Welcome to Panama City Beach, Florida! Whether this is your first visit to Panama City or you’ve been coming down here with your family for years, we’re happy to have you! If you’ve never been to PCB and don’t have tickets booked, hopefully that will change by the time you finish reading this article!
Panama City Beach has something for everyone, whatever you like to do. We have the world's most beautiful beaches so of course we have lots of fun things to do with the water. We have many different fishing charters, sunset boat cruises, jet ski tours, shuttles to Shell Island, parasailing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, dolphin encounters, crystal clear snorkeling and, of course, just playing on our sugar white sand beaches.
Located in the panhandle of Florida, Panama City Beach sits at the top of the Gulf of Mexico. We have many visitors that drive down from Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, or come over from Texas and Louisiana. We are lucky to have the first commercial airport built post-9/11 just 12 miles north of the beach. With Delta, United, and Southwest serving our seven-year old airport, you're sure to find a great flight to get you to and from Panama City Beach. PCB is once again becoming quite the family spring break vacation destination. For over 20 years PCB was one of the top college spring break destinations in the US but over the last couple years the city of PCB has enacted some laws that have resulted in less college Spring breakers and more families coming to PCB in the months of March and April.
With some of the clearest water around, PCB is a great place to go snorkeling. You can see everything from crabs, stingrays and dolphins in addition to the many different kinds of local fish.
For those that want a better look, PCB offers many different opportunities for scuba diving. Whether you are an experienced and certified scuba diver or first-timer that needs to get certified while you're here on vacation, we've got you covered.
If you are looking for a great place to spend the day with your family and want a little adventure, you need to go to St. Andrews State Park, located at the east end of Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach. It's a local- and visitors-favorite and is approximately 995 acres of undeveloped woods and dunes sitting on the lagoon, pass, and Gulf of Mexico. Once inside the state park, your family will likely see deer, alligators, owls, raccoons and many species of wild birds. They have souvenir and snack bars, camping available kayak rentals and best of all, a Shell Island shuttle that runs to the island all day long.
Just pack up your cooler and your family for a nice boat ride to an uninhabited island where you can enjoy solitude and nature and the prettiest beach around. Be sure to bring your snorkel gear or rent it from them when you take the Shell Island shuttle. You will always remember a wonderful day spent at Shell Island. And again, remember to wear your sunscreen.
I can't write about all this outdoor beachy fun in the sun without mentioning some Florida beach safety tips. First off, our sun here is very strong and can cause you a lot of pain and discomfort if you weren't careful. Please use sunscreen, it is sold just about everywhere! Put some money aside for going to the beach and reapply sunscreen every 4 hours. Please be sure to put it on babies, toddlers and small children because they can't do it themselves.
You can also buy or rent an umbrella to keep your family cool and comfortable in the shade. As far as water safety goes, I definitely encourage people to use the buddy system. The whole safety number thing definitely applies here. Do not swim near anyone that is fishing and don't swim at dusk. These are two great ways to avoid sharks.
Panama City Beach has a flag warning system to keep you informed of water conditions. The most important one is double red flags. If two red flags are flying it is illegal to be in the water as the undertow is too strong. You need to stay out of it and be extremely careful. Look for the flags at all of our beach accesses with a key to the different flag colors.
No trip to Florida would be complete without eating some type of seafood. Panama City Beach has its fair share of great seafood dining choices to help with that. We have all kinds of restaurants that serve everything from oysters to crab, alligator and all kinds of fish, fresh from the Gulf. Some of my favorites are Captain Anderson's on Grand Lagoon where you can dine early and watch the fleet upload. I recommend the Scamp Imperial, their churrasco steak is famous, as is their bay shrimp and their house Greek salad. dat Cajun place is just that, the place to get great Cajun seafood and other wonderful dishes. Schooners is a local favorite with amazing sunsets and delicious food. Give it a try for lunch or dinner while playing on the beach. Saltwater Grill is a favorite fine dining restaurant with a beautiful 25,000 gallon saltwater fish tank and a great piano guy that can play anything. Great for date night and special occasions. Runaway Island is a gulf-front seafood restaurant featuring a diverse menu with a Caribbean flair... and right on the beach it's a great place! If you just looking for an amazing burger, try the Front Porch on Thomas Drive; they are hard to finish! PCB has many dining choices and I encourage people to go off the beaten path. Why eat at some chain that you have at home? Try that local mom-and-pop place, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised!
If you feel like taking a day trip while you are in Panama City Beach you are in luck because there are a few neat places to visit very close by. If you head to 10 miles west you will find 30A, which takes you to The Villages of Rosemary Beach Seacrest Inn Alys Beach. They are all neat little seaside villages with great shops and restaurants. One of my favorites is La Cocina in Seacrest (the brisket tacos are amazing) and George's in Alys Beach. If you head further down 30A, you will come to Seagrove and Seaside, Florida. Seaside was the location for Jim Carrey's movie, The Truman Show. It really is an idyllic little town with many unique shops and plenty of great places to eat. The sunset view from Bud and Alley's is hard to beat! For the shoppers in your group, send them to Destin for the Silver Sands Outlet Mall with over a hundred name brand stores and plenty of restaurants - you could spend a whole day in Destin. Take the drive and make your own adventure. Or, you could use great airport transportation in Panama City. The Gulf Coast is beautiful!
Panama City Beach has some fun and exciting night life for both families and the adult party crowd. Families can find something for everyone including shopping dining and entertainment at Pier Park. It is located between front and back Beach roads at the West End of the beach I also like the old-fashioned Funland snack bar and arcade and of course Rockit Lanes is a great family fun center with bowling, roller skating and arcade sports bar and a snack bar. You have to have something to do when it rains here!
For the night owls, there are plenty of watering holes ranging from the original locals bar Newby's with three locations in Panama City Beach, to the world-famous super club Club La Vela.
Most people would like to listen to some live music while enjoying surf sounds and sunsets. Many of our bars and clubs offer great live music ranging from country at Tootsies to rock bands playing at Foghorns, which is my favorite place for ping pong and live music! Day or night, PCB has something to do!
Sounds like fun, right? Are you booking your flight yet? Make sure to get yourself some great airport transportation in Panama City Beach. We offer a wonderful family vacation place, and we can’t wait to see you!