"Dr. Beach" is Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, and when an area is picked for his "America's Best Beaches List" it gets a flurry of media attention -- like winning an Oscar. But as Dr. Beach says:
"Please also take the time to explore and appreciate those spectacular beaches that may exist within hours or minutes of your front door. These sandy playgrounds that line our coasts are the most extensive natural parks in the country. Nothing restores the body and soul like a stay at the beach."Dr. Leatherman is a scientist -- Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University-- who for many years has studied shore erosion and storm impacts. He's also a scientist who'll pose on the sand with stethoscope, medical bag, and conch shell.
Check Dr. Beach's interesting web site for the list of 50 "beach Criteria" used to "diagnose" a shore. Dr. Leatherman notes: "it took me two years to complete the survey of the 650 major public recreational beaches in the United States. Fortunately, I had conducted two national surveys of our coasts, and this experience made it possible for me to undertake this first-ever professional beach rating."
On the next pages you'll find Dr. Beach's picks for 2012, plus some tips about visiting and enjoying these top beaches from the point of view of family travelers.
One thing to keep in mind: the Number One picks from past years are excluded from future rankings. So, for example last year's top pick -- Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida -- won't be on this year's list though surely it remains a lovely spot... Check out some previous winning beaches that are just as beautiful as when they topped the list.
- continue to Top Beach 2012, Coronado Beach, San Diego, California