10 Coastal Grandma-Inspired Destinations That Look Straight Out of a Nancy Meyers Movie

written by LAUREN BLUE
coastal grandma destinations"
coastal grandma destinations
Source: Unsplash | Raul De Los Santos
Source: Unsplash | Raul De Los Santos

If I could step into my TV screen and live in one cinematic universe, it would, without question, be that of Nancy Meyers. You’re guaranteed a stunning home, a perfectly styled wardrobe, and, if you’re lucky, early-2000s Jude Law. While we can try to re-create the aesthetic through home decor and strategic outfit styling, it isn’t the same as a complete Nancy Meyers transformation. The closest thing we can get to living the life of a Nancy Meyers character is planning a trip to a destination that feels like it could be the setting of one of her movies. On vacation, you leave your life behind and can be anyone you want for a short time. So, why not become a Nancy Meyers-inspired coastal grandma? Keep reading for some coastal grandma destinations that make you feel like you’re living in a Nancy Meyers film.

1. Santa Barbara, California

coastal grandma
Source: Unsplash | Janik Scettrini

As the setting of the iconic movie It’s Complicated, Santa Barbara is definitely Nancy Meyers-approved. The coastal California town is known for its beautiful beaches and temperate climate, so if you’re looking to escape to nicer weather and incredible views, Santa Barbara may be the spot for you. Start your day at Cajé Coffee Roasters to enjoy a latte and breakfast (we recommend the Arlington St. location for its gorgeous outdoor patio). Once you’ve fueled up, head to one of Santa Barbara’s many trails to take in all the views the city has to offer. Arroyo Burro Beach Loop is great for all hiking levels and offers stunning coastline views from atop a bluff. After getting your steps in, relax on the beach and take a dip at Arroyo Burro Beach Park (known to locals as Hendry’s Beach), which is only a five-minute drive from the trail.

For some more sightseeing, head to Santa Barbara’s most unexpected tourist destination: the county courthouse. Explore the sunken gardens, admire the Mural Room, and even climb the clock tower for city views. Next, shop along State Street (Santa Barbara’s famous shopping area) to find some accessories or home decor knickknacks worthy of Nancy Meyers herself. Finally, finish your night in the Funk Zone, an artsy district where you can stop for dinner and visit The Valley Project, a wine-tasting room to try California’s finest from across regions.

Where to stay: Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort (from $140 a night), Hideaway Santa Barbara (from $227)

2. Southampton, New York

coastal grandma
Source: Unsplash | Clay LeConey

Whether you’re familiar with the Hamptons because of Gossip Girl or Summer House, there is no denying it’s an iconic vacay destination. Before Serena van der Woodsen and Paige DeSorbo were the reigning it-girls of the Hamptons, Erica Barry (Diane Keaton’s character) ruled Southhampton in Something’s Gotta Give, giving audiences the blueprint for coastal grandma chic. To channel her laid-back coastal vibe, begin your weekend with breakfast and coffee at The Golden Pear, a cozy café painted the most charming shade of butter yellow. Next, amble down Main Street, which is lined with shops ranging from local boutiques to designer stores.

After some retail therapy, grab your swimsuit and beach towel and stop by Ponquogue Beach or Cooper’s Beach to catch some rays and enjoy the ocean. If you need to refuel from an afternoon in the sun, Southampton Publick House is a great spot for lunch. For an indoor activity, explore the town’s art scene at Southampton Arts Center. Once you’ve strolled through the exhibits, end your day with a delicious Italian dinner at Saint Ambroeus.

Where to stay: Southampton Inn (from $224 a night), The 1708 House (from $245)

3. Grand Haven, Michigan

coastal grandma
Source: Unsplash | Moriah Bender

If you live in the Midwest and assumed a coastal grandma getaway required a flight to the nearest coast, think again. Grand Haven, Michigan, offers all the same Nancy Meyers vibes within the Midwest. You could spend your whole trip relaxing on the beach, but the town has plenty of activities to fill up your itinerary. Begin your morning with a stroll downtown, stopping into a cafe for breakfast or just windowshopping and making the best of the gorgeous summer weather. Continue your walk to Grand Haven’s South Pier to stroll along the boardwalk and see the picturesque red lighthouses. If you prefer to get in the water, the area has several soft-sand beaches to choose from.

