Beaches#2 in Best Things To Do in Panama City Beach
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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.
If you want to stay close to the downtown area, head to Front Beach Road. From here, you'll find a bevy of convenient Panama City Beach access points and street parking. To experience Florida's coastal beauty at its most natural, hop a shuttle boat to Shell Island. This barrier island off of St. Andrews State Park is undeveloped with few crowds and a peaceful atmosphere, according to recent visitors. Plus, it's a haven for dolphins. For even more undeveloped land, head to Camp Helen State Park, which sits on the far western border of Panama City Beach. Along with a quiet beach, it's also home to trails that snake through dunes and scrub oak forests, not to mention a rare dune lake.
If you rented a car while in town, Mexico Beach, which is located about 35 miles east of PCB, is another option if you're hoping to escape the crowds. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico Beach prides itself on its small-town atmosphere (it has no traffic lights and is chock full of independent shops and restaurants).
No matter where you choose to enjoy the sun and surf, you'll feel the area's signature sugar white sand between your toes. The sand inherits its hue and soft texture from the immense amounts of quartz crystals that wash down from the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. All beaches are free to enjoy. To see a full list of beach access points, check out the Panama City Beach visitors bureau website.
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#1 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.
Recent visitors described the park as beautiful and praised the clean beach and facilities. Reviewers said the park can get quite crowded on the weekends and advised visiting during the week if your itinerary allows. And keep your eyes peeled for plenty of wildlife: travelers said there was a lot of activity in and out of the water from local animals like alligators, heron, ibis and white tail deer.
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