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13 Small Towns Getaways On The Pacific Coast For Retirees

by Staff

While deserts and mountains have the potential to hold many in a trance-like state, nothing comes close to retiring right on the sparkling waters of the world’s largest ocean. The sandy beaches, gorgeous waterfront views, and myriad outdoor adventure venues are features any retiree would put a high price on. And forget about San Diego, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. Numerous small-town getaways, most of which are more intimate and authentic, dot this curvaceous coastline. Discover below 13 small-town getaways on the Pacific Coast for retirees.

Carpinteria, California

Rods and Roses classic holiday car show in Carpinteria. Image credit L Paul Mann via Shutterstock.

Not only is Carpinteria quiet and peaceful, and hence, ideal for retirees seeking a slower, unhurried rhythm, it is also at the doorstep of the gorgeous Tar Pits Park, a spellbinding beachfront featuring rare natural asphalt lakes. The town is also friendly and communal and boasts a median age of about 40 years, where life, according to the oft-repeated adage, begins. Carpinteria is also incredibly diverse, with White (Non-Hispanic), White (Hispanic), and other ethnicities constituting 47.8%, 23.4%, and 15.5% of the town’s population, respectively. While the town has quite a number of amenities, including a weekly Farmer’s Market, it is a convenient 15-minute drive away from Santa Barbara and less than a 20-minute drive to Ventura—both of which have numerous reputable hospitals and medical facilities. 

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon, along the Pacific coastline.
Astoria, Oregon, along the Pacific coastline.

Columbia is a photogenic Oregon charmer that sits right on the sparkling waters of the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia River originates in British Columbia and imbues the town with a sumptuous, bucolic look and tasty waterfront views. The town itself, whose roots can be traced to the Lewis & Clark Expedition, is nicely layered and features some awesome bars, a handful of amazing restaurants, more than adequate brewpubs, and numerous excellent coffee houses such as Coffee Girl, which is in the West’s oldest cannery building. The town boasts a median age of 41 and features a sweet blend between the old and the young. As retirees, folks will be steps from the Columbia Memorial Hospital, an excellent medical facility that has been recognized for America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Prostate Surgery Award.

Pismo Beach, California

People strolling along the shore in Pismo Beach, California.
People strolling along the shore in Pismo Beach, California.

The fact that 48% of Pismo Beach’s population comprises seniors aged 55 and above is alone an indicator of the town’s retirement appeal. Besides being right next to the largest ocean in the world and a world-famous spot for clam digging, Pismo Beach is just 13 miles from San Luis Obispo, the hometown of the reputable French Hospital Medical Center. This hospital is among the best in the area and has been recognized with many awards, including the Outstanding Patient Experience Award. While houses here sell at a median price of $1.6 million (according to Redfin), which may look expensive, this town boasts excellent amenities, is known for its warm and friendly residents, and features several community events, including the popular Clam Chowder Festival.

Seal Beach, California

Waves in the Pacific Ocean and a view of the beach at sunset in Seal Beach, California.
Waves in the Pacific Ocean and a view of the beach at sunset in Seal Beach, California.

Once known as the pleasure place, especially in the Roaring Twenties, Seal Beach still retains the elements that saw it earn that alluring moniker. Retiring here comes with access to the second largest wooden pier in the state, a good number of inviting restaurants (such as the exceptional Spaghettini), and superb outdoor venues like Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge. Because homes sell at a median price of just $339,500, which is way low for California, this town is perfect for retirees on a budget. According to niche.com, seniors aged 55 and above comprise a whopping 58% of the town’s population. This means linking up with fellow retirees is quite effortless, even for the most reserved. But this could be the clincher. Long Beach, California’s seventh-largest city, is an easy 6 miles away. This comes with access to numberless hospitals, including the award-winning MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center.

Manzanita, Oregon

Aerial view of the beach town of Manzanita, Oregon.
Aerial view of the beach town of Manzanita, Oregon.

