Top Ten Beaches in the United States

Best Camping: Clubhouse Beach, Everglades National Park (Florida)
Island in Everglades National Park, Florida
Island in Everglades National Park, Florida (Photodisc/Mark Downey)

There's hardly a better feeling than zipping open your tent and pushing your toes into the sand while the ocean stares you in the face. Birds and insects are the only creatures making noise. Welcome to the Everglades backcountry.

It's not the ideal place for a summer getaway—temperatures and humidity can soar that time of year—but if you want to beat the crowds, this is the place. You have to head a few miles off the beaten track to find Clubhouse Beach—and don't expect toilets, other facilities, or other people. The campsite sits at the end of a 7.5-mile hike from Flamingo, along the Coastal Prairie Hiking Trail. It’s the only backcountry beach site in the Everglades accessible by foot, and only 24 campers are allowed at one time along the coastal shell beach (most of south Florida's natural beaches are built up from the shells of multitudes of marine organisms). Backcountry permits can be purchased only in person, up to 24 hours in advance. They cost $10.00 per permit, plus $2.00 per person per night. So along with some great camping, expect to find solitude. And wildlife? You bet—bring the binoculars. After all, this is the Everglades, where crocodile, manatee, and panther co-exist in a birder's paradise.

Tip: Keep an eye out for nesting turtles in late spring and summer. They love the beach, too. And remember to bring the bug repellent, as you'll find pesky pests any time of year.



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