The 4th of July is right around the corner and you might be planning a great summer beach getaway. I love the beach and I've been to several along the Gulf Coast. Of course I have my favorites.

Bankrate.com says 1 in 4 Americans can not afford a vacation this year.

We did a little research and talked to several Shreveport Bossier families who make the trip to the beach every year and put together a list of the best beaches within driving distance of the local area.

Of those taking a vacation, most will be driving. CNBC reports the average vacation spending is $2,000.

Here are my top 5 beaches near Shreveport Bossier:

My judgement might be a little tainted, because I've recently visited Hawaii a few times, but if I'm considering beaches within driving distance, my favorite beach is in Destin. The sand is sparkling white and the water is a deep blue most of the time. The water is also a great temperature. It's perfect for plopping on an innertube and just floating.

Destin is 514 miles or about 8 and 1/2 hours away from Shreveport Bossier.

This is a great place for a family vacation. The sand is clean and white, but the water is not quite as bright blue as you will find on some of the Florida beaches. You will find lots of great things to do away from the beach. But be sure to bring enough cash. If the kids want to ride go-karts or go to the video arcade, you will have to spend a little dough. We did get a pretty good deal on a 4 hour deep sea fishing trip that my boys loved, but you will have to shop around.

Orange Beach is 458 miles or about 7 1/2 hours from Shreveport Bossier.

Shreveport Bossier residents can also be found in large numbers in Gulf Shores, Alabama. You will spot almost as many LSU fans on the beach as Bama fans. The water is not quite as blue and the sand is not quite as white as the beaches along the coast of Florida. But the drive is shorter and you will find ample condominiums for rent along the coastline. During some weeks, you might run into lots of seaweed on the beach. That was a big turn off. Another issue in Gulf Shores will be the large numbers of college kids you will find partying at many of the complexes.

Gulf Shores is 452 miles or 7 1/2 hours  from Shreveport Bossier.

This is a great family beach area. You will find gorgeous white sand and blue green waters. One of the best spots to visit at Navarre is the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It is simply spectacular. Navarre beach is one of only ten beaches in the nation protected as a National Seashore. You will also find the gulf coast's longest pier and you can walk right out on it to catch some beautiful fish.

Navarre Beach is 500 miles or 8 hours from Shreveport Bossier.

This is another great beach community for families. You might find Santa Rosa Beach a little pricier than others, but the area has some of the finest upscale dining in the region and the area is known for turquoise waters and sugar sand beaches. You will also find an artist colony known as Gulf Place. This is worth a stop if you want to venture away from the beach for a few hours.

Santa Rosa is 546 miles or 8 hours 53 minutes away from Shreveport Bossier.

I steer clear of Pensacola, Daytona Beach and Panama City because they are just too crowded and can get a little wild.