Destination: Panama City Beach, Florida
Plan your escape to Panama City Beach, Florida! Known for “the world’s most beautiful beaches,” Panama City Beach boasts miles of sugar sand shoreline bordering the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Home to water recreation, land adventures, and family-friendly activities, you’ll also find plenty of fun events throughout the year.
A popular vacation destination for groups of all sizes, Panama City Beach, is the perfect spot for a quick getaway, a week-long vacay, or a lengthy stay. Take refuge from your hurried life and enjoy the sweet solitude and laid-back living in Panama City Beach!
Where is Panama City Beach?
The largest city between Tallahassee and Pensacola, Panama City Beach, is located in Bay County in the panhandle of Northwest Florida. Nestled east of Destin and 30A and west of Port St. Joe, Panama City Beach runs along U.S. Highway 98, overlooking pristine beaches and the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether driving or flying, getting to Panama City Beach is a breeze. Visitors traveling by car from New Orleans, Mobile, or Jacksonville can follow the 1-10 corridor to the nearest local highway down to Panama City Beach and be on our beautiful beaches in no time.
Flying into Panama City Beach is easy and convenient via the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, located right here in Panama City. Other options include the Pensacola International Airport, about two hours away; the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, about an hour and a half away; or the Destin Executive Airport, available for chartered flights.
The view is gorgeous, whichever path you choose, so sit back, relax, and take it all in!
Things to do in Panama City Beach
You’ll find tons of ways to enjoy the environment in Panama City Beach, whether strolling along our white sand beaches, plunging into the emerald waters, or exploring our protected habitats. Plan your itinerary, or let the days take you where they may!
Water Activities in Panama City Beach
Dozens of public beach access points make spending time on the water easy. No worries if you didn’t grow up around the water; excursions provide professionals happy to help novices in their new environment. Water sports are readily available and you can join the locals and try everything from fishing, snorkeling, and paddleboarding to kayaking, parasailing, and diving.
Your furry companion can join in the fun too at Dog Beach, a designated dog beach located on the west side of the Russell-Fields City Pier in front of Pier Park.
Family-Friendly Activities in Panama City Beach
On those days you want to take a break from the beach, you’ll find hugely popular activities sure to delight everyone in your crew.
Parks and Nature Attractions
A combination of coastal dune lakes, salt marshes, cypress swamps, and pine forests create a rich ecosystem featuring diverse plant and animal life in Panama City Beach. The protected wetlands and conservation areas present delightful recreational opportunities. Pay by the day or purchase an annual pass to explore our local state parks, typically open from 8 AM to sunset but reference each park’s website for specific details.
With one of Florida’s largest coastal dune lakes, Camp Helen State Park offers swimming, hiking, and fresh and saltwater fishing. Kayak or paddleboard on Lake Powell, or spend hours beachcombing the pristine environment. St. Andrews State Park features hiking trails, picnic pavilions, excellent fishing and swimming spots, and a mix of migrating bird and butterfly species. Take a shuttle to Shell Island for an epic day trip and kayak, swim, or snorkel the seven miles of the undeveloped sanctuary catching glimpses of sea turtles, shorebirds, and crabs.
With 24 miles of unpaved trails at Conservation Park, you can easily spend hours exploring the 2,900 acres of protected wetlands. Hikers, bikers, and joggers can take their pick from loops ranging from a half mile to 12 miles, then enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the gorgeous scenery.
Shipwreck Island Water Park
Boasting 15 acres of waterplay for family members of all ages, Shipwreck Island Water Park is another fun way to beat the heat, with a lazy river, a wave pool, raging rapids, and more.
Featuring interactive programs, day camps, and live shows daily, the whole family will undoubtedly learn something new about marine life at Gulf World. Feed sting rays, chat with sea lions, and swim with dolphins, and be sure to check out their sea turtle adoption program.
