Best Gulf Coast Beaches in Each State

According to Travel Channel, Vrbo, and U.S News & World Report

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Best Gulf Coast Beaches by State

The following beaches have been named the most beautiful shorelines along the gulf coast according to The Travel Channel, Vrbo, and U.S News & World Report magazine. Here is a brief list of each of them by each state.


Orange Beach

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Dubbed as “the other Florida Panhandle,” the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are named as among the best in this area. Although the coastline of Alabama's Gulf Coast is fairly small, these locations are popular destinations in that part of the world. Each place has restaurants, beach bars, retail establishments, family amusements, and golf courses. About thirty restaurants and bars are located there. The marina in Orange Beach offers water recreation rentals, fishing excursions, dolphin sightseeing cruises, and parasailing. Adventure Island features Miniature Golf, a Go-Kart Track, Kiddie Paddle Boats, and an Arcade Game Room that includes Laser Tag. The Wharf in Orange Beach is a popular destination located on the interior Intracoastal canal. It is probably the number one happening spot. Besides a few restaurants and bars, it also includes a coffee house, specialty shops, a state-of-the-art AMC movie theater, a towering 112’ tall Ferris wheel, its own miniature golf course, and a zip line. A large amphitheater there draws big crowds when it hosts top touring bands during the vacation season. Although most of the beaches along the coast here are lined with high-rise condominiums, the Gulf State Park is situated in between these two towns and provides more open access to the beach. 

Related article: Destin Vs. Orange Beach


Grande Isle Beach

Grande Isle

The Grand Isle State Park in Louisiana features a one-mile linear stretch of tanned beachfront, which is located on the easternmost end of this island. Grand Isle is noted for having a wide variety of wildlife which is a natural treasure. This magical inhabited barrier island which includes mangrove trees along some of its marshlands spans seven miles and is home to a wide variety of waterfowl. They include including songbirds, shorebirds, and waders along the shoreline. An annual Migratory Birding Festival is held here every spring. The park looks out toward nearby Grand Terre Island, which was once anchored by pirates. In addition, there are 280 different species of fish, and the state park includes a 400-foot long public fishing pier where you may try your luck fishing. A camping area can accommodate up to 100 families or groups with nearby bathhouses that include running water. There are also private campgrounds, motels with RV setups, and a few private home rentals. The town has several restaurants that mostly specialize in seafood since this town harbors fish and shrimp boats.


Mississippi Gulf Coast

Gulfport, Ocean Springs, and Biloxi

Popular Gulf Coast destinations in Mississippi include Gulfport, Ocean Springs, and Biloxi. The setting is very laid back except for all the casino action found in Biloxi. These casinos include Harrah’s, Beau Rivage, The Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, and The Palace. All of them include lodging accommodations, outdoor swimming pools, restaurants, bars, and live musical entertainment. Hotels or motels provide most accommodations on this stretch of shoreline, with only a couple of casinos actually being located on the sand. The Gulf Shore Islands National Seashore is located nearby but is not directly facing the gulf. The offshore islands are only accessible by boat. The fairly remote beaches in Gulfport and Ocean Springs towards the west do face the gulf with less hustle and bustle.


Galveston Gulf Coast Beach

Galveston Beach

The Gulf Coast of Texas spans across 600 miles from the Louisiana state line all the way to Mexico. The beaches here are quite popular, especially in Galveston Beach since it sits on an offshore island just on the outskirts of Houston. Due to this location on the western side of the gulf, the beaches are tan in color due to the circular patterns of outflow from the Mississippi River. People are allowed to drive on portions of the beaches here, and some park their vehicles there. Galveston itself is an old historic, charming town with many restaurants, bars, and retail establishments. It also features a large amusement park complete with a big Ferris wheel. Nearby Galveston Island State Park encompasses 2,000 acres providing a relatively remote popular spot for camping, hiking, and fishing. Further south along the Texas coast, Padre Island and Corpus Christi are popular hot spots for the rollicking spring break crowds.

Texas and Majestic Sun

Related article: Tons of Texans Vacation at Destin's Majestic Sun


Destin Gulf Coast Beach

Destin, Miramar Beach, and 30A

Our Ocean Reef Resorts guests already know which state has the best beaches, and it is not a surprise that it happens to be here along the Emerald Coast. Literally, generations of families have made this their favorite Gulf Coast vacation destination. Parents brought their kids here many years ago, who in turn brought their own children to experience magical memories along the sensational sparkling seascape. It is no wonder then that Destin tops the list as the best and most beautiful beach on the Gulf of Mexico!

Destin Florida Homes

The Emerald Coast spans across from dazzling Destin eastward into magnificent Miramar Beach and then along Scenic 30A, which is home to picture-perfect coastal villages that provide an idyllic setting for family vacations. Ocean Reef Resorts offers a wide array of fine privately owned vacation rental properties along this entire route.

