The 20 Best Beach Towns in America in 2020

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A fishing pier in Naples, Florida
ESB Professional /

Has life at home in the pandemic shutdown made you dream of a more expansive home, one in the mountains, or on the beach, where the outdoors could be another, larger room for you to roam?

WalletHub has your beach fantasies covered with a new ranking of what it finds to be the most-livable seaside and lakeshore communities in the United States.

Researchers looked at 191 cities in all. They analyzed them based on 63 factors, including each city’s share of waterfront homes for sale, safety, economic health, affordability and housing costs.

Here are the top picks for the best towns beside the sea and the best near a lake.

The top 10 ocean communities

The report ranks towns on the ocean separately from those on lakes.

The top-ranked seaside city is Naples, Florida, located on the Gulf of Mexico.

If you like eating out, you might be right at home in Naples. Along with a couple of other cities in a tie, Naples has the most restaurants per capita and the most coffee shops per capita, according to the WalletHub analysis. It also ties with a couple of other seaside cities for the most nightlife establishments per capita.

Naples ranks No. 30 among the 145 ocean communities included in the report based on affordability, but you might not want to rent a home there. We recently cited the greater metropolitan area that includes Naples in “24 Cities Where You Must Work Overtime Just to Pay the Rent.”

Here are the 10 best seaside towns in the report:

  1. Naples, Florida
  2. Lahaina, Hawaii
  3. Boca Raton, Florida
  4. Newport Beach, California
  5. Santa Monica, California
  6. Sarasota, Florida
  7. Kailua, Hawaii
  8. Carlsbad, California
  9. Encinitas, California
  10. Vero Beach, Florida

The top 10 lakeshore communities

The top-ranked lakeshore city in America is Traverse City, Michigan, located on Grand Traverse Bay, off of Lake Michigan.

Similar to Naples, Traverse City ties with a couple of other lakeside communities for having the most restaurants, coffee shops and nightclub establishments per capita, according to WalletHub’s findings.

Traverse City also ranks especially high for safety — No. 8 out of the 46 lakeshore cities in the analysis.

Here are the best lakeside towns in the report:

  1. Traverse City, Michigan
  2. Folsom, California
  3. Redmond, Washington
  4. Holland, Michigan
  5. Cornelius, North Carolina
  6. Kirkland, Washington
  7. Mercer Island, Washington
  8. Rocky River, Ohio
  9. Davidson, North Carolina
  10. Pewaukee, Wisconsin

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