Situated in the Panhandle on the the northwest side of Florida, Panama City Beach is your ideal fall and winter getaway. Here’s why.
First of all, the summer crowds are gone. And although winter temperatures are slightly lower than those in Southern Florida, the climate is perfect for golfers, tennis players, cyclists, hikers, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts. Powder-soft white sand beaches still lure sun-lovers to the warm, emerald-green waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
But, best of all, since winter is the low season here, prices are reasonable. And there is still so much to do!
Hiking and Cycling
The land around Panama City Beach is almost flat, making it an ideal destination for hiking and biking. And there are plenty of places from which to choose.
Featuring more than 24 miles of trails and boardwalks, Panama City Beach Conservation Park was developed to protect the area’s natural resources as you enjoy the incredible surrounding scenery. At St. Andrews State Park, two trails expose you to a rich diversity of coastal plants and wildlife. The Heron Pond trail winds through a pine forest and past a historic turpentine still. Gator Lake trail provides a scenic lakeside view. Camp Helen State Park is one of the largest coastal dune lakes in the world and provides a unique look at the diverse environment and ecosystems along the coast.
Head over to Shell Island Beach, which is accessible only by boat. Surrounded by the world’s highest concentration of bottlenose dolphins, this pristine seven-mile oasis of sugar-white sand, emerald water and beautiful pine forest is the perfect getaway when you want to reconnect with Mother Nature. Here, you’ll find nesting shorebirds, loggerhead turtles, docile deer and the elusive ghost crabs. Don’t forget to pack a picnic.
The Gulf of Mexico has been dubbed the “Wreck Capital of the South” by Skin Diver magazine and Panama City Beach is one of the top dive destinations in Florida. However, if you don’t have a diver’s certificate, try your hand at snorkelling off the coast of St. Andrews State Park or Shell Island. The Gulf’s excellent water clarity is even better in the fall and winter months and snorkelling allows for plentiful encounters with starfish, crabs and dozens of varieties of fish.
Speaking of fish, the Gulf’s crystal-clear depths attract novice and experienced anglers to these waters. Reserve a fishing charter for a deep-sea catch-and-release excursion in the Gulf of Mexico to see why Panama City Beach is known for its world-class fishing. Guides will help you reel in those king mackerel, blues, redfish, flounder, pompano hardtail and cobra, all of which are common to the area.
Love surfing, surfboarding and stand-up paddle-boarding? This is the place to do it. But first, head over to the gigantic Ron Jon Surf Shop at Pier Park to check out a vast array of fashionable beach wear and water sports equipment.
At the end of a long, action-packed day, you’ll be hungry enough to eat a cow—or a grand marlin. In this area, you’ll probably opt for the seafood option. After all, it doesn’t get any fresher than this.
Grab a table on the outdoor deck at the Runaway Island Beach Bar and Grill for breathtaking sunset views of the Gulf as you savour catch-of-the-day seafood and cool, refreshing cocktails.
The food at the casual, laid-back Schooners may be far from fancy but it’s always fresh and mouth-watering delicious. This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and features live bands and nightly sunset celebrations.
Captain Anderson’s has served up classic dishes since 1967. Loyal customers flock to this elegant restaurant for freshly harvested shrimp, oysters and fish as well as perfectly seasoned steak.
Overlooking Grand Lagoon, the Grand Marlin of Panama City Beach offers a tranquil, relaxed atmosphere, paired with the area’s best selection of fresh seafood and enticing steaks. If you like oysters, this is the place. The restaurant’s North Drop Bar on the second floor provides a Caribbean atmosphere where you can sit back and relax with a tall cocktail.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are shops, galleries, festivals, Mardi Gras parades, fairs and historical sites and venues waiting to be explored and experienced. But we’ll save those for another day.
Now, wouldn’t you rather be in Panama City Beach?