Baltimore Sun’s BEST party in 2 weeks

Taking delight in little retreats around the state

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Here it is, almost August, and suddenly that summer vacation you're not taking this year is slamming you with a severe case of deprivation. Or that vacation you took waaaay back in June feels like it happened last year. Getting away for a full week in August is out of the question. But a couple of days, well, that you could manage to squeeze in. But you need to really get away fast; you don't want to spend gobs of time just traveling to get someplace.

Maryland is chock full of great bed-and-breakfast getaways. You'll find them in every corner of the state, even right here in Baltimore. We've chosen 10 places to get you on your way. Each is located in a different part of the state and offers something that makes it a standout.

Current double-occupancy rates per night include a full breakfast cooked on the premises. All rooms or suites include private baths and all have adults-only, nonsmoking and no-pet policies unless noted. Rates and August availability may change.

INN ON THE OCEAN, 10th Avenue and the Boardwalk, Ocean City. Six rooms/suites. Mostly midweek August availability. $185-$290. Two-night minimum on weekends. 888-226-6223, 877-466-6662, 410-289-8894. www.ocean-city.com/innontheocean.htm.

You're walking along Ocean City's famously frenzied Boardwalk, and suddenly you're looking at a white picket fence, a bright blue-and-white striped awning, and an old-fashioned front porch decorated with elegant outdoor furniture and pots of pansies. A sense of cozy calm envelops you. It's hard to believe the hub of O.C.'s hubbub ends about a block away.

The Inn on the Ocean didn't get its nickname - "an oasis in the chaos" - for nothing. This seaside beach house embraces you with its charm - from the baby grand and plaid wicker sofa in the living room to the homey matching comforters and pillows in the bedrooms and suites. Each room has a king- or queen-size bed, color TV, VCR and ceiling fan. Four also have whirlpools.

Summer breakfast - with offerings including blueberry pancakes, sauteed fresh peaches and French toast - is generally served on the veranda, which overlooks the beach.

In the afternoon, guests are also offered homemade refreshments such as ice tea (complete with home-grown mint sprig) and tea cake. No wonder some folks have made the inn their annual destination "down the ocean" for years!

BRAMPTON INN, 25227 Chestertown Road, one mile south of Chestertown. Ten rooms/suites. Weekend and weekday August availability. $105-$215. Two-night minimum for Saturday-night stays. 410-778-1860. Web site: www.bramptoninn.com.

Set on 35 acres of fields, orchards and marshes, this Greek-revival-style mansion is the epitome of pleasant living. While the owners have taken care to retain most of the building's original details - decorating mostly with antiques and period reproductions - they have also added modern-day amenities to make a 21st-century guest feel properly pampered.

Many of the rooms have canopy beds, wood-burning fireplaces and a sitting area or separate sitting room. Some even offer double whirlpool bathtubs and a private garden or patio.

In addition to breakfast (your choice of an entrM-ie such as eggs, French toast or pancakes), you can also enjoy the inn's afternoon tea, featuring light refreshments such as lemonade, blueberry crisp or cheese and crackers.

Most Brampton guests come to take it easy: sit on the front porch and read or browse Chestertown's quaint little stores before enjoying a good meal at one of the area's many restaurants.

COMBSBERRY, 4837 Evergreen Road, Oxford. Seven rooms/suites. Weekend and weekday August availability. Children over age 12 welcome. $250-$395 a night. 410-226-5353. www.combsberry.com.

This 1730 brick English manor house is nestled on the banks of Brigham's Cove off the Choptank River. So if you have a boat, you just might want to use it to get to the Combsberry, which has its own pier where you can dock.

Once here, relax in one of the Adirondack chairs set out on the five acres of lawn and watch the world gurgle by.

The house was updated about four years ago. Rooms are tastefully and traditionally decorated, and all have water views. Some added attractions include canopy beds, whirlpool tubs and private balconies. The carriage house has its own kitchen, living room, brick patio, two bedrooms with fireplaces and a pet-friendly atmosphere.

For guests who prefer a little activity with their down time, the Combsberry has two canoes.

THE ANNAPOLIS INN, 144 Prince George St., Annapolis. Three suites. Mostly weekday August availability. $250-$375. 410-295-5200. www.annapolis- inn.com.

