2012 America's Happiest Seaside Towns

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

Sausalito, California
Photographer: John Elk III / Getty Images

3. Sausalito, California

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 Muir 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 Bay's coast.

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.

Where to Stay: For stunning views of the San Francisco skyline and bay, the hillside cottages and guest rooms of Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa boast sleek design. Rates start at $250; 415/331-3125 or casamadrona.com.

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