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The Gulf Islands National Seashore — which includes much of Santa Rosa Island and Perdido Key — has been named the nation’s “Best East Coast Beach” by readers of USA Today/10Best. The national park beat out a diverse list of shorelines in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

The seashore’s Johnson Beach, located on Perdido Key, was also ranked as the country’s second-best National Park Beach, edged out only by Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina.

“What’s exciting about these awards is that the recognition is from the voting public,” said Steve Hayes, president of Visit Pensacola. “We see the popularity of Pensacola growing and it’s the visitors and locals who are spreading the word and sharing their appreciation for what makes this the best beach destination.”

Winners in each category were selected by online votes from the public after a panel of experts picked the initial nominees.

The Gulf Islands National Seashore, established in 1971, stretches from Mississippi to Florida and features offshore barrier islands with sparkling white quartz sand beaches, historic forts, nature trails, and more.

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