Everyone’s definition of vacay mode is different, from the poolside sunbather (with cute floppy hat and piña colada in tow, of course) to the can’t-sit-still-for-five-minutes adventure lover.
Having those contrasting personalities on the same trip can cause headaches for your itinerary—unless you pick a destination that has something for everyone, like Panama City Beach.
The beachfront town on Florida’s gulf coast beckons year-round with an abundance of activities for every travel personality (plus white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, and who doesn’t love those?).
Here, we break down some of the highlights of Panama City Beach activities for each type of traveler to help you make your spring and summer vacation plans, no matter who your travel companions are.
Scroll down for Panama City Beach activities and itinerary ideas for 6 different types of travelers.
1. Fun-loving families
Panama City Beach, PCB to the locals, is the textbook definition of every kid’s dream. At Lagoon Pontoons (visualize giant pontoon boats with slides that send you directly into the water), your fam can swim with real-life dolphins, rent jet-skis for more water exploration, and embark on snorkeling tours.
Park day more your thing? No problem. Visit Shipwreck Island Waterpark for one of the biggest wave pools you’ve ever seen. Seriously, it’s giant. And if you’d rather have a break from the sun and surf, try Cobra Adventure Park. It’s chock-full of fun with roller coasters, go-karts, and more arcade games than the kiddos will know what to do with.
2. Adventure seekers
If you were a thrill-seeking mermaid in a past life, you’re in the right spot. Head to the Panama City Beach Dive Center for the basics on exploring the deep blue via scuba—and get this, you can go on a shipwreck dive and swim to the 441-foot World War II Liberty Ship. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some treasure.
But if you’d rather stay afloat, we get it. Paddle boarding provides the best of both worlds (as long as you find your balance). Grab a board and a tutorial lesson at The Boardroom—a super laid-back surf shop that’ll outfit you with all the skills and stylish boards you’ll need for whatever type of adventure you’re looking for (just don’t forget the SPF).
3. Outdoorsy types
Restorative, nature-filled getaways more your jam? You can reconnect with Mother Nature as you tour the undisturbed Shell Island, where you can scout for dolphins and rare shells along the quiet shores.
Panama City Beach is also home to two gorgeous state parks: Camp Helen State Park and St. Andrews State Park. At Camp Helen, you can hike the zig-zagged trail through dunes, oak forests, and a dune lake. (Feel free to Google “what is a dune lake.”)
Or, have yourself a full-on Parent Trap moment (without accidentally letting a lizard crawl into your mouth) over at St. Andrews by setting up camp, fishing, and exploring the local wildlife like migratory birds, deer, and even some alligators. Don’t worry, the camp sites are complete with the essentials: bathrooms, laundry, and most importantly, WiFi.
4. Romance-obsessed lovebirds
Need some QT with your SO? Book a couples spa treatment at the luxe Serenity Spa at Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort, go for a serene walk on the Gulf, or head out on a sunset booze cruise—because nothing says love like a cheeseboard, wine, and a killer view.
Speaking of falling in love over a plate of food, start the night at Firefly for an intimate (and fresh) sushi dinner, then bop around the local beach bar scene. Try a signature cocktails at Pineapple Willy’s or stay for the view at Barefoot on the Beach—and remember, flip flops are always welcome, nay, encouraged.
5. Health-conscious foodies
There’s a reason Panama City Beach is known as the Seafood Capital of the South. The fish is next-level—think, blackened snapper, seared mahi mahi, and just-caught scallops.
Dive into some beyond-delicious dishes at beachfront restaurants (with sweeping sea views that are Insta goals), like local fave Dockside Seafood and Oyster House to slurp briny oysters right out of the shell.
That said, the culinary scene spans beyond just seafood. The beachside town also caters to organic eaters, vegans, and veggie lovers with healthy foodie spots like Zen Garden Market, Wild Root, and Lotus Cafe.
6. Entertainment lovers
Not that you’re tired of the gorgeous views and crystal blue waters, but if (to quote Russel Crowe) you are not entertained, other on-land Panama City Beach activities include shopping your way through the Decor by the Shore Trail or going for a ride on the Skywheel at Pier Park.
Celebrate Fourth of July weekend with a spectacular fireworks show at Grand Lagoon Coalition, or catch a summer concert series at Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater, where you can listen to some local jams from around the southeast. Plus, if you time your vacay just right, you’ll catch the yearly Sandjam Fest presented by Pepsi, the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, or the Pepsi Gulf Coast jam. Are you entertained now?
In partnership with Visit Panama City Beach
Photos: Visit Panama City Beach
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