For a more laid-back way to see the area, hop on the Harbor Trolley for a narrated city tour. And of course, proximity to one of the Great Lakes means all the fresh fish you could want, so be sure to take advantage at one of Grand Haven’s many waterfront restaurants. Once the sun goes down, you won’t want to head to bed before seeing the famous Grand Haven Musical Fountain show, which has been going on for over 50 years. Grab some ice cream from a nearby shop, sit back, and enjoy the show.

Where to stay: Harbor House Inn (from $148 a night), Looking Glass Beachfront Inn (from $208)

4. Charleston, South Carolina

coastal grandma
Source: Pexels | Sara Free

Although Nancy Meyers doesn’t have a movie set in Charleston, this historic city has immaculate coastal grandma vibes—with a southern twist. With cobblestone streets, colorful Colonial-style houses, and beautiful parks and gardens, all right by the ocean, the town is overflowing with personality. Start a day of sightseeing at Joe Riley Waterfront Park, a large park on the harbor with stunning views of the city and the water. Meander its many trails, and take a picture in front of the famous Pineapple Fountain in the park’s center. Next, wander along King Street, where you can find upscale shopping and trendy boutiques. You also won’t want to miss Charleston’s Rainbow Row, a line of pastel-colored houses that makes for a great photo op. For an even closer look at the city’s architecture, consider booking a walking tour with a local guide.

While in Charleston, be sure to try a few of the region’s famous seafood dishes, such as shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, or steamed oysters. The Charleston City Market, where over 300 vendors set up shop daily, is a great spot to taste some local cuisine or shop for souvenirs. For some well-earned relaxation time, drive out to nearby Folly Beach to kick back on the sand.

Where to stay: Indigo Inn (from $182 a night), Planters Inn (from $250)

5. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

coastal grandma
Source: Unsplash | mana5280

If you’re looking for a destination full of charm, you won’t find a place with more than Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. This adorable town looks more like a movie set than an IRL city, so you’re sure to feel the Nancy Meyers movie magic while visiting. Wander around town to admire adorable cottages and stone-lined streets that look like something out of a fairytale. Continue your walk along Ocean Avenue to grab a snack at Carmel Bakery, which has been cranking out delicious breads and pastries for over a hundred years. Grab some coffee to go, then check out Carmel’s many charming boutiques and art galleries.

Additionally, be sure to block off plenty of time in your itinerary to take in the ocean air at Carmel’s stunning white-sand beach (it’s also a fantastic spot to catch the sunset!). If you want more outdoor activities, you can find many nearby hiking trails at Point Lobos State Park, which is only a 10-minute drive away. While in the car, take Carmel’s Scenic Road to see the stunning beachside mansions. And if you’re looking for fine dining while in town, make a dinner reservation at Michelin-starred restaurant Aubergine.

Where to stay: L’Auberge Carmel (from $298 a night), La Playa Hotel (from $300)

6. Newport, Rhode Island

coastal grandma
Source: Unsplash | Raul De Los Santos

If there’s one destination that best embodies the coastal grandma aesthetic, it’s Newport, Rhode Island. Its preppy, nautical vibes will make you feel like you’re living in a Ralph Lauren advertisement (in the best way possible). Start your day with a little sea breeze by walking along Newport’s famous Cliff Walk. The 3.5-mile path is full of scenic overlooks and views of some of the town’s historic Gilded Age mansions. If you want a closer look at the splendor, you can even tour some of the properties. Venture inside The Breakers or The Elms to admire the stunning interiors and learn about how the owners of these properties amassed their fortunes.

Once you’ve finished drooling over mansions, head down to Bowen’s Wharf and Bannister’s Wharf. While there are plenty of cute boutiques to peruse along the waterfront, the real draw is the fresh lobster rolls you can grab at places like Luke’s Lobster. For another iconic Newport experience, head to the harbor before the evening to embark on a sunset sail. Or finish off your night with dinner and a drink at The White Horse Tavern, which is believed to be the U.S.’s oldest restaurant.

