Panama City Beach, FL Visitor's Guide
Panama City Beach, Florida is located in the Florida Panhandle along the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico. The white sugar-sand beaches of Panama City Beach are ranked by TripAdvisor users as the 3rd most beautiful in the world, and the countless restaurants, bars, nightclub, shops, and family-friendly attractions do well to compliment the natural beauty of this top southern destination.
Enjoy a vacation filled with sunshine during your stay in Panama City Beach! Northwest Florida typically is graced with an average of 320 days of sunshine a year. Mid-Western and New England residents, as well as many foreign visitors, find themselves unprepared for the warm, humid climate producing hot, hot, summers, and no dry season. The "warm season", lasting May 24th to September 30th, produces an average temperature of 83.5 degrees Fahrenheit, while the "cold season", lasting November 30th to March 5th, cools even the bravest beach goers with an average daily temperature of 56 degrees (and a low of only 46 degrees)! Be prepared to dress in layers in the late fall, winter, and early spring, and to peel those layers down to a bathing suit when May comes around.
Sitting directly above the Gulf of Mexico waters, the M.B. Miller County Pier offers locals and tourists alike a glimpse into why Panama City Beach, Florida has grown to become a top U.S. destination. Fish for native Gulf species like the Redfish, Gulf Flounder, Spanish mackerel, or Blacktip Shark, or simply stroll the massive waterfront as you wait for a chance to catch the sun set over the emerald waters.
Holding true to the title "spring break capitol of the world," it is no wonder that the famous nightclub "Club La Vela" is considered one of Panama City Beach's most prominent landmarks. Gaining fame as a featured destination during 80s and 90s MTV spring break broadcasts, Club La Vela is considered to be one of the largest nightclubs in the United States bringing in thousands of students during spring break, and even more 21+ patrons during both on and off seasons.
Things To Do
When not filling time at the beach, in the water, or exploring the beauty of Panama City Beach, what is there to do? With long-standing tourist destinations like 30A, Miramar Beach, Sandestin, and Destin, Florida just a short drive away, it won't take long to figure out.
For the kids, wave runner rentals, pontoon boat rentals, and parasailing excursions have the potential to create lasting family-fun memories, and for adults, a fascinating helicopter tour, romantic sunset cruise, or deep sea party boat trip may help to fill out your day. The whole family will enjoy an outing to one of Panama City Beach's many amusement parks, water parks, and museums including Wonderworks and Ripley's Believe it or Not!
Dining & Nightlife
For years, Panama City Beach, Florida has maintained an image both appealing to families looking for a safe getaway, and college students seeking a wild time. Independently owned casual and upscale restaurants are what set Panama City Beach apart from comparable beach resort destinations. Seafood joints line the beach, and fit the needs and the budgets of all travelers. For diners seeking a more familiar atmosphere, major chain restaurants can be found on almost every corner.
The Spring Break tradition is strong in Panama City Beach, and as the result of years of heavy college student traffic, it has grown into a haven of exciting night life. Nightclubs and bars are spread thick along Front Beach Road, and the Panama City Beach strip. Top entertainment and night spots paired with drones of energetic young adults creates a spectacle to be seen during the spring break and summer months.
Beachside Condos and Hotels are popular with visitors to Panama City Beach. Popular chain hotels are given the resort treatment, and hundreds of locally owned hotels, condos, and rental homes throughout this traditional paradise offer wannabe beach bums plenty of options. But with hundreds of hotels and condos to choose from, picking the best lodging for a trip to Panama City Beach is no easy task. The first thing to consider is: Hotel, Condo, or Beach Home?
Hotels typically offer limited amenities, more traditional rental rooms, and less proximity to the beach. But the average Hotel makes up for what it lacks by offering lower and negotiable rates, and 24 hour service. Many renters consider Condos for their stay because of the large room size (to more easily accommodate larger families and longer stays), and proximity to the beach (many condos are Oceanside and feature gulf views and instant beach access). Also, condo management typically will include family-fun activities and events like movie nights, beach luaus, and pool parties to give guests more bang for their buck. Rental Homes are a popular choice among larger families, or larger groups, despite a much higher price tag. Many rental homes are in close proximity to the beach, and illicit a more comfortable feeling as opposed to hotel or condo lodgings due to less supervision and more freedom and customization of the surroundings. Remember that rates for Rental Homes, Condos, and Hotels fluctuate seasonally. Typically rental rates will increase in the spring and summer, and drop during fall and winter. If interested in booking a rental, always attempt to book in advance for the best prices and availability.
