Looking for a seaside B&B that's drenched in Victorian charm? A farmhouse where you could help with chores? Plenty of resources abound for finding the type of B&B that suits you.
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS: Both Virginia and Maryland have groups that specialize in or have great knowledge of B&Bs.
* Virginia: The Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia (888-660-2228, www.bbav.org) can suggest driving tours of historic areas or wineries and the B&Bs along the way. The Web site allows you to search for inns by amenity, such as full or continental breakfast and whether pets are allowed.
* Maryland: The Maryland Bed and Breakfast Association (www.marylandbb.com) lists pithy descriptions of B&Bs by location and includes links to attractions in the area . . . Sixteen inns in the Maryland capital are listed as members of the Annapolis Bed and Breakfast Association (www.annapolisbandb.com), which also publishes a book of the group's favorite recipes.
* The highly regarded BedandBreakfast.com (303-274-2800, www.bedandbreakfast.com) boasts listings of 27,000 B&Bs around the world and is especially helpful for its archived newsletters, which include tips on such topics as choosing a B&B when you're traveling on business, how to complain effectively to an innkeeper, even how to pack if you're staying at a B&B (for example, think third-floor rooms accessible by narrow stairs in Victorian mansions).
* American Historic Inns Inc. (800-397-4667, www.bnbinns.com) independently reviews B&Bs and publishes the results in a trio of guidebooks (See Books below). The group also offers a discount card for stays at more than 1,000 B&Bs around the United States for $49.95.
* Discounted stays at some inns recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (202-588-6000, www.nationaltrust.org) can be found on the organization's Web site; for example, a night at the 35-room Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley near Scottsdale, Ariz., starts at $105.
* BBdirectory.com (828-387-3697, www.bbdirectory.com) focuses on the inns it considers most romantic and has a free downloadable guide.
* Bed and Breakfast Inns Online (615-868-1946, www.bbonline.com) keeps a directory of 4,900 inns in the United States and around the world, with photos, rates and links to the B&Bs' sites.
* Placestostay.com (www.placestostay.com) lists a wide variety of inns and B&Bs in Virginia and Maryland. Click on the state name, then on the town you're interested in visiting.
TOURISM BUREAUS: Any city or state tourism office can offer B&B suggestions. Locally, you could create a travel wish list by saving descriptions of interesting B&Bs in a personal "trip planner" on the Web site of Virginia Tourism (800-847-4882, www.virginia.org). "B&B" takes on two meanings on the Web site of Maryland Tourism (800-719-5900, www.mdisfun.org); not only can you search for standard "bed and breakfasts" but you also can find "boats and breakfasts" -- that is, dockside inns or cottages on the Chesapeake Bay.
* "Bed and Breakfast and Country Inns" ($21.95), "The Bed and Breakfast Encyclopedia" ($18.95) and "The Official Guide to American Historic Inns" ($16.95) are all published by the venerable American Historic Inns Inc.
* "Where to Weekend Around Washington, D.C." (Fodor's; $16.95) has fresh ideas for weekend jaunts out of town from Bucks County, Pa., to Norfolk. B&B listings are included when especially recommended.
* Though not updated this year, "The Complete Guide to Bed & Breakfasts, Inns & Guesthouses in the United States, Canada and Worldwide" (Lanier Publishing; $14.95) is a mammoth 800-page listing of more than 7,500 inns worldwide.
-- Elissa Leibowitz