Continue reading for The Best of Panama City Beach. Panama City Beach is a waterfront town and vacation destination on the Emerald Coast of Florida. It’s known for it’s miles of sandy white beaches fronting the Gulf of Mexico, and for it’s raucous spring break parties. Popular theme parks include Gulf World Marine Park, offering swimming with dolphin experiences, and Shipwreck Island Waterpark, featuring waterslides and pools. St. Andres State Park is one of 2 protected nature preserves nearby. There is 27 miles of beaches with miles of hiking and biking trails, and 100 public beach access points. It goes without saying that there’s a lot to see and do in Panama City Beach. As you explore, you’ll find that each area has its own unique flavor and character. The waters here are famous with fishermen and scuba divers who enjoy the benefits of dozens artificial reefs located offshore, and with a coastline that angles slightly toward the west, in Panama City Beach you can watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico every day of the year. Our Panama City Beach Travel Guide will give you all the information you need to plan your Panama City Beach vacation. To visit all the great beaches of Panama City Beach and the Emerald Coast, click here, or visit us on Pinterest Here.
Panama City Beach Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Panama City Beach is from May through October. Though the area boasts an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, late spring, summer and early fall offer some of the warmest air and water temperatures. Plus, by avoiding a visit in March or April, you’ll dodge the deluge of college students who descend on the area’s ivory sands every year for spring break. You’ll save on lodging prices during the area’s low season (November to February), but it’ll likely be too chilly to enjoy the ocean.
Best Panama City Beach Area Beaches
Panama City Beach & Pier
The eight-mile stretch of Panama City Beach is one of the most active and popular oceanfront scenes in the city. Panama City Beach is fairly active with swimming and surfing. It is ideal for beach people-watching from under an umbrella, soaking in the ambience of laughter from vacationers building sandcastles and jumping in the waves.
Camp Helen State Park Beach
Camp Helen State Park offers a unique beach experience different from others in Panama City Beach. Those who enjoy white-sand beaches with undisturbed natural beauty will appreciate this beach. The 183-acre park is a day-use area with plenty of activities, like swimming, bird-watching, and nature study. There are hiking trails throughout the park go through a variety of habitats, like a salt marsh, wetlands, sand pine scrub, and coastal dunes.
St. Andrews State Park Beach
Water sports enthusiasts enjoy St. Andrews State Park beach for the abundance and variety of ocean activities available from one spot. The state park encompasses over 1,200 acres and 1.5 miles of beaches. Besides swimming, St. Andrews State Park Beach is great for snorkeling and scuba diving. This beach is popular for visitors who want to head out for a day of scuba diving, canoeing, and kayaking. The beach is relaxing and is known for its sugar-like sand and clear jade-colored water. A pavilion is available for shade and picnics, and a concession stand is on the beach serving snacks and water.
The beach scene at Schooners is laid-back, with beach volleyball, socializing on the deck of the oceanfront patio, and hanging out by the water. There is often live music to set the scene for the swimming and surfing down by the water. Stop by Schooners just before sundown when a cannon is fired each night.
Shell Island lends is more than just playing in the water. Explore the island to see ghost crabs, deer, and endangered green sea turtles. Both the loggerhead sea turtle and the green sea turtle live on Shell Island and are endangered. There is also plenty of seashells and sand dollars on the beach and the occasional conch shell. There are no services, so you will need to bring everything with you for the day.
Best Panama City Beach Restaurants
Sisters of the Sea Grill $11 – 30
Shake off the sand and join them for fine seafood, delicious po-boys, and out-of-this-world specialties. Sisters of the Sea’s award-winning dishes include the Sirens’ Song, a rich broth with steamed mussels, shrimp and scallops. It took the Best of Show at the Mississippi Gulf Coast-based Chefs of the Coast. Telephone: 850-708-1890 Web: Sisters of the Sea Grill.
Firefly $31 – 60
Firefly is a unique dining experience in Panama City Beach, Florida. Their commitment to excellence shows in their ever-evolving menu, their atmosphere, and their dedicated staff. From the moment you step through the beautiful wooden doors, you know this is not your typical beach restaurant. Telephone: 850-249-3359 Web: Firefly
Runaway Island Beach Bar & Grill $11 – 30
Runaway Island Beachfront Restaurant offers local seafood specialties, live entertainment and frosty drinks all with 2 floors providing a panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico. The outdoor deck lets you take in the Florida sun and landscape of the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches”. All while you sit back, relax and enjoy. Telephone: 850-634-4884 Web: Runaway Island Beach Bar & Grill.
The Front Porch Under $10
Home of the best burger on the beach. Welcome to the Front Porch where they build the best burger you’ve ever had. They start with only the freshest ingredients and build it just the way you like. Make sure to make it a combo and try their one of a kind fries. Telephone: 850-276-7068 Web: The Front Porch.
The Wicked Wheel Bar & Grill $11 – 30
The Wicked Wheel Bar and Grill is home of the Emerald Coast’s Wicked Good Fried Chicken – voted Best of Bay – marinated, hand battered and deep fried in cottonseed oil. Try their New Orleans Style Thin-Cut Catfish which is sure to have you going back for more, and their delicious All-Natural 1/2 lb. Angus Burgers are a favorite with the locals. Put some South in Your Mouth with their southern sides, including beans & rice, collard greens, cheese grits & more. Telephone: 850-588-7947 Web: The Wicked Wheel Bar & Grill.
Best Panama City Beach Bars & Nightlife
Runaway Island Beach Bar & Grill
Totaling over 6,000 sq. ft. of wood, the outdoor deck lets you take in the Florida sun and landscape of the “World’s Most Beautiful Bea-hes”. All while you sit back, relax and enjoy. Great Food. Great Drinks. Great Stories. It’s all part of the Runaway Island experience. Go visit them today for lunch or dinner. After all, life is short… Run Away. Telephone: 854-634-4884 Web: Runaway Island Beach Bar & Grill.
Spinnaker Beach Club
Spinnaker Beach Club is one-of-a-kind! Right on the beach… a family friendly restaurant during the day. At night, a laid-back place to relax, enjoy live music, dancing and classic beach club entertainment. The view is breathtaking. The food is delicious. The entertainment is second to none. Telephone: 850-34-7892 Web: Spinnaker Beach Club.
Hook’d Pier Bar & Grill
Experience real Panama City Beach flavor and style at Hook’d Pier Bar and Hook’d Pier Bar & Grill is a dog friendly restaurant with a full bar, offering live music on the weekends. With superior service and consistent flavors, they have remained the locals’ dining destination with friends or family. You’re sure to find something that will suit your appetite on their menu. You won’t find anything better! Telephone: 850-233-8232 Web: Hook’d Pier Bar & Grill.
Shades Bar & Grill
With the largest selection of on-tap draft beer in the Florida Panhandle, Shades knows that whatever your drink, they’ve got you covered! They also are proud to offer the most current seasonal selections of premium draft beer including local specialty beers such as Grayson 30A Beach Blonde! Telephone: 850-231-9410 Web: Shades Bar & Grill.
The Craft Bar
Their extraordinary craft beer selections on tap include some of the rarest and most sought after beers in the nation, making The Craft Bar the only place in Northwest Florida to serve many of these special kegs. They also have an impressive bottle collection and the ability to sell beer “to-go” with their innovative Crowlers. Telephone: 850-588-7309 Web: The Craft Bar.