12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Panama City Beach, FL | Vestasoft

Written by Lana Law
Sep 14, 2020

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Turquoise waves lapping at the gleaming white-sand beaches lining the oceanfront of Panama City Beach create a picture-perfect summer scene. From spring until fall, this small city on the Florida Panhandle is transformed into a true American beach town.

Families flock here from the inland areas of Florida and nearby states to lounge on the beaches and enjoy the numerous attractions and activities found here.

Since this is largely a summer resort area, most of the attractions are outdoors or water-related, and many of them are only open seasonally. If you are here in the off-season, you’ll still find plenty of things to do and lovely outdoor areas to explore.

Start your trip with our list of attractions in Panama City Beach.

See also: Where to Stay in Panama City Beach

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. The Beach panama city beach

The Beach | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Panama City’s beautiful beach is the centerpiece of the city and loved by locals and tourists of all ages, who come here to swim, play, relax, socialize, and soak up the sun.

Twenty-seven miles of dazzling white sand stretches along this section of the Gulf of Mexico at Panama City Beach, and the shallow waters are perfect for younger kids, inviting beyond belief in the summer heat.

One of the major landmarks along the waterfront is City Pier, where much of the hottest beach scene is centered, with beach volleyball games and young people hanging out and socializing.

Across the street from the wooden pier is Pier Park, with shops and restaurants. This can be a good place to break for lunch or catch some shade.

The beachfront hotels and condos that run up and down the shore fill up from spring until fall. If you are coming in the off-season to enjoy the view or the tranquility, these hotels offer steep discounts.

2. Pier Park panama city beach florida

Pier Park

Pier Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Pier Park, directly across from Russell-Fields Pier, best more commonly known as City Pier, is a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, with a tourist-oriented twist. If you are looking for a break from the beach, pics Pier Park is a convenient and pleasant distraction. It’s also the best place to visit on a cold or rainy day.

Pier Park is a lively place and a perfect place to shop and go for lunch or dinner. Most restaurants feature outdoor patios where you can catch the sea breeze.

Shopping options range from beach-themed apparel shops to high-end chain and department stores. Also on-site is the Pier Park Amusements, which features a variety of things to do, including rides and an IMAX theater.

Russell-Fields Pier, just across the street, juts out 1,500 feet into the sea. People access this pier primarily for fishing. Note that there is a fee to walk out onto the pier.

Location: Across from Russell-Fields Pier on Pier Park Drive

3. Gulf World Marine Park city beach florida

Gulf World Marine Park

Gulf World Marine Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Gulf World Marine Park is one of Panama City Beach’s shores top fun family attractions. The park has all kinds of sea life and free daily shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, and a variety of birds. Park residents include alligators, penguins, sharks, and many other exciting critters.

The park also offers exclusive coast hands-on and interactive experiences, including a 20,000-gallon stingray pool where visitors can not only pet the smooth, graceful fish but actually get to wade in the pool and snorkel beside them.

Interactive programs include the ever-popular travel swimming with the dolphins and the opportunity to get up close with adorable harbor seals or participate in a sea lion training session. If you’ve ever wanted to get a wet, sloppy kiss from a dolphin, this is the place to do it.

The park is open seasonally and closed between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Address: 15412 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, Florida

Official site: www.gulfworldmarinepark.com

4. St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island andrews state park

St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island

St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

St. Andrews State Park is a diverse area with a little of everything when it comes to beach activities along the Gulf of Mexico. Featuring shallow, protected areas for a relaxing swim or snorkel, and sections with larger waves for playing in, St. Andrews is the perfect place for anyone looking to enjoy the beach and ocean.

One of the most popular things to do in this park is exploring Shell Island, a 700-acre barrier island with a glorious stretch of beach. The Shell Island Shuttle runs every half hour during the summer, picking up and dropping off passengers. You can also rent a pontoon boat to get to Shell Island, a great option for families who want to explore the island at their own pace and do some snorkeling.

For those who aren’t as keen on navigating unknown waters, another great way to enjoy Shell Island is on the Shell Island Dolphin and Snorkel Excursion, which combines a relaxing dolphin-watching cruise in St. Andrews Bay with a visit to Shell Island’s best snorkeling spots. As an added convenience, guests are provided with all snorkeling equipment, and the guide is happy to provide helpful tips to make the most out of your time in the water.