Who would have thought that behind the doors of this 1770 Georgian townhouse would lie what the owners describe as an adult Disney World? This is opulence at its most magnificent - crystal chandeliers, gold-leafed moldings, marble fireplaces, tapestries, sculptures and Oriental rugs.

There may be only three suites here, but oh what suites! Satin brocades cascade off windows and beds, imported 500-count bed linens are changed daily, toes are warmed by heated marble floors and terrycloth is warmed by heated towel racks in the bathrooms, which themselves boast etched-glass shower doors and whirlpool tubs.

And let's not forget the bowls of Dove chocolates in each room, or the special extras you can arrange with the owners - say, having fresh rose petals sprinkled on the bed (it's been done!).

Breakfast is made as ordered the day before and served around the large table in the formal dining room - or in the English garden out back.

By the way, the inn is a historic landmark, having served as a stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves on their way to freedom.

CELIE'S WATERFRONT BED & BREAKFAST, 1714 Thames St., Baltimore. Seven rooms. Mostly weekday August availability. Two-night minimum on weekends. $120-$220. 410-522-2323, 800-432-0184. www.bbonline.com/md/celies.

If you live in Baltimore, you can get away here without really getting away. Right on Fells Point's Thames Street, between the Daily Grind and the Orpheum Theatre, is a discreet wrought-iron gate. After being buzzed in, you walk down a narrow walkway and up to this peaceful and cozy refuge.

Celie's is decorated in a simple country style, which seems perfectly in keeping with the aroma of fresh-baked bread that may greet you.

Because many guests here are business travelers who prefer to stay in a place that feels like home, each room has a small refrigerator and coffee maker. Some even have kitchenettes, fireplaces, whirlpool baths, private balconies and a view of Recreation Pier, which played the Baltimore police station in the TV series "Homicide."

In keeping with Baltimore rowhouse tradition, there's a roof deck here where many guests like to relax and take in the city skyline.

Breakfast is "hearty continental," consisting of fresh fruit, fresh baked breads and homemade granola - often enjoyed in Celie's back garden during the summer.

GRAMERCY MANSION, 1400 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson. Private baths, three rooms with shared hall bath. Mostly weekday August availability. $75-$295. 410-486-2405, 800-533-3404. www.gramercymansion.com.

You follow a winding road through lush woods to get to this large Tudor-style mansion set among English gardens, a pool and tennis court. As you walk inside, you sense this could have been the house your grandparents grew up in - if your grandparents had been from old money.

The Gramercy was built in 1902 by Alexander J. Cassatt, Pennsylvania Railroad owner and the brother of American Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.

It doesn't feel like much has changed since the turn of the last century. Those leather chairs in the library, for instance, might have some stories to tell about lively literary discussions that have taken place over the years.

The rooms and suites are decorated variously - some in florals and lace, and some with a masculine cast. Whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, sitting rooms and a sun porch are some of the extras.

In the summer, breakfast is usually served on a patio overlooking the pool and gardens. It's made to order via a menu you fill out the night before.

This trip back in time is only 20 minutes from downtown Baltimore.

ANTRIM 1844 COUNTRY INN, 30 Trevanian Road, Taneytown. 22 rooms/suites. Weekend and weekday August availability. $150-$350. Two-night minimum for Saturday- night stays. 800-858-1844, 410-756-6812. www.antrim1844.com.

Looking for the best things in life all in one place? They're only 45 minutes away from downtown Baltimore, at one of Maryland's best known, and top-rated, bed and breakfasts. Four-poster beds, fireplaces, two-person whirlpools, steam showers, sitting rooms and private decks and balconies are just some of the options available in Antrim's richly decorated main house and outbuilding rooms and suites.

You'll find plenty to do on the 23 acres of the inn's grounds - croquet, tennis, lawn bowling, horseshoes - or you can just lounge around the swimming pool. At 6:30 every evening, you can attend the hors d'oeuvres party, whether or not you're planning to dine at Antrim's Smokehouse Restaurant, where five-course prix-fixe meals($55 weekdays, $62.50 weekends) offer new American dishes including goat cheese-stuffed tulip on a bed of brown butter spinach with beet aioli and oven-roasted sea bass.

