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There’s something irresistible about a beach town. It’s that combination of ocean waves, soft sand and sun-kissed skin (despite liberal applications of sunscreen) that keeps you warm even when the evening cools. Add in some historic charm, a few great cafes and a really good bookstore — gotta have a beach read —  and you’ve got summer vacation nirvana.

Purewow.com, the women’s lifestyle publisher, recently ranked the top 26 beach towns in America, a list that includes seven West Coast towns — eight, if you consider Hawaii  the Westest Coast, which we do — as well as such iconic beachy burgs as Nantucket, Hilton Head and Key West.

California is especially well represented, with Monterey and Santa Barbara getting a shout out, along with some charming small towns. Just north of San Diego, Del Mar may be known for its race track, but it’s also beloved for its hiking trails and miles of pristine beaches. And Avila Beach, near Pismo, offers wineries, as well as soft white sand.

1 Del Mar

2 Monterey

3 Santa Barbara

4 Makawao, Maui

5 Cambria

6 Avila Beach

7 Pacific Grove

8 Cannon Beach, Oregon

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