Panama City Beach: Make Waves on Florida's Gulf Coast

For those seeking sun and beautiful shores, it doesn't get any better than Panama City Beach, Florida. Known for its shimmering emerald waters, Panama City Beach boasts the nation's first new international airport since 9/11. The beach also hosted America's First Family for a vacation in 2010. Here, upscale condo options, delectable dining, and shopping variety abound.

Panama City Beach is situated on 27 miles of sugary sand, bordered by the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and St. Andrews Bay. Major attractions include St. Andrew's State Park, a peaceful beach retreat for shell collectors, nature walkers or families, and popular Pier Park. St. Andrew's State Park was once the site of a military institution. Shell Island Boat Tours to St. Andrew's operate during spring and summer.

Want a complete Travel Quote including airfare, special hotel rates and FREE upgrades? Contact our Travel Specialist today! Water sport enthusiasts may take part in swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and canoeing. There are two fishing piers, a jetty, and a boat ramp for anglers. Two nature trails wind through a variety of coastal plants and are popular with birdwatchers. Sunbathe on the beach, or enjoy a leisurely lunch under a picnic pavilion. The Park has fully outfitted campsites, making it an overnight destination. The concession area offers snacks, souvenirs, and fishing gear.

Pier Park is home to shopping, dining and entertainment spaced over 1.1 million square feet, featuring retail establishments such as New York & Company, Coldwater Creek, Ann Taylor Loft, Victoria's Secret, and Chico's. A favorite hangout here is Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville - Buffet recently performed at a benefit concert for The Gulf.

Reggae J's Island Grill is great for Caribbean music. The outdoor "mall" also has a Yankee Candle store, Things Remembered, Bath & Body Works, Solace Day Spa Salon, and independently owned galleries, boutiques, and gift shops.

Other local dining options include Boatyard Restaurant on Panama City Beach and Grand Lagoon, known for its irresistible fish tacos as well as an unbeatable view. Firefly is a prime choice for local seafood. Be sure to visit Seabreeze Winery on Hutchison Boulevard, with its products from Kyotee Vineyards. Kyotee grows several versions of muscadine grapes and there are great gift ideas at Seabreeze. Ask for a tasting tour.

Thousands flock to Panama City Beach each year for the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, an event which outgrew nearby Destin. This event is staged at Pier Park Ampitheater and attracts music fans from places such as Atlanta and Maryland. There is not only fusion and easy listening to enjoy, but many arts and crafts vendors work the festival.

Brilliant beaches, a brand new airport, and no end to sun and fun, Panama City Beach is a prime spring and summer getaway.

Bijan Bayne

Bijan C. Bayne is an award-winning Washington-based freelance writer, and author of Sky Kings: Black Pioneers of Professional Basketball, which was named to the Suggested Reading List of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004. The book is also cited in Booktalks Plus: Motivating Teens to Read by Lucy Schall. In July 2002, Bayne, who speaks Spanish, won the Robert Peterson Research Award for his pre...(Read More)

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