Perched on the steep, wooded hillsides that give way to Marin County's Richardson
Bay, this town of more than 7,000 lucky souls just north of the Golden Gate
Bridge is surrounded by the lush Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
(Locals rave about nearby
Beach's clean white sands
and crystal-clear water.) Sausalito
is home to about 400 houseboats, as well, and has one of the only open marinas
on San Francisco
The zeitgeist here echoes
its bohemian roots as an artists' colony while also hosting well-heeled inhabitants.
Café life informs the pace—start your
morning like locals do, with an espresso at Poggio,
Sausalito Bakery & Café, Il Piccolo Café, or Caffe
Tutti. Then wind
down your day with wine tasting—and if you score a night on a Sausalito houseboat, your
life is pretty much complete.
Don't be put off by the fact that its name is the Spanish word for shark—Tiburon
is one benign and happy place, settled on the steep-hilled tip of the Tiburon
peninsula. One of the many lovely things about living in this town of fewer
than 10,000 folks is that you can commute to San Francisco by fast ferry:
no gridlock. A revitalized Main
Street that made all the town's popular boutiques
and restaurants handicapped accessible without forgoing quaint streetscapes
is testimony to the beating heart in Tiburon. So are the top-notch schools,
which brought in the highest rankings in our survey.
Perhaps most emblematic
of the welcome in Tiburon is in the philosophy of one of its oldest restaurants,
the beloved waterfront hangout Sam's Anchor Cafe (one of the only restaurants
in the San Francisco Bay with a public dock): &;;;;;;;;Pull up. Tie up. Stay
a while.&;;;;;;;; It's that kind of place.
high-priced developments, this quaint, artistic village
anchored by a walkable downtown has always
marched to its own drummer. From its founding as an artists' colony, Laguna Beach embraces the diverse, with funky
downtown restaurants, surfing culture, and a summer full of art festivals. (Luxe
outposts like the Ritz-Carlton and Montage offer high-end comforts, too.)
While some other California
coastal towns piled up commerce on their shores, Laguna fought for open space,
and now its nearly 25,000 residents reap the benefits
of sweeping views and unparalleled public access to some of the most unspoiled
coves in America.
Half Moon Bay,
Everyone's first visit to Half Moon Bay feels as close to a &;;;;;;;;eureka!&;;;;;;;;
discovery moment as there is. Your car navigates that vertiginous road over
the coastal hills from sprawling Silicon Valley,
and then you descend upon this little gem nestled against the Pacific. The place
is simply overwhelmed by the abundance of organic produce grown there. (Go in
fall and you'll see a sea of the town's famed pumpkins.) That's the magic of
this fertile township of more than 12,000 residents that was first discovered
and cultivated by 18th-century Spanish settlers, and proudly maintains its agricultural
heritage into the iPad era.
redolent with the summer perfume of suntan lotion and the tang of saltwater
taffy, holds in the crook of its sandy elbow this historic little town. Pure New England in its shingled cottages, cozy along its narrow
maintains the small-scale beauty of its 18-century beginnings. A sense of community
permeates the town (the year-round population of 6,625 more than triples in
the summer), particularly among the family-owned and operates shops, restaurants,
and businesses that dot downtown. Add to that a pretty little gazebo on Main
Street for concerts, the bleached-white stalwart beauty of the Chatham Lighthouse,
the 2 p.m.-to-4 p.m. ritual of strolling to the pier to watch the fleet come
in, and the colorful presence of a local baseball team, the Chatham Anglers,
for more old-fashioned fun.
Hundreds of rare loggerhead turtles know a paradise when they find one.
Juno Beach, a white strand of sand along the southern
coast, is one of their favorite nesting places. Just north
of that beach sits Jupiter, a relaxed beachfront town with 40,000 year-round
residents who've chosen to nest along this network of inlets and waterways.
