America's Happiest Seaside Towns 2013

Find our 2013 annual list of the best places to live on the coast, ranked by you! And the winners are...

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#3 Sanibel Island, Florida
Photo: Altrendo Nature/Corbis

3. Sanibel Island, Florida

Life in this South Florida island town just west of Fort Myers is a pastel dream, combining pale blue skies, white-sand beaches, and millions of seashells that have literally built the island on which it sits. When locals dig in their backyards on Sanibel, they turn up conch, scallop, and clam shells—intact.

As for the quiet, away-from-it-all life that Sanibel offers its 6,469 residents, consider that there are no stoplights, nor buildings taller than the tallest palm tree. And the shell-seekers know that Bowman's Beach, a natural stretch accessible only via pedestrian bridge, is one of the best for shelling (and birding).

Where to stay: Song of the Sea inn's cozy rooms and suites offer private, screened-in balconies overlooking the pool or ocean. Rates start at $199; theinnsofsanibel.com.

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