Panama City Beach is a premium resort town in Bay County, Florida, United States, on the Gulf of Mexico coast and is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country thanks to its unique, sugar-white sandy beaches, earning this beach resort location the well titled slogan of one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! The Panama City Beach attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year and is both a popular family beach location and a huge spring breaker destination of college students from across much of the southern United States, making it not only one of the most popular beaches in the entirety of the United States, but also one of the most visited beaches in the entire world.
No matter what kind of vacation you are dreaming about, the Panama City Beach is the perfect location for any traveler, surfer, and even families, providing countless activities for visitors! Named as one of the top 3 beach in the United States by TripAdvisor, Panama City Beach has 27-miles of beautiful shoreline to choose from and you’ll be able to find a different experience at each stop along the way, giving you the perfect opportunity to find the beach spot that suits you best, and allowing you to take in all the modern conveniences, activities and facilities that Panama City Beach has to offer!
History of Panama City Beach
The City formed around the major United States Highway Route 98 and was for many of its early years, a low budget holiday location throughout the 1980s and 1990s, which attracted visitors from only a few counties and states away, until a construction boom in the early to mid-2000s changed the image of the area completely! Construction companies and city planners began the removal of older homes and motels which were replaced with high-rise condominiums and more expansive homes, attempting to improve both the retail value of the area as well as attract more visitors and tourist from further afield, with the local government hoping to turn Panama City Beach into one of the United States emerging tourism and leisure hotspots. At the peak of the real estate boom, many beachfront properties had quadrupled or more in value since 2000 and In November 2006 CNN named Panama City Beach the Number 1 real estate market in America. This real estate boom made Panama City Beach into the well-known destination for spring break that it is today and the beach attracts thousands of visitors from all over the country each season as people take in the sun on its white sand beaches.
Panama City hasn’t all been upwards progress however as in 2018 Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, the first category five hurricane to hit the mainland United States since 1992, and it caused huge amounts of damage and destroyed a large part of the county including many structures in Mexico Beach and Panama City. However since that ill-fated day the city government has been working hard to restore the damage done and in the last two years have made great progress in restoring many of the beach front properties to their former glory, bringing Panama City Beach back as a popular tourism spot for much of the United States.
The Beach and Facilities
Panama City Beach, which consists of 27 miles of white sand beaches along the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, is home to two state parks, has dozens of public beach access points, waterfront restaurants that serve up fresh local seafood, and legendary attractions. The beach provides activities for all types of travelers and groups and is one of the most well built up beach fronts in the entirety of the Southern United States.
The waters at Panama City Beach are famous with fishermen and scuba divers who enjoy the benefits of dozens of artificial reefs which are located just offshore, and with a coastline that angles slightly toward the west, Panama City Beach provides you with a perfect location to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico every day of the year. There are also countless water sports shops and activities dotted along the beach for thrill seekers to rent jet skis, join boat tours and even take a helicopter tour over the glistening white sand beach!
Panama City Beach provides activities and sights for all kinds of travelers and there are countless locations and activities for visitors to the region to enjoy, and to help you find what suits your travel needs best we have listed some of the most interesting and entertaining spots!
St. Andrews State Park
A State Park situated on a peninsula at the far eastern edge of Panama City Beach and bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the south, the St. Andrews Pass to the east, and the Grand Lagoon to the north, you’re never far from a relaxing sea breeze, or a chance to get a little sand between your toes while exploring the shoreline here.
You can also get off road and explore by trail, where you will see an amazing variety of wildlife, from migratory birds to deer or even alligators! Fishing is popular here as well, and anglers can be found casting their lines from the Tiller Pier which reaches out into the Gulf of Mexico, or casting lines at the fishing pier on the Grand Lagoon, and fishing from the jetties or the deep water point bordering the St. Andrews Pass. You can rent a bicycle from the general store in St. Andrews State Park and explore the roads that loop through the preserve or rent a canoe and get out on the water under your own power!
Snorkeling and scuba diving along the jetties are also a popular activity for many visitors to the area and an array of brightly colored marine life can be found not far beneath the surface. Swimming and surfing are popular on the Gulf side of the state park, while those in search of calmer waters can enjoy the “kiddie pool,” a large area along the pass that is protected by the jetties.
Shipwreck Island Waterpark
The perfect location for both families and thrill seekers alike, the Shipwreck Island waterpark provides countless hours of fun and has over three million gallons of water that you can slide down, splash under, swim in, float down, raft through, or just relax in! The Park includes rides such as a 500,000-gallon wave pool, the Tadpole Hole which provides over an acre of pools, slides and attractions for kids and toddlers alike while the Lazy River provides one of the most relaxing journey in all of Panama City Beach with sunny spots and shaded areas for that perfect leisurely ride.
Shipwreck Island is the perfect place for families on Panama City Beach to spend quality time together, the park provides the perfect location for a day filled with great food and drinks, sun soaked pools and beach spots, as well as dozens of rides for those adrenaline junkies amongst us!
