Ultimate Travel Guide: Panama City Beach
The iconic Panama City Beach is a popular vacationing spot for everyone from retirees to families, and more. The pristine white sand beaches and many miles of oceanfront across the famed Emerald Coast are just a few of the reasons why this spot is famous amongst so many tourists. Follow our PCB travel guide to get the most out of your next trip!
Panama City’s Beaches are more than just a destination; they are a beautiful sight and backdrop for any occasion. The oceanfront is lined from start to finish with famous stark-white sandy beaches. We recommend Shell Island*, a favorite of locals and visitors alike. On this 7-mile uninhabited island, you might be lucky enough to come across endangered loggerhead and green sea turtles, deer, nesting shorebirds and crabs. Looking to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the strip? Guests of the Sheraton Bay Point Resort can enjoy a family-friendly private bay beach.
*Travel Tip: Sheraton Bay Point Resort offers a low-cost ferry shuttle to Shell Island. Take the ferry over, then enjoy delicious fare and tropical cocktails at one of four dining outlets.
Festivals and Annual Events
Plan your vacation around some Panama City Beach’s famous attractions including festivals, ecotourism, golf, and more:
- Pirate’s Festival: Ahoy Matey! Bring ye’ family and kids to the Pirate’s Festival to hear live music, watch a magic show and fireworks, and participate in Pirate-themed activities you never thought you’d come across.
- Beach Home for the Holidays: In addition to its private beach, for fun holiday events starting Thanksgiving weekend through the Beach Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve, check out Sheraton Bay Point Resort’s event schedule, perfect for the whole family.
- Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam: This is for all you country music fans out there! The 2017 concert headliners are Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Little Big Town. Past years featured some of the biggest names in country music today: Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. Kick up your boots, or in this case flip flops, and get your country on with some of the best in the genre!
Ecotourism has become quite popular in Panama City, and there are countless opportunities to participate in fun (really!) ecological outings.
- St. Andrew’s State Park: Coming in at #5 on TripAdvisor’s 2017 Traveler’s Choice Top Beaches in the U.S., there is something for everyone to do here. Fish from the pier or cruise the St. Andrew Bay/Gulf of Mexico by pontoon boat and soar across stunning open waters. Wind through nature trails and diverse coastal plant communities with a chance to see a variety of birds. Your second stop is – again - Shell Island, with its 700-acre natural habitat home to a variety of aquatic life: sea turtles, deer, sandpipers, gulls, snowy plovers and more!
- Gayle’s Trails: Run, bike, or walk the trail system that spans the entirety of PCB. See the natural beauty first hand when you cross the cypress swamp boardwalk or mountain bike through the nature and greenery.
- Camp Helen State Park: This hidden gem lies on the western boarder of PCB, sitting between the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell. Home to coastal dunes, salt marshes, freshwater wetlands and scrub oak forests, this diversity is few and far between, so swim and hike to your heart’s content!
The Best Golf Spots
Spend a day golfing top-rated courses designed the industry’s best. Sheraton Bay Point Resort offers 36 holes of championship golf. Play a round on their Nicklaus Design course (arguably the best in Northwest Florida). Meadows Golf Course is another great choice if you prefer more forgiving play, while both delight golfers of all types.
Once the sun goes down, extend the fun at all the famous night spots PCB has to offer. No mandatory dress codes needed, but flip flops are encouraged. Dance all night long to your favorite country music at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (sister club to Nashville’s famous Honkey-Tonk), Splash Bar or take your party to Club La Vela, the biggest night club in the US. Prefer to belt it out? Head over to some of the nation’s best beach karaoke bars: Backdoor Lounge and Newby’s Too. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?
As Florida’s top destination, Panama City Beach offers countless excursions and water activities for all interests. Experience the one-of-a-kind Gulf of Mexico experience when you rent a pontoon boat for the day, jet ski, stand up paddle board, or go deep sea fishing. Take your excursion to a dolphin tour and see these fun-loving, beautiful creatures swim along the boat. Then head down under the water to snorkel or scuba dive and see the marine life in their natural habitat. Visit Captain Anderson’s Marina to book an experience you won’t forget.
Eats & Drinks
You’ve clearly worked up an appetite during all these adventures, so make sure to hit up some of the best eats in in PCB.
- Dee’s Hangout: Fun, relaxed atmosphere, affordable food and great drink specials each day. Try some southern favorites, like fried catfish and jambalaya.
- Eat my Pasty: Fairly new to the PCB food scene, dishes made from locally-bought ingredients this spot features uniquely British fare. Don’t miss your chance to taste truly authentic English dishes like Fish N’ chips and The Cornish Pasty, an English “fast food” item similar to a hot pocket.
- Firefly: Casual fine dining with an ever-evolving menu, this indoor romantic setting sits under a grand old Oak tree, and serves award-winning Gulf seafood. Relax and enjoy company with family and friends in the full service Firefly bar, the 535 Library Lounge, or any of their other room options. Visit Firefly’s website here.
- Celebrities: Did you know? Sheraton Bay Point Resort has housed Barak Obama, Kevin Bacon, Snoop Dog, Jerry Seinfeld and many more in their Presidential Suite.
- Wellness: Panama City Beach hosts the Ironman Florida each November, and the Panama City Beach Marathon kicks off December 2, 2017, for all you fitness fanatics. Prefer to relax when it comes to wellness? Sheraton Bay Point Resort features the award-winning Serenity Spa, rated #2 among PCB spas on TripAdvisor.
- Great Weather: Northwest Florida boasts an idyllic climate for fall and winter travelers. With a temperate, coastal climate, Panama City has warmer days and cooler nights, making it a great destination for the holidays. PCB’s yearly average high temperature is a comfortable 77° with a low temperature of 59°. July is the hottest month at a 90° average, but ocean winds keep it comfortable, as will all your water-based excursions.