Everybody loves the Florida Keys.
Miami made the cut, too. But Key West, which was no. 6, really captured the imagination of Big 7 Travel, which considered such factors as beach amenities, natural scenery, community atmosphere, food and drink scene and activities.
“Many consider Key West to be the best beach area in the States,” Big 7 Travel writes. “And they aren’t wrong. Countless pastel colored homes, a robust vacation atmosphere, incredible seafood and the most gorgeous beaches in Florida definitely back up the claim. Then, below the water, you’ve got incredible vibrant coral perfect for scuba diving and crystal clear waves perfect for wading the day away. It truly is paradise on earth.” [Note: we do know that Key West isn’t exactly overrun with sweeping beaches, but let’s not ruin Big Travel 7’s dreams.]
In 2020, Key West was also named one of the best places in the country to buy a vacation home by vacation rental management platform Vacasa. Big 7 Travel also called the Overseas Highway one of the most scenic drives in the U.S.
The writers of the Best Coastal Cities report concede that Miami, no. 28 on the list, is not exactly a “cozy beach town” but couldn’t ignore its glitzy appeal:
“This vibrant Floridian hub is loaded with culture and celebrates its diversity through food, art and entertainment. From the luxury resort hotels and fine dining spots to the cozy hole in the walls and boutique inns, Miami is a little bit of everything. And if that weren’t enough, the beaches are pristine and the nightlife is among the best in the country.”
We aren’t so sure about the pristine part because South Beach exists, but we’ll take the compliment.
The best coastal beach town in the U.S. was Carmel-by-the-Sea in California, with Nantucket, Massachusetts; Narragansett, Rhode Island; Cape May, New Jersey and Santa Barbara, California rounding out the top 5.
Three other Florida cities were mentioned: Amelia Island (no. 25); Clearwater (30); and Anna Maria Island (44). No mention of St. Pete Beach, which was just named the best beach in the United States by Tripadvisor’s 2021 Travelers’ Choice Awards.