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Panama City Beach 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 Beach, Florida

If you’re looking for northwest Florida’s number one waterfront town and vacation destination, this is it. Panama City Beach is situated on the stunning, emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and is famous for its pristine, white sand beaches.

While the pace might be more relaxing and the days seem hotter and longer, there are still plenty of attractions within the region to keep you entertained, whether it’s a stunning state park, intriguing museum, action-packed amusement park, and so much more.

Ready to discover the best of Panama City Beach, 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 Beach, Florida

The Panama City Beach region 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.

Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach State Park 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.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Named after its white quartz dunes which rise like ships’ sails, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park also overlooks the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Along with its dunes, the park offers three miles of pristine beaches, old-growth pine forests, sandy scrubland, wetlands, and more. It’s a nature lover’s paradise, and also offers recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, paddling, and more.

Henderson Beach State Park

Just minutes’ drive further along the coast is Henderson Beach State Park, which is known for its 30-foot snow-white sand dunes and warm Gulf waters. Walking along the park’s boardwalk will take you to its 60 campsites, nature trails, and top fishing locations. Other on-site activities include bicycling, geo-seeking, swimming, picnicking, and more.

Hiking in Panama City Beach, Florida

If you’re still looking to explore more of Panama City Beach 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.

Oak Canopy Trail

If you’re after an easy and relaxing hike, the Oak Canopy Trail is for you. It’s a 1.8 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail which takes you along the shore of Philips Inlet, part of the way, and is good for all skill levels.  Enjoy the beautiful wildflowers along the way!

Camp Helen North Trail

Located in the Camp Helen State Park is the Camp Helen North trail, which is a 3.1 kilometer lightly trafficked out and back trail which is enjoyable for all skill levels. It’s accessible year-round and features a scenic river. Locals love this easy trek!

Restaurants in Panama City Beach, Florida

Pineapple Willy's

Panama City Beach 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!

Pineapple Willy's Restaurant

The world-famous Pineapple Willy’s Restaurant is your go-to destination for seafood, music, and fun. Operating since 1984, the restaurant is known for great service, delectable drinks, and the best ribs on the beach. Along with its hugely popular menu, locals and travelers also love the quick service they experience here.

Sharky's Beachfront Restaurant

Where can you find live music, lovely beach views, and a long menu full of Florida favorites? At Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant, of course! It has been a local favorite for over 30 years now and is home to the largest open air “palapa” in the United States, constructed with over 100,000 cabbage palm fronds and thousands of cypress knees and poles. Don’t miss the pepper-crusted tuna, fresh oysters, or fish tacos!

The Wicked Wheel Bar and Grill

The Wicked Wheel is home of the Emerald Coast’s Wicked Good Fried Chicken, which has been voted Best of the Bay for five years in a row! If you’re in the area, you have to stop by this restaurant, especially to try popular dishes such as their New Orleans Style Thin-Cut Catfish, All-Natural 1/2 lb. Angus Burgers, and more.

Shuckums Oyster Pub & Seafood Grill

If you’re craving seafood – especially fresh oysters – Shuckums Oyster Pub & Seafood Grill has got you covered. Their original recipe cocktail sauce is so popular, they had to bottle it up to meet customer demand! Shuckums has been a part of Panama City Beach since 1967, making it a must-visit place when in the region.

Runaway Island

Fancy running away to Runaway Island? Don’t worry, you don’t have to venture too far to enjoy this incredible dining experience. In fact, you’ll find it on the sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico! With its local and fresh seafood, as well as dishes such as Caribbean wings, burgers, and more, it’s sure to be a hit with everyone!

Activities in Panama City Beach, Florida

After filling up on delicious food and enjoying all that the hiking trails and state parks have to offer, you may be wondering: “what’s next?” Well, when it comes to Panama City Beach attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!

For kids and families

If you and your family are looking for a way to pass the day, look no further than these fun activities!

Shipwreck Island Waterpark

The summers can be long and hot in Panama City Beach, which is why a family day out at the Shipwreck Island Waterpark should always be on the agenda! It has been serving the local community and travelers since 1976 and is now home to multiple attractions, including a 500,000-gallon wave pool, 65-foot slide, a 660-foot long twisting and winding river, and so much more.

