2012 America's Happiest Seaside Towns

We've ranked the top 15 happiest places to live on the coast. And the winners are...

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Stinson Beach, California
Photographer: Michael Layefsky / Flickr

12. Stinson Beach, California

Living in Stinson 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 camp 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.

Where to Stay: The Sandpiper offers quaint rooms and cabins. Rates start at $140; 877/557-4737 or sandpiperstinsonbeach.com.

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