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Famed for its sugar-white beaches, historic forts, and wildlife, Gulf Islands National Seashore has been voted the USA Today/10Best Readers’ Choice Best Florida Attraction for 2018.

The seashore was one of 20 destinations nominated by an expert panel, after which a public vote determined the winner. Other top nominations included Clearwater Beach, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel and Dry Tortugas National Park.

“This accolade shines a national spotlight on the gem that exists in our very own community among the numerous other awards we have received just this week,” said Steve Hayes, president of Visit Pensacola. “Locals and guests who have experienced the Gulf Islands National Seashore have made that clear with their overwhelming response of votes.”

Established in 1971, the seashore stretches across more than 160 miles from Mississippi to Florida and includes pristine beaches, historic Civil War era forts, and nature preserves. Key attractions include Ship Island and Fort Massachusetts in Mississippi as well as Johnson Beach, Forts Barrancas and Pickens, and the Naval Live Oaks Reservation in the Pensacola Bay Area.

“Being voted #1 Best Florida Attraction confirms what most of us already know —  that the Gulf Islands National Seashore is a phenomenal place, with its incredibly beautiful beaches and fascinating forts,” said Park Superintendent Dan Brown. “The best part is that it belongs to all of us to experience and enjoy.”

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