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Panama City Explore Local With RVshare

Why We Love Travel

Suggest a Local Tip

From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.

Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.

Benefits of Traveling Locally

While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:

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More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.

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Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.

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Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.

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Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.

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More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.

Explore Local: Panama City, Florida

Panama City is located in stunning Bay County in Florida. Heralded as the home to “the world’s best beaches”, this region is full of sun, sand, and the sea, offering a picturesque playground for outdoor enthusiasts. There are 27 miles of beautiful beaches to choose from, as well as numerous state parks, and an array of intriguing attractions. Of course, we can’t forget Panama City’s thriving dining and nightlife, both of which are certain not to disappoint.

Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Panama City has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.

Ready to discover the best of Panama City, Florida? Let’s get started!

*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.

Parks in Panama City, Florida

Panama City experiences short, mild winters and long, hot and humid summers, making it the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors, including the numerous state parks on your doorstep. Here are our favorites!

St. Andrews State Park

As the most popular state park within the region, St. Andrews State Park is home to five distinct ecological landscapes in one picturesque location. It’s got the Gulf of Mexico on one side and St. Andrews Bay on the other, so there’s enough water activities to keep you entertained for days! Whether it’s canoeing, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, boating, fishing, surfing, or more, there’s an activity here for every visitor.

Camp Helen State Park

Further north-west, and only around a half-hour’s drive from Panama City, is Camp Helen State Park. It features one of the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida and is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and by Lake Powell. Here, you’ll find day-use activities such as swimming, beachcombing, nature study, hiking, and fishing – including both saltwater and freshwater.

Eden Gardens State Park

A little further along the coast and slightly more inland is Eden Gardens State Park, which is just a 40-minute drive from the city center. It’s perhaps most famous for its beautifully manicured gardens, as well as the on-site mansion dating back to 1897. Here, you can enjoy a guided tour of the Wesley House, meander through the gardens, bring a picnic, and go fishing off the dock in Tucker Bayou.

Grayton Beach State Park

Just minutes from Eden Gardens State Park is another gem – Grayton Beach State Park. It consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States and features Western Lake, which is excellent for paddling and fishing. There’s also 4 miles of trails, which are perfect for exploring the surrounding scenery by foot.

Conservation Park

While in the region, don’t pass up a visit to Conservation Park, which is just under a half-hour drive from Panama City. Encompassing over 2900 acres, the Conservation Park has 24 miles of trails and over a mile of boardwalks that lead through Cypress domes. It’s another escape to nature that’s conveniently close to the city.

The Wesley House at Eden Gardens

Hiking in Panama City, Florida

If you’re still looking to explore more of Panama City by foot, then perhaps a hike in or outside of the city is in order? These trails don’t just offer magnificent views and natural scenery, but are also the most popular walks within the area.

Gator Lake Trail

You’ll find the popular Gator Lake Trail in St Andrews State Park. Its just a half-mile in distance, but is highly-ranked due to what it leads hikers to – panoramic views from the park’s highest point. Gater Lake gains its name from the residents who live within it – alligators – but the glimmer of the water is spectacular from above.

Tucker Bayou Trail

The Tucker Bayou Trail is located within Eden Gardens State Park, starting and ending at the Tucker Bayou picnic area. It’ll take you through dense, but scenic forests above the bayou, and includes two observation decks to help you pause and admire the view. Both of these are within the first 0.1 mile and are also wheelchair accessible.

St. Andrew's State Park

Restaurants in Panama City, Florida

Whether you’re craving seafood, Southern barbecue, steak, sushi, or more – Panama City is home to a vibrant and thriving dining scene, offering exquisitely prepared meals and award-winning service. Here are just some of our favorite picks!

Hunt’s Oyster Bar

The Hunt family have been serving Bay County for 51 years now, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Hunt’s Oyster Bar specializes in (you guessed it) oysters, but you’ll also find other delectable items on their menu, including steak, fish, sandwiches, desserts, and more.

Los Antojitos

Looking for the freshest Mexican food and best steaks in town since 1976? Locals love Los Antojitos, as everything is made fresh daily and the quality is always superb. Just some of the much-loved favorites include the seafood enchiladas, fish and shrimp tacos, and the ribeye steak. Oh, and don’t forget one of their top-shelf margaritas made with freshly squeezed lime juice!

G Foley’s

G Foley’s is Panama City’s premier casual fine dining restaurant. Here, you’ll find fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, hand-cut steaks, seasonal selections, and so much more. Our picks? the smoked gouda arancini, crab bisque, and pork ribeye. Delicious!

Uncle Ernie’s

Who doesn’t love a waterfront restaurant? Add in spectacular sunset views, finely crafted beer, and live entertainment, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a good time in Panama City. Uncle Ernie’s offers award-winning food, friendly service, and a laid-back atmosphere. Menu favorites include their crab cakes (they’re award-winning), Uncle Billy's Black Jack Burger (it’s the Bay County’s biggest), as well as their fresh Gulf seafood.

Saltwater Grill

Specializing in seafood, steak, and martinis, it just doesn’t get more ‘Panama City’ than Saltwater Grill. The restaurant features a 25,000 gallon tropical saltwater aquarium filled with exotic sea creatures, providing beautiful views from every table. There’s also a great menu for kids, so even your littlest family members will love it here!

