadows and woods from this 1792 stone manor house, an easy walk from the charming village of Stockton. Young, friendly owners Carolyn McGavin, Matthew Lovette, and Mark Smith are working hard to upgrade the décor and furnishings while preserving the inn's atmosphere of relaxed elegance. You can splurge on a luxury room like the rustic Stockton Quay, with a spectacular slate-tiled bath and separate large shower, while thrifty travelers will be delighted with the affordable Primrose's Bower, done in rose and gray, with a private bath just across the hall. Generous breakfasts might include a vegetable frittata with homemade turkey sausage or apple-blueberry streusel en papillote. If you love stained glass, be sure to visit the Sunflower Studio, a mile up the road. (For activities in and around the Delaware River, see entry for Chestnut Hill.)

INFO Woolverton Inn, 6 Woolverton Road, 888-264-6648.;; $100-$285; nine guest rooms.

Silver Maple Farm
Canaan, N.Y.

Don't forget to check the New York side of the border when looking for a Berkshire Mountains getaway. Owners Meg and Bill Stratton have converted an old barn into a beautiful inn. In the main common area, called the Great Room, guests gather to read, chat, or play board games in comfy wing chairs and couches. (Coffee, tea, and cookies are served there each afternoon at four.) Guest rooms are located in two wings added onto the barn and are simply decorated with handcrafted furnishings. For a delightful meal, ask Meg to reserve a table at the Pillars in nearby New Lebanon. The atmosphere is casual, and the menu is French. (For Berkshire activities, see entry for the Devonfield in Massachusetts.)

INFO The Inn at Silver Maple Farm, Route 295, 518-781-3600;; $75-$275; eleven guest rooms.

Spencertown Country House
Spencertown, N.Y.

Another great B&B on the New York side of the Berkshires is the Spencertown Country House. The original saltbox-style farmhouse was built in 1803 and updated in the 1870s with a turret and wraparound porches. Owners Heather and John Spitzer have added new bathrooms and effective air-conditioning. Fireplaces provide cozy charm on cold nights; the expansive porches and gardens are ideal for relaxing when it's warm and sunny. Breakfast favorites include sausage-and-cheese omelets with freshly baked corn bread, and cottage-cheese pancakes with maple syrup and homemade applesauce. (For Berkshire activities, see entry for the Devonfield in Massachusetts.)

INFO Spencertown Country House B&B, County Route 9, 888-727-9980;; $65-$175; nine guest rooms.

Freddy's House
Cutchogue, N.Y.

If you're trying to decide between Long Island's North and South Fork, remember that the humbler North may not have the Hamptons' glamour, but it does have modest B&Bs, great wineries to tour, and pleasant Long Island Sound beaches. Local zoning limits B&Bs to only three guest rooms, so most are simple family affairs, with rates about half those in the Hamptons. Our favorite is Freddy's House, a 200-year-old home on a 300-year-old working family farm, with two immaculate guest rooms, each with a private bath. Prudence and Dan work the farm themselves, and she prepares dishes like strawberry soup with pound-cake croutons and fresh-baked breads. The farm has acres to roam and provides private access to the Peconic Bay beach for swimming or picnicking. (For additional North Fork activities, see next entry.)

INFO Freddy's House B&B, 1535 New Suffolk Road, 631-734-4180;; $125-$150; two guest rooms.

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