Saugatuck Wins Again

Ogunquit, Gulf Shores, Rehoboth Beach and Rockport also winners.

In 2014, the tiny Great Lakes community of Saugatuck, Mich. was named the Best Summer Weekend Escape in the USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice awards, and now they've done it again. After four weeks of voting, Saugatuck, the only lakeside nominee on our list, has been crowned the Best Coastal Small Town.

  • Saugatuck, Mich.

    Saugatuck, the only nominee to occupy a stretch of lakeside coast, sits along the shores of Lake Michigan. A popular summer getaway for Chicago and Detroit residents, Saugatuck has a lovely Victorian downtown, abundant art galleries and cool cafes, more than 35 bed and breakfasts, and easy access to dunes and beaches in the Gold Coast's nearby state parks.
    Photo courtesy of PapaBear

  • Ogunquit, Maine

    During the summer months, the population of tiny Ogunquit swells as visitors flock to the 3-mile white sand beach backed by grass-covered dunes on the Maine coast. Before gaining fame as a resort community described as a mini Provincetown, Ogunquit attracted prominent artists like Charles H. Woodbury, Walt Kuhn and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Besides gallery hopping, visitors to the Maine town can whale watch, kayak, hike, golf or go deep-sea fishing just off the coast.
    Photo courtesy of MeganAmato

  • Gulf Shores, Ala.

    Visitors to Gulf Shores, at the heart of the Alabama Gulf Coast, will be met with sugary-white sand beaches, Southern-style fresh seafood, championship golf courses and nearly any water sport you can imagine, thanks to the many nearby back bays and rivers. Preserves and state parks protect much of the region make Gulf Shores an ideal base for a natural coastal escape.
    Photo courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

  • Rehoboth Beach, Del.

    Nicknamed 'the Nation's Summer Capital' for its proximity to Washington, Rehoboth Beach enjoys small-town friendly locals, a relaxed, beachy vibe and a mile-long beach-side boardwalk lined with ornate Victorian architecture. With no sales tax in Delaware, Rehoboth has gained a reputation for its shopping, with the usual souvenir shops in town and quite the collection of outlet malls just outside of town.
    Photo courtesy of Forsaken Fotos / Flickr

  • Rockport, Texas

    Across the Aransas Bay from Corpus Christi, the streets of Rockport are lined with art galleries – the town claims to have the highest percentage of artists in Texas. The pedestrian-friendly downtown is filled with shops and restaurants, and more often than not, accommodation takes the form of old fashioned motel courts. Windswept oak trees and large swathes of protected coastal wetlands make this section of the Texas Gulf Coast one of the loveliest.
    Photo courtesy of Drew Holmgreen

  • Mystic, Conn.

    The town of Mystic, Connecticut, once a major whaling center and shipbuilding port on the East Coast, holds tight to its seafaring history with attractions like the Mystic Seaport Museum. The excellent Mystic Aquarium caters to families, while the town itself has ample boutiques, galleries and restaurants to help pass the time.
    Photo courtesy of Michael Melford, courtesy of Mystic Country, Connecticut

  • St. Michaels, Md.

    Victorian homes, eclectic boutiques, a cozy harbor and a smattering of B&Bs make it easy to see why the little village of St. Michaels calls itself the Heart and Soul of Chesapeake Bay. The former shipbuilding center on the Eastern Shore clings to its maritime history, a history that can be explored at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum before digging into some famed steamed Maryland crab at an al fresco seafood shack.
    Photo courtesy of baumsaway

  • Chincoteague, Va.

    Just south of the Maryland-Virginia border, the resort island of Chincoteague maintains a sense of delightful seclusion while still offering visitors an array of shops, restaurants, motels and waterside bars, all packed within a walkable and affordable package. Uncrowded beaches stretch for miles just outside of town, and wonderful Assateague Island with its famous herd of wild ponies lies just across the water.
    Photo courtesy of Cameron Davidson / Virginia Tourism Corporation

  • Ocean Springs, Miss.

    Ocean Springs, the largest nominee for Best Coastal Small Town with a population approaching 18,000, has the white sand beaches and freshly caught Gulf seafood you'd expect from a Gulf coast community, but it also boasts a thriving artistic community and a calendar full of cultural festivals to boot.
    Photo courtesy of Rauluminate

  • Duck, N.C.

    The far northern community of Duck, named for the abundant waterfowl that have long attracted hunters to the area, in the North Carolina Outer Banks is an upscale resort town boasting lots of restaurants and shops, and a reputation for its beautiful beaches. With Currituck Sound to one side and the Atlantic Ocean to the other, water sports and outdoor adventures abound.
    Photo courtesy of Jack Hollingsworth photo, courtesy Oute r Banks Visitors Bureau

Little Ogunquit on the Maine Coast put up a good fight and landed a well-deserved runner up position, while Gulf Shores, Ala.; Rehoboth Beach, Del. and Rockport, Texas finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.

The full list of winners in the 'Best Coastal Small Town' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice is as follows:

  1. Saugatuck, Mich.
  2. Ogunquit, Maine
  3. Gulf Shores, Ala.
  4. Rehoboth Beach, Del.
  5. Rockport, Texas
  6. Mystic, Conn.
  7. St. Michaels, Md.
  8. Chincoteague, Va.
  9. Ocean Springs, Miss.
  10. Duck, N.C.

A big congratulations to our winners, and next time you're planning a trip to the coast, remember that good things come in small packages.


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