The Emerald Coast gets its name from the glowing jewel-toned waters that grace the sugary white shoreline. The sand itself is composed of white quartz crystal washed down into the gulf during the last Ice Age and pulverized into a soft powdery form through many thousands of years of wave action. This sand reflects light in a shimmering brilliance that is so bright that sunglasses are an absolute necessity on sunny days. Since it does not absorb heat, many beachgoers cast off their flip-flops to walk on the cool powdery shore. It also lights up natural microscopic green plankton that reflects from the white sandy bottom in the clear waters. They glow in a wide range of glittering jewel-toned colors that are primarily emerald colored. This provides a stunning luminescent look and is truly stunning. Unlike its beach counterparts further west, the Destin area gulf waters are usually as clear as a swimming pool because it is very far away from flowing tributaries. Many of the beaches near the industrialized Mobile Bay and closer to the Mississippi River tan the shoreline and often perpetuates a somewhat brackish hue in the water compared to the glowing emerald green colors found around here.

Destin’s location in the northwest Florida panhandle sits between the wide expanse of Choctawhatchee Bay and the open gulf. It actually resembles an offshore island since it is three to five miles off the mainland, almost completely surrounded by water. This “island” encompasses over eight square miles of incorporated Destin, spanning nine miles from east to west and one to three miles from north to south. Besides the bright white beach,

Top 10 Destin Attractions

Related article: Top 10 Destin Attractions

Destin’s top attractions include an abundant assortment of waterfront restaurants, friendly bars, specialty shops, and amusements. Over 100 restaurants dot the coast here featuring Barbeque, Cajun, Caribbean, French, Greek, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Seafood, and Southern cuisine. Many have received outstanding culinary awards. Quite a few of them are located at the golden Americana-styled HarborWalk Village, which is Destin’s crown jewel. A large marina here is home to the largest private charter fishing fleet in North America. This wonderful dockside village includes many restaurants with bars that feature live music, outdoor concerts, fun festivals throughout the year, and exciting seasonal firework displays.

Crab Island Jet Ski

Ocean Reef Resorts guests enjoy having access to a variety of water sport rentals with special discounts at HarborWalk Village through our complimentary Reef Rewards program, as well as sunset dinner cruises, dolphin sightseeing excursions, and even a pirate ship treasure hunt adventure. Jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, pontoons, and fishing boats are rented for excursions out into the shallow clear water of Crab Island, which features regular ongoing boat parties. The highly popular captivating retail village of Destin Commons is a short distance away and provides an idyllic shopping experience. It includes European-styled tower turrets, an old-fashioned clock tower, palm-lined avenues, a classic fountain, a geyser plaza for kids, and an AMC movie theater. It features a wide array of specialty shops, fine clothiers, fashion boutiques, shoe shops, a big Bass Pro Shop, Belk’s Department Store, and casual restaurants with bars. 

Sandestin Beachfront Condos

The Destin area also includes Miramar Beach towards the east in southern Walton County, home to the exclusively gated Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. This 2,400 acre lushly landscaped world spans across from the open gulf all the way to the beautiful bay. Four championship golf courses here meander across forested fairways dotted by lovely lagoons. Sandestin is home to the enchanting Village of Baytowne, which was inspired by the architectural designs found in the New Orleans French Quarter and swank town center of Grand Boulevard. Restaurants, bars, and shopping adventures are found in each, along with other delightful diversions. Baytowne also hosts free outdoor concerts, fun year-round festivals, and vibrant seasonal firework extravaganzas. The nearby Silver Sands Premium Outlets is a popular shopping destination with amazing bargains since it is one of the largest discount designer centers in the nation with over 100 top named designer stores. 

Towards the east, there are ideal picturesque coastal villages along sensational Scenic 30A. Each one of these beautifully planned villages has its own personality. Besides restaurants, beach bars, and shopping adventures, a few of them also host outdoor concerts along with fun festivals. This scenic route includes a number of different private vacation homes and low-rise luxury condominiums. There are almost half a dozen beach parks with easy public access in the area, which provide amazing gulf views. The Grayton Beach State Park was recently named as one of the most beautiful beach parks in the nation. The Scenic 30A communities are bordered by thousands of acres of gorgeous preserved forests that contain rare precious coastal dune lakes. Coastal Dune Lakes are extraordinarily rare and found hardly anywhere else in the world. These precious natural treasures are home to abundant wildlife, waterfowl, and fish. 

Gulf Coast Guests

Enjoy taking some fun time exploring all your vacation rentals on our very user-friendly website. Multiple images, detailed descriptions, satellite property location views, seasonal rental rates, and calendar dates available for reservations are listed for each one of our many properties. If this is your first visit down, get ready to experience an awesome family beach vacation on the Gulf Coast!