What's Amazing About James Lee Beach
VIBE: Relaxed, Free Spirit
3510 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin, FL 32541
Are you searching for picturesque, quiet beaches that are still close to amenities? You will find them in the Panhandle between Destin and Pensacola. James Lee Beach offers the gorgeous white sand and emerald water you crave. Destin beaches are popular Florida vacation spots, especially for those who love a sunny beach. They are home to many hotels and resorts as well as restaurants, shops, and other attractions. In fact, the parking lot for this beach is shared with a great seafood restaurant. The area is also known for its fishing opportunities.
We don't think there is any softer or whiter sand to be found than Destin, Florida. It seemed like we were walking in the snow! Quartz crystal mineral makes up nearly 97%-98% of this sand. Sand dunes surround your entry to the beach with easy walkovers. The sand is cool on your bare feet. When walking along the beach, we noticed a squeaking noise with each step. This is familiar to us because we live near the "singing beach" of New Smynra Beach, where the sand has a similar quality. James Lee Beach is quite flat and there have been some erosion problems. In early 2022, a beach enrichment project is underway to capture sand as it moves in the water. This will result in sand accumulation that will widen the beach and extend the shoreline. The beach is open but there is some fencing to get around.
The Gulf water in the Destin area can make you believe you are in the Caribbean. The emerald color against the white sand beachfront is breathtaking. Most of the time you can see clear down to your toes and you can walk out far: it is shallow. Is it better than Clearwater? You decide! This beach park has 3 pavilions, picnic tables, a playground, and restrooms with changing rooms. So change into our bathing suite, come on in and enjoy the water!
Beach Parking and Facilities
Located in the Florida Panhandle, on the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is a popular tourist destination. With a beachfront population of around 15,000 in the summertime, you might want to escape the crowds. James Lee Park to the rescue! As a public access beach, this site can still be busy at times. During the summer months it may get crowded because the Gulf water is at its warmest. Even though there are 166 free parking spots, the lot gets filled up quickly with cars, pickup trucks and golf carts. We always tell people: go early or go late. Don't go at noon because you likely won't get a spot. Be prepared to drive around the lot to find one. There are only 5 handicapped spaces.
It's an easy walk to the beachfront. The cost to rent chairs and umbrellas is high, so make sure you bring your own gear in your beach truck. James Lee Park and Beach also goes by the name "Crab Trap Beach" because it is located beside a popular restaurant with the same name. A landmark on Old 98, The Crab Trap offers diners incredible views of the Gulf beach with indoor and outdoor seating. Check out their beach cam before you head out. You won't want to miss the sunset on James Lee Beach. There is a playground but its not covered like Sombrero Beach.
Look Out! This Could Happen...
Cold water or hurricanes? Which do you prefer? The Gulf of Mexico water doesn't really warm up in the Destin area until May or June, as you can tell by this chart courtesy of seatemperature.org. For water temperatures that are most pleasing, July and August are the best. However, hurricane season will have started at that time. With a little planning, you can probably get a wonderful vacation in. In the fall it might be another story. Keep on top of the weather using the National Hurricane Center. This advice applies to any Florida destination you wish to visit, but the panhandle is a target for Gulf storms. Do your homework and have a good time.
What we really think...
This is a very low-key Florida beach perfect for families and seniors. Much of the activity involves relaxing, wading and eating. Any beach in Florida that offers free parking is bound to fill up fast, so get there before 10am or after 3pm to get a spot. There are lifeguards in season and dogs are not allowed. This is one of our favorite panhandle beaches. It's beauty is not to be missed.
Destin Beach Hotels within 5 Miles
Best Western Sugar Sands Inn & Suites
Holiday Inn Express & Suites E - Commons Mall Area
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Destin
Destin Beach Restaurants
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