A century ago, like clockwork, wealthy families would flee to their summer homes after Memorial Day and hunker down until Labor Day to escape the city heat. Most of their lavish residences dotted America’s coasts, in towns like St. Augustine, Fla., Newport, R.I., and Galveston, Texas.

Now, many of their former mansions are hotels where – for a night or two – you can live like a king or queen, peeking out of the former bedrooms or strolling down the road for a postcard-perfect view of a sparkling coastline flush with sailboats and rimmed by a gorgeous beach. 

Here are the best spots.