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Long a favorite for Spring Break, Panama City is one of the biggest oceanfront vacation destinations in Northwest Florida. The area encompasses three distinctly different communities, each with a very different appeal for visitors. Panama City Beach is the oceanfront barrier island, packed with condos, restaurants, and tourist-oriented family fun activities, including the popular Zoo World and Gulf World Marine Park. St. Andrews, on St. Andrews Bay, is a quaint historic seaport with restaurants, shops, parks, and a marina packed into a handful of very picturesque city blocks. Savor the view of the bay from a waterfront restaurant or the ...

Long a favorite for Spring Break, Panama City is one of the biggest oceanfront vacation destinations in Northwest Florida. The area encompasses three distinctly different communities, each with a very different appeal for visitors. Panama City Beach is the oceanfront barrier island, packed with condos, restaurants, and tourist-oriented family fun activities, including the popular Zoo World and Gulf World Marine Park. St. Andrews, on St. Andrews Bay, is a quaint historic seaport with restaurants, shops, parks, and a marina packed into a handful of very picturesque city blocks. Savor the view of the bay from a waterfront restaurant or the boardwalk at the city park. Panama City’s downtown has a 1920s feel, and is off the beaten path for most visitors but worth the detour for antiquing and the arts. The sparkling beaches stretch from St. Andrews State Park to Camp Helen State Park, and are best enjoyed in these natural venues—especially at Camp Helen, a lesser-known access point along a coastal dune lake where a “Loch Ness” type sea creature was spotted in the 1950s. With shipwrecks galore and deep water near shore, the area is popular for diving and deep sea fishing.

Sandra Friend
About the Expert

Sandra Friend has written 12 books about Florida, including the Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press) series to Florida.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Fall, winter, and spring