Survey reveals top beach towns and waterfront communities in nation

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Two places in the Bay Area made the list of top beach towns in America, according to a new survey out Wednesday.

But the results may be a bit of a head-scratcher.

When you think of the best Bay Area beach towns, what comes to mind? Santa Cruz, with its lively boardwalk? San Francisco, with its rugged coastline?

Well, neither appears on the list of America's best beach towns.

According to personal finance website Wallet Hub, two local cities are in the top 50 and, interestingly, neither is on the ocean. Number 19 is Mill Valley on Richardson Bay and number 34 is Benicia, on the Carquinez Strait.

"I think it's a wannabe beach town because it is next to the water," one Benicia resident said. "A lot of mud. Didn't want to say that but yeah, lots of mud," said another.

Indeed, most of the Benicia shoreline is mudflats -- although you can find a small sandy beach at Alvarez-9th Street Park, which keeps the kids happy enough in the summer.

DroneView7 flew over Mill Valley, where residents may also be confused by this honor.

It may be a short drive to beautiful beaches, but the town itself has a rocky shoreline with little sand to speak of.

You may be wondering, what were the rankings based on? Wallet Hug considered towns with at least one beach listed on TripAdvisor. The factors used were affordability, weather, safety, education, health and quality of life.

Sonoma, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Cruz finished in the top 100.

ABC7 News Anchor Kristen Sze's favorite beach town, Hanalei on Kauai, isn't even on the list. So take these findings with a grain of sand.

Click here to read the full report.
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