Visit Panama City Beach

How To Experience Undeveloped Beaches and Fresh Seafood In Panama City Beach

Insider Guides Beaches and Islands
by Abigail Akinyemi Feb 12, 2023

Panama City Beach has over 27 miles of white sandy beach. And while that’s undeniably one of the main draws for anyone looking to visit, even people who prefer to stay sand free won’t run out of things to do in town. You can get in touch with nature at Camp Helen State Park, take a deep sea fishing charter trip, stroll along Pier Park boardwalk, and, of course, enjoy lots of delicious seafood at marina restaurants.

Panama City Beach is a popular vacation destination for all ages. The best time to visit for good weather is in spring or fall, when temperatures during the day typically stay in the high 70s and early 80s, with nighttime temperatures rarely dropping below 65. During the summer season there are plenty of festivals, water activities, concerts, and more to enjoy.

The best way to get to PCB is by flying into Northwest Florida Beaches Airport. Major air carriers, such as Delta, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, provide daily flights from major cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Nashville, and St. Louis. Once there, you’ll want to rent a car, as public transportation options can be limited.

Things to do in Panama City Beach

The best PCB beaches and beach-front activities

Pier Park

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Pier Park brings shopping, entertainment, and dining to the beach with a string of more than 120 storefronts. The Skywheel is the newest attraction in Pier Park, and offers a view of PCB from 200 feet up. The SkyTrail & SkyTykes ropes course is another adventurous way to get an elevated view. Finally, for a drink with a view, go to Hook’d, which has the best beach views on the strip, while you sip a cocktail out of a pineapple.

Camp Helen State Park

Bird watching, kayaking, and hiking are just some activities you can explore while visiting this national state park. Kayak rentals are offered at the park daily from 8 AM to 5 PM (weather and season permitting).

Shell Island

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While the beach-front towns along Florida’s panhandle are often beloved for the accommodations, restaurants, and shops that butt up against the sand, Shell Island offers a seven-mile look at Florida’s undeveloped side. Nesting birds, sea turtles, deer, and ghost crabs utilize the beach, while bottlenose dolphins often play just off shore. Kayak, snorkel and swim at the beach, but know that you’ll need to bring your own refreshments and activities, when you get there by shuttle service, ferry, or by renting a boat to make the journey yourself.

St. Andrews State Park

Visit Panama City Beach

Birders and butterfly lovers will enjoy visiting this popular migratory stopping point to catch wildlife sightings while enjoying Florida’s famous Gulf coast. With the Gulf of Mexico on one side and St. Andrews Bay on the other, this state park has a mile-and-a-half of beach perfect for fishing, camping, and swimming, as well as dunes and plant life to explore. Perhaps the beach’s most famous non-winged guest was Theodore Tollofson (or “Teddy the Hermit”), who was shipwrecked in the area during a hurricane in 1929 and lived on his boat on the beach for the following 25 years.

Where to eat and drink in Panama City Beach


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Upscale dining with a beach vibe, Firefly focuses on the finest seafood in all its forms. The rotating menu features both locally caught fish and important species, while steaks and seasonal vegetables round out the rest of the menu. People also come for the cocktails, which are world class. Make sure you save room for dessert and try the creme brulee.

Firefly: Shoppes at Edgewater, 535 N Richard Jackson Blvd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407

Runaway Island

Enjoy yourself at this beachfront restaurant with outdoor live entertainment on a private deck, local seafood, and frozen drinks. The outdoor deck and boardwalk goes straight to PCB’s famous sand, while there’s two levels of dining space inside.

Runaway Island: 14521 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Andy’s Flour Power

Start your day with a signature rolled omelet and French toast before your beach-filled adventure. Brunch is served all day on weekends and comes with live entertainment. Head to the bar for a signature cocktail, like the basil lemonade, while you wait for your seat.

Andy’s Flour Power: 2629 Thomas Dr, Panama City, FL 32408

Saltwater Grill

Even if you’ve dined with some impressive guests, you’ve likely never had dinner with an audience like like the 25,000-gallon tropical saltwater aquarium filled with exotic fish at Saltwater Grill. The menu features a modern take on seafood and steaks, and there’s a piano bar for entertainment.

Saltwater Grill: 11040 Hutchison Blvd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407

Thomas Donuts & Snack Shop

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This quaint family-owned bakery has endless breakfast options you have to try. Opened in 1971, its are known for fresh doughnuts, kolaches, muffins, sandwiches, and more.

Thomas Donuts & Snack Shop: 19208 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32413

The Pour

Invest in the local community with a cup of coffee during your stay. All proceeds at this non-profit help bring sustainable change to those needing it the most. Before you leave, give an encouraging message in the guest book.

The Pour: 12902 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407

Where to say in Panama City Beach

We hope you love the stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.

Hyatt Place Panama City Beach

This resort-style beachfront hotel is ideally placed for all your vacation needs. It has a pool, jacuzzi, and lazy river when you’re done with your private beach. If you visit in March through October, you can enjoy umbrellas and beach chairs free of charge. Wake up to Starbucks in the lobby while you overlook the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. No need to leave your hotel for dinner, as Coconut Charlie’s is downstairs with live entertainment several times a week.

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