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Best Things To Do in Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach's sugar white sand is what primarily attracts families, couples and spring breakers year after year. But this vacation haven isn't just for beach bums. Outdoor adventurers will have plenty of land to explore at Conservation Park and the undeveloped Shell Island, while animal lovers can hop aboard dolphin sightseeing cruises or learn more about the area's various sea creatures at the Gulf World Marine Park. Those traveling with kids in tow will have plenty to do, too. When little ones aren't busy building sandcastles on the beach, they can marvel at the oddities at Ripley's Believe It or Not! or swoosh down water slides at Shipwreck Island Waterpark.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Panama City Beach

St. Andrews State Park has enough attractions and activities to keep every member of your family happy. Along with a nearly 2-mile-long white sand beach, the park also boasts paved bike trails, marked hiking trails, water sports equipment rentals (including canoes, kayaks and snorkeling gear) and shuttle boat tours to Shell Island, a 7-mile long undeveloped barrier island. Additionally, the park provides a concession stand with snacks, souvenirs and fishing supplies.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
St. Andrews State Park
St. Andrews State Park has enough attractions and activities to keep every member of your family happy. Along with a nearly 2-mile-long white sand beach, the park also boasts paved bike trails, marked hiking trails, water sports equipment rentals (including canoes, kayaks and snorkeling gear) and shuttle boat tours to Shell Island, a 7-mile long undeveloped barrier island. Additionally, the park provides a concession stand with snacks, souvenirs and fishing supplies.
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#2
Beaches Free

#2 in Panama City Beach

Free
With 27 miles of beaches and nearly 100 access points, PCB is a beach bum's paradise. You won't have a difficult time finding a stretch of sand to park your towel; in fact, you may have a harder time deciding on what shoreline to relax.
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Beaches
With 27 miles of beaches and nearly 100 access points, PCB is a beach bum's paradise. You won't have a difficult time finding a stretch of sand to park your towel; in fact, you may have a harder time deciding on what shoreline to relax.
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#3

#3 in Panama City Beach

Though you can see and interact with dolphins at the Gulf World Marine Park, locals and visitors will tell you: there's nothing like observing them in the wild. Dolphin tours are a popular to-do in Panama City Beach, and often described by travelers as their favorite experience in PCB.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Dolphin Tours
Though you can see and interact with dolphins at the Gulf World Marine Park, locals and visitors will tell you: there's nothing like observing them in the wild. Dolphin tours are a popular to-do in Panama City Beach, and often described by travelers as their favorite experience in PCB.
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#4

#4 in Panama City Beach

If you need a break from the crowds in Panama City Beach, consider making the short trip to Shell Island. This 7-mile-long barrier island runs east to west between the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrew Bay. Because it's undeveloped, you'll find plenty of coastal creatures and untouched vegetation, plus miles of pearly white sand to sink your toes into. While recent visitors said the natural setting was a relaxing reprieve from the busy, commercialized feel of the mainland, it isn't without a few drawbacks. Shell Island has no restrooms, concession stands, trash receptacles, picnic tables or shade pavilions, meaning you'll need to come with everything you need (and take it back with you when you head back across the bay).
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Shell Island
If you need a break from the crowds in Panama City Beach, consider making the short trip to Shell Island. This 7-mile-long barrier island runs east to west between the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrew Bay. Because it's undeveloped, you'll find plenty of coastal creatures and untouched vegetation, plus miles of pearly white sand to sink your toes into. While recent visitors said the natural setting was a relaxing reprieve from the busy, commercialized feel of the mainland, it isn't without a few drawbacks. Shell Island has no restrooms, concession stands, trash receptacles, picnic tables or shade pavilions, meaning you'll need to come with everything you need (and take it back with you when you head back across the bay).
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#5

#5 in Panama City Beach

Free
When you're ready to explore more of PCB's nature, head to Conservation Park. As a safeguard for wetlands, wildlife and pine forest, the park is a natural filter, balancing treated water before it travels to the St. Andrews Bay. This nearly 3,000-acre park features 12 different trails of varying difficultly and eight boardwalks totaling more than a mile in length. Bring binoculars – you'll likely spot plenty of birds and wildlife in the wetlands area.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Conservation Park
When you're ready to explore more of PCB's nature, head to Conservation Park. As a safeguard for wetlands, wildlife and pine forest, the park is a natural filter, balancing treated water before it travels to the St. Andrews Bay. This nearly 3,000-acre park features 12 different trails of varying difficultly and eight boardwalks totaling more than a mile in length. Bring binoculars – you'll likely spot plenty of birds and wildlife in the wetlands area.
... more

