Because sand in your ass crack is just the cost of doing business.
  1. Crescent City
    Not actually idyllic at all. Not very nice looking. Wind-swept with many reminders of the economic reality that has devastated most of the North Coast for the past half century: massive reductions in logging and constantly declining commercial fishing opportunities. BUT: if you want to see what the true North Coast looks like, this is a great place to visit. If you only know stuff south of the Golden Gate, you're in for an education. A true coastal hardened town with much under the surface.
  2. Fort Bragg
    Perhaps the only true "idyllic" town on this list. Small downtown, great camping and B&Bs in the area, two good craft beer joints, etc. This is about as close to off the beaten path North Coast that your average person will get. This is what people imagine when they think of North Coast. See also: Sea Ranch, Mendocino, Philo.
  3. Bolinas
    If you took a bunch of Santa Cruz's crunchiest folk and told them to build a surf town that most people don't know about.
  4. Capitola
    If you took a bunch of Santa Cruz's lest crunchy folk and told them to create a ritzier small beach enclave just south of Santa Cruz. Nonetheless, a delightful place to spend a weekend with a good walking-friendly downtown.
  5. Carmel
    Perhaps the most fancy-shmancy coastal town in California, it's still an awesome, walking and dog friendly downtown with tons of things to do. By far one of the most dog friendly vacation spots in California.
  6. Pismo/Arroyo Grande
    Do you like campfires on the beach and lifted trucks? Do you just like camping on the beach and don't mind lifted trucks? This is your spot. I have an incredibly soft spot for camping on the beach at Pismo Dunes, even in winter. There is not much better than a campfire in the sand. The towns aren't anything particularly special, but it's a good place to make a weekend and with Shell and Avila Beaches and SLO nearby there's plenty of options.
  7. Isla Vista/Santa Barbara
    The frat guys aren't wrong. It's pretty nice.
  8. Ojai
    This is where we take some liberty with "coastal". An easy getaway from LA. A real farming community with a great sense of identity.
  9. Belmont Shore
    Hidden gem surrounded by Orange County and LA Harbor. You could spend a weekend here without driving your car and almost forget you're in LA. Almost.
  10. Huntington Beach/Newport Beach
    Some of my fondest memories of childhood are from the weekends in Newport, where a cruiser bike, a body board, and $20 is all you need for a good fucking day. It might be $30 now but Charlie's Chili breakfast is still a power play. Plus there is nothing more fun than watching dudes rack it at the Wedge. You can do this on YouTube. Search for Wedge Wipeouts. If you didn't know about the Wedge, now you do: this is maybe the craziest break in LA.
  11. Oceanside/Carlsbad/Encinitas
    Because it's not San Diego but it's still basically San Diego. You can add La Jolla if you have mad funds.