FRONTLINE: Great Escape to Villa Park House and Sea Crest by the Sea

Spring Lake, N.J.

Villa Park House, 417 Ocean Road, (732) 449-3642,

Sea Crest by the Sea, 19 Tuttle Ave., (800) 803-9031,

Drive time: Two hours.

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The scoop: Maybe you’ve never heard of Spring Lake. But this pristine Jersey Shore gem just south of Asbury Park has plenty to recommend it, including a handful of lakes, a beach and boardwalk virtually free of commercial trappings, and block after block of gorgeous Victorian-style homes. Downtown features first-class dining options and charming shops and boutiques.

For couples: Get reacquainted at Sea Crest by the Sea (pictured). Each of the inn’s eight rooms features a whirlpool tub for two; robes, slippers, fine soaps and spa amenities; a fireplace (or two); imported Frette bed linens; and more. Rates run $310-$500.

For families: The Villa Park House is one of the few Spring Lake B&B’s that allows children. In fact, owners Matthew Schmid—a Radnor High School alum, Culinary Institute of America grad and a consultant for New York’s Rainbow Room and Waldorf=Astoria—and MSNBC anchor Dara Schmid-Brown have a little one of their own. The homey, impeccably maintained 110-year-old inn is painted in the colorful Cape May style. Rooms run $185-$250.

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