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10 houses for sale in the happiest American beach towns

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7. Capitola, California
Capitola, California | Realtor.com

7. Capitola, California

List price: $4.995 million

There's a whiff of Disney magic about this stunning French traditional nestled in a parklike setting overlooking the Pacific. The storybook 5-bedroom, 4 1/2-bath castle, built in 1997 on 1.25 forested acres, features several oceanfront balconies for entertaining and daydreaming, a large media room, 3-floor elevator access and a charming stone guest cottage with spiral staircase and unobstructed views.

The real magic? This 3,145-square-foot beauty is just a short walk to Capitola Village shopping and restaurants, Capitola Beach and the wooded jogging trails and campfire picnic areas of New Brighton State Park.

What makes Capitola special?

Visitors to Capitola flock to its Esplanade, a captivating mélange of shops, restaurants and historic homes overlooking Monterey Bay. The Beach Blanket Begonia Festival on Labor Day weekend celebrates the town's horticultural claim to fame as the world's top supplier of begonia blossoms.

While Realtor.com lists the average home sale locally at $719,450, Intero Real Estate Services agent Paul Burrowes says it's all about location in the Capitola/Santa Cruz corridor.

"There is a big difference between on-the-coast homes and the near-beach homes of family and working people," he says. "Over the past year, there were only 111 listings that averaged 26 days on the market, and they averaged slightly more than asking price."

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