The M.B Miller County Pier
Located 1500 feet out into the beautiful Gulf of Mexico the M.B Miller County Pier provides the perfect location for travelers to enjoy the spectacular views of the Gulf and you can walk the pier for a daily fee of $3.00. The Pier is also a great spot for fishing enthusiasts as daily fishing licenses can be purchased for $6.00 while gear and bait can be rented from shops along the pier. The location is open all year and a huge variety of fish can be caught in season, providing the perfect local for anglers and enthusiasts alike.
Pier Park is Panama City Beach’s premier shopping and entertainment destination. Serving the Panama City Beach area, this outdoor complex boasts 124 stores, ranging from clothing for everyone, home goods, shoes, and jewelry. Pier Park also offers some of the most exciting dining options in all of Panama City and no matter what you are in the mood for, Pier Park has the perfect selection for all types of Foodies. It’s also the perfect spot to spend a few hours and gives you the chance to choose your adventure at a variety of entertainment venues from the Grand IMAX movie theatre, to laser tag and live music, as well as having a huge selection of bars and clubs for those looking to socialize and party well into the evening!
Pier Park is your one-stop destination for premier shopping, delicious dining, and exciting entertainment and events. Whether you are a tourist or a local, you will love everything Pier Park has to offer.
Accommodation in Panama City Beach
For holiday makers who do not want to break the bank but who also are not willing to compromise on essential features and amenities, then Aqua View is the premium choice of accommodation. At this motel style accommodation, you will find clean, fully airconditioned rooms for as little as $59 a night, including free breakfast and a location that is only meters from the beach front area!
If you are looking for a mid-range option that represents a classy and convenient hotel in Panama City Beach, then look no further than the Hampton Inn. With prices from $163 a night you get large recently renovated rooms, air conditioning, high speed internet and free breakfast in the hotel’s charming restaurant. The hotel is also only a stone’s throw away from highly regarded local eateries such as The Front Porch, Triple J Steaks & Seafood and Mikato Japanese Seafood Steak House and Lounge and provides the perfect location to enjoy all the modern conveniences of Panama City Beach!
For the pinnacle of what Panama City beach has to offer, then the Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort is your premium choice! The only AAA Four Diamond Rated resort in Panama City Beach, the Sheraton is nestled along the historic St. Andrews Bay area and provides access to much of the areas modern comforts and experiences! The resort offers a slightly quainter stay while providing an experience rich with amenities for every guest. The Sheraton provides guest with access to a huge assortment of experiences, including 18 holes of golf on the only Nicklaus Design course in Northwest Florida, a private bay beach, three pools, water sports, snorkel trips, tennis and complimentary bicycle rentals for guests. With rooms going at $248 a night it may be slightly more than other offerings in the area but with so many modern amenities it still represents genuine value for money.
How to Get to Panama City Beach
It takes approximately 27 min to drive from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) to Panama City Beach and is a 19-mile drive, and you can take advantage of one of the many car rental firms the airport has to offer if you plan on self-driving or alternatively, a taxi journey will most likely cost you around $50 and provides the fastest route to the beach! Check out the best flight deals.
There is unfortunately no public transport routes from the airport to the beach, however there are private shuttle bus services available for those not wishing to hire a car and will cost you around $10 for the one way journey.
Weather and Seasonal Events
The Weather in Panama City Beach is fairly warm all year round and the area boasts an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, which is one of the many factors that make it a premium holiday destination for so many, and the year round events mean there is always something for you to do!
- The best time to visit Panama City Beach is most certainly in the summer months of May through to October as these months offer some of the warmest air and water temperatures. With highs of 90 degrees Fahrenheit the weather is perfect for taking in the sun, sand, and surf of the Gulf of Mexico and there is a huge assortment of activities taking place throughout the summer months, from local shows and concerts to large scale food and music festivals!
- November to February is the area’s low season and though temperatures have dipped with highs hovering at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit while lows reach the mid-40s, the city still offers a huge variety of events throughout the months, such as the Christmas lights parade and the Mardi Gras Music festival. Also, the smaller crowds mean that you can take advantage of more availability and lower rates at hotels and restaurants. However, due to the fact it is the offseason, some activities and attractions may not be available!
- The months of March to April provides balmy weather and temperatures sitting comfortably in the mid- to upper 70s and falling out of the Hurricane season, which means less summer rains! However, this is also the famous spring breaker period and that means that beaches, hotels, and restaurants are packed with college students looking to let off steam, meaning you can expect higher rates and countless beach and hotel parties. So, if you are looking for a quieter time to enjoy the beaches of the area then perhaps it may be wise to avoid the spring break months!
Panama City Beach provides visitors and travelers alike with the chance to enjoy beautiful sun-soaked days nearly all year-round while giving you the chance to take part in countless activities both on and off the water! Panama City Beach endless strip of white sand shoreline, which is dotted with restaurants, shops, premium hotels and countless activities make it the perfect destination for your next summer get away, giving you the chance to experience one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with premium comfort all year round!