America?s ?Happiest? Seaside Towns [SLIDESHOW]

 @MarkJohansonIBT
on May 15 2012 1:43 PM
  • No. 1 Kiawah Island, South Carolina
    Coastal Living called this barrier island “exquisite” with small-town charms and a vacation-like lifestyle. Kiawah Island is home to “10 miles of unspoiled fine-sand beach; wild-growing palmetto, oak, and magnolia trees; a veritable Noah's ark's worth of mammals and rare birds; and 1,626 lucky residents.” creative commons
  • No. 2 Naples, Florida
    Coastal Living said Naples lives up to its Italian namesake and international reputation: “With rich cultural offerings (including resident orchestral and theater groups), this town of just fewer than 20,000 people offers big-city-pay-offs minutes from beaches with some of the finest snowy white sand in the region.” REUTERS
  • No. 3 Sausalito, California
    This town just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and surrounded by a lush recreation area has one of the only open marinas on San Francisco Bay’s coast. Coast Living notes: “The zeitgeist here echoes its bohemian roots as an artists' colony while also hosting well-heeled inhabitants.” REUTERS
  • No. 4 Lake Bluff, Illinois
    This Midwestern village on the shores of Lake Michigan has a checkered history that adds to its intrigue: “Originally envisioned in the 19th century as a resort fashioned after the Eastern Chautauqua movement that combined culture, education, and recreation, Lake Bluff also enjoyed colorful days as an alcohol-smuggling port during Prohibition.” creative commons
  • No. 5 Tiburon, California
    On the other side of Richardson Bay from Sausalito (No. 3 on the list), this Bay Area hamlet of 10,000 is not nearly as scary as its name Tiburon (Spanish for shark) may have you thinking. Coastal Living notes: “Perhaps most emblematic of the welcome in Tiburon is in the philosophy of one of its oldest restaurants, the beloved waterfront hangout Sam's Anchor Cafe (one of the only restaurants in the San Francisco Bay with a public dock): "Pull up. Tie up. Stay a while." It's that kind of place.” creative commons
  • No. 6 Laguna Beach, California
    Laguna Beach, of MTV fame, is as beautiful in person as it is on TV. Coastal Living says: “From its founding as an artists' colony, Laguna Beach embraces the diverse, with funky downtown restaurants, surfing culture, and a summer full of art festivals.” REUTERS
  • No. 7 Half Moon Bay, California
    Coastal living notes that “everyone's first visit to Half Moon Bay feels as close to a ‘eureka!’ discovery moment as there is.” Though it’s just around the corner from Silicon Valley, this fertile township of 12,000 proudly maintains its agricultural heritage. creative commons
  • No. 8 Chatham, Massachusetts
    This summertime retreat occupying the elbow of Cape Cod revels in its old town charms. Coastal Living notes: “Pure New England in its shingled cottages, cozy along its narrow streets, Chatham maintains the small-scale beauty of its 18-century beginnings.” creative commons
  • No. 9 Jupiter, Florida
    This easygoing Florida town boasts healthy beaches, natural wonders, and a low-key mentality. Coastal Living jokes: “Hundreds of rare loggerhead turtles know a paradise when they find one.” creative commons
  • No. 10 Lahaina, Hawaii
    The gateway to Maui’s world-famous Ka’anapali and Kapalua beach resorts is a destination all to its own. Coastal Living boasts: “Lahaina maintains an exotic tinge of a mid-19th-century Hawaiian seaport in its architecture and vibe.” creative commons
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For Coastal Living's special 15th anniversary edition, the magazine scoured the U.S. for America's Happiest Seaside Towns.

Editors picked the seaside hamlets from Coastal Living's existing Dream Towns, featured in the magazine over the past 15 years. They also placed a call out for entries on social media channels and funneled the results through the Gallup-Healthways Index, which ranks towns based on percentage of sunny and clear days, average commute times, healthiness of beaches, crime, and diversity, among other factors.

By ranking the top 15 happiest seaside communities, we draw attention to places where life is good and the beach is close by, the magazine's editor-in-chief, Antonia van der Meer, said in a statement.

The 15th anniversary issue of Costal Living, a Time Inc. publication, hit newsstands Friday with the magazine's first-ever ranking of places to live and visit along the American coast.

With 840 miles of coastline, it's no surprise that California towns placed high on the list, taking four of the top 10 spots. Massachusetts also fared well with four towns in the top 15.

Just missing the top 10 were Marblehead, Mass.; Stinson Beach, Calif.; Cohasset, Mass.; Duxbury, Mass.; and Solomons Island, Md. Press Start for a look at the 10 seaside towns that topped the list as the happiest in America.

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