Panama City Beach - A Family Favorite
Don’t worry. You can still relax in flip-flops and cutoff jeans in most places. The oyster bars, beach bands, and miniature golf courses with dinosaurs still thrive. Meanwhile polished businesses have opened that show a better look. Here’s our guide to the best.
Its stunning strand remains the prettiest in Northwest Florida due to a recently completed beach replenishment project. To the east, St. Andrews State Recreation Area creates one border, and 17 miles to the west, the multicolored town of Carillon marks its farthest reaches. In between, Panama City Beach (PCB) rocks on with comfortable familiarity--and some updates too.
The bedraggled mom-and-pop motels that once sat cheek by jowl have almost all been replaced by gleaming condo towers. Glassed-in walkways several stories high lead to parking decks crossing over Front Beach Road.
Drop by on a weekend, and you’ll find the largest crowds cruising Thomas Drive. Pubs and putt-putt golf still abound, as do water parks, airbrush shops, and pizzerias. And, as always, all you have to do is head west to de-stress in less rowdy locales such as Carillon.
- Families with youngsters fall for Splash, a condo hotel with an indoor water park, beach chairs for rent, and quiet pools. Two-bedroom, two-bath units start around $259. www.sterlingsplash.com or 1-866-573-7678.
- Holiday Inn SunSpree, a longtime lodging, boasts all updated furnishings, plus the Aqualand play area. Rates from $190. www.hipcbeach.com or (850) 234-1111.
- We like the serene setting of Bay Point, the Marriott property adjacent to Jack Nicklaus II and Willard Byrd-designed golf courses. Another reason to visit: the fabulous new Serenity Spa, the best in PCB. Rates from $149. www.marriottbaypoint.com or (850) 236-6000.
- Pier Park has opened dozens of shops, from a Dillard’s flagship store and Old Navy to a Ron Jon Surf Shop (pictured). You’ll also find a 16-screen movie theater, a Margaritaville eatery, and Fish Tales jewelry.
- Ladies will adore the beach-inspired clothes from PCB designers Liz & Jane outlet store on Front Beach Road.
- Florida Linen on Back Beach Road offers one of the largest arrays of bed and bath accessories we’ve found under one roof.
Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.