Panama City Beach: More Bang For Your Vacation Buck

By: Jill Martin


Panama City Beach is one of those great beach towns that once you arrive, you think, “Wow, this is fantastic! We should come here every year!” Then, after your vacation is over you think, “Gee, that was really affordable! We are definitely coming back every year!”

Affordable family fun is what Panama City Beach is all about. My boys and I were here a few weeks ago to film a new Insider video, and honestly, none of us wanted to leave. We loved our PCB experience! Here are the places we visited:

The Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach is ideal for families. The resort offers affordable and spacious rooms with refrigerator and microwave, free all day kids club, kids eat free onsite with meal vouchers and their location is central. Oh and free dive-in movies, Polynesian fire shows, magic shows and more.

Gulf World Marine Park is an institution in PCB – and filled with fun creatures big and small, from dolphins to Otto the sea lion (who thinks he’s a dolphin!) and flamingos to stingrays. The animal shows are really entertaining, and they also feature a very special magic show by Noah Wells.

Noah Wells is the youngest U.S. recipient to ever win the coveted Merlin Award – magic’s highest honor! Previous recipients include Chris Angel, Penn & Teller and David Copperfield. Noah is fantastic! Your admission to Gulf World includes admission to see Noah Wells. You can also catch him at the Holiday Inn Resort.

Pier Park is the largest outdoor entertainment venue in Northwest Florida. It is 1million square feet of shops, restaurants, movies, cafes, and it’s right across the street from the beach. At the far end of Pier Park, you’ll find Miracle Strip with its famous rides of yesteryear like the Tilt-a-whirl, carousel and Ferris wheel, along with a beautiful Butterfly Pavilion. Insider Tip: Each fall millions of monarch butterflies migrate through this area on their way to South America. It is unbelievable. There are monarchs everywhere! Even at the beach! Visit next fall if you can.

Race City is a must-stop for families. This place has something to please everyone, every age. It’s PCB’s largest fun center and arcade complete with go-karts, spinning bumper cars, Sky Coaster, black light mini golf, a year-round haunted house and bumper boats! For those adrenaline junkies with a driver’s license, check out the dragster (our camera crew did)! It’s one of the most exhilarating things to do in Panama City Beach. Hold on tight, as you put the pedal to the metal and travel from 0-70 mph in under three seconds! Holy smokes! We loved it so much, we returned the next day before catching our flight home.

Visiting Panama City Beach is easy, too. The Northwest Beaches International Airport just opened last year so you can fly right in on either Delta or Southwest.

Insider note: PCB can get crazy in spring with the college crowd (after all, it’s affordable, the beaches are gorgeous and it’s sunny 340 days a year). As a mom, I'd recommend visiting outside of the spring break window!

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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