Duck, North Carolina
Find Rehoboth's beaches too crowded? You'll get more elbow room on the Outer Banks. The Sanderling puts you right at water's edge.
This resort's not perfect. Service can be casual, the walls thin, and first-floor rooms "overlooking" the ocean may have views blocked by dunes. Some rooms face the highway–in summer, the built-up Outer Banks means traffic. And it's expensive–if you're staying more than a few days, you'd do better renting a house.
But the cedar-shingled Sanderling has its charms. The excellent Left Bank restaurant. Private porches. Free breakfast delivered to your spacious room. Afternoon tea. A nice spa as well as a pool, fitness center, and tennis.
Then there's that wide beach littered with shells: Walk out of your room, grab a chair and umbrella, and listen to the waves.
Bottom line: Location, location.
The Sanderling, 800-701-4111; thesanderling.com. Rooms, $254 to $593 a night peak season, less other times.