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24 Jan 2012
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Just about any place you visit in Destin, is going to be perfect. The only variances boil down to personal preferences. Do you enjoy a lively beach with numerous areas to wander about, complete with water-rentals and snack shops? Perhaps you're traveling with small children and need a location capable of providing calm waters for toddlers to play in? One of Destin's greatest feats is being able to provide natural environments suitable for any vacationers needs or wants. In this guide, we take a look at James Lee Park, Henderson Beach State Park, Beasley Park, Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Newman C. Brackin Wayside Park (aka: The Boardwalk) as well as Ross Marler Park and Gulf Islands National Seashore. Below you can find more information on each of these magnificent locations. James Lee Park is a beach on the Walton/Okaloosa County line. A locals-insider site, dubbed James Lee Park as a personal favorite due to the consistently clear water and miles of pristine beach. The park has 3 pavilions, 41 picnic tables, 9 dune walkovers, a playground, restrooms with changing rooms, and 166 parking spaces. Henderson Beach State Park Pristine white sugar sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Natural features of the park include sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary. Boardwalks provide access to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Four large and two small pavilions allow for picnicking and grilling. A playground is the first stop on our nature trail and is sure to be a success with the kids. The nature trail provides visitors a rare glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife and is pet friendly. Beasley-Park Beasley Park is a wonderful public beach park located on Okaloosa Island between Destin and Fort Walton, FL. It offers a more casual beach visit suited for families or couples looking to relax and enjoy the surf and sand. John Beasley Park is a large beach park with 2 dune walkovers to the Gulf of Mexico. This park has 2 large pavilions, 12 picnic tables, an octagonal platform, restrooms with changing rooms and 208 parking spaces. Navarre Beach Navarre Beach is another of the most popular Destin beaches along with Fort Walton and Henderson Beach. It is situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the Santa Rosa Sound. Sand does not get much more powdery or white than on this particular beach where visitors have access to a selection of guest accommodations, fine dining restaurants in close proximity, and many opportunities for beach activities. Navarre Beach is large enough that it is possible for some people to enjoy beach sports while others simply lie back and enjoy the soothing sounds of the ocean, soaking up the choice Florida sun. Lifeguards are on duty and there are sufficient public facilities, although not nearly as many as at Fort Walton Beach. Fort Walton Beach Fort Walton Beach is located on Okaloosa Island less than five miles to the west of downtown Destin. It features miles of unfettered shoreline that is accentuated by gorgeous, turquoise water and powdery white sand. You will find no shortage of activities to enjoy, from diving and snorkeling to kayaking and surfing. Guests of Fort Walton Beach have access to a full range of public facilities, including changing rooms, showers, concessions, parking, and much more. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, as well as a host of options for places to rent gear and equipment for the activities of your choice. There are lifeguards on duty at Fort Walton Beach Newman C. Brackin Wayside Park (Also known as The Boardwalk!) This park is on Okaloosa Island adjacent to the fishing pier. It offers several pavilions, 41 picnic tables, restrooms with changing rooms, volleyball nets, a children’s playground, dune walkovers to the beach and lots of parking. Playing in the surf and sand is easy here. Generally, you’ll see more surfers here than anywhere else locally, and there’s several volleyball nets for those great pick-up games. Ross Marler Park Refurbished in 2006, Ross Marler Park provides boating, swimming and fishing access to the Choctawhatchee Bay. It is located on the inland waterway of Okaloosa Island, so the water is very peaceful and quiet. Just the occasional ripple of a passing boat. This is particularly good if you have small children.There are 20 boat trailer parking spaces, 80 auto parking spaces and a tram stop. Amenities include a handicapped accessible fishing platform, two boat ramps, two sets of bathrooms, several pavilions, a roped off swimming area, and a walking trail with interpretive signage. A FRDAP grant in 2009 provided funds for development of the Marler Mini-Explorer Tot Lot playground which offers a completely fenced, rubber surfaced children’s playground and walking perimeter, all of which is completely Handicapped Accessible. Gulf Islands National Seashore Shallow water is one of the best features of Gulf Islands National Seashore Park. This makes it a favorite spot for families with small children. The shallow water (generally not more than 2-3 feet deep) extends about a 100 yards out into the sound. In addition to researching beaches, read the Destin Fl Vacation Checklist article for extensive information on vacationing in Destin, Florida.

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