Panama City is chock full of things to do and places to see. Whether you're interested in seeing wildlife, splashing around in the ocean or at a waterpark, or going out for a nice dinner, there are plenty of options in this Gulf city. Here are some sample itineraries for a great visit to the area.
Gulf World Marine Park
Even if you just want to stay along one main road like Front Beach Road, you won't run out of things to do in Panama City. Start the day off at the Gulf World Marine Park, where you can learn about marine animals and see the habitats of species like bottlenose dolphins and sea lions. After this, have a nice lunch at Angelo's Steak Pit, and then head over to ZooWorld for more animal viewing, or to the Coconut Creek Family Fun Park where you can play mini golf or find your way through a maze the size of a football field. End the day at Sharky's Beach Club where you can feast on Mexican food and enjoy a drink in one of the biggest tiki huts around.
St. Andrews State Park
Get an early start and hit a few rounds at the Signal Hill Golf Course. After a morning of activity, you'll be happy to sit down and enjoy a tasty meal at Spinnaker's Paradise Grill. Next, go south on Thomas Drive until you get to St. Andrews State Park. When you get tired or start to get sunburned from the hot Florida sun, climb back in the car and head to Hammerhead Fred's for dinner. Afterward, cool down with a drink at the Buck Wild Saloon, or heat things up at Club La Vela.
To begin your day in downtown Panama City, start at the Junior Museum of Bay County, where the whole family can learn about everything from dinosaurs and anatomy to pioneer settlements. Afterward, head over to the historic marina area, where on Saturdays from May through October, you can visit the St. Andrews Waterfront Market. Purchase some produce and baked goods, and picnic at nearby McKenzie Park. After lunch, broaden your cultural horizons at the Visual Arts Center of Northwest Florida, then do some shopping at the Paul Brent Gallery or Old Towne Antiques. After a full day downtown, head over to Captain Anderson's Restaurant for a nice seafood dinner.
If you've already seen everything you want to see in Panama City, including the Museum of Man in the Sea, try a little day trip outside the city limits. For nature-lovers, the options include Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, and Wakulla Springs State Park.
There are lots of tour companies in the Panama City Beach area, often specializing in boat tours and marine expeditions.
Adventures at Sea (+1 850 235 0009/ http://www.watersportspc.com)
Airboat Adventures (+1 850 230 3822/ http://www.swampvette.com/)
Bay Seaplanes & Airboat Tours (+1 850 234 1532/ http://www.panamacityairboat.com/)
Blue Dolphin Tours (+1 850 236 3467/ http://www.bluedolphintour.com/)
Captain Anderson Cruises (+1 850 234 5940/ http://www.captandersonsmarina.com/)
Glass Bottom Boat (+1 850 234 8944)
Island Time Sailing (+1 850 234 7377/ http://islandtimesailing.com/)
Lady Anderson Dining Yacht (+1 850 234 5940/ http://www.ladyanderson.com/)
Panama City Tours (+1 800 409 3173/ http://www.panamacitytours.net/)
Osprey Charters (+1 850 233 1959/ http://www.fishosprey.com/)
Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise (+1 850 234 7400/ http://www.piratecruise.net)
Sea Screamer Sightseeing Speed (+1 850 233 9107/ http://seascreamer.net/)
Shell Island Boat Rentals & Tours (+1 850 234 7245/ http://www.shellislandtours.com/)
St. Andrews Marina (+1 850 872 7240/ http://www.pcgov.org)
Sure Catch Fishing Charter (+1 850 832 7471/ http://surecatchcharters.com/)
Panama City's relaxing, tourist-friendly atmosphere and long, glittering beaches make it an ideal spot to spend spring or summer break. With the beckoning waves and brilliant year-round sunshine, you'll want to book just the right hotel to make your vacation memorable. The vast majority of the town's hotels lie just a stone's throw away from the soothing waters of the gulf, so just pick a beach and there will be a hotel ready to pamper you.
Much of the city's happenings take place in the large area around the romantic Grand Lagoon. The Marriott Bay Point Resort takes full advantage of this, providing fun for the whole family as it overlooks the resplendent St. Andrew Bay. On the other side of the lagoon, the Boardwalk Beach Resort and the Dunes of Panama Resort offer stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico's white sands and blue waters. Further south, Biltmore Beach's elegant Regency Towers provides agreeable comfort for the beach-weary tourist.
