There are a lot of things to do in Panama City Beach, and they require nothing more than stepping outside of your hotel door. I recently took part in a trip with my family to explore some of the great things to do in Panama City Beach, and I have to tell you, it did not disappoint. From dolphin cruises to delicious cuisine, Visit Panama City Beach for an excellent family vacation or a couple’s getaway. It’s no wonder it’s known as the Real. FUN. Beach.
Things to do in Panama City Beach
Located on the Florida panhandle coast, just about midway between Fort Walton Beach and Port St. Joe, Panama City Beach has long been a vacation hotspot in the area. Known for its miles of white-sand beaches on the calm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and nearby St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach combines nightlife, beach bumming, the natural beauty of Florida, shopping, and dining into the perfect mix for a wonderful getaway.
On my trip, I was treated to a nice cross-section of all the aspects of Panama City Beach that make it such a wonderful vacation destination. I had so much fun that I began research even more things to do in Panama City Beach because I will absolutely be coming back with my family. I found some wonderful gems, and I can’t wait to share them, along with our trip highlights, with you. Let’s get to it!
Attractions in Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach is all about fun. Everything they offer is based on having all the fun you can have. You can feel that spirit of fun and adventure from the moment you step out of your hotel door until the moment you return and crash from all the fun you had. Plan your fun today!
The iconic Pier Park sign tells you everything you need to know about this place. The beachball surrounded by sun rays perfectly captures the sunny, fun vibe of Panama City Beach’s premier shopping and entertainment destination. This sprawling outdoor complex features 124 stores, with everything from clothing and jewelry to home good. Kids will love playing laser tag or taking in the Grand IMAX movie theater, and the entire family can enjoy the live music. While you’re there, grab a bite from any of their delicious dining options. We weren’t able to spend a lot of time there, but I did manage to snag a shot of their famous sign.
Gulf World Marine Park
Kids and adults alike will enjoy all that Gulf World Marine Park has to offer. Take in daily live shows with various marine life, experience a live shark and turtle feeding, visit the Stingray Bay petting pool, and more.
Shipwreck Island Waterpark
For 35 years, Shipwreck Island Waterpark has been the waterpark to visit when traveling to Panama City Beach. Kids and adults will enjoy 11 exciting water attractions and multiple pools, as well as excellent food and drink options. The waterpark features ample shade for cooling down and available on-site lockers to store your belongings. Parents of younger kids will love that children under 35 inches can enjoy the park for free.
Pirate Cruise on the Sea Dragon
Parents should make time to take the kids on a 2-hour pirate cruise aboard the Sea Dragon. Captain “Fearless” Phil and his merry band of swashbucklers make for an entertaining cruise filled with fun and adventure. Over the course of the cruise, you’ll experience the waters, shoreline, and wildlife of St. Andrews Bay, with the captain pointing out numerous species of birds and fish. You might even hear, “There she blows!” when the captain spots bottlenose dolphins.
Dolphin Sunset Cruise
Dolphin Sunset Cruise is another excellent family cruise that’s fun for all nature lovers. See Historic Grand Lagoon, St. Andrews Bay, and The Pass, a channel leading to the Gulf. All the while, the captain will point out bird and marine life, including the dolphins in the area.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium
Kids will love all the oddities to be found at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium. From shrunken heads to a floating car, and more, this oddly wonderful place makes a perfect stop for the kids.
Activities in Panama City Beach – For The Whole Family
In addition to exciting attractions, there are plenty of activities to be found in the area, leaving no shortage of things to do in Panama City Beach.
Located on the western end of St. Andrews State Park, Shell Island is a must-visit location in Panama City Beach. The pristine, uninhabited barrier island offers 7 miles of beautiful beaches and terrain fit for any family of beach and adventure lovers.
Adventures at Sea
Enjoy a day of fun on the water with jet skis, parasailing, kite boarding, paddle boarding, and more. For those who enjoy being on the water, rather than in it, Adventures at Sea also offers pontoon and sail boat rentals.
If you can think of it, Beachfront Adventures has it. Enjoy zip lining, off-road buggies, rope courses, go-karts, putt-putt golf, and more for a day the entire family will love.
Deep Sea Fishing
Those with a passion for fishing will love a deep sea fishing trip aboard the Capt. Anderson.
My husband took their 6-hour tour, and he loved it. Filled with fishing fun, the cost of the excursion includes bait, tackle, rod, reel, license, and tax.
Putt-Putt for Days
This entry may not be for a specific place, but remember what I said about things to do in Panama City Beach? That’s right. Just step out the door. Panama City Beach is one of those places just bursting with putt-putt golf courses. And they all feature other fun attractions like go-karts (and sometimes, an arcade).
Of course, visitors to Panama City Beach should take full advantage of the beach. Miles of white sand and clear, turquoise water are waiting for the beach bum to put up a beach umbrella, lay out the blanket, and start soaking up that beautiful Florida sun.
Dining Options in Panama City Beach
We all know that one of the best parts of travel is finding the best eats in town. In Panama City Beach, you can practically throw a rock and find delicious dining options.
Visitors to Panama City Beach won’t want to miss out on the Grand Marlin. This restaurant and Oyster Bar is second to none. I wrote a post on the Grand Marlin a while back that lists all the wonderful things about this restaurant.
Margaritaville in Panama City Beach
Diners definitely WON’T waste away in this Margaritaville. Named for his famous song, Jimmy Buffett’s signature restaurant features more food options than you can shake an island stick at and wonderful dining areas overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Diners will also be treated to the island music that constantly plays at this amazing restaurant.
Tides Bar & Grill at Sheraton
As part of our trip, we dined at Tides Bar & Grill at Sheraton for a Mother’s Day brunch. It was beyond delicious. Everyone who visits Panama City Beach should go here. With a light atmosphere, beautiful views, and wonderful food, it makes for an impressive dining experience.
Pelicans Bar & Grill
A hot spot for both travelers and locals, Pelicans offers delicious food with a casual atmosphere. Dines will enjoy the brightly colored restaurant, Gulf breezes, and lapping water as they feast on some of the best food in town. They might even see some locals pull up in their boat for some dining on the water!
Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant
What do you get when you combine delicious food, a white-sand beach, and an atmosphere that breeds fun? You get Sharky’s. It’s a perfect dining spot for laid-back fun and top-notch food.
So Many Things to do in Panama City Beach!
Panama City Beach is one of those places that you never seem to have enough time to explore. Our trip to the area seemed like it only lasted for second before it was time to leave, and I was sorry to say goodbye. Believe it or not, the things to do in Panama City Beach that I just listed are only the tip of the iceberg. In addition to all the hotspots, you can find tons of little mom-and-pop shops and smaller attractions that are tons of fun in their own right, as well.
I’m already planning a trip for myself and my family to this wonderful area, and I know it will be even better than the first time. With the gorgeous beach, natural beauty, tons of excursion options, attractions, dining, and more, its no wonder Panama City Beach is known as the Real. FUN. Beach. If you’re planning a vacation, I recommend that you visit the Real. FUN. Beach. Make it a trip to remember and make it yours.