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17 Towns like Carmel by the Sea, CA

We've rounded up 17 cool towns similar to Carmel by the Sea. Experience the luxury and beauty of California living with these similar towns where you'll find unique history and picturesque views.

Scenic coast view in Carmel by the Sea, California.

The town of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California is one of thousands of towns in the United States that are nestled along America’s 12 thousand miles of coasts. In any one of these towns you will find a unique history, a mysterious culture, and opportunities to relax and enjoy fresh sea air every morning and fresh seafood every night. Learn more about some of the fascinating towns in the U.S.A. that make for picturesque and exciting locations to visit.

The town of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the state of California is a quaint seaside town that offers the beauty and luxury of California living on a middle class budget. This town is like so many others in America, where you can escape and appreciate a simplified and relaxed life with a small town vibe in front of million dollar views. For your next vacation, use a destination like Carmel-by-the-Sea and you will find a true getaway from the busy days of life.

Carmel-by-the-Sea in California is a strong middle class town with a population of just over three thousand people, and a median income of $95 thousand USD. Attractions here include rustic retail spots with thatched roofs on sandy beaches, and wine rooms to unwind in. You can expect hotels here to start at $150.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Ketchikan, Alaska is not one of the more famous seaside towns in America, but it certainly is one of the most unique. This town has a predominant indigenous population and is home to what many consider to be the best locations to view ancient totem poles. The environment here is lush, merging glaciers, eagles, and waterfalls, on a mountainous backdrop that you will not soon forget.

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Hotels in Ketchikan begin at $99 USD and you will enjoy the laid back lifestyle here. The population is over 13 thousand people, with a median income of $65 thousand USD, just under the national median income in the United States.

Friday Harbor, Washington

Ferry and boats moored at Friday Harbor, Washington.

Friday Harbor, Washington, is a seaside town that offers ocean-side views as it is nestled on the American-Canadian border and faces Vancouver Island. This town is found in the San Juan Islands and has enough shops and dining choices for every budget. This location offers other attractions such as historic walks, whale watching, and exotic dinner cruises.

With a population of just over two thousand, the town of Friday Harbor in Washington has the small town energy that is a stone’s throw from big city living. There is a median income of 53 thousand people. A vacation here is affordable with hotels starting at $94 USD per night.

Westport, Connecticut

Downtown view at Westport, Connecticut.

The town of Westport, Connecticut, offers a more upscale experience for a vacation. Here, you will get a taste of how the other half lives as it is ranked in the top 20 of America’s wealthiest areas. Still, you can start your stay here with a hotel room as affordable as $115 USD a night. While here, you can paddle along the Saugatuck River, enjoy the town’s infamous lobster rolls after your river experience.

The population of Westport is approximately 27 thousand people, with a median income of $207 thousand USD. The town is a one-hour train ride to New York’s Grand Central Station where you can seamlessly move on to your next destination in your vacation.

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Clearwater, Florida

Aerial view of Clearwater, Florida.

The town of Clearwater, Florida has a population of just over 115 thousand people. This is a working class town with a median income of $28 thousand annually. Clearwater is 30 minutes away from Tampa, but you won’t want to travel far from your vacation spot here as this town has everything Florida has to offer on a budget.

Hotel rooms here can start at $79USD. You won’t be short of attractions with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium here, Clearwater Beach, and a long list of dolphin sights to visit.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island Light House

Tybee Island, Georgia is home to a small population of over three thousand people. The median income in this working town is $34 thousand USD. This is an ideal seaside location for the history buff, where you will enjoy an affordable vacation with hotels starting at $70USD to $80USD per night.

The town’s attractions include Fort Screven, which is the home base for gun batteries from the 1800s. In fact, you’ll find a lot in Tybee Island that is older than most presidents. The food here will be heartwarming, with diners you’ll have great stories about at the end of your delightful stay.

Orange Beach, Alabama

Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Orange Beach in Alabama is a haven for sports buffs. If you want a vacation where you eat, dream, and sleep water sports, Orange Beach is going to be an excellent find for you. It is considered one of the most popular beach locations for sports enthusiasts, but still offers a quaint atmosphere for the traveler that just wants a quiet place to unwind.

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The population may only be six thousand people, but you can still enjoy amusement parks, nature trails, year-round music festivals, and deep-sea fishing in your free time. The median income here is $39 thousand in this small town, and hotels begin at $102USD a night.

Camden, Maine

Street view in Camden, Maine.

The town of Camden in Maine with a population over five thousand people and a median income of $33 thousand is a surprise to many visitors, much like many towns in Maine. This is a small town with a lot to offer, including ocean views and harbours, sunset cruises, or even a trip to the Camden Opera House. A visit to Camden Hills State Park is also a sight to behold, if you haven’t seen enough of Mother Nature elsewhere in Camden.

A hike up Mount Battie offers a great day that can be finished with freshly caught seafood for lunch or dinner. Hotels here begin at $125USD per night, and bring your history genes because, like every Maine destination, this small town has a lot of stories to tell.

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Lighthouse in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Hilton Head Island is one of the more popular American destinations for a sandy beach destination, and with good cause and a pride and joy of South Carolina. The population here is 40 thousand, with a median income of $84 thousand. Still, as luxe as this town may seem at times, you are going to find a good price at hotel rooms all over the Island with prices starting at $116.

Mitchelville Freedom Park and the Hilton Head Plantation are great starters on your itinerary of things to do. You’ll also want to go up the Harbour Town Lighthouse to get a bird’s eye view of Mother Nature. And, if kayaking is your thing, that’s around any corner as well.

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Nags Head, North Carolina

Aerial view of Nags Head, North Carolina.