Pier Park is a 900,000 plus sq ft shopping and entertainment complex. Experience the best shopping Northwest Florida has to offer with retail shops selling goods in fashion, jewelry, sporting goods, games, home décor, and more along with restaurants and entertainment including an IMAX theater! If looking for a change of scenery, take a short drive to Miramar Beach, Florida and visit the Silver Sands Outlet Mall. This 110 store premium mall is fitted with the latest and greatest designer outlets offering factory discounted pricing.
With Panama City Beach's status as the ultimate beach and bar getaway, it is no wonder that so many regional and national organizations choose it to host their largest events. One of which events, the Thunder Beach rally which takes places both in spring and autumn, draws thousands of bikers and is billed as the most "biker friendly rally in the United States". The Ironman Florida takes place November 1st and is strength, skill, and endurance competition that pits physically fit individuals against each other in multiple events. Of course the largest annual event that takes place is Panama City Beach spring break! Thousands of students hit the Gulf Coast in anticipation of top national music and comedy acts, and multiple parties hosted by area nightclubs and bars. Other notable events are the Seabreeze Jazz festival in April and the Pirate of The High Seas Festival in October.
Top 10 Travel Tips
1) Never underestimate the sun, use sunblock at all times. The white sand may be cool to the touch, but it's also reflecting the sunlight upwards and accelerating the rate at which your skin will tan (or burn).
2) Winter and Fall lodging rates are typically 30-50% less than what are quoted in Spring and Summer. This is great for most visiting on a budget, however most leisure travelers will notice a lot of tour operations shut down, restaurants are short-staffed, and there are very few events offered.
3) Most families will find it less expensive to split a 2 or 3 bedroom condo rather than doing separate condos. The savings could be anywhere from 20-30% for each family.
4) Tour companies are typically slower on Saturdays and Sundays during the peak tourist season (June-August). Look for special deals and offers on these days to save on tickets.
5)The month of March is College Spring Break. If you are not interested in participating in these activities, it's best to stay on the West end of the beach. Book a condo that has a minimum age of 25 to avoid the college crowd.
6) The first 2 weeks of June and the last 2 weeks of August are the slower weeks during peak tourist season. The rates are slightly lower and the beach are slightly less crowded.
7) Hurricane season starts through June and run through November. Make sure to check the policy on hurricanes before booking lodging or activities. Some rental agencies are more restrictive than others.
8) Thomas drive along the lagoon is a great place to visit, but does not get a lot of attention. You'll find charter fishing, snorkeling tours, dolphin cruises and more.
9) For those travelers who plan on going charter fishing, but don't know what to do with the meat, take it to a local seafood restaurant. Most seafood restaurants will prepare your fish into a meal for around $10 - Checkout Captain Anderson's Restaurant.
10) Pier Park is one of the top shopping centers in the Southeast and is a great way to spend a non-beach day
Panama City Beach Articles
View the beautiful Panama City Beach coastline from above on a thrilling helicopter tour. This activity is great for a first date or a fun family... DetailsONLINE SPECIAL: Book Online for $5 OFF All Tours & $10 OFF Shell Island or Seaside Flights. (Discount Applied to Current Pricing) Varies
It is guaranteed to please. Captain your own boat from the still waters of Grand Lagoon just minutes from Shell Island where you can pull up on the... DetailsONLINE SPECIAL: Book today for rates from $129 + fuel included! Use code BOAT3 for an additional $10 OFF full day rentals. 4-8 Hrs.
If you are looking for a relaxing daytime sail with the family or to unwind before dinner or a night out on the town, come take a sail on the... DetailsONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Save $2 Off Adult Rates (Reg. $25, not valid on sunset cruises) when you book online. 2 Hrs.
Take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with wild dolphins in Panama City Beach. Spend the morning or afternoon with a... DetailsONLINE EXCLUSIVE: FREE Snorkel gear rental with your booking! (Reg $5/person) 4 Hrs.