Edgewater Gulf Beach
This inviting beach stretches farther up the coast, along with some equally appealing hotels. The Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort provides the best of both worlds, offering patrons the luxury of enjoying both the sandy shores and the well-trimmed greens of the golf course. There's also the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, a good choice for those vacationing with a gaggle of kids in tow. It offers a number of kid-friendly activities without skimping on more adult pleasures. For some spring break fun, college kids hang out en masse at the budget-friendly Bikini Beach Resort Motel, where sunny fun is had by all without needing to take out another college loan.
Bahama & Gulf Beach Area
A short ways north, vacationers can find several upstanding establishments that are eager to please. The Paradise Found Resorts & Hotels have all the standard amenities and also boast some amazing private-balcony views of the Gulf. Nearby, the Days Inn Beach spices up the commonplace “surf, sand & sun” routine by throwing the trendy Club 450 and Beachcomber Bar into the mix. The Plaza Motel attracts the starving student crowd, giving the youngsters an inexpensive week-long respite from the anxiety of upcoming finals.
West Panama City Beach
The beaches west of Panama City Beach are littered with resorts, guaranteeing there will be at least one that's a perfect match for your vacation plans. Peek's Motel caters to spring-breakers before Memorial Day, and the over-25 crowd afterwards. The Flamingo Motel & Tower, Driftwood Lodge and Beachbreak by the Sea provide quality comfort for the summer onslaught of families flocking to the beach. Budget travelers will find the Seascape Inn a desirable destination that doesn't break the bank.
Gulf Resort Beach
This stretch of tropical paradise is well-serviced by the Palmetto Inn & Suites, a prime hotel for the active vacationer, boasting fun-filled activities such as beach sports, wave running, para sailing, and more. Pleasure-seekers of all ages will find something to entertain them here. The Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort doesn't skimp on entertainment either, even if there are some in your group that find the beach less than enthralling. With, among other diversions, a video game room, miniature golf, and a “Lazy River” float around the pool, the bikini-shy can still have a memorable time.
Though it may not be at the center of all of Panama City's attractions, Laguna Beach nonetheless contains plenty of fun destinations and accommodation options. Longue-Vue by the Sea offers family-sized accommodations without the baggage of larger resorts. Sugar Sands Inn & Suites, with its high-rise buildings, shows off the spectacular beauty of Laguna Beach while providing all the amenities needed to make your stay comfortable. The Wisteria Inn, by permitting only adults, caters to travelers who vacation without kids. Now that sounds relaxing.
Panama City Beach offer its visitors beautiful beaches and incredible views, but it also boasts some fantastic dining establishments. From seafood to hoagies, the variety of food is enough to satisfy the entire family.
Harpoon Harry's is a bar dedicated to its young clientele. With its reasonably priced food, affordable drinks, and party atmosphere, this is a sanctuary for all those in search of a fun night out. Spinnaker Beach Club offers the freshest local seafood, great burgers, vegetarian wraps, and delicious barbecue. Since then, the Club has added a VIP lounge, a waterfall, and an award-winning restaurant, Spinnaker's Paradise Grill. The restaurant offers the freshest local seafood, great burgers, vegetarian wraps, and delicious barbecue.
But, if you're in search of the best BBQ ribs in the nation voted by the National BBQ Association, make your way over to the award-winning Pineapple Willy's. Built atop the original "Pier 99," the restaurant not only offers amazing ribs, but is also known for its famous and delicious rum "Pineapple Willy."
If you're in the mood for something a little less messy and a bit more upscale, Saltwater Grill is the place for you.This fine-dining restaurant offers the mature traveler a place to indulge you in a variety of choices from steak to seafood. Sit at the bar and enjoy one of the largest saltwater aquariums in the area.
If you prefer watching sports with your meal, go to the Beef O'Brady's, founded by self-proclaimed misplaced sports fan. Flat-screen LCD TVs host some of the most anticipated sport matches. While you savor your meal you can watch your favorite sport event live on your own exclusive tableside TV. Not a sports fan? No problem. The Calypso Beach Café serves food inspired by the cuisine of New Orleans and the Caribbean. The Shrimp Creole is not to be missed.
Montego Bay also serves food from abroad, specifically Creole cuisine. Classic dishes such as gumbo and étouffée are reinvented here and fresh oysters are served at the raw bar. If you have more of a Mediterranean palate, Terrace Restaurant will hit the spot with its upscale food at affordable prices. The Restaurant specializes in Greek cuisine, with tasty dishes that include Spanakopeta, Tiropeta, and Hummus. Wash it all down with a glass of specialty Greek wine or tapas. The newest addition to Panama City Beach is Pier Park where you will find a multitude of restaurants including Margaritaville, the Back Porch and many more.