CAYUCOS, CALIFORNIA (pop. 3,000) serious waves and serious food
About halfway between San Francisco and L.A., 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 (72 S. Ocean Ave., roguewavecafe.com).
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 (250 N. Ocean Ave., brownbuttercookies.com, $13/dozen). "I came to visit three years ago and thought it was such a magical place," explains Hozie.
Cayucos, California (Amanda Freidman)
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 (222 N. Ocean Ave., casshouseinn.com, from $165). The restored 1860s Victorian has a fitting soundtrack for the coastal town: the lulling surf.
This story is excerpted from:
America's Coolest Small Towns.
Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.