Why go: Find quintessential lobster shacks nestled in the remote calm of Maine’s small-town, island-studded shoreline.
What to do: Explore Reid State Park (207-371-2303, maine.gov), whose Mile and Half Mile beaches feature classic sandy stretches flanked by dunes. Charter a boat to Seguin Island Lighthouse (207-443-4808, seguinisland.org; adults $30, children $25), on an island two-and-a-half miles offshore, or hike through the 119 acres of forest, meadows and rocky outcroppings at Josephine Newman Audubon Sanctuary (207-781-2330, maineaudubon.org).
Local favorite: Five Islands Lobster Co. (1447 Five Islands Rd; 207-371-2990, fiveislandslobster.com) is no tourist magnet, and its lobsters come straight from the harbor it sits on. It’s tough to resist a “big boy” lobster roll, served on a toasted split-top bun and dressed with mayo (market price).
Where to stay: The turreted Grey Havens Inn (96 Seguinland Rd; 207-371-2616, greyhavens.com; $195–$395), perched on a hill that slopes into a classic Maine inlet, offers charming rooms, an in-house restaurant and, best of all, a wraparound veranda on which to take in the views.
Why go: Winter travelers flock to this village, but those in the know relish the off-season appeal of sunny mountaintops and a relaxing shoreline.
What to do: Pick up an Olympic Sites Summer Passport ($32) at the ORDA Store (2426 Main St; 518-523-1420, whitefacelakeplacid.com). The booklet gets you a gondola ride to the summit of Little Whiteface mountain, a tour of the ski-jump complex, entry to the Olympic museum and discounts on attractions like the bobsled ride down the Olympic track ($60, usually $75), piloted by a pro driver and brakeman. Nature lovers can take advantage of hiking trails, a Lake Placid boat tour (June 21–Sept 1, $15 adults, $10 children) and sailing on Mirror Lake (prices vary, visit mlboatrental.com for details).
Local favorite: Homey restaurant Chair 6 (5993 Sentinel Rd; 518-523-3630, chair6.com) is a go-to for its seasonally driven New American dinners (Maine scallops, grass-fed beef).
Where to stay: Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn (2764 Main St; 518-523-3700, artdevlins.com; from $76) combines proximity to Olympic sites with a swimming pool and a rustic vibe. Spring for one of the rooms with a private balcony ($76–$270).
Why go: Ensconced in the scenic White Mountains, this resort has on-site recreation (much of which is free), eateries and choice digs.
What to do: Mountain-oriented options include hiking, of course, but also an extensive zip-line network, a ski lift to the resort’s namesake peak followed by a free guided tour, and mountaintop ATV rental ($35, guests $32). Horseback riding ($70, guests $60), tennis ($18, guests free with $5 racket rental) and swimming in a pool that’s heated year-round will vie for your time as well. You can also ride the historic Cog Railway (end of Bay Station Rd; 800-922-8825, thecog.com; $68, seniors $63, children $39) up Bretton Woods, where a majestic view of the Presidential Range and a small natural-history museum await.
Local favorite: For a traditional country-inn splurge, book a table at the Bretton Arms Dining Room (Omni Bretton Arms Inn, 173 Mt. Washington Hotel Rd; 603-278-3000, omnihotels.com). Its refined American menu rotates with the seasons, but keep an eye out for Maine lobster and Long Island duck.
Where to stay: We like the stately, 1900-built (1902 opened) Omni Mt. Washington Resort Hotel (310 Mt. Washington Hotel Rd; 603-278-1000, omnihotels.com; from $199). It’s been extensively refurbished and offers an outdoor heated pool.
Why go: This town’s old-timey charm, boardwalk, white-sand beaches and historic cottages make it a classic summer destination.
What to do: After sunning yourself, swimming in the ocean and strolling the esplanade, rent bikes from Bike to Go (174 Rehoboth Ave; 302-227-7600, biketogo.com; $9–$135) and explore the Junction and Breakwater Trail, a six-mile stretch of secluded woods and waterfront. Hit the town’s Clear Space Theatre (20 Baltimore Ave; 302-227-2270, clearspacetheatre.org) for campy repertory performances. On rotation this summer (June 25–September 5 at 7:30pm): Grease, Rent and Seussical the Musical. An hour away, you’ll find the Biggs Museum of American Art (406 Federal St, Dover, DE; 302-674-2111, biggsmuseum.org), where you can inspect 18th- to 20th-century paintings and illustrations.
Local favorite: Quaint eateries abound, but try Shorebreak Lodge (10 Wilmington Ave; 302-227-1007, shorebreaklodge.tumblr.com) for its twists on standard menu items, such as a surf and turf of braised short ribs and seared scallops ($24).
Where to stay: The intimate Beach View Motel (6 Wilmington Ave; 302-227-2999, beachviewmotel.com; from $174) affords easy ocean access without a hefty price tag, along with a hot breakfast, free wine (5–6:30pm) and gratis house-made chocolate-chip cookies laid on at 8pm.
Why go: Find off-the-grid anonymity at this majestic Oneida Lake destination. Boating and water-sport options sate aquatic enthusiasts, while hiking and biking routes give you a chance to stretch your legs for something other than your daily commute.
What to do: Since you’re on New York State’s largest inland lake, take the opportunity to fish, swim and rent a motor- or pontoon boat ($39–$375, visit boatoneida.com for details). If a little shade is in order, grab panini and beer at Sylvan Beach Deli Mart (1104 Main St; 315-761-0909, sylvanbeachdelimart.com) and hightail it to the Woods and Wetland trail at Verona Beach State Park, to settle in for a lakeside picnic. You can also head to nearby Utica for a tour of Saranac Brewing (830 Varick St; 315-732-0022, saranac.com) and a visit to the Shako:wi Cultural Center (5 Territory Rd; 315-829-8801, oneidaindiannation.com), a museum that looks at the history and culture of the Oneida Indian Nation with an impressive collection of artifacts, artwork and traditional crafts.
Local favorite: Canal View Café (9 Canal St; 315-762-5623, canalviewcafe.com), situated on the historic Erie Barge Canal, has an eclectic menu offering everything from lemon-and-dill-broiled seafood platters ($19) to Greek gyro ($9–$10) and a Bam Bam sweet-and-sour shrimp salad ($13).
Where to stay: Quaint, tidy rooms with optional Jacuzzi (all but one have a fireplace), on-site dining and easy beach access make Cinderella’s Restaurant Bar & Suites (1208 Main St; 315-762-4280, cinderellasrestaurant.com; from $99) a good place to rest your head.