Discover Coastal Dream Towns

After canvassing all coasts for towns with seaside charm, a lively beach culture, and good housing, these are our top spots for planning quick trips or finding a new place to live.

Dream Town: Bodega Bay, California

Discover this quiet California community along the Pacific Coast Highway, where the views are unobstructed and the simple life rules.

The Rugged Beauty
Photo: Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

The Rugged Beauty

Though it does have the dubious distinction of being the setting for Hitchcock's 1963 thriller The Birds, it's Bodega Bay's rugged beauty that has everyone flocking to its windswept shores. The town's miles of sandy coves are separated by rocky bluffs—the headlands as jagged as puzzle pieces, with giant boulders strewn about in the churning surf.

A 90-minute drive north of San Francisco on Highway 1, past lazy sheep meadows and clapboard cattle ranches, this small fishing village charms with its sea-weathered candy shops and surf shacks welcoming visitors with hand-painted wooden signs.

Pictured left: Bodega Head, known for its hiking trails with sublime vistas, at dawn

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