Swampy Jack’s delivers more than just funnel cake, Hawaiin shaved ice, and ice-cold beverages. Try your hand at the midway games, then embark on endless family fun with electric go-karts, mini golf, a spin coaster, and a tower swing.
With over 100 interactive exhibits and displays, Wonderworks combines education and entertainment for young and old. Explore the Space Discovery Zone, the Imagination Lab, and the Wonder Art Gallery, or book a laser tag birthday party.
With over 100 stores, restaurants, and an IMAX theater, Pier Park is a fun entertainment district with miniature golf, laser tag, a ropes course, and a mirror maze. Enjoy hundreds of arcade games at Dave and Busters or take in the view from above on the SkyWheel.
Where to Eat in Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach pairs a vibrant food scene with casual dining, and many of our waterfront restaurants feature live entertainment too. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Runaway Island – for a hearty appetizer menu, delicious fish tacos, and fresh seafood, and they happily accommodate weddings on their gorgeous beachfront property.
- Captain Anderson’s – for seafood platters, Florida lobster, an extensive wine list, and an overall good time since its inception in 1953.
- Pineapple Willie’s – start with the smoked tuna dip before plunging into the ‘Nawlins Po’ Boy, then top it off with a frozen daiquiri while taking in breathtaking views.
- Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville – with a varied menu, including seafood, steak, pasta, and ribs, the margaritas are a must-try. After all, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?
- Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant & Tiki Bar – known for live music, specialty drinks, and a wildly popular menu that caters to every palate.
- Schooners Last Local Beach Club – try the seared crab cakes, a Mahi Mahi sandwich, or shrimp and grits, then wash it down with an ice-cold craft beer while chilling to live music.
- Barefoot on the Beach – featuring three squares a day, it’s easy to find time to enjoy fish and chips and a Bushwacker while gazing at the sparkling turquoise waters.
- Grand Marlin – featuring scratch-made dishes showcasing fresh, local seafood prepared in delightfully surprising ways, you’ll be back time and again.
Panama City Beach Events
The Panama City Beach lifestyle begins outdoors, and each season brings fun and exciting events your whole family will enjoy! Why not plan your trip around one of our signature events?
- Over 200,000 people attend the annual Seabreeze Jazz Festival at Aaron Bessant Park, featuring an impressive lineup of jazz artists during this four-day event.
- The Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam at Frank Brown Park brings country music and Southern rock to the beach for an incredible three-day festival experience.
- Hit the Friday night kick-off party, the Grand Afternoon tasting, and a concert in the park at Unwined, a celebration of craft beer, spirits, and wine.
- With over 30 food trucks, 50 craft beers, and fun lawn games, everyone can agree that the Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival is an event you won’t want to miss.
- Enjoy a weekend of live music, food, entertainment, and access to hot rods, muscle cars, classics, and more at the Emerald Coast Cruizin Car Show.
- With more than boat displays, the Emerald Coast Boat and Lifestyle Show celebrates the popular Panama City Beach outdoor lifestyle with paddleboards, fishing, kayaks, and all the accessories needed to enjoy long days on the water.
- Highlights of the Mardis Gras and Music Festival include a lively parade with over 30 floats, a 5K fun run, fireworks, and a kid’s fun zone.
- Face painting, bounce houses, and a photo booth make it fun for the kids, but German beer, Stein Hoisting, and Alp Horn Blowing make the annual Oktoberfest memorable for the adults.
- Ring in the new year at the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop, a fun street festival that sees 10,000 beach balls descend during the Kid’s Ball Drop. Enjoy games, fireworks, an adult ball drop, and plenty of activities with the kids before calling it a night.
Panama City Beach Weather
Panama City Beach sees pleasant temperatures throughout the year, with warm summers and short, mild winters. Daytime averages range from sixty degrees to the mid-eighties and rarely dip below forty degrees in winter. Water play is prevalent year-round, given water temperatures average above 80°F from June through October, and gentle waves make any activity pleasant.
Popular for so many reasons, Panama City Beach is a destination you won’t want to miss!