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Best Road Trip Destinations: Panama City Beach

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In the summertime, one of the most popular pastimes is heading to the beach. While Florida beaches are hot in the wintertime, summer in Florida can be brutal. The excessive heat and humidity can come on a big strong. But Panama City Beach lies in the northern part of the state, the panhandle, still giving its visitors a hot summer beach, but providing some relief in comparison to the southern Florida sauna. The city’s slogan reminds us that it has the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches,” referencing the beautiful white sand on its shorelines. And since it’s on the coast, it’s the perfect place destination for your road trip.

What You’ll See

Panama City Beach is a classic coastal Florida city. As you drive into the city, you begin to see palm trees and smell the salt water in the air. Along Front Beach Road, you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, and waterfront homes (tip: the local restaurants are often better than the chains).


Pier Park - Panama City Beach

Pier Park in Panama City Beach
Photo: Innisfree Hotels

Where to Stop

Aside from the beautiful, white sand beaches, Panama City Beach provides entertainment and incredible adventure throughout the city.

Pier Park
Right off Front Beach Road is Pier Park. With dozens of small shops, local and chain, you can spend an entire day exploring your options. At the front of Pier Park, closer to the waterfront, there are a variety of restaurants and smaller boutiques. As you progress into the shopping center, you will find more traditional department and clothing stores. In the evenings, the bars and restaurants host live music for a fun night out.

Thomas Drive
Famously mentioned by Luke Bryan in his song “Roller Coaster,” Thomas Drive is the place to be in Panama City Beach. Aside from the variety of lodging options, Thomas Drive offers exceptional nightlife, dining, and family fun. Whether you’re interested in playing mini golf with the family or dancing the night away, Thomas Drive is probably right up your alley.

Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant
A local favorite, Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant is true to its name, sitting directly on the sand, overlooking the ocean and a fun beach volleyball net. Sharky’s offers incredible seafood, cocktails, desserts, and more, all of which can be enjoyed out on the patio out at the beautiful sandy beaches.

Sunset Cruise
There’s nothing better than cruising down the bay at sunset, watching dolphins pop up just feet away from your catamaran. There are several companies that provide sunset (or daytime) cruises for you to interact with dolphins, snorkel off Shell Island, learn to paddle board, and so many more adventures.