By Maggie Menderski
Retail Reporter, Herald Tribune
Life here is "sweet, easy and an aesthetic joy," says Coastal Living Magazine.
Coastal Living Magazine on Friday named Sarasota the country's third-happiest seaside town.
Grand Haven, Michigan, took the top spot and Orleans, Massachusetts, was named first runner-up.
Coastal Living editors reviewed destinations that had been covered by the magazine as well as nominations through social media. The staff examined Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the percentage of sunny days, air quality, healthiness of beaches, commute times, crime ratings, walkability, standard of living and financial well-being of the locals and geographic diversity. The final rankings were decided by online voting.
"This is a city of surprises," the magazine said of Sarasota. "Harboring world-class beaches and a top-shelf arts and culture scene (resident opera and ballet companies, plus its own symphony orchestra), Sarasota has beauty and brains in equal measure. Further, a collection of old-school neighborhoods with small-scale homes (not to mention a heralded collection of midcentury modern architecture) makes day-to-day life sweet, easy and an aesthetic joy. And then there's that Gulf-provider of breezes, local catch, and a laid-back cultural overlay that keeps life here in an ideal balance."
Fernandina Beach in north Florida also received a nomination.
Other nominations included Camden, Maine; Cape May, New Jersey; Carmel-by-the-Sea, California; Dana Point, California; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and Langley, Washington.
The announcement marks the sixth annual edition of Coast Living's America's Happiest Seaside Towns.
Past winners include Stuart, on Florida's southeast coast; Southport, North Carolina; Chincoteague, Virginia; Beaufort, South Carolina and Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
The happy list
See the complete rankings at coastalliving.com