Every now and then, you stumble upon a town that’s gotten everything right—great coffee, food with character, shop owners with purpose. These 10 spots have it all, in perfectly small doses — see the entire list at Yahoo.
About halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cayucos is everything you want in a mellow beach town — an anomaly on the increasingly built-up coast. While the vibe is decidedly relaxed, two things get residents fired up: serious waves and serious food. Surfer Wade Rumble bridges both worlds as owner of Rogue Wave Cafe, where most mornings, after drying off his board, he sells fair-trade, organic coffee beans. Just off Highway 1, Cayucos requires a dedicated detour, which has helped it remain untouched. “We have beautiful beaches and beautiful people,” says Christa Hozie, who runs Brown Butter Cookie Company with her sister Traci Nickson; the duo make super-addictive sea-salt-topped cookies. “I came to visit three years ago and thought it was such a magical place,” explains Hozie. Grace Lorenzen had a similar reaction. She moved back to the Central Coast from Seattle in 2002 and now manages the five-room Cass House Inn (from $165). The restored 1860s Victorian has a fitting soundtrack for the coastal town: the lulling surf.