Enjoy some sand and surf at the beach while practicing social distancing. The wide shoreline offers plenty of open space so keep at least 6 feet away from other beachgoers. My family’s idea of the perfect vacation is a mix of sun, adventure, relaxing, a bit of nature and plenty of great food. And Panama City Beach fits the bill. No matter what your family likes to do on break, you’re sure to have the trip of a lifetime at this amazing destination. With 27 miles of coastline, crystal clear waters and a wide variety of activities and family friendly-restaurants at your disposal, PCB offers something for everyone. Here’s how to get the most of a memory-making trip to Panama City Beach:
1. Bring your beach gear.
Panama City Beach is best known for its miles of sugar-white sandy beaches, turquoise water and balmy weather (averaging 74 degrees and 320 days of sunshine per year), which is the perfect recipe for an incredible beach vacation. Be sure to pack extra bathing suits, beach toys and sunblock. Beach chairs are nice to have too, especially if you’ll be spending the whole day by the water… you can rent them from one of the many beachside rental companies.
2. Take a hike in the parks.
The beach may be the first attraction people think of when they visit PCB, but move inland just a bit and you’ll be greeted by two protected nature preserves and a handful of other beautiful parks. Hike the trails with your family, explore nature and take lots of pictures of the lush scenery and unique wildlife. Conservation Park boasts boardwalks, ponds, biking trails and more. And Camp Helen State Park provides visitors with views of a rare dune lake, and fishing, boating and campfires are allowed in designated areas. Former military reservation St. Andrews State Park has over 1.5 miles of white sand beaches on the Gulf.
3. Plan some evening fun.
While your kids may be accustomed to eating dinner at 5pm, you don’t necessarily want to be in for the night by 6pm. PCB offers plenty of memory-making evening activities as well. Hop aboard the Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise for a sunset adventure on the gulf with Captain “Fearless” Phil or soar 200 feet above the city at night on the recently opened Skywheel. Race City has evening hours and will keep the whole family entertained with a rollercoaster, go-karts and their famous Skycoaster which will bring you 137 feet into the air before go soaring back down.
4. Cool off with some ice cream.
Eating ice cream is as much a part of a family beach vacation than visiting the beach itself and the Pink Pelican is PCB’s most-beloved place to visit for a frozen treat. While the setting is old-school, there’s nothing ordinary about the 40+ flavors offered here. Chocoholics will love the Chocolate Hurricane (dark chocolate with a chocolate ribbon and dark chocolate flakes) and kids of all ages will adore Circus (cotton candy with gummy bears!).
5. Charter a family-friendly fishing boat.
Traveling with a group? Invite a few friends to join you in chartering a fishing boat. Let the kids try their hand at fishing and then prepare your catch for dinner. It’s a great way to see PCB from a different perspective, while creating lasting memories that you won’t soon forget. You may even be lucky enough to see dolphins, depending on where you go… ask your captain to take you to areas where they tend to congregate.
6. Think beyond swimming.
Splashing in the waves may be the first thing you envision when you’re planning a beach vacation, but there are many other water activities available in PCB that might interest you and your family. Explore marine life by snorkeling in the shallows, or head deeper into the surf with the older kids to give scuba diving a try. Kayaking and paddle boarding are fun options if you’re looking to incorporate a workout into your day.
7. Go shopping at Pier Park.
If retail therapy is your game, be sure to visit Pier Park, an outdoor shopping complex housing 124 retail establishments ranging from popular department stores to trendy boutiques and everything in between. They have a wide variety of dining options as well, and you can find an IMAX theatre, laser tag and even live music at the outdoor venue. And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, ride the SkyWheel gondolas to enjoy 360 degree views of the Emerald Coast.
8. Explore the man-made attractions, too.
If you’ve had your fill of state parks and beaches, be sure to check out some of the area’s theme parks. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is a popular attraction for families looking for a unique adventure, or you might consider visiting Gulf World Marine Park for an educational experience. Wonderworks is another great option, self-described as an amusement park for the mind.
9. Plan for extra-hungry and thirsty kids.
Nothing works up an appetite like swimming and other beach activities so don’t find yourself short on snacks and drinks for the family. Frozen juice cartons make awesome slushies once they start thawing (your kids will likely make friends at the beach, too, so bring extra) and fruit kebabs make for a healthy snack that easily be eaten with sandy fingers. Don’t forget to stock up on single-serve nut butter packs (for quick protein), cheese sticks, frozen grapes and granola bars, too.
10. Check out the events calendar.
PCB hosts a number of annual events, including festivals, trade shows and seasonal events. Visitors’ favorites include UNwineD in March, the SeaBreeze Jazz Festival in April and Beach Home For The Holidays in November. Be sure to check out the city’s event listings before booking your trip, and find out more about Panama City Beach now