America's Best Little Beach Towns
John Elk III / Alamy
Pacific Grove, CA
Tucked between popular Monterey, Pebble Beach, and Carmel, this quiet town is more famous for its butterflies and stray deer than its tourists. You won’t find a true swimming beach—Pacific Grove is more about huge waves crashing into rocks—but it’s great for tide-pooling, kayaking, and serious surfing.
Stay: Despite its tiny size, Pacific Grove has more B&Bs than any other coastal town between San Francisco and L.A. The granddaddy is the decadently Victorian Seven Gables Inn, which overlooks the water and offers daily wine and cheese tastings.
Eat: Passionfish was the first “green” restaurant in Monterey County, and you can enjoy your sustainable seafood and organic vegetables—such as sea scallops with caper-raisin-walnut relish or asparagus fries—while watching downtown life walk by outside.
—Katrina Brown Hunt