Where to stay: Wayfinder Newport (from $117 a night), The Cliffside Inn (from $359)

7. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

coastal grandma
Source: Unsplash | Wei Zeng

Nothing says coastal grandma like a New England beach town. Cape Cod is the ideal location to escape from everyday life and live out your Nancy Meyer’s dream. There are so many places and towns to explore on Cape Cod, but you will want to schedule plenty of time for doing nothing but relaxing on the beach. Marconi Beach and Race Point Beach are both miles-long beaches with plenty of sand to spread out on. Once you’ve gotten your fill of the beach, explore Provincetown, a cozy town at the northern tip of Cape Cod that was the first landing place of the Mayflower all the way back in 1620. Today, it’s known for its thriving LGBTQ+ community and as a gathering place for artists. Among its picturesque streets, you’ll find tons of galleries, restaurants, nightclubs, cabarets, and shops to explore.

Beyond Provincetown, there are plenty of other villages along Cape Cod that are equally worth exploring. Head to Hyannis for souvenir shopping along Main Street, walk the boardwalks in Sandwich and Yarmouth, or visit the Nauset Lighthouse in Eastham. Wherever you end up, be sure to stop into one of Cape Cod’s many breweries to grab a beer after a long day of sightseeing.

Where to stay: Land’s End Inn (from $295 a night), Brewster by the Sea Inn (from $299)

8. Hilton Head, South Carolina

coastal grandma
Source: Unsplash | Jake Johnson

Hilton Head is famous for its white sand beaches, golf courses, and upscale resorts—fitting for the fanciest of coastal grandmas. To get around Hilton Head quickly, rent a bike so you can make the journey just as enjoyable as the destination, riding around with the wind in your hair. Then start your day by checking one of the island’s most famous landmarks off your to-do list. The Harbour Town Marina and Lighthouse has been open for over 40 years and allows you to climb about 100 stairs to the top for a fantastic panoramic view of the area.

For the best of Hilton Head’s sun and sand, spend the afternoon at Coligny Beach. Once you’re ready to get out of the sun, The Salty Dog Cafe makes for a delicious waterfront lunch. For something more active, try your hand at one of the famous golf courses on the island, or, if golfing isn’t your thing, rent a paddleboard or kayak and explore the Broad Creek waterway. Once you’re exhausted from all your adventures, get dinner at The Old Oyster Factory, a Hilton Head staple known for its fresh seafood and oysters.

Where to stay: The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa (from $318 a night), Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort (from $373)

9. Kennebunkport, Maine

coastal grandma
Source: Pexels | Shreyas Sane

Kennebunkport is the kind of small town that just feels like it should be the setting for a rom-com. With its character, quaint town centers, and stunning ocean views, it’s exactly the kind of place that’s written about in books and movies. Kennebunkport is best explored on foot, as the entire downtown area is easily walkable. Stop by Dock Square for the best shopping in town, then wander past sights like the beautiful Arundel Yacht Club building and Coveside Market, which is a great place to stop for coffee or a snack. Continue your walk along the Kennebunkport River, and it’ll lead you straight to the ocean.

Be sure to spend plenty of time enjoying the sun and sea at Goose Rocks Beach, located just north of town. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even head out on the water for a whale-watching excursion or a tour on a lobster boat. For fresh seafood, make a reservation at The Boathouse Restaurant, a delicious restaurant located right on the water.

Where to stay: Kennebunkport Inn (from $208 a night), The Cottages at Cabot Cove (from $248)

10. Anna Maria Island, Florida

coastal grandma
Source: Unsplash | Paul Crook

Anna Maria Island may not be the most popular travel destination in Florida, but its small-town feel and sandy beaches make it a coastal grandma-esque trip. If you want to feel like a local, rent a bike and head down to Pine Avenue, where you can pop into local stores and grab a sweet treat at Hometown Desserts. For an afternoon of sun, set up shop at Manatee Beach, the most popular beach in Anna Maria Island for good reason. It has access to everything you could need, including rentals for water excursions such as kayak tours or jet skiing.

If you’re interested in heading further into the ocean than those will allow, book a dolphin tour on a boat to get out on the water and see some wildlife. For lunch or dinner, visit the iconic Sandbar Restaurant, which has been around since 1979, to enjoy some local seafood right on the beach. As the evening comes to a close, head to Bean Point Beach on the northern tip of the island, where you’ll find the best sunset views on the island.

Where to stay: Sunrise Garden Resort (from $208 a night), Anna Maria Island Inn (from $353)