The Best Places To Live On The Coast In The South

Tybee Island, Georgia
Photo: Taylor Glenn/Redux

Living near the seaside is a dream come true for many people. They want to go to the beach on the spur of the moment. Perhaps they see themselves doing yoga at daybreak while the waves crash ashore, or roasting marshmallows over an open fire after nightfall. In coastal towns, there is always something to do, and the majority of the activities are family and pet-friendly. You'll be able to surf, kayak, paddleboard, or jog along the water's edge pretty much whenever you want. There will always be boardwalks or piers to stroll down and seaside wildlife to observe. Who wouldn't enjoy such a life? Live your dream in these towns with innovative design, community spirit, and jaw-dropping vistas.

01 of 09

Windsor, Florida

Windsor, Florida
courtesy of Windsor

This artful, Anglo Caribbean–style New Urbanist community on 425 lush acres on Florida's Atlantic Coast in Vero Beach is getting closer to full build-out, so if pristine lawns and award-winning architecture under balmy skies are your aim, don't delay. The Windsor Park Residences presides by the Indian River and protected wetlands with dreamy porches to soak in the view. Meanwhile, sea grapes, stately palms, and pretty oaks surround all sides of this low-key, refined-living village, with a post office, art gallery, village store café, amphitheater, and spare, elegant town hall/nondenominational chapel at the center where residents of the 292 seasonal households can gather. While stellar shopping and museum-hopping await just 25 minutes away in Vero Beach, the Windsor's grounds offer more than 10 miles of trails, a sparkling Beach Club and 25-meter pool, an equestrian center and polo field, a Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed golf course, and jasmine-scented tennis courts.
Median Home Price: $2.6 million

02 of 09

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama
Danita Delimont/Getty

Home prices and sales have been on the rise in this below-the-radar port city of around 185,000 on Alabama's Gulf Coast, but there's still time (and opportunity) to drop anchor for well below the nation's average cost of living—plus nab a stunning historic home for a steal relative to other coastal spots around the country. Greek Revival, Italianate, Spanish Colonial Revival, Tudor, Beaux Arts: take your pick. Locals enjoy legendary fishing and sailing on Mobile Bay, and culture here is on point with a professional ballet company, symphony orchestra, professional opera, and several art museums. In the Midtown Mobile historic district, Victory Teaching Farm, an urban education center focused on sustainable agriculture, nurtures and nourishes locals. Finally, this is a town that loves a party—with a vibrant mix of bars and live-music venues. Mobile is also the proud home of the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the country.
Median Home Price: $134.1K

03 of 09

Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida
Hanneke Luijting/Getty Images

Let's do the math: 30 miles of clean, white-sand beaches, more than 90 golf courses, and a year-round average temperature of 75 degrees. Factor in famously gorgeous sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico and you're hitting the algebra of why this small city of over 19,372 has the kind of star quality that's landed it at the top of lifestyle and happiness rankings several years in a row. Leading on measures like residents' physical health, financial security, and connection to community, Naples's No. 1 mojo just keeps getting stronger, nabbing other honors such as best retirement city. Along with all those kudos come this pretty city's essential delights: giant banyan trees; an iconic pier; shiny trolleys clanging past historic architecture, cool cafés, and plentiful museums; and nearby natural wonders like the 170-acre Naples Botanical Garden. Here on the Gulf, it all adds up.
Median Home Price: $1M

04 of 09

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

The deep pleasures of this idyllic waterfront town announce themselves before you even arrive. The cable-stayed Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge gracefully crosses the Cooper River to connect the vibrant hub of downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant, hosting bikers, walkers, and runners along its 2 1/2-mile span. This lively, picturesque approach sets the tone right away for this community of 92,400, honored nationally for its civic innovation and engagement. Projects abound here, from the folksy (a Holiday Window Decorating Contest) to the forward-thinking (a recent infrastructure makeover increased storm water capacity, as well as adding bicycle and pedestrian lanes, wider sidewalks with activity zones, and a wayfinding system). There's just so much to love in this haven of top-rated public schools, fantastic pier fishing, and free movies and music in the waterfront park. And then there are all the riches of Charleston—career, culture, and cuisine—just a hop back over that pretty, pretty bridge.
Median Home Price: $473K

05 of 09

Delray Beach, Florida

A large boat moves along the Florida Intracoastal Waterway.
Jodi Jacobson/Getty Images

With a buzzy downtown and two miles of white-sand beaches, this best-kept Atlantic coast secret is a South Florida dream.

06 of 09

Islamorada, Florida

Islamorada, Florida
Heather Miller

This Upper Keys gem has a fantastic blend of Old Florida funkiness, spectacular fishing, and a true island feel.

07 of 09

St. Michaels, Maryland

The waterfront approach to Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond
Joe Vaughn/Courtesy of Belmond

The Eastern Shore's bayside gem pairs salty pleasures like local crab houses with shopping, museums, and recreation.

08 of 09

Southport, North Carolina

View of the Southport harbor and town from a ferry boat, North Carolina

This tiny harbor town has a big heart, maritime culture in spades, and sweet shops, restaurants, and historic homes.

09 of 09

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island, Georgia
Taylor Glenn/Redux

Savannah's official beach town is a toes-in-the-sand escape, with seafood shacks, tiny cottages, and miles of wide Atlantic beaches.

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