2 of the best beaches in the U.S. are within a day’s drive from metro Atlanta

FLORIDA — Now that summer is officially here, it’s time to start planning that summer vacay you’ve been waiting for.

Luckily for us in the ATL, two of the top beaches in the U.S. are within a day’s drive.

Every year, Dr. Beach ranks the country’s best beaches based on criteria like sand softness, water temperature and wave size.

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This year’s first-place winner is St. George Island State Park on the Florida panhandle, which is about a six-hour drive from Atlanta. The barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico boasts nearly 2,000 acres to explore.

The beach comes in at #1 in the U.S. because of its crystal-clear water, distance from urban areas and sugary fine, white sand.


The island suffered a big blow during Hurricane Michael in 2018, but has since recovered.

Nature is abundant on the beach, which is within a protected state park. Sea turtles and shore birds nest on the island in the summer. The beach is also a popular place to fish, kayak and camp.

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Beachwater Park on Kiawah Island in South Carolina came in at #7 on the list. The beach about a five-and-a-half hour drive from metro Atlanta, south of Charleston. Canoeing and Kayaking are popular on the beach’s tidal inlets. Bicyclists can also see thousands of birds.

The top 10 beaches on Dr. Beach’s list for 2023 are:

  1. St. Georgia Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
  2. Duke Kahanamoki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
  3. Coopers Beach, Southhampton, New York
  4. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater Florida
  5. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks of North Carolina
  6. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
  7. Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
  8. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  9. Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
  10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts