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The Inn Crowd
These five bed & breakfasts offer relaxation, gourmet food and peerless views of the water.
by Joe Sugarman

Whitehaven Hotel

If you’re one of those people who think a getaway should mean “getting away from it all,” then visit the tiny burg of Whitehaven. The Wicomico County town, about 20 minutes southwest of Salisbury, has no traffic lights nor restaurants, and class hasn’t been in session at the two-room schoolhouse since 1935. But the town of 34 is still big enough to accommodate two B&Bs, including the Whitehaven Hotel, a renovated, yellow-painted inn with a mansard roof and prime spot right on the Wicomico River. The inn, built in 1810, housed guests during Whitehaven’s boom years— 1880 through 1920— when the town was a stopping point for steamers to/from Baltimore. Travelers back then would still recognize the ferry that crosses the river today, uniting Wicomico and Somerset counties; it’s been in the same spot since the 1600s, earning it the designation of “oldest continually operating ferry in the nation.”

The hotel provides kayaks and bikes for guests— and Ocean City is 50 minutes away— but there’s not much activity in Whitehaven, which is exactly the point. “It’s so quiet here,” says innkeeper Cindy Curran. “The views of the river are incredible. People happen upon the Web site and I get calls asking if it’s as pretty as it looks. When they get here, they realize it’s actually prettier.” 2685 Whitehaven Road, Whitehaven, Md., 877-809-8296, http://www.whitehavenhotel. com, Rates: $85 to $125.

Blue Heron Inn

Blue Heron Inn-roomBlue Heron Inn is one of those unique places from which you can watch both the sun rise and set over water. The luxury inn, opened in 2004, sits on an isthmus between Solomons Island’s sailboat-choked harbor and the Patuxent River. (Book the Balcony Suite No. 1 for its superior views of both, as well as its private balcony and huge bath.) Innkeepers Annie Michnowicz and Richard Rogers have given the Charleston- Colonial-style house a contemporary nautical feel, punctuated by Richard’s handcrafted model boats on display throughout the house. Amenities include wireless Internet, private boat slips up to 40 feet and bikes for borrowing. All of Solomons Island’s restaurants and shops are a quick walk away; Kim’s Key Lime Pies & Coffee Shop, home of the best Key Lime pies north of Key Largo, is located right next door. 14614 Solomons Island Road, Solomons, Md., 410-326-2707, Rates: Balcony suites, $200; other rooms, $150.

An Inn on the Ocean

Trivia question: How many oceanfront inns are there in Maryland? Answer: Just one. As high-rises have replaced Ocean City’s once plentiful beachfront guesthouses, somehow An Inn on the Ocean has survived. The cottage, which sits right on the Boardwalk at 10th Street, was built in 1938 and still retains its yesteryear feel through canvas awnings, a white picket fence and “beachy Victorian” furniture throughout. Four of the six rooms have ocean views; two have beachfront balconies. Innkeeper Vicki Barrett is notorious for her swimsuit-unfriendly breakfasts of cheese soufflés, ham and cheese French toast and one-of-a-kind chipped beef made with Marsala wine and mushrooms. “I don’t serve it to anyone under 40,” says Barrett. “It scares them too much.” 1001 Atlantic Ave., 10th Street and the Boardwalk, Ocean City, Md. 410- 289-8894, Rates: in-season, $200-$300; off-season, $135-$215.

Wades Point Inn

Wades InnPerched right on the Chesapeake between St. Michaels and Tilghman Island, Wades Point Inn is an unpretentious sort of place with wide-planked wooden floors, handmade quilts and signs warning against entertaining local farm cats in your room: “They may try to fool you into thinking they’re allowed, but don’t fall for it!” The “inn” is actually three separate buildings: the three-story Main House, built in 1819 for Thomas Kemp, designer of Baltimore clipper ships; a modern two-story guesthouse with private porches or balconies facing the water; and a small white rustic farmhouse, perfect for groups of up to 14. Guests are encouraged to borrow binoculars and watch for waterfowl from the inn’s sun porch/breakfast room, or fish or crab from the inn’s dock. There’s also a milelong nature trail that winds along a critterpacked pond, an open meadow and finally the bay. Wades Point Road, St. Michaels, Md., 410- 745-2500, Rates: $140-$240.

Bell House B&B

If bunking in a bed with a history is your thing, then you’ll enjoy the Bell House B&B. The grand Victorian on the shores of the Potomac River in Colonial Beach, Va., was once most notably, the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell. But its history goes back even further. The home was built in 1883 by Col. J.O.P. Burnside, son of Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Burnside Sr. lost the house to the U.S. Government in a lawsuit over pay irregularities in the Union Army accounts. Alexander Graham Bell’s father snatched it up and then passed it down to Alexander himself, who owned it from 1905 to 1928. Innkeeper Anne Bolin (not Anne Boleyn) has keep the period decor— as well as the original privy in the backyard. (It’s no longer in operation, though; each room has a private bath.) Book the Melville Bell Room for its adjacent widow’s walk, from which Bell and his scientist friends conducted experiments with kites. Colonial Beach, once a resort boomtown, is a quiet community now, but it makes a good base from which to explore nearby Northern Neck attractions such as Ingleside Winery, Stratford Hall Plantation (former home of Robert E. Lee) and George Washington’s birthplace. 821 Irving Ave., Colonial Beach, Va., 804-224-7000, Rates: $130, double occupancy.


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