P.S. Don’t forget to buy an airbrushed T-shirt before you leave.

My parents have a picture of me on my first trip to Panama City Beach. I’m wearing diapers.

I had my toes in that white sand before I was old enough to walk—mostly because my mother loves the Gulf of Mexico like a family member.

Over the years, Daddy did his part for the local economy, buying my cousin Kathy and me tickets for the Miracle Strip and Petticoat Junction amusement parks. And floats. Have mercy, there’s no telling how many floats he bought so we could ride those waves. We’d stay on the beach all day long, clean up and go out for dinner (shrimp and oysters for the grownups, beach burgers for the kids), and then maybe take a nighttime walk by the Gulf.

It amazes me to see PCB now. Both of us have grown up. Mom-and-pop motor courts have given way to condos and beachside resorts with all the amenities.

PCB’s sister city just over Hathaway Bridge took a major hit from Hurricane Michael, but that’s all the more reason to show them some love. The beach fun that entertains the rest of us provides work and income for locals struggling through hurricane recovery.

So head on down there. Check into Aqua Gulf Resort if you’re looking for a romantic getaway or Splash Resort by Sterling Resorts if you have kiddos who can’t wait to get their swimmies on. Have dinner for two at The Grand Marlin or dinner for the crew at Schooners. Want a little off-beach adventure? Island Time Sailing can set up a serene Shell Island snorkeling experience, or load the kids onto slightly faster transportation at Wild Thang Airboat Tours.

P.S. Don’t forget to buy an airbrushed T-shirt before you leave. Maybe a sunset with your boyfriend’s name on it...

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