Your next great summer vacation

The West's amazing beaches, drives, city getaways, and wild places

Top 10 hideaways by the sea

Listen to the ocean from your room in one of these lesser-known coastal inns

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Avila Beach hotel
Photo by Chris Leschinsky

Avila Lighthouse Suites on Avila Beach, CA

Remember those beach vacations you took with your parents back in the day? Sandy motel floors, over-chlorinated pools, and too much junk food? Tiny Avila Beach, smack at the midway point of California's Central Coast, is that throwback beach town, upgraded for your new, adult standards.

Check in: Yes, kids love the pool, the giant chess game, even the putt-putt golf green at Avila Lighthouse Suites, but lush landscaping, a location to die for (the motel is maybe 10 steps from the beach), and 54 large guest suites with low-key nautical decor and mini kitchens make the grown-ups giddy too. From $229
Explore: Avila Beach is tailor-made for strolling around in your flip-flops eating ice cream. But if you tire of that, take a docent-led 3.5-mile hike on Pecho Coast Trail (9 a.m. Sat; free, reservations required) to Point San Luis Lighthouse ($5). –Samantha Schoech

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