Beach vacation guide

From all-to-yourself islands to hidden beach towns to iconic coastal experiences, the West has the beach vacation of a lifetime in store for you

Top 14 unsung beach towns

Enjoy a heaping dose of sand and surf in these quintessential beach towns--but better keep these underrated spots (relatively) secret!

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Elk, CA
Photo by Rachel Weill

Elk, CA

Rounding a bend along Highway 1, most people pass right by this hamlet of 250 people in their rush to the marquee town of Mendocino. But those who do pull over—not for gas, since there’s not a single pump in town, but maybe for a slice of blackberry tart at Queenie’s Roadhouse Cafe—learn that here, you can get away from it all. There’s a handful of B&Bs like the Elk Cove Inn scattered atop the bluffs, a gloriously unpopulated salt-and-pepper spit of sand at Greenwood State Beach, and hardly any cell service. Queenie’s: $$; queeniesroadhousecafe.com. Elk Cove Inn: From $135; 2-night min.; elkcoveinn.com.

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