This Florida State Park Is Considered One Of The Top-Ranked Beach Vacation Spots In America

With more than 1,000 miles of coastline and even some islands, Florida is a beach vacation hotspot known worldwide. There are popular beach destinations located all over the entire peninsula — from Destin to Daytona to the Florida Keys. In fact, one of Florida's beaches has been called the best beach in the United States.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Stephen Leatherman — also known as Dr. Beach — has traveled around the U.S. to rank the country's best beaches. In 2023, he crowned the beach at Florida's St. George Island State Park as the best beach in the U.S. (the full name is Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park). This park is located on a Gulf Coast island off of the Florida panhandle, less than two hours from Panama City and Tallahassee. Despite the fact that it is on an island, the park is a short detour from Highway 98 as you cross the Bryant Patton St. George Island Bridge. Aside from a relaxing and pristine beach, the park offers camping, wildlife viewing, and even stargazing.

Keep an eye out for wildlife at St. George Island State Park

St. George Island State Park's beach has fine, white sand. This makes it easy to lie comfortably on a towel or spot some beach souvenirs. Wildlife enjoy the beach too, such as pelicans, tiny white ghost crabs, terns, and loggerhead sea turtles. Campgrounds are just a quarter of a mile from the beach and while many have electricity and running water, Gap Point Primitive Campsites are more remote. Gap Point campsites are not accessible by car and do not have running water or restrooms. Gap Point Trail leads to the sites but kayaks or canoes can also get visitors to Gap Point. For either camping experience, make reservations well in advance through the Florida State Parks.

What makes camping at St. George Island State Park all the more special is the stargazing. After the sun sets, Jupiter, Saturn, and even the Milky Way become visible. Park staff are advocating for the area to become a Dark Sky park through the International Dark Sky Association. There is an observation platform to help visitors get the best views as well.

St. George Island State Park is famous for its fine, white sand

So what does Dr. Beach have to say about the beach at St. George Island State Park? "It has the finest whitest sand in the world, made of crystal — there's nothing like it," he explained to Forbes. "In the bright sun, it is so blinding white you need to wear your sunglasses." He recommends beachcombing and shelling as the area has plenty of shellfish. Further west on St. George Island is the St. George Island Lighthouse. "It gives you a great view of the whole area—a panorama of the state park and the 9 miles of pristine beach," Dr. Beach stated.

Keeping St. George Island State Park in such wonderful condition for visitors and local wildlife is an ongoing task. Endangered sea turtles come to the park to lay their eggs at the beach, as do least terns and black skimmers. Make sure to take all trash and belongings with you so that nothing ends up tangled with wildlife.