The beaches of California always rank highly on those national lists of best beaches, but a good beach does not necessarily make a good beach town. Not all beach towns are created equal, and the Golden State runs the gamut from quaint to upscale.
So maybe the best barometer for choosing your beach town is charm — in other words, it makes you feel like this is a true getaway, and it's where you get a real sense of place. You want it to be someplace special for someone special on that special getaway weekend.
There are many choices, but here are three of the best:
Technically it has only about 4,500 residents, but the San Diego County beach town Del Mar has just the right combination of legend, lore and beach access to draw literally millions of visitors each year. Despite the onslaught, this distinctive little burg still registers high on the charm scale.