15 Best Things To Do In Panama City, Florida

things to do in panama city florida
Claire
Claire 
Updated

If you’re past college age, Panama City, Florida may not seem too appealing for a vacation. When the name comes to mind, many merely think of spring break, crazy kids, and heading to the beach every single day. Luckily, Panama City has much more to offer than that, and great activities the whole family can enjoy. Read on to find out about the best things to do in Panama City, Florida.

1. Learn fascinating stories about old Panama City at Bay County Historical Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Bay County Historical Society on Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bay County Historical Museum is one of the many sites managed by the Historical Society of Bay County in line with their mission to educate the public about the city’s historical significance. This small museum on Harrison Avenue features rotating exhibits that visitors can enjoy for free. On one occasion, they featured the history of railways, buses, and boats that are part of the county’s Bay Line. In the past years, they have covered shows and displays about paper, pottery, glassware, and so on. Historians, authors, and organizations sometimes hold a talk in the museum. Satisfy your curiosity about Bay County and drop by the museum.

Bay County Historical Museum

Address: 133 Harrison Ave, Panama City, FL 32401, United States

Website: Bay County Historical Museum

Opening hours: Tue, Thu & Sat: 10am - 1pm

Price: Free

2. Sail away with Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Pirate Cruise "Sea Dragon" on Saturday, June 20, 2020

Pirate life is as exciting to adults as it is to kids. Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise offers you the rare chance of getting on a real-life pirate ship and sailing away on Panama waters. Onboard, the kids don’t just sit around; they get real action. They will learn sword fighting, reading maps, firing cannon toys, finding treasures, shooting with water guns, and partying like a pirate. As for you, you can participate in the merrymaking, listen to pirate songs, and treat yourself to a pint of beer in the bar. The entire family will enjoy the view in this two-hour voyage, for sure.

Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise

Address: 5325 N Lagoon Dr, Panama City, FL 32408, United States

Website: Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 9am - 5pm; Mon: 9am - 1pm (closed on Sun)

Price: From 13 USD

3. Ride a giant ferris wheel at SkyWheel Panama City Beach

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

February is Go Red for Women Month, Heart Disease Awareness and Congenital Heart Defect Awareness month. SkyWheel will...

Posted by SkyWheel Panama City Beach on Friday, February 12, 2021

A unique way of catching a top view of Panama City is to ride the famous giant Ferris wheel of SkyWheel Panama City Beach. This pier park lets you conquer your fear of heights comfortably. The cabins that fit up to six people are safely enclosed and airconditioned. Visit the pier park, take the big leap, and don’t forget to take a snap when you reach the top. Apart from the iconic Ferris wheel, the park offers other entertainment options, such as mini-golf and rope courses. Experience thrill and fun with family and friends at SkyWheel Panama City Beach.

SkyWheel Panama City Beach

Address: 15700 L C Hilton Jr Dr, Panama City Beach, FL 32413, United States

Website: SkyWheel Panama City Beach

Opening hours: 11am - 8pm (daily)

4. Play with dolphins at Gulf World Marine Park

Dolphins
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

While you may be able to get a peak at a dolphin or two while swimming at Panama City Beach, the place where you can view dolphins up close, swim and play with them is at Gulf Wold Marine Park. There, the park offers several different interactive dolphin programs, shows, and educational chats. You can also pay general admission to just browse their assortment of marine life, including coral reef fish, sharks, turtles and stingrays. Adult and senior tickets are 24 USD, children are 14 USD, and those under the age of four can receive admission for free.

Gulf World Marine Park

Address: 15412 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Website: Gulf World Marine Park

5. Learn about the history of diving at Man in the Sea Museum

Man in the Sea Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ebyabe used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Whether you’re a diver or history buff, Man in the Sea Museum is a great Panama spot that’ll teach you about the history of diving. Kids will love climbing through the submarines on display, and everyone will get to see the types of equipment and suits that were initially developed for divers. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, and tickets are 5 USD for general population and 4.50 USD for seniors 65+. Children six and under receive admission for free.

Man in the Sea Museum

Address: 17314 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Website: Man in the Sea Museum

6. Relax at St. Andrews State Park

St Andrews State Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Balon Greyjoy used under CC0

For more a nature-centric trip to the beach, you’ll want to visit St. Andrews State Park. Since it’s not the popular Panama City Beach, it’ll be less crowded and a little more relaxing, especially if you’re with the entire family. The park also offers a multitude of activities other than laying out and swimming, including camping, picnicking, fishing, boating and biking. You’re sure to find the best spot to relax with over one and a half miles (2.4 km) of beach as part of the park.

St. Andrews State Park

Address: 4607 State Park Lane, Panama City Beach, FL 32408

Website: St. Andrews State Park

7. Bring the kids to WonderWorks

Wonderworks
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Evan Nichols (Vir... used under CC BY 3.0

WonderWorks should be a must-see spot on your list if you’re headed to Panama City with kids. Before you even step inside, everyone will be amazed to see the building is actually upside down! Most everything is inverted once you enter as well, just adding to the fun atmosphere. WonderWorks incorporates science and interactive exhibits to allow kids to learn, play, and even get some exercise. Some of the special activities include a glow-in-the-dark ropes course, laser tag arena, and bumper cart racing. General admission is 27.99 USD for adults and 21.99 USD for children and seniors.