Gulf World

Gulf World Marine Institute is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine mammals and sea turtles. It was built in 1969 and has become a staple family destination in Panama City Beach. Enjoy daily educational shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, tropical birds, and so much more.

At night

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

SkyWheel Panama City Beach

Imagine admiring the twinkling street lights and bustling entertainment scene from above at night? SkyWheel Panama City Beach stands nearly 200 feet above the area’s premier shopping and entertainment destination, Pier Park. It’s a 53-meter observation wheel that has 30 climate-controlled, fully enclosed gondolas, offering visitors of all ages an amazing, not-to-be-forgotten experience.

Goofy Golf

Goofy Golf opened in 1959 and is located in the heart of the Miracle Strip. The popular attraction boasts two 18-hole miniature golf courses and remains the best mini-golf bargain anywhere at just $10 per 18 holes! It’s also a playland, featuring giant statues that can be climbed on top of or entered inside. Goofy Golf is open until 10 p.m. each night.

On the cheap

Looking to save a dollar or two during your Panama City Beach excursion? There are plenty of activities and attractions that can be visited on a budget, helping you to get the most out of your time spent in the city.

XD Darkride Experience

Fancy a multi-sensory interactive experience featuring an incredible 7D movie and immersive video game? The XD Darkride Experience combines stunning visual effects & sound technology, while creating the sensations of falling, jumping and crashing in one thrilling attraction ride. The best part? It costs just $10 per person!

Pier fishing

Panama City Beach is also known for its awesome fishing opportunities, and with several fishing piers available on the region’s beautiful, sandy beaches, it would be a shame to pass up this budget-friendly activity! Gather your fishing rod and tackle (or hire some if need be!) and head to Russell-Fields Pier (City Pier), M.B. Miller County Pier, or St. Andrews State Park (just to name a few). Anglers and spectators must pay just $3 - $6 to make use of the facilities.

Free things to do in Panama City Beach

Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Panama City Beach that won’t cost you a cent.

Conservation Park

Conservation Park is a favorite destination for locals and tourists due to the wide variety of outdoor recreation it offers – most of which, won’t cost you a cent! Here, you’ll find 24 miles of trails and over a mile of boardwalks that lead through Cypress domes, offering hiking, cycling, and nature viewing. There are also picnic shelters and amenities such as restrooms, drinking fountains, and more!

The Blue Giraffe

A go-to “happy place” within the region is the inspiring and uplifting The Blue Giraffe, which is an art and gift shop featuring the incredible work of talented artists. It’s free to browse, of course, and who knows – something may just take your fancy to purchase! The Blue Giraffe is run by mother and daughter duo, Debbie and Christi, and also features a large blue giraffe out the front.

Wellness in Panama City Beach, Florida

Best spas in Panama City Beach

By now, you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Panama City Beach has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.

Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa

Looking to melt away the stress of deadlines and hectic schedules? Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa is a popular spa in Panama City Beach offering relaxing and rejuvenating services such as massages and facials. They’re most famous for their signature hot stone massage. It’s the perfect way to let your worries melt away!

Paradigm Salon & Spa

They might be well-known for their high-quality hair services, but trust us, there’s more to Paradigm Salon & Spa! They also offer massages and facials (among other treatments) ranging from Swedish and hot stone, to prenatal, and more.

Best gyms and yoga studios

If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Panama City Beach is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.

Sequence Fitness

Known as the “best gym on the beach”, Sequence Fitness caters to all fitness needs and levels, whether you’re after barre, body pump, Zumba, yoga, cycle, or more. They also offer classes around the clock, so no matter what time of you’re day you’re looking to squeeze a workout in, there’s sure to be something for you.

Orangetheory Fitness

Orangetheory Fitness is more than your average gym. It’s a total-body group workout that combines science, coaching and technology to guarantee maximum results from the inside out. They offer classes across rowing, cardio, strength training, and more. They even have an app for you to track your results, workouts, benchmarks, etc.

Day Trips near Panama City Beach, Florida

Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Panama City Beach 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.

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Millions of visitors are drawn to the Gulf Islands National Seashore for the white sandy beaches, the aquamarine waters, a boat ride, a camping spot, a tour of an old fort, or a place to fish. Other fun recreational activities to partake in include bicycling, bird watching, stargazing, hiking, snorkeling, 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 Beach that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Panama City Beach? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal. 

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