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18 August . 2017

Some of America's Best Beaches are Close to Home

You don't have to travel far to enjoy some of the best beaches in the United States. Three of the country's top 10 beaches are right here in the Sunshine State, and two of them are just a short car ride away.

Each year, Dr. Beach – otherwise known as Dr. Stephen Leatherman from Florida International University – ranks his favorites. In 2017, Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota County topped the list.
A little closer to home, Caladesi Island State Park near Dunedin, also made Dr. Beach’s list. And Grayton Beach in Northwest Florida ranked in the top 4.

Here’s a little about each glorious sugar-sand beach:

Siesta Key Beach
Drive about 2 hours south of Tampa and you’ll find yourself on the eight-mile barrier island that is Siesta Key. Folks come from all over the world to sink their toes into the soft powdery sand and engulfing waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This is the second time Dr. Beach has named the beach to the top of his list. It earned the number one spot back in 2011. Since then, Siesta Key has spent $21 million in improvements.

Siesta Key is extremely family friendly. In fact, it’s a destination that many families keep coming back to year after year. There are hotels and cottages and other accommodations, plus a free trolley to get you to where you want to go.

Caladesi Island State Park
This little gem in Pinellas County topped Dr. Beach’s top ten list at number seven. Caladesi Island Park is about a 60 to 90-minute drive from Tampa but in only accessible by boat. If you don’t have your own, you can enjoy a short ferry ride from Honeymoon Island.

Once you arrive, Caladesi Island has plenty of activities to enjoy, including saltwater fishing, kayaking through the mangroves, hiking a three-mile nature trail, birdwatching or just enjoying a picnic at one of the shelters. The park also has a marina with electric and water hookups.

Grayton Beach
Head to the Panhandle to enjoy Dr. Beach’s number four seashore. Halfway between Destin and Panama City is Grayton Beach, a laid back, eclectic beach town in Walton County, which is a favorite of former Governor Bob Graham.

Known for its fine white sand and crystal blue-green water, this beach is a charmer thanks in part to its restricted development. You’ll find sand dunes and a state park with tidal lakes and freshwater ponds. Grayton Beach also has all the amenities you’s want in a beach town, great restaurants like the not-to-be-missed Red Bar and quaint cottages and independent hotels. If the cool factor is what you’re looking for, you can even drive your car on the beach with a seasonal permit.