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American seaside escapes

Warren Jagger

The Ocean House in Watch Hill, R.I., is a classic seaside hotel, with offerings of superb meals.

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came,” said President John F. Kennedy, who spent summers at his family’s waterfront property in Cape Cod, Mass.

Though few people have a seaside home like the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, there are many gorgeous seaside inns and hotels throughout America. From Los Angeles’s Venice Beach to the Jersey Shore, the new wave of beach hotels is also putting an emphasis on amazing food.

Slideshow: See the American seaside escapes

The Ocean House in Watch Hill, R.I., a grand Victorian hotel completed a $140 million renovation in 2010. In addition to building a 12,000-square-foot spa, the property employs a full-time forager who works with 40 area farms to supply produce for the hotel’s six restaurants.

“Elegant, confident and bold dishes — layered foie gras terrine with banana-walnut bread and rhubarb gelée, hot-and-sour consommé with carrot ‘flowers’ — are both pretty delicious and very pretty,” Food & Wine Editor in Chief Dana Cowin wrote of the hotel’s Seasons restaurant.

A less luxe but still enviable seaside escape is Postcard Inn at St. Pete Beach in Florida. Steve Hanson, founder of B.R. Guest Restaurants, turned a 1950s Colonial Gateway Inn into this retro-style hotel with vintage surfboards in many of the rooms and a photo booth in the lobby.

An outpost of his Wildwood BBQ & Burger called Beachwood Bar & Burger serves mahimahi tacos alongside ribs and brisket. The inn’s PCI Beach Bar & Snack Shack supplies beachy foods all day long, like beer-battered shrimp, nachos topped with chili and award-winning, house-made BBQ pit chips, as well as a beach essential: ice-cold beer.

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