Location: Three miles east of Panama City Beach, off State Road 392, on Thomas Drive

Official site: www.floridastateparks.org/park/St-Andrews

5. Boat Tours, Kayaking, Canoeing, and Stand Up Paddleboarding city beach

Kayaks in Panama City Beach

Kayaks in Panama City Beach | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

To add a little fun and excitement to your holiday, boat tours are a great way to see some marine life, access snorkeling sites, or do some sailing. Excursions range from dolphin sightseeing tours and Shell Island dolphin and snorkel trips to Sea-Doo, canoe, kayak, and stand up paddleboard rentals.

Fishing charters are offered by several companies, and catamaran sailing trips are also popular, particularly sunset sails. For families, the Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise is a kid’s themed pirate ship with two-hour sailings and on-board activities for children. Again, many of these are season specific and are not offered in the low season, and reservations are highly recommended.

A particularly good boat excursion is the Sunset Catamaran Sail, popular with families but also an incredibly romantic outing for couples. The sail departs late in the afternoon on a Privateer catamaran, and guests can enjoy a complimentary beverage while enjoying the ambiance of island music and keeping an eye out for dolphins. As the sun goes down, passengers get an unparalleled view of the colors as it dips beneath the horizon over the Gulf.

6. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

The newly renovated Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is a great rainy day outing or a break from the sun, and one of the more quirky things to do in Panama City Beach.

This facility, designed in the shape of a ship, has four main attractions: the Odditorium, with traditional Ripley’s oddities; the 7D Moving Theatre, which is more of a ride than just a movie-watching experience; the Impossible LaseRace, with a laser obstacle course; and the Marvelous Mirror Maze, where lights and creatively placed mirrors make finding your way out more than just a minor challenge.

Ticket prices vary depending on what attractions you want to participate in, but combo tickets for all four attractions are available.

Address: 9907 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, Florida

Official site: www.ripleys.com/panamacitybeach

7. Shipwreck Island Park pictures

Shipwreck Island Park

Shipwreck Island Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

On a hot summer day, this water park is a welcome treat, with a lazy river, raging river, and wave pool, as well as all kinds of water-based rides and slides.photographers

Skull Island features a beach family pool with a kiddie slide, racing slide, beach and a giant tipping bucket, while Tadpole Hole photos is a children’s pool with activities for younger kids.florida 

Shipwreck Island has been in business here for decades and is a great family outing, panama designed to satisfy children of all ages.background 

Next door, Goofy Golf is a photos fun place to play while you dry off, home to two 18-hole mini-golf courses. A local family attraction since 1959, it is also one of the least expensive family attractions on the Miracle Strip and doubles as a play-park panama with huge statues that children can play on and climb.

Address: 12201 panama Hutchison Boulevard, Panama City Beach, Florida

Official site: www.shipwreckisland.com

8. Coconut Creek photos Family Fun Park images

The maze at Coconut Creek Family Fun Park

The maze at Coconut Creek Family Fun Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

An outing to Coconut Creek Family Fun Park is a great off-the-beach option for families visiting with children. The park has mini-golf, with two 18-hole courses, and a large outdoor maze.florida 

The mini-golf courses are images two of the best in town, with extensive water features and enormous African animal statues. If you’ve never had the experience of being in a giant maze, the outdoor version here will more than fulfill the need. Viewing platforms fl over the maze let observers watch the action from above.categories

In the same vicinity are Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, in the design of a ship, and WonderWorks, with their signature upside down building.editorial

Other nearby family beach attractions include Race City, a carnival-style amusement park with ticketed rides, including a Ferris wheel, bumper boats, beach and kiddie rides. Cobra Adventure Park is a smaller family park,beach which offers mini-golf and a roller coaster for younger children, and both parks feature go-karts, thrill rides, panama and video game arcades.videos 

Address: 9807 panama Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, Florida

Official site: https://coconutcreekfun.com

9. Water Planet hotels

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin

Water Planet offers full-day panama swim-with-the-dolphin programs, which include an educational aspect, a boat tour, and a side trip to Shell Island.panama city beach

