Panama City Beach (or PCB) is an endless-summer escape for more sun, sand, and plenty of unique things to do. Right along the shores of Northwest Florida, you’ll find some of the Sunshine State’s most beautiful beaches with enough options for day trips and nearby attractions to keep you (or the kids) entertained. The area is known for having one of the world’s highest concentrations of bottlenose dolphins, as well as its two bordering state parks for hiking, bike riding, and kayaking. Roll out your beach towel, wade into the refreshing Gulf coast waters, and bask in the perfect beach getaway.
We asked our team at Vacasa for their top things to do in Panama City Beach. Here are our recommendations for where to eat and stay, what to see, budget-friendly activities, and even fun things to do with kids. Book your stay, pack your bags, and get ready to relax—we’ve got your Panama City Beach travel plans on lock.
Give your morning a relaxing start with breakfast at Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar. With its zen garden surroundings, fresh juice and coffee, and ample breakfast and brunch menu options, your day will start with smooth sailing. On a break from playing between the waves, head over to The Tiki Bar at the Sandpiper Beach Resort, located right on the beach. The bar’s happy hour promises ice-cold tropical cocktails, karaoke, and beachside games to enjoy with friends and family. After a long day of sun, grab dinner at Capt. Anderson's Restaurant & Waterfront Market to refuel and recharge. Dig into a freshly-caught seafood dish or delicious steak while watching fishing boats bob on the marina.
Whether a family beach trip or spring break getaway with friends, Pier Park is a favorite stop for its outdoor shopping mall and amusement park, featuring plenty of souvenir shops, a mirror maze, sky drop tower, and Giant Euro Slide. For a closer look at the area’s flippered wildlife or to reel in a deep sea catch, take to the turquoise seas with a dolphin cruise or fishing charter. It’s not a true Florida vacation without a cool dip in the water or relaxing out on the white-sand beach. Grab your sunscreen and ferry over to Shell Island for a day of snorkeling, boat tours, or combing the sand for shells on the island’s pristine, unspoiled shorelines.
With its stunning landscape and the amount of things there are to do with kids in Panama City Beach, it’s no wonder this destination is considered a family-friendly favorite for annual vacations. Gulf World Marine Park is a must-see and perfect for a rainy day or cool-down activity when the sun is at its highest. The dolphinarium and marine park features an opportunity for a closer look at a variety of marine animals through interactive programs and even the chance to swim with dolphins. For animals above water, check out the Zoo World Zoological Conservatory—PCB’s tropical conservation park and home to over 260 animals. If your little ones can’t get enough of fun in the water, plan a stop at Shipwreck Island Water Park for water slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and more.
Of course, not all vacation fun needs to come with a price tag. Because PCB is sandwiched between two state parks, it's also the ideal place to break away from the crowds and enjoy the natural setting with some peace and quiet. St. Andrews State Park is a popular stopover point for migrating birds and butterflies that you can enjoy on a stroll by the water. The park overlooks both the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay, which means it's a great spot for surfing, kayaking, and snorkeling as well. Camp Helen State Park, on the northwestern end of the coast, offers a quieter, secluded setting for picnics, watching the sunset, or a day of fishing on the lake.
Book your stay and sink your toes in the sand with Panama City Beach vacation rentals. Whether it’s a dreamy beach resort condo or family home with a little more privacy, there’s no shortage of perfect stays to admire PCB’s tropical breeze and ocean waves. Search by amenities like oceanfront, direct beach access, or pools and hot tubs to find the perfect home base for your beach retreat.