Photographer: Michael Layefsky / Flickr
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