Nestled in the awe-inspiring shadow of the Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain, Manzanita is cozy and homey, making it a popular option for retirees. This is lent credit by the fact a massive 76% of the town’s population, according to niche.com, is made up of retirees. The town, therefore, exudes the vibe of a retirees’ reunion. As a resident, you will look forward to getting fresh produce from Manzanita Farmers Market, which is open from early June through to mid-September. For more supplies, both Seaside and Astoria are minutes from town. Expect a peaceful, rural feel here, in environs where 82% of residents are homeowners. Providence Seaside Hospital, which 79% of patients would effortlessly recommend, is just 19 miles down the road. Homes here sell for a median price of $940,000, according to Realtor.com.

Westport, Washington

Westport downtown waterfront view
Westport downtown waterfront view.

Not a few people see Westport once and immediately begin making retirement plans. Living right next to the Pacific Ocean, South Beach, and the Port of Grays Harbor, there are no prices for guessing why this town is often called Washington’s “Original Beach Town.” If you want to learn surfing in your golden years, Westport offers three main surf breaks suitable for every skill level and is among the best surfing spots in the state. Besides, the Olympic Peninsula provides a world of outdoor adventure opportunities. With homes fetching a median price of just $286,000, Westport is also affordable and does not outprice home buyers. And while the town may not score big on health care, one can reach Aberdeen in a jiffy just 20 miles down the road—and hosts numerous medical facilities. The town’s median age stands at about 49, which means retirees will get numerous opportunities to interact with similarly-aged folks.

Montecito, California

A great shot of Butterfly Beach.
A great shot of Butterfly Beach.

A lively, easy-going coastal environment, a sparse, suburban feel, and a friendly, close-knit community are among the many features that make Montecito among the best places to live and retire in California. Montecito is also incredibly safe, almost crime-free. This town is sandwiched between the awe-inspiring Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean just east of Santa Barbara. Because it is less than a 10-minute drive from Santa Barbara, seniors do not need to worry about access to big-city amenities, including hospitals. These include such respected names as Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, which are both recipients of several prestigious awards. According to niche.com, seniors comprise an impressive 47% of the town’s population. All these come at a cost, however. According to Redfin, in December 2023, the median sale price of a home in Montecito was $4.3million.

Ocean Shores, Washington

View from the Rock Jetty on a Clear Sunny Day at Ocean Shores Washington
View from the Rock Jetty on a Clear Sunny Day at Ocean Shores Washington.

As the name implies, Ocean Shores seems intentionally designed for water lovers. A sparse, suburban feel pervades this underrated Washington gem, which is famous for its gorgeous beach scenery. Retirees adore this town, as evidenced by the fact a whopping 65% of the town’s population, according to niche.com,  consists of those aged 55 and above. Ocean Shores also boasts low property tax rates, a feature that makes living here a tad more financially stress-free. Miles of freshwater canals and lakes offer residents boating and kayaking opportunities minutes from town — so that seniors can always be active and engaged. Moreover, Harbor Regional Health is just 15 miles away in Aberdeen, while Willapa Harbor Hospital, recommended by a much greater percentage of patients, is 29 miles away in South Bend.

Cambria, California

A row of tourist shops in Cambria, California
Tourist shops in downtown Cambria. Image credit agil73 via Shutterstock.

If you love a diverse town, you may be delighted by the fact Paso Robles scores an impressive B on niche.com’s measures of ethnic and economic diversity. Those who identify themselves as White (Non-Hispanic), White (Hispanic), and Two+ (Hispanic) constitute 70%, 12%, and 9% of the town’s population, respectively. Besides, since the town’s median age stands at 60 years, there will be many peers in the same age bracket to mingle and interact with. Wine connoisseurs should particularly expect to get a blast here since several wine varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends — are a prominent feature of the region’s culinary scene. Also, while Twin Cities Community Hospital is just about 20 miles down the road in Templeton, San Luis Obispo, which can be reached in half an hour,  is home to more medical facilities, including the award-winning French Hospital Medical Center.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California- Image Credit oliverdelahaye via Shutterstock
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California- Image Credit oliverdelahaye via Shutterstock.

