Top 5 Things to Do in Panama City Beach
Planning your Panama City Beach Vacation? Don’t miss these Top 5 Things to Do in Panama City Beach!
By: Chris Jennings
The prospect of a Panama City Beach vacation is certainly exciting but if you’re anything like my wife and I when we travel, you like to have a plan. There is SO much to do in Panama City Beach, it can actually be a little overwhelming! Where are the best places to go? What are the coolest activities? What can’t you miss while you’re here? There’s so many answers to these questions and if you’re not familiar with the term “analysis paralysis”…. it’s a thing. 🙂 I’ve put together a short list to try to help alleviate some of that stress, check them out below and leave a comment with your ideas!
Number One – Beach!
Why we’re all here. I suppose this one is kind of obvious but it takes the number one spot because this beach is the greatest asset Panama City Beach has! I have been to beaches all over the world and feel strongly that the argument can be made that we have some of the prettiest in the world right here in our own backyard! With 27 miles of pristine white sugar sand, our beaches have something to offer everyone. Most condo buildings have rental chairs right in front of the building if you want to soak up the sun and jet skis for rent too if you’re feeling more adventurous. If you’re looking for a slightly quieter beach experience, you can check out the less crowded west end of Panama City Beach. Here you’ll find more wide open spaces to spread out and maybe even pick up a donut or two (or three, or six, or thirty-seven) at Thomas Donuts, which is based on the West End. The Panama City Beach coastline angles slightly West which results in some incredible sunsets so don’t forget your camera or better yet, hire someone and make those memories with your loved ones last a lifetime! Check out some of the area’s Photographers.
Number Two – Shop Pier Park
Want to get your shop on? This is the place to do it! This outdoor “mega mall” has over 1.1 million square feet of retailers, boutiques, restaurants, and a state of the art movie theatre. Pier Park has over 80 stores and 25 restaurants to choose from but if you get tired and need some beach rejuvenation, just walk across the street and take a walk on the Russell Fields Pier and watch the stingrays and fish from above or the fishermen reel in their catch!
Number Three – Get Into Nature
What many people may NOT know about NW Florida is that there is a WEALTH of natural and ecological beauty we have access to that only exists in few places in the world. Coastal dune lakes only exist in four other spots in the entire world yet along the beaches of PCB and 30A, we have 16 of them! A dune lake is a fresh water lake separated from the Gulf by only a sand dune. The dune lakes share a connection with the Gulf of Mexico and periodically open and close via an “outfall” to form a connection between the two. The lake water is fed by streams, groundwater seepage, rain, and storm surge and is a flood control that pours lake water into the Gulf as needed. Salt water and organisms flow back into the lake, depending on tides and weather. Each lake’s outfall and chemistry is different. Water conditions between lakes can vary greatly, from completely fresh to significantly saline. Check out this cool video that will give you a good idea of what to expect when you visit these very special places.
Not to be forgotten are another one of NWFL’s hidden gems – The natural cold spring. These places are so pretty, they look fake in pictures… you really have to see it to believe it. The picture above is from one of the tours I offer for Panama City Beach SUP and it’s as close to a natural swimming pool as you’re ever going to get. What makes a spring so remarkable is that it is one of the only natural areas that you can encounter so many of Florida’s resident plants and animals in one geographic location. A single visit to a spring can reveal species like the River Otter and Manatee, birds of prey and, beneath the surface, underwater natives like the secretive Greater Siren, the Loggerhead Musk Turtle, and Florida Gar.
If you’re more of a land person than a water person one of the trailhead’s for Gayle’s Trails starts right in Frank Brown Park here in PCB! Gayle’s Trails is a network of linear paved trails radiating from a central trailhead at Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach, Gayle’s Trails provide cyclists and hikers the opportunity to ride out and back on three routes, two of which are along forested corridors between trailheads.
Number Four – Visit 30A
Just a very short drive West from Panama City Beach are 16 master planned communities in South Walton County that are collectively known as 30A (for the road that runs through them). Does that Post Office look familiar to you? It should since The Truman Show with Jim Carrey was filmed here back in the late 90’s! The communities of 30A offer multiple choices for fine dining, high end shopping, and laid back beach lifestyle. Many of the neighborhoods have open air events and amphitheaters with a wide range of family oriented entertainment. A day trip or an afternoon on 30A is definitely worth it.
Number Five – Sample the Sea
The claim has been made that Panama City Beach is the “Seafood Capital of the South” and although that may seem a little unbelievable for our little town, a few trips to some of our area Restaurants and you may just change your mind! PCB is host to a wide array of restaurants with a variety of mouth-watering menus. From casual eateries to award-winning establishments, you can be certain of having a memorable dining experience. Another option, if you’re feeling adventurous, would be to take an offshore Fishing trip and catch your own dinner…. many of the area restaurants will cook your catch for you!
So there you have it, my quick top five picks for an awesome beach vacation! I know there are a TON of things to do in Panama City Beach, it truly was hard to just pick a few. Have other suggestions? Leave them in the comments below! Beach On!