By LAURA BLY, USA TODAY — With thousands of snowbirds pointing their convertibles south to the Sunshine State for a dose of winter warmth, we asked “Dr. Beach”— aka Florida International University professor and coastal expert Stephen P. Leatherman — for 10 Florida destinations that combine sand, surf and a welcoming sense of community. His favorites, in alphabetical order:
Clearwater Beach: Meet “volleyball heaven” on the Gulf Coast, with “some of the best girl- and boy-watching I’ve ever seen” near Pier 60.
Cocoa Beach: This onetime astronaut hangout near the Kennedy Space Center is famous for the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, along with “a great pier and surf shop,” Ron Jon’s, whose flagship store will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year.
Delray Beach: A “surprising find” in South Florida, with a “walkable downtown,” locally owned shops and a lively bar scene.
Read more: http://usat.ly/TuH6xI