America's Coolest Summer Cottages

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Frankie Frankeny

The coolest cottages combine the spirit of summer camp with grown-up style.

Nick’s Cove, Marshall, CA

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Summer by the sea awaits just over an hour north of San Francisco, at this colorful collection of 12 cottages on Tomales Bay with sweeping views of Point Reyes National Seashore across the water. Beach lovers have flocked here for more than 80 years, but a full renovation in 2007 transformed what was once a casual hideaway into a more luxurious destination—complete with the sea-to-table Oyster Bar and cozy Boat Shack. Kayaks are ready to be paddled through the tranquil water, and the rolling hills beg to be hiked, but at least one lazy afternoon should be spent just “sitting on the dock of the bay,” with your toes dangling in the water.

Price Tag: From $225 (for a cottage that sleeps two to four), including oysters on arrival and breakfast delivered to your door; nickscove.com.

America's Coolest Summer Cottages

Nick’s Cove, Marshall, CA

Summer by the sea awaits just over an hour north of San Francisco, at this colorful collection of 12 cottages on Tomales Bay with sweeping views of Point Reyes National Seashore across the water. Beach lovers have flocked here for more than 80 years, but a full renovation in 2007 transformed what was once a casual hideaway into a more luxurious destination—complete with the sea-to-table Oyster Bar and cozy Boat Shack. Kayaks are ready to be paddled through the tranquil water, and the rolling hills beg to be hiked, but at least one lazy afternoon should be spent just “sitting on the dock of the bay,” with your toes dangling in the water.

Price Tag: From $225 (for a cottage that sleeps two to four), including oysters on arrival and breakfast delivered to your door; nickscove.com.

Frankie Frankeny

America's Coolest Summer Cottages

Remember when summer was endless? It smelled like pine needles and roasting marshmallows and felt like a splash of icy fresh lake water. Well, you can recapture those sensations at new bungalow cottages in Maine—without roughing it and without chintzy florals.

Hidden Pond’s cottages are part of a cool breed that prove an authentic, carefree vacation is still possible and can be even better than you remember, thanks to sophisticated twists. Whether as part of luxury resorts or as independent rentals, these rustic-chic cottages offer classic summertime activities alongside modern comforts and design. You can find them across the U.S. and often at affordable prices, especially when you tally up the included activities.

Related: America's Best Cities for Summer Travel

If you want to swim in the Pacific Ocean and dine on fresh seafood, stay at Nick’s Cove, where the 12 renovated, cheerily painted cottages all come with views of Point Reyes National Seashore, California. Go glamping in a cool A-frame cottage—with 16-foot windows, an oversize soaking tub, and a floating staircase—in the private Far Meadow just outside Yosemite, and hike to your heart’s content. Or hide out in one of the 10 Midcentury Modern cottages at the Colony of Wellfleet, a former artists’ retreat in a Cape Cod fishing village.

These homes away from home pamper guests with simple pleasures and an effortless sense of style and can be tailored to all kinds of getaways. Romantics will fall for The Prairie, a set of six cottages on a Texas homestead with ruffled bedding, chandeliers, flea market finds, and taxidermy. Kids can sleep in a tepee next door to their parents’ cottage at Dunton Hot Springs, CO, or tackle the ropes course and archery at Wandawega, a former camp that opened its cottage doors in 2011, decked out with vintage Pendleton blankets and chandeliers of fallen antlers.

Some of the digs we’ve uncovered have TVs and Wi-Fi; many, like Wandawega, do not. Some have room service and spas—Hidden Pond’s Tree Spa treatment rooms are suspended eight feet above the ground—while others stick to hammocks and screened decks.

One thing’s for sure: these are all true getaways at tasteful retreats where you can slow down, unplug from technology (for a few hours a day, at least), feel the breeze in your hair, and get sand or grass between your toes.

Here’s our roll call of America’s coolest summer cottages.

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