Dr. Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, has revealed his annual list of the 10 best beaches in America, crowning the Florida Panhandle’s Grayton Beach State Park number one for 2020.
One of the world’s foremost beach experts, Leatherman has been using dozens of criteria, including sand softness, water temperature and views, among others, to rank the nation’s top 10 beaches dating back to 1991.
“This beach boasts of its sugar-white sand and emerald green water where development has been restrained so big sand dunes still dominate the landscape. At the same time, all the amenities of great restaurants and accommodations are close by in the old town of Grayton Beach or Seaside,” wrote Leatherman. “Many people choose to camp in this wonderful state park that also features tidal lakes and freshwater ponds. Former Governor Bob Graham told me that this was his favorite beach.”
Originally named the country’s top beach in 1994, Grayton Beach State Park, which is located between Panama City Beach and Destin, finished third last year, trailing only Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach in North Carolina’s Outer Banks and 2019 winner Kailua Beach Park in Hawaii.
Winners aren’t eligible for the list the following year, so Kailua Beach Park doesn’t appear in the top 10 for 2020. Meanwhile, Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach remains in second place this year, with The Hamptons’ Coopers Beach, Oahu, Hawaii’s Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Lighthouse Beach in the Outer Banks rounding out the top five.
2020’s top 10 features some other familiar locales. Caladesi Island State Park on Florida’s Gulf Coast and Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii rank sixth and seventh, respectively, followed by Cape Cod’s Coast Guard Beach, Coronado Beach in San Diego and Beachwalker Park in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Grayton Beach State Park’s triumph marks the second victory for Florida in the past four years. Siesta Beach in Sarasota was named Dr. Beach’s best beach in America in 2017.
While the COVID-19 crisis is impacting some travelers’ summer plans, many of the country’s most popular beaches are beginning to open up.
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