Affordable beach retreats

Our 10 favorite seaside places from Washington to Mexico

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  • South of San Francisco Costanoa's tent cabins are a short hike from wild empty beaches.

    Costanoa huts

    Jeff Singer

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8. Ventura, CA

Straightforward name, straightforward premise ― three floors and 24 neat, simple Victorian-style rooms with fireplaces, parked smack-dab on the sand, facing Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands. A favored getaway for locals ― who know that third-floor rooms with patios and views can be had for right around $100 midweek. Ask about the dunes if you're booking a first-floor room; built-up sand can block some views but does offer extra privacy. From $109; or 805/652-2000. -Ken McAlpine

9. La Jolla, CA 

Strike up the band. Located a block and a half from the beach, this is the onetime home of composer John Philip Sousa. But it's not only the inn's pedigree that makes it special ― it's the details: sherry and fresh flowers in each of its traditionally styled rooms. The lower-priced rooms are a bit small, but you can stretch out in the inn's gardens and deck if you need a little extra space. 15 rooms from $179; or 800/582-2466. -M.J.

10. Sayulita, Mexico

The feel of sea air on your face and a view of early-morning fishermen setting their lines ease you into the day at the Villa Amor, on the windswept Nayarit coast. A collection of oceanfront cottages built into a steep hillside, the villa epitomizes warmth, authenticity, and artfulness. Thatched roofs, curvy adobe walls, and ― in some villas ― plunge pools perched right over the hill will make you wish you could pack up the mood of this place and take it home. 35 cottages from $75; or 619/822-2731. -Amy Wolf


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