Nothing represents the essence of summer better than a trip to the beach.
We all look forward to the time of year when things like flip flops, boogie boards, seashells and beach barbecues become part of the norm and weekends are spent packing up the car and heading towards the coast.
For a good time, all you really is sun, sand and a body of water.
But if you want a truly phenomenal beach experience, then you’ll likely want to consider a special trip to one of America’s top-rated beaches.
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, also known as “Dr. Beach,” has been ranking America’s best beaches since 1991, and with this year’s picks he’s pointed out 10 incredible beaches that are absolutely worth going out of your way for.
With a rigorous system that considers 50 different criteria, Leatherman evaluates beaches based on everything from water and sand quality to park safety and management. This year he placed an extra emphasis on beaches with exceptional environmental management and safety, and also awarded extra points for those that prohibit smoking.
For 2015, these are the beaches that made the cut for Leatherman’s top 10 list.
#10 East Beach—Santa Barbara, Calif.
With its Mediterranean like climate, Santa Barbara is often referred to as the “American Riviera,” so it’s no secret that this location is home to some of the best beaches in the U.S. Of particular note is East Beach: a spot located on the eastern end of a four-mile stretch of beach parks that boasts everything from volleyball courts, playgrounds and bathhouses to picnic tables and a full-service restaurant.
(Photo Credit: Stephen Leatherman)
#9 Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park—Naples, Fla.
Featuring fine white sand sprinkled with millions of seashells, this 166-acre beach park serves as a natural escape from a bustling urban area. Leatherman says you’ll find sea oats on the sand dunes, cabbage palms and woodland-shaded picnic areas. However, it does tend to get crowded during vacation season, so it's a good idea to plan your trip for the early morning or late afternoon. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ebyabe)