When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
With more than 50 km of white sand beaches along the warm turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and with an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, Panama City Beach is a very popular seaside destination.
From spending hours relaxing on the beach to having fun in the area's many amusement parks to exploring the lively streets of the city, Panama City Beach has much to offer.
You will also find one of the largest concentrations of bottlenose dolphins in the world.
St Andrews State Park
This park has beautiful nature trails and almost 3 km of white sand beach. It is home to a variety of wildlife such as coyotes, foxes, alligators, snakes and marine birds. The shallow waters near the jetties are perfect for families with young children, and the park has several picnic areas. You can also rent kayaks, chairs, umbrellas and snorkeling gear at the Camp Store near the park entrance. Open every day from 8 a.m. until sunset.
Just minutes by boat is the pristine barrier island of Shell Island , a star attraction of Panama City Beach. This island has neither facilities nor shelter from the sun, but boasts a glorious beach and one of the best spots for snorkeling. The Shell Island Shuttle runs between the park and the island every 30 minutes between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during summer (850-233-0504).
4607 State Park Lane, Panama City Beach / 850-708-6100
The beach at Panama City Beach
This 50 km stretch of soft white sand is what made Panama City Beach famous, with its warm turquoise waters, a few waves and plentiful fish. Of course the beach is a busy and popular place, but given its length, you're sure to find your own little corner of paradise.
A wide variety of activities are available such as swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, parasailing with dolphins, jet skiing, etc. There are many restaurants on the road that runs along the beach.
There are dozens of public beach access points along Front Beach Road. Some also offer public parking.
For a quieter beach experience...
At the west end of Panama City Beach is Carillon Beach , located near a residential area. If you are looking for a pristine white sand beach without the crowds, this is the beach for you. Sunrise and sunset are great times to go for a stroll, pick up a few shells and enjoy the peace and quiet! Be sure to respect private property and use only the 8 public walkovers along Beachside Drive.
This outdoor shopping and entertainment complex contains more than one hundred clothing and accessory stores as well as a large number of restaurants. The site also offers many attractions and events, guaranteeing fun and entertainment for locals and visitors alike! Open Monday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
600 Pier Park Drive, Panama City Beach / 850-236-9974
Captain Anderson's Marina
Captain Anderson's Marina offers adventures on the water. Try your hand at deep sea fishing on a large boat, or a more intimate fishing trip on a smaller boat with a private captain. A family dolphin cruise and an excursion to Shell Island are also possible. The schedule varies depending on the adventure.
5550 N. Lagoon Drive, Panama City Beach / 850-234-3435
Museum of Man in the Sea
Owned by the Institute of Diving, this small museum is dedicated to the history of diving. It features interactive exhibits, slide shows, photographs, diving suits, a collection of early diving equipment, a submersible, a marine aquarium, and much more. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
17314 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach / 850-235-4101
Gulf World Marine Park
This popular park allows you to get up close with several marine animals. Attractions include shows with sea lions and dolphins, a stingray pool where you can touch the rays, shark and turtle feeding, etc. There are also different programs that let you swim with dolphins! Open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from mid-February to the end of November (more restricted hours in low season).
15412 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach / 850-234-5271
Shipwreck Island Waterpark
If you'd like to cool off without going to the beach, come and spend the day in this water park. Fun and entertainment guaranteed for the whole family in the water slides, rapids, wave pool, lazy river, and much more. Open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from early June to mid-August and weekends from mid-April to early September.
12201 Hutchison Boulevard, Panama City Beach / 850-234-3333
Grayton Beach State Park
Located in Santa Rosa, less than 60 km from Panama City Beach, this magnificent small state park boasts nearly 2 km of shoreline and consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. It's the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, fishing and surfing. Visitors can also paddle the backwaters of lovely Western Lake. A magnificent nature trail winds through sand dunes, pine flatwood and sand scrub oak to the edge of Western Lake. Open every day, all year round, from 8 a.m. until sunset.
357 Main Park Road, Santa Rosa Beach / 850-267-8300
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Dee’s Hang Out ($$)
Dee's Hang Out is a local favourite serving American cuisine and good Cajun-style seafood at affordable prices. Try the oysters: you won't be disappointed! Relaxed atmosphere and the very good service despite the crowds. Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
529 N. Richard Jackson Boulevard, Panama City Beach / 850-249-4264
Saltwater Grill ($$-$$$)
As soon as you enter Saltwater Grill, you will be wowed by the huge tropical aquarium! Enjoy Gulf fresh seafood and delicious steaks. You can also have a good martini at the bar. Open Sunday-Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday until 11 p.m.
11040 Hutchison Boulevard, Panama City Beach / 850-230-2739
Runaway Island Bar and grill ($$-$$$)
This new restaurant specializes in local seafood cuisine and delicious iced drinks. There are 2 levels of inside dining space and a large outdoor deck offering a breathtaking view of the Gulf of Mexico. Enjoy an excellent meal and then take a walk on the beach to enjoy the sunset. Live entertainment some evenings. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
14521 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach / 850-634-4884
This fine dining restaurant offers a unique culinary experience, from starters to dessert, in a casually elegant setting. You simply must try their sushi and She Crab soup! You will also like the wine list and signature cocktails. Reservations recommended. Open daily for dinner from 5 p.m.
535 Richard Jackson Boulevard, Panama City Beach / 850-249-3359
Where to sleep ?
- Very Favourable