Learn why so many make PC Beach their go-to destination each year.
Welcome to Panama City Beach, Florida – a paradise of white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters on the Gulf of Mexico! It’s the perfect destination for beach lovers, offering a range of activities, attractions, and experiences that will make your vacation unforgettable.
From shopping and nightlife to restaurants and parks, there’s something for everyone in this sunny slice of paradise. Not only does this city of 18,000 have a laid-back atmosphere and friendly people, but it also offers plenty of activities and attractions to explore.
There’s no shortage of things to do in this special spot in Northwest Florida. You can spend days lounging on the beach, enjoying local cuisine at one of the many restaurants, or exploring nature trails and state parks. In this travel guide, we’ll look at what you should plan to do, what to see, and where to stay on your next trip to this popular vacation destination in the southern United States!
Top Things To Do
Are you planning a trip to the sunny shores of Panama City Beach? Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway to the white sandy beaches or an action-packed family vacation on the Florida panhandle, this city has something to offer everyone.
Explore the Natural Beauty of Panama City Beach
The city offers plenty of outdoor activities to see the sights without dropping a fortune. From the famous St. Andrew’s Bay to Camp Helen State Park, you can enjoy a variety of nature trails and scenic overlooks without breaking the bank.
1. Visit St. Andrews State Park
St. Andrews State Park is a beautiful natural oasis situated on Panama City Beach’s white sands and near the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The park offers a unique blend of natural beauty with its pristine white sand, lush tropical vegetation, and stunning waterfront views. Guests can explore several miles of nature trails, relax in beach chair rentals, kayak or canoe along scenic waterways, and enjoy some of the best fishing on the Emerald Coast.
St. Andrews State Park is also home to over 150 species of birds and other wildlife that inhabit the park and a variety of water activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, and paddling, for Panama City visitors to enjoy.
2. Take a Boat Tour Along the Shoreline
One of the best ways to experience the area is by boat. Cruise past iconic waterfront mansions, lush island gardens, tropical beachside bars, and exotic wildlife while taking in breathtaking views.
You can spot dolphins playing in the coastal waters on a chartered boat and watch sailboats cruise around the bay. Take a fishing charter out to some of the best spots in town, or simply soak up the sun as you drift along the tranquil waters.
Whatever you do, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories on your sightseeing adventure with a boat ride along the beautiful shoreline.
- Captain Anderson’s Marina in Bay County
- Salty Mary Dolphin and Snorkel Tours
- Panama City Dolphin Seasafari Tours on Shell Island
- Island Time Sailing
- Sea Screamer
- Wild Thang Airboat Tours
- Coastal Wildlife Adventures
3. Go Snorkeling or Diving
A prime destination for snorkeling and diving, the area offers opportunities to explore the colorful world of coral reefs and fish, from tiny seahorses to majestic sea turtles.
Swim alongside gentle nurse sharks or marvel at manta rays gliding gracefully through the waves. With crystal-clear waters and plentiful marine life, you’ll have opportunities to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Spend your days exploring some of the best dive sites in the area, such as Deer Point Lake – a favorite for those just getting started in the world of deep-sea dives.
Sample Delicious Seafood Cuisine
Whether you’re a foodie or just appreciate a nice meal, you’ll find some delicious seafood options in the area. From fresh fish tacos to succulent crab cakes, the incredible restaurants here serve up some of the best seafood in all of Florida.
There is something for everyone, whether you are looking for a taste of the sea or just plain ol’ comfort food. Plan ahead and make reservations, especially during the busy season! These great restaurants and bars will not disappoint.
Fresh Fish Tacos
Crispy shells, fresh corn tortillas, pico de gallo, homemade salsa, tangy sauces…all artfully paired with freshly caught fish. Some local favorites include:
- FINNS Island Style Grub
- Diego’s Burrito Factory & Margarita Bar
- Sandbar Seafood & BBQ Joint
- Salty Sue’s Restaurant
Oysters on the Half Shell
When you think of the beach, you think of fresh oysters on the half shell, right? Get your fill of this beachside staple with a variety of oyster bars in the area. From fried oysters to BBQ shrimp and more, these restaurants offer some of the best seafood dishes in the area.
- Dusty’s Oyster Bar
- Shuckums Oyster Pub & Seafood Grill
- Mike’s Cafe and Oyster Bar
- The Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House
- Bayou on the Beach
A rising trend in cuisine is fusion dishes – artfully blending cuisines and cultures to offer a unique, delicious, and fresh take on many classics. Combining local seafood and flavors from around the world, these dishes offer something exceptional for visitors.