WonderWorks Panama City Beach

Address: 9910 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407

Website: WonderWorks

8. Dolphin therapy at Water Planet

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you didn’t get enough of the dolphins at Gulf World Marine Park, Water Planet is another great spot to swim with them and be able to interact up-close. The site offers one-day swims with dolphins, a sunset cruise and dolphin tour, and a three-day dolphin swim program. If you live nearby to Panama City Beach, it’s also great to know that Water Planet offers dolphin therapy to aid children with a variety of emotional and mental disabilities, such as autism, manic depression and ADHD. Prices for the different programs vary, and Water Planet can be contacted online and via phone.

Water Planet

Address: 203 Greenwood Dr, Panama City Beach, FL 32407

Website: Water Planet

9. Take the shuttle to Shell Island

Shell Island
Source: Photo by user Jerry Bedwell used under CC BY-ND 2.0

If St. Andrews State Park interested you, Shell Island is only a quick shuttle ride away. The shuttle leaves the state park every 30 minutes, every day of the week. Once on the island, you can rent snorkel gear, kayaks and pontoon boats. Infants are free to ride on the shuttle, adult tickets are 18.95 USD and children 12 and under are 9.95 USD. The island can also offer a simple change of view from the St. Andrews beaches, since the island offers beach chair and tent rentals at different sites.

Shell Island

Address: 4607 State Park Circle, Panama City Beach, FL 32408

Website: Shell Island

10. Get to know the animals at Zoo World

Zoo World
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Itching to see more than just dolphins while in Panama City? Luckily, there’s Zoo World. With more than 200 animals such as giraffes, llamas, tigers, lions and wolves, you might not feel like you’re in Florida anymore. For an extra fee, the zoo also offers fun up-close encounters with some of the animals, where you’re able to either feed or hold them. Zoo World is open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm, and admission is 16.95 USD for adults, 15.95 USD for seniors, and 12.95 USD for children.

Zoo World

Address: 9008 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, FL 32407

Website: Zoo World

11. Mix it up at Shipwreck Island

Shipwreck Island
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mwl0410 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Shipwreck island is a great option for some wet fun in the sun if you’re tired of the beach. The waterpark offers a variety of rides for everyone’s comfort level, including a lazy beach and wave pool or some more daring water slides and flume activities. The park’s hours differ throughout the year, but it is steadily open from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm in the summertime. Admission also ranges based on height, and group rates are available during every season except summer.

Shipwreck Island

Address: 12201 Hutchison Blvd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407

Website: Shipwreck Island

12. Be active at Conservation Park

Panama City Beach, Florida
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user j.s. clark used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Conservation Park is a great spot if you’re looking to stay active while visiting Panamcy City and view all the nature that Florida has to offer. The park encompasses 2,900 acres (1,174 hectares) of protected Florida West Bay Ecosystem and wildlife, and offers 12 different trail routes that are free to use and open from sunrise to sunset.

Conservation Park

Address: 100 Conservation Dr, Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Website: Conservation Park

13. Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach, Florida (J.S. Clark)
Source: Photo by user j.s. clark used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Last but certainly not least, you can’t visit Panama City Beach without actually heading to the beach. Although most well-known for unforgettable spring break trips, the beach is still a great vacation spot no matter who you are or where you’re from. The 27 miles (43 km) of sandy beaches have been noted as some of America’s most beautiful beaches, and with plenty of hotels and restaurants nearby you could arguably spend an entire week within walking distance of the ocean.

Panama City Beach

Address: Panama City Beach, FL

Website: Panama City Beach

14. Retail therapy at Pier Park Mall

Pier Park, Panama City Beach
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Olin Gilbert used under CC BY 2.0

Pier Park Mall has something for everyone and the kids will enjoy The Grand Theatre and amusement area. You can take in a movie and lots of restaurants and bars are open, offering great food and relaxation. From pretzels to seafood, grills and classy cuisine, you won’t be disappointed. Conveniently located near the beach, it’s a nice way to get out the sun for a bit and do some shopping. There is plenty of parking and over 70 shops. The Sky Wheel outside gives great views over the area and is fun for the whole family. Pick up some souvenirs of your visit, grab a meal and have fun.

Pier Park

Address: 600 Pier Park Dr. Ste 125, Panama City Beach, FL 32413-2179

Website: Pier Park

15. Paddle board for half a day

paddle boarding
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Get out on the water for a half day by renting a paddleboard. If you book with the family-owned business, Panama City Beach SUP, they can arrange pickup and delivery from anywhere in town. The instructors for the boarding are professional and friendly, so it’s ideal for first-timers. Teens go crazy for it and you can arrange it all online. Take the tour if you have time as you follow the creek to Cypress Springs which is stunning with beautiful scenery. If you have smaller kids, this may be the best option as the instructors/guides do help out. It’s fun and relaxing all at the same time.

Panama City Beach SUP

Address: 11800 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407-0600

Website: Panama City Beach SUP

More than a spring break destination

If you’re planning a trip to Panama City Beach, know that it has much more to offer than sand, salt or spring break adventures. The town has so many different attractions for the entire family, that it will probably be hard to pack everything into one visit.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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