Panama City Beach offers fun for everyone, not just Spring Breakers
When I tell someone I’m going on vacation to Panama City Beach, I know what they’re thinking. They probably picture droves of drunk, bikini and boardshort-clad teenagers partying on the beach, unidentified liquids sloshing from their red Solo cups with every drunken misstep.
While this is true if you dare to take a trip during college and high school spring breaks, my summer vacation to Panama City Beach is quite different than the stereotypical spring break trips our minds float to.
For those of us who have outgrown the wild party side of our formidable teenage years, PCB is a pretty chill place to catch rays on white sandy beaches, try parasailing for the first time, dine at a multitude of delicious restaurants, and find your peace in a pina colada…at least until the week is up.
Beaches, Swimming Pools, and Lots of Great Food
There’s nothing like waking up in crisp, clean hotel sheets and opening the door to the balcony to hear the soft rush of the ocean. For those of you who treat your vacation as exactly that, a vacation with nothing but time on your hands, you’ll probably find yourself spending the majority of the morning poolside or oceanside, but everyone has to take a break from the rays for lunch at some point.
So if you’re asking yourself where to go for a full belly, Pier Park is my best suggestion. With a wide variety of foods to choose from—like Red Brick Pizza (a personal favorite), The Back Porch, Dick’s Last Resort (not a place for children), or good ol’ Margaritaville—Pier Park has more choices than you could ever run through. It’s the perfect place to swing by for lunch or dinner, just go ahead and accept that it will take you a minute to decide on the place.
Dessert on vacation is an absolute must and in the summer heat, there’s nothing better than a cold treat. Grab an ice cream cone from Kilwin’s, fresh sorbet or gelato from Red Brick, or an Italian ice from one of the many carts dotting Pier Park—the Italian ice servers will offer free samples if you get close enough!
As for activities, you’d need a month of vacation to experience all that Panama City has to offer, but if you’re there for just one short week, try your hand at watersports, parasailing, fishing or, our family’s all-time favorite, go-kart racing to the death…I mean, until a winner is declared.
Enjoying the cool blue waters of the gulf
A feeling of weightlessness is what you’ll get from a trip into the sky thanks to some cables, a speedy boat, and a giant parachute. Ride high above the sea and shore, but be prepared for a few dips into deep water, which are equally as intimidating as they are refreshing. Go it alone or share the experience with a friend or two!
Perhaps deep water is your thing and you love catching the creatures that inhabit it! Panama City Beach has a multitude of fishing charters that will take you and the gang out into the deep blue for a morning, afternoon, or all-day fishing expedition. While some of us find our happy place to be with a pina colada by the pool, others find it out on the sea in a can of good ol’ American beer.
If you prefer to stay closer to shore, try paddleboarding, kiteboarding, or surfing. PCB’s mid-sized Gulf waves are perfect for entry-level surfers and experts alike! Paddleboarding offers riders a big board to stand on and gently paddle across the water, while kiteboarding, also known as kitesurfing, lets the wind do the work, but is a bit more difficult to master. Try any or all three and know that you’ll be sleeping good that night!
The sand and surf can be tolling after days of fighting the current and baking in the sun. Take a day to visit the Panama City Beach Conservation Park where you can choose to hike or bike 24 miles of unpaved trails that range from half-a-mile to 12 miles. Bring your pup, leashed of course, and experience the 2,900-acre park, which was developed by PCB officials, Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, Corp of Engineers and the Florida Dept. of Fish & Wildlife to restore thousands of acres of protected wetlands.
Play a round or two of golf with family and friends if you haven’t had too much sun! Signal Hill Golf Course is PCB’s oldest golf course, with 18 holes on relatively flat ground. Both newbies and pros will find a good time on this course with its mixture of tricky and beginner-friendly holes. A place of tradition, Signal Hill has been around from quite some time, as has been Captain Anderson’s. It seems like everyone who frequents PCB has the same tradition of eating at Captain Anderson’s one night, and the same tradition of wrestling with just which pie, cheesecake, or cake to have for dessert.
It’s hard to narrow down just what to do in Panama City. From Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, Shipwreck Island Waterpark, and go-kart racing to playing arcade games at Dave and Buster’s, taking an airboat tour, or playing mini golf, there’s fun around every turn in PCB, for every age. Don’t try and plan it out, just go live it. Too many family vacations have gone belly up thanks to extensive planning and not enough relaxation.
Final words of advice: pick a day, pick an activity, and try to make the most of your vacation! You won’t get surfing on your first try, but you’ve got all week. Wear the sunscreen! Get dessert everywhere, especially at Captain Anderson’s. Most importantly—after the sunscreen—spend time with the ones you love. You only get so many fun-filled family vacations in your lifetime; make the most of them.
Other Interesting Things To Do
Seahaven Beach Market
A unique artists and farmers market. Come for the freshest local Florida produce and wonderful artists. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 15238 Front Beach Road
Summer Concert Series
A free concert in the park every Thursday at Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the sounds of summer music! Music starts at 7 p.m.
Every Friday and Saturday at Pineapple Willy's, they pay tribute to Prince, with local guests True Soul live on stage. Free show, all ages are welcome. 9875 S. Thomas Drive
Plein Air Tuesday
Every Tuesday Morning at 9 a.m. beginner to experienced painters learn from each other as they paint outdoors. Locations vary, so visit beachartgroup.com for specific weekly details.
That Swing Thing
Every Wednesday starting at 7:30 p.m. get swing dance lessons at the A&M Theatre. No experience necessary, no partner needed, just you! 563 Harrison Avenue