- Jin Jin Fusion
- Shan Kishi
- Hana Japan
Shop ‘Til You Drop
Once you’ve had your fill of the adventure and food, head downtown to do some shopping. There are plenty of boutiques and stores, from surf shops and souvenir stands to high-end clothing outlets at Pier Park. No matter your style or budget, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs in this popular vacation destination.
Malls + Boutiques
Check out Pier Park for an array of shopping options and a movie theater, or venture over to the famous Shoppes At Edgewater for a variety of great stores. You can also grab some of the latest trends at Board Walk Shopping Center. From handmade jewelry and art to locally made clothing, you’re bound to find something that speaks to you.
From the eclectic to the contemporary, local galleries feature some of the best works from area artists. Get inspired and browse through the various collections on display – you might even find a piece you want to take home with you!
The Panama City Publishing Company & Museum
Go back in time and explore the city’s history through its newspaper archives at the Panama City Publishing Company & Museum. City founder George Mortimer West established the company in 1906, and it remains one of the top repositories of local history.
Native Spirit Museum & Gallery
Check out the handspun crochet works, wood carvings, and pieces of history at the Native Spirit Museum & Gallery. Here you will have the opportunity to purchase some unique artwork from local native designers.
Man in the Sea Museum
This homage to the history of diving explores the technology, art, and science of underwater exploration. The museum features an array of artifacts from around the world, including diving helmets and other equipment.
Relax and Have Fun at Local Attractions
No trip to the beach would be complete without taking some time to relax and have fun. There is something for everyone here, from miniature golf courses and amusement parks to zoos and aquariums.
Slide Down Pirate’s Plunge
Spend a day in the sun at one of the area’s premiere waterparks, Shipwreck Island Waterpark. Home to the dueling slides, this park offers plenty of thrills and excitement. The park also has a lazy river, a wave pool, Raging Rapids, Splash Cove, White Knuckle River, Zoom Flume, and more!
This unique science and entertainment center includes tons of fun and exciting activities for the whole family. From laser tag and zip lines to an indoor ropes course, you won’t want to miss out on this one! WonderWorks focuses on blending fun with education, so kids will learn about science, art, space, history, and more as they explore!
Explore Gulf World Marine Park
Get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s most amazing animals at Gulf World Marine Park. This dolphinarium opened in the 1970s and still amazes visitors today with its fascinating exhibits and shows.
Tee Off in PCB
Love a good game of golf? Panama City Beach offers some beautiful places to golf. Head over to Bay Point Golf Club if you’re up for a challenging game with friends, take the kids over to Holiday Golf Club for a day with the family, or enjoy some history at Signal Hill Golf Course.
Play the Day away at Coconut Creek
Miniature golf, a giant maze, fun water features…it’s the perfect small theme park for a day of family fun, a unique beach date, or a special celebration! When you need a break from water sports, come have fun on land at this exciting attraction!
Meet the Animals at ZooWorld
ZooWorld Zoological Park is the place to get up close and personal with some furry friends! Feel the wild vibes at this zany spot, home to sloths, kangaroos, giraffes, lemurs, tapirs, bat-eared foxes, and more!
A Curious History
Panama City Beach has long been a beloved destination for travelers from all over the world.
PCB was first discovered in 1513 and later settled by English and American pioneers in the early 1800s. At the time of its discovery, this now-bustling Northwest Florida beach city was nothing more than a small fishing village tucked away on the edge of what is now known as St. Andrew’s Bay. The American Revolution made the city prominent for its fishing, agriculture, and lumber industries. This led to a construction boom that saw the area grow and thrive.
In the 1940s and 50s, Panama City witnessed a massive influx of tourists drawn to its alluring beaches and balmy climate. Most came for the incredible fishing opportunities the area offers, but others simply wanted to take advantage of all the city has.
Today, the city is an eclectic mix of cultures, with people from all walks of life drawn together by their love of the sea. The city is home to some of the best seafood restaurants, shopping centers, and activities on the Gulf Coast, making it a popular resort town for folks looking to enjoy some fun in the sun!
Not only can you find all sorts of activities to keep you busy throughout the day, but there are also plenty of nightlife options to explore.
Book Your Next Stay with Florida CFY
You know what you want to do, but where will you call home on your beach getaway? A breezy beach rental with easy beach access is just what you need after a day of boating and fishing, swimming and splashing, shopping, dining, and exploring the area.
Our modern and cool vacation rentals include all the amenities you’ll need when you visit Panama City Beach, from full kitchens, oceanfront views, and big screen TVs to pool access, Wi-Fi, and more. Centrally located and within proximity to all the area’s attractions, beautiful beaches, and amenities, these rentals offer all the comforts of home in an idyllic beach setting. Enjoy beachfront living, a cozy condo within a beach resort, and more! Book your Panama City Beach rentals with Florida CFY today and get ready to experience all that PCB has to offer!