Best Florida Beaches in Top 10 Travelers’ Choice® USA Beaches 2020

By James | Last updated May 10, 2024

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Florida has some of the best beaches in the whole of the United States and its beaches regularly appear in top 10 polls. Because of Florida’s shape, being relatively long and thin, you are never more than 62 miles (100 km) from the coast. And with 1700 miles of coastline, you are spoilt for choice.

Florida’s East coast is renowned for its many wide flat beaches, particularly around Daytona where in the 1920s and 1930s, World Land Speed records were regularly broken. Whilst on the Western Gulf coast, beautiful white sands compliment calm and idyllic emerald green seas.

Whilst surveys and polls should always be taken with a pinch of salt (or should that read sand!), there is no denying that both Florida and Hawaii are deemed to have some of the best beaches in the United States.

During 2013, teams of trekkers from Google Street View walked and photographed over 740 miles of Florida’s 825 miles of beaches.

Each year TripAdvisor carry out a Travelers’ Choice® Beaches survey and awards and in 2020, TripAdvisor visitors voted six of Florida’s beaches in the top 10 for the USA and eight in the top 25.

Siesta Key Beach and Clearwater Beach have made the top 10 for seven and six straight years respectively. Siesta Key Beach and St. Pete Beach also ranked in the Top 25 Beaches in the World for 2020 with Clearwater Beach ranking in 2019.

Florida beaches making it into the top 25 USA beaches for 2020 (2019 ranking in square brackets) is:

  • #1 Siesta Key Beach [6]
  • #2 St. Pete Beach [4]
  • #4 Pensacola Beach [5]
  • #5 Clearwater Beach [1]
  • #7 Hollywood Beach [15]
  • #8 Panama City Beach [3]
  • #11 St. Augustine Beach [8]
  • #13 Santa Rosa Beach []

Previous Years

Since 2015, the top USA beach has been in Florida with Siesta Key Beach taking the title in 2015, 2017 and 2020 and Clearwater Beach in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

“Dr. Beach” Top Beaches Award

The other annual top beach award comes from “Dr. Beach”, Professor Stephen Leatherman, from Florida International University. Each year for the past 20 years he has assessed some 650 public recreational beaches throughout the United States, marking them against a set of 50 different criteria covering a wide range of topics.

Again some of Florida’s best beaches appear in his America’s Best Beaches survey. However, when looking at the results do bear in mind that prior to 2016, once a beach had been ranked as the top beach it used to be “retired” from the list and was no longer judged in subsequent years so the fact that it ranked top some years ago did not mean it is no longer very good. In 2016 this was changed and beaches are no longer “knocked out” after coming first.

Florida Beach Sand

The beaches of Florida’s northern Panhandle are renowned for their pure white colour and amazing sparkle that comes from the high levels of fine quartz in the sand. Some of the finest and whitest sand in the world is found on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

As you move down the Gulf Coast towards the Tampa Bay area, whilst the sands retain their white colour they also contain more shells, corals and fossils like shark’s teeth. In some places you will find sand that is grey-black in colour because of the fossil deposits.

If you are looking for seashells then you need go no further than Sanibel, near Fort Myers in southwest Florida. Reckoned to be the best US shelling spot and one of the best in the whole world.

On Florida’s Atlantic coast, the sand tends to be more grey-brown in colour though you will even find sand that is almost orange because of the mix of shell fragments.

No matter where you stay in Florida, you are not far from one of Florida’s best beaches. Don’t forget to take note of beach safety whenever you visit the beach.