Georgetown once again ranks in Best Coastal Small Town contest

5 Nov

Georgetown once again ranks in Best Coastal Small Town contest

For the fourth consecutive year, Georgetown has once again ranked in America’s top choices for Best Coastal Small Town in the prestigious USA Today/10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest.

After winning the moniker of “Best Coastal Small Town” in 2018, Georgetown has remained one of the coastal towns vying for the annual honor year after year. In the 2021 contest, Georgetown fell just shy of reclaiming the title, placing second to winner Bucksport, Maine. The Top 10 was announced Friday, Nov. 5.

The iconic clocktower on Front Street in Georgetown is part of the Rice Museum. (Photo by Mark A. Stevens/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

The second-place stature was Georgetown’s best annual showing since its 2018 win. In 2019, for example, Georgetown finished in fourth place, and in 2020, South Carolina’s third-oldest town finished seventh.

The online contest asks readers to vote from 20 nominees for Best Coastal Small Town, chosen by a panel that includes editors from USA Today, editors from, and expert contributors. All voting was digital and allowed people to vote once a day for four weeks.

The top ten winners for 2021 are as follows:

1.Bucksport, Maine
3.Rockport, Texas
4.Southport, North Carolina
5.Ocean Springs, Maryland
6.Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi
7.Nags Head, North Carolina
8.Del Mar, California
9.Beaufort, South Carolina
10.Cape May, New Jersey

In addition to Georgetown, only one other coastal town – Southport, North Carolina – has appeared in the Top 10 finalists for the past four consecutive years. Unlike Georgetown, however, Southport has never claimed the top spot.

Over the past four years, only one other South Carolina town – Beaufort – has placed in the Top 10, and that was in the 2021 contest.

“It’s not surprising to find Georgetown in the running for Best Coastal Small Town these past four years,” said Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce CEO Beth Stedman. “Those of us who live and work here already know just how special historic Georgetown is, and the tourists who fill our city streets each year clearly love and appreciate all that Georgetown has to offer.

The Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center at 531 Front Street in historic Georgetown welcomes thousands of tourists each year. (Photo by Mark A. Stevens/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

“We are proud, year after year, to see Georgetown earn the designation as a Best Coastal Small Town nominee. Over the years, Georgetown has been matched against coastal towns along nearly every major body of water in America, ranging from the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and all the way up and down the Atlantic Coast. And every year, Georgetown demonstrates it can compete with any and all of them.”

In announcing the contest, USA Today/10Best has said: “Our 20 nominees for Best Coastal Small Town – each with a population of fewer than 25,000 people as of the last census – offer uncrowded, unpretentious and affordable seaside fun in small packages that prove bigger isn’t always better.”

“Georgetown is the quintessential American small town,” said Mark A. Stevens, who serves as director of tourism development for the Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®. “Our community is rich with history and is overflowing with Southern charm. Folks visiting our pristine beaches on the Hammock Coast often make a point to visit Front Street in Georgetown to experience the historic district’s five museums, eclectic shops and restaurants. We are all so thrilled that Georgetown was once again a finalist in the Best Coastal Small Town contest.”

While the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest lives on – a standalone travel media site – it is promoted across USA Today Travel Media Group’s digital and mobile products, as well as via social media. Nominees are also announced and/or promoted across relevant USA Today departments, and through Gannett media outlets.

The Kaminski House is one of five museums located in historic Georgetown. (Photo by Mark A. Stevens/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce) provides users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. The core of the site’s uniqueness is its team of local travel experts: a well-traveled and well-educated group who are not only experts in their fields – and their cities – but discriminating in their tastes. averages five million visitors per month. It was acquired by USA Today in January of 2013.

Here’s a look back at the Top 10 in other years in which Georgetown competed in the Best Coastal Small Town competition:

In 2020, the Top 10 winners in the category were:
1.Chincoteague, Virginia
2.Bayfield, Wisconsin
3.Venice, Florida
4.Rockport, Texas
5.Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi
6.Southport, North Carolina
8.St. Marys, Georgia
9.Gulf Shores, Alabama
10.Sandusky, Ohio

In 2019, the top 10 winners were:
1.Sandusky, Ohio
2.Rockport, Texas
3.Chincoteague, Virginia
5.Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi
6.Gulf Shores, Alabama
7.Southport, North Carolina
8.St. Simons Island, Georgia
9.Saugatuck, Michigan
10.Bayfield, Wisconsin

In 2018, when Georgetown came out on top, the top 10 looked like this:
2.Pismo Beach, California
3.Eastport, Maine
4.Vermilion, Ohio
5.Gulf Shores, Alabama
6.Cape May, New Jersey
7.St. Simons Island, Georgia
8.Mystic, Connecticut
9.Southport, North Carolina
10.Bayfield, Wisconsin

A double rainbow shines down on historic Georgetown. (Photo courtesy of Mark Roberts)

Georgetown, the county seat, is home to more 200-year-old buildings than Charleston. The city offers an abundance of accommodations for guests, including hotels and cozy bed and breakfasts. Georgetown marinas welcome boaters from around the globe.

For more information on Georgetown and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®, visit

– By Clayton Stairs, tourism manager, Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®

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