Activities in Panama City, Florida

After a hike around the area and a stomach full of delicious food, there’s no doubt you’re wondering: what should we do now? Don’t fret, as there are plenty of fun things to do in Panama City to suit any occasion.

For kids and families

Looking for some fun things to do within the city that will keep the kids or teenagers entertained? You’ve come to the right place!

Zooworld

Want to get up close and personal with exotic animals from around the world? At Zooworld, you can, including unique experiences with flamingos, sloths, swamp alligators, giraffes, lemur, and budgies. There’s also a petting farm that both children and adults will love, as well as opportunities to feed animals.

WonderWorks

Described as an “amusement park for the mind”, WonderWorks covers 35,000 square feet and features more than 100 hands-on exhibits combining education and entertainment. There are six wonder zones featuring plenty of family fun, including an extreme weather zone, physical challenge zone, space discovery zone, and more.

At night

What should you do in Panama City once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.

Pier Park

If you haven’t got any evening plans, head down to Pier Park, which is Northwest Florida’s leading shopping center. It spans over 2 million square feet and welcomes more than 50 million visitors annually. Enjoy more than 250 retail, dining, and entertainment options to keep you occupied for hours, all just minutes from the stunning Emerald Coast beaches.

Race City

Ready, set, race! If you’re looking to fill your evening with some adrenaline, then a trip to Race City is for you. It’s open from noon until 11 pm each night and features go-karting, rollercoasters, thrill rides, arcade games, mini golf, bumper boats, and so much more. It’s perfect for a date night or family night out. 

On the cheap

Want to hit the town without it costing you a small fortune? Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy Panama City “on the cheap”.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium

While you’re in the region, a visit to Ripley’s Believe it or Not should be on the cards. At $18 - $23 per person, it’s a fascinating day out that won’t break the bank. It features the largest collection of the odd and unusual from all corners of the world. Here, you can see a genuine shrunken head, see how you measure up to the world’s tallest man, and check out a house made entirely of matchsticks.

Shell Island Beach Tours

We’ve talked about the popular St Andrews State Park, which is also the headquarters of the Shell Island Shuttle, the official water transport service to one of the star attractions in Panama City Beach, Shell Island. This 7-mile long barrier island offers activities such as dolphin tours, snorkeling, kayaking, pontoon boat rentals, hiking, and more.

Free things to do in Panama City

If you’re hoping to not even spend a dime while exploring the city, then you’re in luck. There are plenty of fun, family-friendly, and fantastic things to do in Panama City – all of which are completely free.

Frank Brown Park

Frank Brown Park is an exciting state-of-the art sports complex, featuring an aquatic center, children’s playground, and 200-plus acres of recreational facilities. While access to the aquatic center costs a few dollars, you and your family can roam around the park and enjoy its facilities for free.

Summer Concert Series

If you find yourself in Panama City from June until August, why not enjoy a free concert in the park every Thursday at Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater? It’s part of the city’s popular Summer Concert Series, so grab a lawn chair, pack some food and drink, and bring your dog (if you have one!), as pets are allowed on leashes.

Wellness in Panama City, Florida

Best spas in Panama City

If this long list of activities within Panama City has tired you out, then perhaps a visit to a local spa is in order? Enjoy a facial, massage, or just some seriously good relaxation at these amazing spas in the city.

Windbeak Spa

If you’re looking to say goodbye to your stress, aches, and cares, Windbeak Spa can help you do just that. They offer services such as massage therapy, eyelash extensions, skincare, and more. They’re located off of Jenks Avenue in the city, so you can take a quick break from your Panama City adventures for some ‘me-time’.

Little Indigo Spa

If you’re after more of an earthy vibe, then let us introduce you to Little Indigo Spa. They create custom spa services and herbal remedies with handcrafted, organic ingredients from sustainable farms, both locally and from around the world. There are over 50 spa treatments on offer, so there’s something to suit everyone.

Best gyms and yoga studios

Looking to hit the gym in Panama City, or perhaps a relaxing yoga session is more your thing? It doesn’t matter what your mind and body is craving, this spectacular city has the perfect place on offer.

Wellness and Fitness Centre

The Wellness and Fitness Center was established in 1986 but stresses that it’s simply not another space to just workout. They assist members in lifestyle enhancements through fitness coaching, nutrition and weight loss management strategies, and assistance in reaching lifestyle goals. There’s also on-site childcare for those who need it!

One Heart Yoga

Founded in 2014, One Heart Yoga believes in living a life full of joy, gratitude, and free of judgement. Their inspiring yoga classes include categories such as Vinyasa yoga, sunrise yoga, community yoga, and so much more. It’s a great way to connect with the Panama City community, while letting go of your stress and tension.

Day Trips near Panama City, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Panama City without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this large city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.

Florida Caverns State Park

Just over an hour’s drive north-east of Panama City is Florida Caverns State Park, famous for its stunning caves, as well as stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, draperies, and other amazing geologic formations deep underground. When you’re not underground, you can also take part in outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, boating, paddling, and geocaching.

Seaside

Around an hour’s drive east along the coast will take you to the appropriately named town of Seaside. This small resort community sits on the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico and is celebrated for its pastel-colored houses featuring porches and white picket fences. Check out the house from The Truman Show, soak up the sun at the numerous beaches, visit the Natchez Beach Pavilion, and more.

 

As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Panama City that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Panama City? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.

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