Unlike Gulf World Marine Park, participants swim with the dolphins in their natural ocean habitat rather than in enclosures.panama city beach pictures

Staff members, who include interns, take time to educate guests on the dolphins and safety precautions before getting in the water.panama city beach florida

This is a particularly good activity to do with kids, who get to learn about sea life while having fun. A favorite part of these excursions is helping spot pods of dolphins, then jumping in the ocean to interact with these friendly mammals.panama city beach photos

Tours also visit a few other sightseeing spots in the area for snorkeling or shelling. stock pictures royalty-free

Address: 203 Greenwood Drive, Panama City Beach, Florida pictures royalty-free photos

Official site: www.waterplanetusa.com

10. Panama City Beach (PCB) Conservation Park coast

PCB Conservation Park
PCB Conservation Park

With just under 3,000 beach acres of uplands and wetlands, PCB Conservation Park offers a range of outdoor recreational opportunities,beach from hiking and biking to bird-watching and wildlife spotting.

The park has a dozen well-maintained trails,beach which range from approximately a half mile to 12 miles in length,beach a total of 24 miles in all.beach panama city

Several of these have sections of boardwalk, beach which are especially convenient beach for strollers and wheelchairs, and most of the dirt paths are reasonably level, making them suitable for anyone. downtown panama city

Towering pine trees dominate some trails, beach providing shade on hot days, and there are shaded picnic areas as well as restrooms for visitor use.city beach panama

Another great advantage beach of this park is that there is no admission fee,beach and guided Audubon walks are available, as well as regular naturalist programs. images panama city

Dogs are permitted, but must be leashed. andrews state park

Address: 100 Conservation Drive, Panama City Beach, Florida panama city florida

11. ZooWorld stock 



Another option for an off-the-beach beach activity on a cooler day is a trip to ZooWorld. This is a relatively small zoo with beach an entertaining selection of animals, which include giraffes, tigers, lions, tropical birds, reptiles, and many other lovable critters.

The park has made significant beach improvements, and the newest change is a larger lion enclosure along with a new crested porcupine nursery and a place to see baby cranes.

The zoo’s main beach focus is on its close-up encounters, which are popular with kids and animal-lovers of all ages.city beach

These include giraffe beach feeding from an elevated platform, lemur snuggling, sloth petting, alligator feeding,beach and a walk through an aviary with tropical birds flying above. city beach

Most of these animal interaction beach activities involve an extra fee, but are well worth the money.city beach florida

Address: 9008 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, Florida

Official site: http://zooworldpcb.com

12. WonderWorks beach Panama City Beach 

The building itself makes WonderWorks one of Panama City Beach’s best-known landmarks, a topsy-turvy architectural feat that adds whimsical charm to the landscape. Far more than just another place to bring the kids to work off their energy on a rainy or super-hot day, WonderWorks is more like a giant playground-meets-science museum.

Families can experience interactive learning together, from exciting rides that prove the properties of physics to creating a mural with a wall of backlit colored pegs. Top exhibits include a Tesla coil, where you can put your hand into 100,000 volts of electricity; an Army Blackhawk simulator; and the Space Discovery area, where you can put on an astronaut’s EVA suit and climb in a replica Mercury capsule.

Additional areas are geared toward younger children, like the Bubble Lab and games in the Imagination Lab.

Address: 9910 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, Florida

Official site: www.wonderworksonline.com

Where to Stay in Panama City Beach for Sightseeing

We recommend these highly rated hotels and resorts along the gulf and the bay in Panama City Beach:

  • Sheraton Bay Point Resort: This 4-star resort offers a private bay beach, golf and tennis club, beautiful pools, bike rental, and a full-service spa and salon.
  • Osprey on the Gulf: A great mid-range beachfront resort, Osprey on the Gulf has friendly staff, full kitchens, ocean-view pools, balconies facing the sea, and a family games and BBQ area. Right next door and owned by the same family is The Driftwood Lodge on the Gulf.
  • Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach: Enjoy the palm-lined pool, colorful splash park, kids’ activities, and live entertainment at this affordable beachfront hotel.
  • Hampton Inn & Suites beach Panama City Beach: This budget beachfront hotel is set in a fantastic location and features bright decor, and a lovely ocean-view pool.

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