Your breakfast the next morning is a two-parter. First, "James" a wooden butler waits outside your door with fresh-baked muffins, coffee and the newspaper for you to enjoy in your room. Then, a formal full breakfast is served around 9:30 a.m. in the dining room with a chef's choice entree such as eggs Benedict or Belgian waffles. Self-indulgence never felt so good!

STONE MANOR, 5820 Carroll Boyer Road, Middletown/Frederick. Six rooms/suites. Mostly weekday August availability. $150-$275. 301-473-5454. www.stonemanor.com.

With a national award-winning restaurant on the premises, this 19th-century stone mansion is a foodie's fantasy. Elegant table linens and dinnerware grace tables in the Stone Manor's three dining rooms, setting off sumptuous five-course prix-fixe dinners featuring creations including grilled duck breast in a wild rice crepe, and tea-scented chocolate pots de creme with caramelized bananas.

If that isn't delicious enough, Stone Manor sweetens the pot by offering a Tuesday-Thursday special. If you have dinner ($69) with the accompanying wine course package($31), you can stay in your room for half-price.

Not that these rooms are anything to sneeze at. They have a traditional feel with modern conveniences, and many have separate sitting rooms or sitting areas, two-person whirlpools and views of the inn's beautifully manicured grounds.

Breakfast includes your choice of either an egg dish or something bread-y (Belgian waffles, French toast).

While the antique shops and art galleries of Frederick are just 11 miles away, many of the Stone Manor's guests prefer to disappear into one of the gazebos scattered around the 114-acre estate and read until lunchtime. Oh, did we mention that the restaurant serves lunch, too?

LAKE POINTE INN, 174 Lake Pointe Drive on Deep Creek Lake, McHenry. Seven rooms. Weekday August availability only. $133-$189. 800-523-5253, 301-387-0111. www.deepcreekinns.com/lakepointe.

If you're yearning for an outdoorsy getaway, head up to this lakeside lodge, where all of the rooms offer a view of Deep Creek Lake - and then some. Lake Pointe Inn has a swimming and boating dock, outdoor hot tub, tennis court, six mountain bikes, two canoes and one kayak available for guest use. Golf courses, boat and water-ski rentals and hiking trails are close by. And every evening there's a free, hour-long lake cruise.

The inn itself? Think rustic elegance - wood and stone and an award-winning interior design in the Arts and Crafts style.

There's a great room with large picture windows and a 9-foot stone fireplace. The guest rooms all are equipped with TVs and VCRs.

If you get an attack of the munchies, coffee, soda, cookies and popcorn are always around. And there's a daily hors d'ouevres hour beginning at 5:30 p.m. Breakfast is a delight, with fresh-squeezed orange juice, homemade granola and entrees including Southwestern eggs with tortillas and salsa and a fresh strawberry/mango parfait.

September Yacht Bed and Breakfast, Bay Boat Works, Hances Point Road, North East. One to two rooms. Weekend and weekday August availability. $150 and up. 302-738-8398. www.bbchannel.com/bbc/p616344.asp.

That's right, this bed and breakfast is a boat. But not just any boat, mind you. The September is a 41-foot, all-mahogany Chris Craft built in 1946. It's one of only seven of this style ever made and has been lovingly restored by its owners.

You'll find the cream-colored vessel at the end of a covered dock hugging the lush shoreline of Hances Point, a cove off the Northeast River.

Most of the vessel's original interior remains, with mahogany cabinets, a standard double bed and the toilet in the master suite.

The salon is outfitted with a loveseat and cushioned wicker chairs, as well as one of the two wooden helms. The boat's shower is located in the galley (where the captain and one-man crew will prepare your breakfast - eggs, bacon, cereal and such). Farthest forward in the ship is a V-berth that houses a bunk bed.

If you don't want to leave the dock, a one-night's stay will cost you $150, and you'll have the boat all to yourself at night. For a little more, you can bring the kids with you and they can sleep in the V-berth.

However, if you'd rather make your getaway away from the dock - perhaps eat dinner at a waterside restaurant somewhere and settle into a private inlet for the night, it'll cost you more and you'll have adult company.

Law requires that the ship's licensed captain be at the helm and onboard overnight. He and his crew will bunk in the V-berth, however, giving you plenty of privacy. The September's owners are very willing to work with you on creating a perfect escape.

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