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Best Things to Do in Panama City Beach

Early morning view of Panama City Beach, Florida looking towards Russell-Fields Pier.
Early morning view of Panama City Beach, Florida looking towards Russell-Fields Pier.
Sea Lion Show, Gulf World, Panama City Beach, FL
Sea Lion Show, Gulf World, Panama City Beach, FL
Saharan Dust Sunset from Panama City Beach, Florida
Saharan Dust Sunset from Panama City Beach, Florida
Origin Panama City Beach, Florida
Origin Panama City Beach, Florida

Known for being “Home to the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches”, Panama City Beach has so much more to offer than just that pristine sand. The entire area is filled with great food, fun attractions and activities for people of all ages.

The Beach

Probably at the top of everyone’s list when they think about Panama City Beach, the beaches along the Emerald Coast are definitely worth the visit. These beaches span for miles and offer plenty of public access points. Also the waters are typically crystal clear which makes it fun to watch all the sea life around you!

Ripley’s Believe it or Not

The gigantic ship on the corner of Front Beach Road and Thomas Drive is sure to catch the attention of passerby. Ripley’s Believe it Or Not features unique artifacts and weird facts throughout. Displays, interactive exhibits, mirror maze and a 3D moving theatre are all some of exciting things to explore during your visit.

Putt Putt Golf

Panama City Beach offers several putt putt golf courses with all different themes.

Goofy Golf is one of the oldest golf courses on the beach. It features an assorted collection of creatures and world landmarks as part of its course.

Coconut Creek Family Fun Park offers a safari style putt putt along with a gran maze.

Emerald Falls Family Rec Center is complete with an arcade along with its tropical themed putt putt golf course.

Shipwreck Mini Golf is located behind Shipwreck Island Waterpark and carries the same beach theme.

Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf takes visitors on a swashbuckling adventure as they navigate the courses with pirate facts. Read more about Violet Sky’s visit to Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf by clicking here.

Zoo World

This zoo features over 250 animals from all over the world. From bouncing kangaroos to towering giraffes and pacing tigers, this place is fun for all ages. The zoo also features gem mining, a petting zoo, axe throwing and interactive experiences. These experiences allow visitors to hold a live alligator, pet a sloth and many more.

Gulf World

Swim with dolphins and talk to parrots at Gulf World. Not only just an aquarium, Gulf World also doubles as a wildlife rehabilitation center for strayed creatures of the Gulf of Mexico. The park does three shows a day that demonstrates the parks birds, dolphins and sea lions.

Pier Park

Pier Park is one of the most popular places to hang out in Panama City Beach. Known for housing the famous “Panama City Beach” sign, this location features restaurants and plenty of shopping opportunities. Margaritaville, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Dave and Busters, The Grand Theatre, Dillard’s and so much more are all located within this huge open air shopping center.

Sky Wheel

Also located within Pier Park is the Sky Wheel. This Ferris Wheel takes visitors up in the sky to see panoramic views of the city and best of all, the Gulf of Mexico. Sunsets just got even more magical from these air-conditioned pods that take you away on an adventure above and beyond.


Great for children and young teens, Wonderworks features a hands-on discovery center that promotes creative thinking and exploration. An extreme weather simulator, space discovery and an imagination lab are just a few of the things to do while visiting. This upside-down building is conveniently located directly across from Ripley’s Believe it or Not!.

Shipwreck Island Waterpark

This water-filled adventure features a wave pool, lazy river, slides and even a play place for the kids. All outdoors, this waterpark is a nice spot to explore for people looking for an aquatic event other than the beach.

State Parks

There are two state parks in Panama City Beach. Each have their own specialties and benefits. St. Andrew’s State Park is the most popular and is located on the east end of the beach. It offers hiking trails, camping and jetties that are filled with sea life for snorkeling. There are also great places to swim and its own little pier.

Camp Helen State Park is located on the west end of Panama City Beach. It borders the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell. This day-use park offers hiking trails, a historic lodge, kayak rentals, a wildlife interpretation center and so much more.

Boat Tours

While visiting the beautiful shores of the Panama City Beach going on a boat tour has got to be one of the top ways to explore the coast! Depending on the boat tour, visitors may see the St. Andrews Bay, Shell Island or even the condo skyline.

There are a variety of options for boat cruises that range from catamarans, speed boats, airboats or pirate ships. Self-operated boat tours are available in the form of pontoon and jet ski rentals.

If you have young children the Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise offers fun activities for them aboard the cruise. From finding treasure chests to hula hoop contests, children will not be bored. Also for the adults there is a full bar and some food served.

Fishing charters are another option as they allow visitors to take off shore excursions to make that big catch!

Shell Island

While Shell Island is only accessible by boat, it is an all natural beach preserve that gives its own experience. Shuttles are available from St. Andrews State Park or you can rent your own pontoon to travel over.

Conservation Park

Conservation Park features 2,900 acres of Northwest Florida wilderness. Guests can visit the day-use park for hiking, biking and bird watching. In fact, there are 24 miles of trails within the park that navigate throughout the woodlands. Boardwalks make some parts of the park accessible to all.


So while you are planning your beach getaway, be sure to include some of these exciting places in your itinerary! Panama City Beach offers something for people of all ages!

Thanks for reading and as always, keep on truckin’.

-Violet Sky

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