9 U.S. Beach Towns Where You’ll Come For Summer But Stay Forever


Beach trips are great and all, but sometimes the post-vacation blues hit so hard that we start searching for ways to call the coast our permanent home. 

Enter these charming options from Coastal Living magazine’s list of the 20 Best Places to Live on the Coast. We sifted through and chose 10 U.S. destinations that strike the perfect balance between city and seaside life. Whether bigger (like Santa Barbara) or smaller (like Langley, Washington), each offers a laid-back vibe that can be sustained all year long. 

Ready to make some moves?

  • 1 Fernandina Beach, Florida

Coastal Living

Life in this historic town includes horse-drawn carriage rides, quaint downtown shops and an annual shrimp festival. Its location on Amelia Island makes for prime shore time on 13 miles of calm, sandy beaches.

  • 2 Langley, Washington

It’s tough to choose between the beaches and forests that surround this itty-bitty city on Washington’s Whidbey Island. The good news? You don’t have to: Langley’s location makes it easy to kayak Puget Sound and bike bright-green hills in the same day.

  • 3 San Diego, California

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From the Mission Beach Boardwalk to the Shakespearean Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park, San Diego has no shortage of cultural activities, not to mention a stellar craft beer scene. A whopping 70 miles of coast serve as the backdrop.

  • 4 Sarasota, Florida

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Humble beach town this is not: If you’re craving a buzzier atmosphere to call home, Sarasota is your spot. Catch a show at the local opera, ballet or orchestra, then take a quick drive from downtown to Siesta Key, often called the best beach in the country.

  • 5 Orleans, Massachusetts

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The plentiful art galleries in this Cape Cod town feature watercolor paintings, collectible knick-knacks, pottery and more. But the biggest attraction might be Coast Guard lifeboat CG 36500, a famous rescue vessel docked in scenic Rock Harbor during summer.

  • 6 Grand Haven, Michigan

Bob Peskorse Jr

Who said beach towns need an ocean? This Lake Michigan gem is known for killer sunsets and a busy boardwalk with a delightfully old-fashioned feel. Camping and hiking are at your fingertips, thanks to Grand Haven State Park.

  • 7 Shelter Island, New York

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Celebrities are fans of this 8,000-acre island, which is about a 90-mile train ride — plus a quick ferry jaunt — from Manhattan. About a third of the island is a nature conservancy, and the rest is dotted with inns, tennis courts and a historical society.

8 St. Petersburg, Florida

With a Salvador Dali Museum and craft breweries galore, “St. Pete’s” is trading in its retiree vibe for a youthful buzz. Check out the cozy coffee shop scene, then hit a gorgeous blue-water beach.

9 Santa Barbara, California

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With both the ocean and charming city architecture never far out of sight, Santa Barbara offers an ideal balance of beach and business. Shopping is a top activity, but so are horseback riding and wine tasting in local vineyards.


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