Panama City Beach, or PCB, as it’s known is the new Spring Break Capital. And they know how to pick ’em. We found over 26 miles of unbroken great white sand that extends from St. Andrews State Park to Phillips Inlet.
It’s fun and fabulous even if some say it is getting a little more crowed each year. Keep that in mind – that during actual Spring Break, anywhere from mid March to mid April, Panama City Beach can be chaos. This means – few hotel rooms close to the beaches; crowded restaurants where you’ll have to wait in line longer than you’re used to; crowded beaches with people constantly walking through your “space.”
If you’re a socialite and love people, than why wait?! But if you’re looking for a fun place to take your family on Spring Break, know that this place gets packed during that “season.” Still, there are a lot of fun things to do from arcades to fun rides, like bungee, twirl and turn, and more. When you are in the center of the action you’ll see that there is a good selection for the family and you can enjoy the day and evening while the kids are getting worn out on the many selection of games and rides. Keep an eye on your children. Some places are very packed with people and it can get easy to lose a shorter person.
Restaurants in Panama City Beach
Food is just about typical American as you can get – pizza, fries, burgers, potatoes, steaks. And there are so many good places to eat here we give you but one great tip: Go to the restaurant that has the most cars in the parking lot. If they’re eating there…it’s pretty good. If the lot is vacant – beware!! Other bad signs are placards for “chef wanted” in the window. LOL, we’ve seen it!! Just sayin’!
Let’s look at the actual beach:
You’ll find that on a sunny day, the vision on polar-white sand and emerald-green sea is irresistible to anyone above ground.
Panama City Beach is among the more beautiful along the Panhandle shoreline, where blinding white sheets of quartz sand meet the clear emerald water of the Gulf of Mexico. The beach is a healthy width in most places – we found thanks to the renourishment projects (necessary because of hurricanes, which did their share of stripping away in the 1990’s). Since the beach gently slopes into the water, know that this is the perfect beach for kids. Granted, when the surf is high and the waves are crashing in it isn’t going to be the best – but there aren’t the normal drop offs that would cause someone to start swimming because their toes can’t touch the bottom.
Panama City Beach is not to be confused with Panama City – the larger military/industrial port that lies near Tyndall Air Force Base. From March through Easter, PCB mutates to Spring Break Haven with a half-million or so college-aged revelers calling this Party HQ.
From Easter through Labor Day, PCB is a family-friendly vacation town full of those small tourist shops and attractions. And then, from Labor Day to February, PCB goes into hibernation – becoming almost a ghost town.
Remember that Panama City Beach lies on the Panhandle, at a latitude much north of the year-round Florida subtropic meccas. Translation: it gets Cold in the winter here.
The water changes colors throughout the day – emerald to azure to coral. And we found the sand nearly 99% quartz sand – a striking contrast to the sea. But in a strange twist, the city has not done well to provide great beach access. Here are your best bets:
St. Andrews State Park is at the east end of Thomas Drive and is $4 per vehicle. You can camp there, as well – for around $15. There are concessions and restrooms, picnic tables, showers, and a nice visitor center.
Flying to Panama City Beach is a breeze with service from all the major airlines and many flights a day. Check with your favorite carrier and start packing. Use a good flight comparison website like Kayak.com or TripAdvisor to get the best prices.
Plan as far as you can in advance so you can get the best deals on airfare and lodging. This means that you will have time to check for discounts during the period after you’ve made your purchase and ask the website or carrier to meet the new discounted fare. Remember, they want to sell those seats and you locked in well in advance.
Another thing to remember when traveling, especially if you are a college student is to take one pair of warmer clothing because many of the places you’re going to hang out at during the night is going to be colder than during the day. Plus the breeze can really kick up off the ocean and you’ll be chilled if you’re not prepared. Hydrate if you drink a lot and remember to take time to recuperate from any partying you do. You don’t want to go home sick, right?
Panama City Beach, Florida – Beach Index:
- Family beach, wide and clean
- Crowded mid-March to mid April (Spring Break)
- Full facilities along the beach
- All sports rentals – kayak, wave runner, games, snorkeling
- Not good for snorkeling
- Medium packed, coral/silica based