Nags Head in North Carolina is home to some of the East Coast’s prettiest sunsets, but also Bodie Island Light Station and Jockey’s Ridge State Park. You can also enjoy quiet beaches and attractions the whole family can enjoy, and it’s a fun location for history buffs. The 1870 Bodie Island Lighthouse is just one example in Nags Head that will bring some history into your trip.

The population of Nags Head is just over three thousand people with a median income of $31 thousand in this working-class town. There is a hotel room for every budget here, with rates starting at $106 USD per night.

Saint Michaels, Maryland

 Main entrance to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's, Maryland.

The town of Saint Michaels, Maryland, might be one of the smallest towns in America with a population of over 1,029 with a median income of over $112 thousand USD. Still, the town will offer you an affordable vacation with hotel rooms starting at $109 a night. There is something here for everyone for the family or for a romantic getaway.

In Saint Michaels you can enjoy a rich history of maritime life in the United States. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum chronicles the tales of yesterday’s Americans living the dream on waters hard fought for. Visit the Hooper Bay Lighthouse or the 1677 Episcopal Parish if you need a quiet moment away from the quiet every day here.

Chatham, Massachusetts

Cape Cod town of Chatham, Massachusetts.

The oceanside town of Chatham in Massachusetts is a gem of the East Coast, located on the corner of Cape Code without the Cape Code prices of living. The population of this small town just goes over 1.4 thousand people, with a median income of $81 thousand. Hotels here are affordable and ocean-side nights can start at $137 a night.

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Here you will find plenty to do with the Chatham Railroad Museum, the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, and of course the numerous activities you can enjoy just sitting by the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, there is history here, with, among other things, the Chatham Lighthouse that has a story about President Thomas Jefferson.

Rye, New Hampshire

Rocky coast and beachfront homes in Rye, New Hampshire.

The town of Rye in tiny New Hampshire is an exquisite seaside location on the East Coast and just 17 miles long. Get here from Boston just one hour away, and find yourself living a Hampstons lifestyle on a working class budget. The population of Rye is approximately five thousand people, with a median income over $90 thousand annually, and the attractions can be enjoyed by anyone with hotel rates starting at $112 a night.

Those include whale watching, beach side relaxation, and numerous state parks including Odiorne Point State Park. The economy is fueled by many lobster shacks and the labor force that drives it, making Rye a safe place to start your lobster roll addiction.

Cape May, New Jersey

Washington Street Mall in Cape May, New Jersey.

The town of Cape May in New Jersey is home to a population of over 3.4 thousand people, with a median income of $27 thousand. This is a working town where you can enjoy hotels at rates starting at $86 that will give you plenty to enjoy the attractions. Cape May is a stunning oceanside location, where you can enjoy house ogling as it is home to some of America’s most famous Victorian estates of yesterday.

That would include the likes of the Emlen Physick Estate which is not a museum that you can walk through and fantasize about life in an 18-room home in 1879. The entire waterfront is home to beautiful buildings that embody this spirit. For a twist in activity, try the many shops and dining establishments in the Washington Street Mall that consumes three blocks of street traffic in this tiny town.

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Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon is a small town with a population of 1.4 thousand people and a median income of approximately $22 thousand USD annually. Here you will find a different vibe than East Coast ocean living, but the breathtaking relaxation is there to enjoy with every wave. Surfing, tide pools, and tufted puffins are all parts of the attractions in this small town.

You can also enjoy the Ecola State Park, Hug Point’s sea caves, and many galleries in the downtown core that will satiate your shopping bug. The 235-foot Haystack Rock is the town’s most famous landmark, but a visit to one of their many microbreweries also makes for a fun afternoon.

Pescadero, California

Piegon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero, California.

Pescadero in California is the smallest town on the list of towns like Carmel-by-the-Sea, but some Americans might call it the most famous. This town with a population of only 640 people and a median income of $33 thousand is a farmer’s town with an ocean’s view and hotel rates that begin around $80. The agriculture here is the attraction, and food here will make you wonder if you’ve ever tasted fresh before as the locals really work to bring you the best living from the land.

Major history or museums aren’t the draw here, but the thrift store is one attraction that everyone will refer you to. Norm’s Market offers everything you need for a picnic at the beach, and the old school friendliest is an attraction in itself. If you need an urban switch after a few days here, San Francisco is just minutes away.

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Bar Harbor, Maine

Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine.

The town of Bar Harbor in Maine is home to just over five thousand people, and is a working class town with a median income of $24 thousand. There is a lot of history here, both old and new alike, and it is not uncommon to see the likes of Martha Stewart or Stephen King wandering the streets of their home state looking for their next big inspiration. For Martha it will be lobster roll seasonings, for King, it will be the next setting of architecture that can help him tell a good story.

Hotel rates can start as low as $132, and you will find a lot to do here. The sunrise at Cadillac Mountain isn’t written about often enough, and the view from Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park is also one you will never forget. This location is named after the sound that the waves make against the rocks, and you’ll find the name awesomely fitting after your visit here.

Avalon, California

Aerial view of Avalon, California.

The small town of Avalon in California is home to approximately 3.7 thousand locals with a median income of $33 thousand annually and offers old school California energy with that of cutting-edge innovation. This sweet spot offers a different energy from laidback oceanside destinations, although there is plenty of that to find here as well. The name Avalon is a Latin or Welsh translation of the phrase “isle of the fruit or apple trees” and you’ll find this town conveniently located just minutes away from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California.

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Attractions here embody resort style attractions, where fresh lobsters are cooked and eaten on the same day in between shopping expeditions and massages. Snorkeling is common here, as is sport fishing. And, if you’re feeling truly adventurous, a helicopter ride to find a bird’s eye view of the better half of California is worth the expense.