Grayton Beach State Park Named Best Beach in USA

June 2, 2020 by SoWal Staff

Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, uses 50 criteria each year to name the top 10 beaches in the USA, a labor of love and science since 1991. This year Grayton Beach State Park tops the list at number one for 2020.

Grayton Beach State Park was ranked 3rd on the 2019 list, but jumped to the top spot.  Grayton Beach was also named top beach in 1994, and when a beach makes it to No. 1, it is retired from the list so other beaches can get a shot. After 25 years, Leatherman reset the list it so former winners were back in the mix. It becomes the second repeat winner from Florida since the reset in 2016. Siesta Beach on Siesta Key near Sarasota was named No. 1 in 2017, and had previously won in 2011.

“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,” writes Stephen Leatherman, a professor at Miami’s Florida International University who came up with the list 29 years ago. “At the same time, all the amenities of great restaurants and accommodations are close by in the old town of Grayton Beach or Seaside.  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.”

Other Florida beaches that have garnered top honors in years past include Fort DeSoto Park in St. Petersburg in 2005, St. Joseph Peninsula in Port St. Joe in 2002, St. Andrews State Park in Panama City in 1995 and Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key in 1992. One other Florida beach made this year’s Top 10 list. Caladesi Island State Park moved up from No. 7 to No. 6.

The complete top 10 for 2020:

10. Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina

9. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

8. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

7. Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii

6. Caladesi Island State Park Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida

5. Lighthouse Beach in Buxton, North Carolina

4. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York

2. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks of North Carolina

1. Grayton Beach State Park, SoWal, Florida panhandle


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I love Grayton Beach SOOOOOO much! So many precious childhood memories. I vote for most beautiful beach in the world!
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