Though a bit expensive, with homes that fetch a median price of $2.3 million as of December 2023, Carmel-by-the-Sea is devastatingly enchanting. Since the early 1900s, this eye candy has lured big names, including writers such as Mary Austin and Sinclair Lewis. The latter was the first author from the U.S. to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Considering all factors, Carmel-by-the-Sea could be the best retirement venue in the Golden State. It is an incredibly safe town, boasts breathtaking scenery — and is home to some of the most welcoming residents in the state. Besides, retiring here comes with being at the doorstep of one of the best hospitals in California. Community Hospital Of The Monterey Peninsula has bagged numerous honors, including America’s 250 Best Hospitals Award.

Pacific Grove, California

Old style building in Pacific Grove, Monterey, California
Old style building in Pacific Grove, Monterey, California.

Few people, especially enthusiasts of lighthouses, can pass up the chance to retire right next to the oldest continuously operating light station — not just in California — but the entire West Coast. But Pacific Grove features other elements that would tickle the fancy of a retiree. For instance, one will have access to a heart-melting sliver of sand at the Asilomar State Beach, a scenic, quarter-mile boardwalk at the Asilomar Dunes Natural Preserve, the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, and, of course, the waters of the world’s largest ocean. Suppose you are concerned about access to health care. In that case, as you should be, the excellent and award-winning Community Hospital Of The Monterey Peninsula in Monterey can be reached in a flash. As an indicator of its high-quality services, 86% of patients would effortlessly recommend this premier health facility. And with a median age of 48, a retiree here will easily find peers he can plot adventures. 

Anacortes, Washington

Gorgeous Anacortes in Washington.
Gorgeous Anacortes in Washington.

Whether it is its sparse suburban feel, the fact 43% of the population is made of seniors aged 55 and above, its almost crime-free environment, its tons of outdoor activities — Anacortes packs a punch and is difficult not to fall in love with. Small and family-oriented, Anacortes has many things going in its favor. For instance, it hosts a farmers market that ensures the tables of residents are constantly replenished with a supply of fresh farm produce. It also plays host to Island Hospital, a recipient of the Outstanding Patient Experience Award. Boasting a median age of 48 years, the social scene here is vibrant and suitable for retirees. Several towns are just minutes from downtown Anacortes, including Mount Vernon, Bellingham, and Arlington. And to dash to the San Juan Islands and beyond, the Anacortes Regional Airport is right at your doorstep.

Del Mar, California

Aerial shot of Powerhouse Park in Del Mar, California.
Aerial shot of Powerhouse Park in Del Mar, California.

Del Mar, a photogenic seaside town once a secluded retreat for some of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars, is rounding off this list. The town is dotted with many coffee shops, inviting restaurants, and many green spaces, such as Powerhouse Park, a nice waterfront park that spans a particularly lovely stretch of beach. Del Mar’s median age stands at 52, which indicates a significant presence of fellow empty nesters. Also, since a massive 46% of those aged 25 years and above hold at least a master’s degree, random conversations here are likely to be witty and enriching. The exciting part is that Del Mar is just about 20 miles from San Diego, California’s second-largest city. Expectedly, this comes with access to a treasure trove of big-city amenities—including world-class hospitals—and a great deal of cultural attractions. Perhaps as a testament to its appeal, homes in Del Mar fetch a median price of about $4.5 million.

Spanning the shoreline of three states, including California, Oregon, and the only state named for a U.S. president, the Pacific Coast is as vast — as it is ruggedly beautiful and awe-inspiring. This sumptuous stretch is star-studded with a delightful array of numerous small-town getaways, many of which provide a more intimate, close-knit, and homey retirement experience. While anyone would be spoilt for choice, Carpinteria, California; Astoria, Oregon; Pismo Beach, California, and Carmel-by-the-Sea — are some of the best small-town getaways for retirees on the Pacific Coast.

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