#6

#6 in Panama City Beach

Consistently described by visitors as a great place for families, Shipwreck Island Waterpark is a 20-acre facility that features a wave pool, a lazy river, several water slides and flumes, and two shallow pools perfect for novice swimmers. True to its name, it's also home to a replica of a 17th-century sailing ship that allows swimmers to zip line off the ship before dropping into a large lagoon pool. Along with the rides, the park also boasts concessions (though reviewers were not as impressed with the food as they were the attractions).
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Amusement Parks Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Shipwreck Island Waterpark
Consistently described by visitors as a great place for families, Shipwreck Island Waterpark is a 20-acre facility that features a wave pool, a lazy river, several water slides and flumes, and two shallow pools perfect for novice swimmers. True to its name, it's also home to a replica of a 17th-century sailing ship that allows swimmers to zip line off the ship before dropping into a large lagoon pool. Along with the rides, the park also boasts concessions (though reviewers were not as impressed with the food as they were the attractions).
... more

#7

#7 in Panama City Beach

As with other coastal Florida cities, Panama City Beach is a prime spot for both avid and novice anglers to cast a line. Though you can fish from the piers along the beach and at St. Andrew Bay or directly from the shore (with the proper fishing license), there are also several charter companies that can transport you out into the Gulf of Mexico (perfect for if you want to try your hand at deep-sea fishing).
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Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Fishing Charters
As with other coastal Florida cities, Panama City Beach is a prime spot for both avid and novice anglers to cast a line. Though you can fish from the piers along the beach and at St. Andrew Bay or directly from the shore (with the proper fishing license), there are also several charter companies that can transport you out into the Gulf of Mexico (perfect for if you want to try your hand at deep-sea fishing).
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#8

#8 in Panama City Beach

Free
PCB is first and foremost a beach destination. But when you need a break from the sun and surf (or if some clouds thwart your plans), the area has a bevy of attractions to keep you entertained away from the shoreline. Case in point: Pier Park. An outdoor retail, dining and entertainment hub, Pier Park is home to familiar chain restaurants like Olive Garden, Subway and Five Guys, along with popular stores like Charming Charlie, Dillard's and Old Navy, among others. When you need a reprieve from shopping, head to Pier Park Amusements, the on-site theme park (a hit with recent visitors). It features a giant slide, a small roller coaster and a free-fall ride, along with more gentle attractions for young children
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Amusement Parks Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Pier Park
PCB is first and foremost a beach destination. But when you need a break from the sun and surf (or if some clouds thwart your plans), the area has a bevy of attractions to keep you entertained away from the shoreline. Case in point: Pier Park. An outdoor retail, dining and entertainment hub, Pier Park is home to familiar chain restaurants like Olive Garden, Subway and Five Guys, along with popular stores like Charming Charlie, Dillard's and Old Navy, among others. When you need a reprieve from shopping, head to Pier Park Amusements, the on-site theme park (a hit with recent visitors). It features a giant slide, a small roller coaster and a free-fall ride, along with more gentle attractions for young children
... more
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#9

#9 in Panama City Beach

If you love dolphins, you'll want to schedule a stop at Gulf World Marine Park. Though the park houses several other species, including sea turtles, stingrays, sharks and sea lions, dolphins are the main attraction here, and one of the major reasons visitors recommend spending a few hours at the park. Similar to SeaWorld, the Gulf World Marine Park hosts animal shows (dolphins and sea lions are the only animals that perform), feeding demonstrations and opportunities to swim with the dolphins and interact with the park's other residents, including a variety of birds and reptiles.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Gulf World Marine Park
If you love dolphins, you'll want to schedule a stop at Gulf World Marine Park. Though the park houses several other species, including sea turtles, stingrays, sharks and sea lions, dolphins are the main attraction here, and one of the major reasons visitors recommend spending a few hours at the park. Similar to SeaWorld, the Gulf World Marine Park hosts animal shows (dolphins and sea lions are the only animals that perform), feeding demonstrations and opportunities to swim with the dolphins and interact with the park's other residents, including a variety of birds and reptiles.
... more

#10

#10 in Panama City Beach

Though Ripley's isn't unique to Panama City Beach, it is a favorite rainy day activity among families with young kids. Inside, you'll find oddities like shrunken heads, one-of-a-kind artwork and other interesting artifacts synonymous with the Ripley name. Along with the hands-on displays, this outpost is also home to a 7-D moving theater, the LaserRace Challenge and a mirror maze, if you're willing to pay extra.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Though Ripley's isn't unique to Panama City Beach, it is a favorite rainy day activity among families with young kids. Inside, you'll find oddities like shrunken heads, one-of-a-kind artwork and other interesting artifacts synonymous with the Ripley name. Along with the hands-on displays, this outpost is also home to a 7-D moving theater, the LaserRace Challenge and a mirror maze, if you're willing to pay extra.
... more
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