Life in Jupiter is easygoing and low-key, and yet there's access to plenty
of luxury amenities, whether you're a visitor or a resident. On the down-home
front, baseball devotees love the proximity to spring training—both the
St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins train and play at Jupiter's Roger Dean
Stadium. And tying it all together are those lovely Florida Atlantic coast beaches—long,
broad, and ranked consistently among the healthiest beaches on our list.
he Hawaiian kings knew that
Lahaina was the crown
jewel of the islands. Which is why this town of 11,700 was
once the royal capital of Maui Loa in antiquity. Now it's the charming
gateway to Maui's world-famous
Ka'anapali and Kapalua
beach resorts to the north. Its banyan trees add a courtly air to the downtown,
and its brightly colored Front
Street, busy with shops and galleries, keeps things
lively. Lahaina has nearly perfect air quality,
and when you add its dry, sunny climate in a tropical paradise, that makes life
Long a favored harbor for American whaling vessels,
Lahaina maintains an exotic tinge of a mid-19th-century
Hawaiian seaport in its architecture and vibe. The seafaring tradition continues
each year, when the town hosts the finish of the Vic-Mauo
Yacht race, the longest offshore sailboat race on the West Coast, held every
June through July.
A great harbor will always make a great coastal town, and Marblehead is exhibit A. With
a sheltered harbor ringed by a rocky peninsula and a sandbar, this proud town
of 19,800 on Massachusett's North Shore has spawned
generations of great sailors.
Since the late 1800s,
has been able to claim its title as yachting capital of the United States, counting
six yacht clubs and the oldest junior yacht club in America. On any
weekend, the harbor fills with the furled sails of regatta competition. Less
than an hour from Boston,
a highly educated population that has driven the town to maintain some of the
highest-ranked schools on our list.
Beach is like being on a perpetual
honeymoon. It's that romantic.
Maybe because the area used
to be only accessible from San Francisco by schooner, or by foot over the
Dipsea Trail. Eventually, a dirt road was
carved along the coast from Sausalito,
and a tent c sprang up among the willows. Now, 773 homes dot this Route 1 gem
about 25 miles north of San Francisco—with
3 1/2 miles of sand that are among the cleanest stretches of beach in
California. Plus, there are surfers, rugged natural
beauty everywhere you look, and lots of sand dollars for shell-collecting walks.
Insiders who know New England coastal life know that Boston's South Shore has
some of the most picturesque (and hard to get to) towns there are. And those
townfolk are all the luckier for their splendid
isolation. Chief among those secret-treasure towns may be Cohasset, a former
fishing village tucked in along the rocky shores where greater
Harbor ends and Massachusetts Bay begins.
Cohasset's beauty drew painter
Maurice Prendergast, who captured its colors in famous oils. With only 7,500
residents, Cohasset offers a large park, two beaches for residents, and a wildlife
sanctuary. Shh. Don't
While New England's Wanoag Indians had enjoyed
the sea-borne bounty of this shoreline on
Bay for centuries, it was
pilgrim Myles Standish who settled in an area now known as
Did that famous Pilgrim envision the community that would grow
here, out of shipping and farming (Duxbury is dotted with the deep red of cranberry
bogs, and its oyster farming is on the rise), to hold one of the United States'
top 12 public high schools? Perhaps. A community
commitment to education keeps this town of 14,200 residents a
desirous outpost for
commuters. And clean air and spacious views of the bay make it a yea
Tidewater living is about some fresh oysters for dinner and an icy beer, about
summer hospitality and quiet pride in community. It's about a legacy of fishing,
shellfishing, and explorations. And
Solomons, tucked along where the Patuxent
River meets Chesapeake Bay, breathes these qualities among its tidy, whitewashed
homes and businesses.
A favorite getaway spot for the Baltimore-Washington
area, this tiny settlement of 2,400 boasts marinas, seafood joints (including
a heralded spot, Stoney's Seafood House), a well-worn
boardwalk forstrolling, and the gorgeous
Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, which
shows world-class work on loan from the National Gallery of Art or the Smithsonian.
It's like finding a pearl. And still getting to eat the
oyster. Every day.