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There are plenty of things to do in Panama City Beach from foodie feasts to island adventures and everything in between.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with spending your time at PCB just chilling on the beach and sipping on fruity cocktails.
However, if you’re like me, then you’ll want to mix it up a bit and this list will help you get the most out of your trip.
Fun Things to do in Panama City Beach
1 – THOMAS’ DONUTS!
Devour some donuts from Thomas’ Donut & Snack Shop. I highly recommend trying one of their cake donuts. It’s smaller, thicker and SUPER tasty.
If you like a classic donut then you can choose from flavours such as peaches and cream filled, plain glazed and many more.
Be prepared, the lines are often long but it’s definitely worth the wait.
2 – Jet Ski
The warm waters of the Gulf Stream are the perfect place to try out jet skiing. You might be lucky enough to spot dolphins or sea turtles while you speed across the waves.
There are plenty of companies to choose from – Adventures at Sea, Sunshine Water Sports of PC, Panhandle Watersports etc.
3 – Paddle Boarding
Paddle boarding is one of the most chilled out things to do in Panama City Beach.
Gently bobbing on calm waters, soaking up the sun, getting a bit of a work out while taking in some stunning views, what’s not to love about paddle boarding at PCB?!
I quickly realised that it can be quite hard to balance on a SUP in the sea and resigned myself to sitting which was much more relaxing. Just make sure you use plenty of sunscreen (reef-safe).
We went with PCB SUP Paddleboard Rentals and I’m happy to recommend them.
4 – Boat Trip to Shell Island
Shell Island is one of the most beautiful spots at PCB. There is a shuttle boat service that goes to the island from St. Andrew’s State Park, or you can hire a private boat.
On the island you’ll find an unexploited paradise and plenty of wildlife. There are no facilities on the island, so make sure you bring everything you need and take everything with you when you leave.
It’s the perfect place for a picnic, a swim, or just a lovely walk on the beach. Read my article containing all my top tips for the perfect day trip to Shell Island for everything you need to know.
5 – Breakfast at Finns
If you love breakfast, brunch, coffee, smoothie bowls or cute craft souvenirs then you’ll love Finns.
There’s Finns Island Style Grub which is an outdoor, island vibes area. Then there’s Finns Barista Bar which is a beautiful indoor coffee shop attached to a gift shop.
We ordered breakfast burritos inside and then headed into the coffee shop for some caffeine. I highly recommend some of the house-made syrups. I had an iced latte with rock salt mocha syrup and it was HEAVENLY.
6 – Drinks at the Salty Goat
If you want to have a fun night at a biker bar then the Salty Goat Saloon is the place for you. After all, a trip to Panama City Beach is all about letting your hair down and having fun.
There’s live music, bar food and alcohol a plenty. I’ve heard Anne Cline is amazing, so if you get a chance to go when she’s playing then don’t miss it.
7 – Sandjam Festival
If you’ve ever watched American movies and wanted to live out your best beach festival fantasy then Sandjam Festival is the place for you.
I went this year and it was so much fun – VERY different to a festival in the UK or Ireland. No one was out of their mind drunk. There was plenty of space. It was delightful.
The food was good (fried pickles anyone?!), the acts were great, the weather was amazing, the vibes were chilled and I had an incredible time. For 2020 the festival dates are April 24th to 26th.
BUT if you can’t wait until then there is the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam this year (August 30th – Sept 1st) featuring Tim McGraw, Kid Rock and more.
8 – Cruise Around PCB in Style
Want to see Panama City Beach in Style? Then head to Outlaw Rentals and rent one of their many unusual vehicles.
They have three-wheeled slingshots, golf carts, scoot coupes and more. Imagine cruising down Front Beach Road with the wind blowing in your hair, turning heads because of your epic wheels.
We saw Batmobiles and Hello Kitty coupes, there’s something for everyone!
9 – Swim With Dolphins
Due to the warm water of the Gulf Stream there are plenty of dolphins around Panama City Beach. It’s an incredible place to get up close and personal with wild dolphins (mostly bottle-nose).
Book at tour with Lagoon Pontoons and see what the ocean has to offer at PCB. The tours last 2 hours and cost about $50. For more details see here.
10 – Breakfast at Andy’s
Andy’s Flour Power is a fantastic breakfast spot run by a man called John. Yep, sounds odd but there is a very good reason for the name. John decided to name the place Andy’s so that he was first in the phone book (clearly this was back in the day).
Anyway, no matter the name, what’s most important about Andy’s is the FOOD. Their pistachio muffins are LIFE-CHANGING. Seriously.
Their motto is “fresh not fancy” and I love it. It’s just great food in big portions, served with a smile. The breakfast martinis were incredibly well received by my group, they even asked for the recipe.
I can highly recommend the french toast and the vegetable frittata but whatever you choose you won’t be disappointed.
11 – Explore Pier Park
Pier Park is a Simon Shopping retail area with plenty to keep everyone entertained. From shopping to restaurants to attractions, you won’t be bored.
Take a ride on the Big Wheel for incredible views across PCB. See a movie at the iMax. Play some games at Dave and Busters. Grab a milkshake at Marble Slab Creamery. Shop for souvenirs from your trip. There’s no end of things to do at Pier Park.
I got myself a spectacular PCB tie-dye t shirt at one of the souvenir shops. I posed for photos with giant gummy bears outside the I Love Sugar shop. It was just a nice chilled out afternoon. Highly recommend.
12 – Air Boat Ride
Who doesn’t love an airboat?! There’s something so exciting about drifting around on the surface of water that might only be inches deep. Wind whipping in your hair, alligators potentially nearby; it’s exciting!
We took a trip with Wild Thang Airboats and the hilarious Captain Ron led our tour. Seeing alligators isn’t guaranteed, but lots of fast, crazy fun is.
We saw lots of dolphins, some crabs and even a bald eagle. Be prepared for a few unexpected spins (they were my favourite part). Definitely worth doing.
13 – Dinner at Schooners
This beachfront bar/restaurant calls itself the “Last Local Beach Club”.
It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset, sip on a frozen cocktail and just chill out.
There’s live music, great service and extremely fresh food. I loved the Wisconsin Cheese Curds but fish is definitely their specialty. If you like good Southern or Cajun food then Schooners is definitely the place for you.
14 – PCB Conservation Park
If you want to feel a bit more at one with nature and have had enough of the beach then make sure to see the Panama City Beach conservation Park.
The park has 24 miles of trails. Stroll, hike or bike through the soaring Cypress trees. There are trails of all lengths from 0.6 – 11 miles.
If you suffer from allergies/hayfever then make sure to pop an antihistamine before you head into the park. My eyes were ON FIRE.
15 – Yoga on the Beach
After enjoying yourself the whole time you might want to relax and stretch yourself out a bit before you get on a plane or in a car to head home.
Beach yoga is perfect for this. We did a session with @suburbangypsy and, after the initial shock of dragging myself out of bed, it was so very uplifting.
The mimosas didn’t hurt either!