By Dalia Colón
With 27 miles of Gulf shoreline, plus shopping, entertainment and recreation options galore, it’s no wonder Panama City Beach attracts visitors from all over the world. And where people travel, man’s best friend isn’t far behind.
Here are some activities you’ll both enjoy.
Indulge in some re-tail therapy at this outdoor destination for shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Although dogs aren’t allowed inside most stores (except for service animals, of course), you pup can strut her stuff on the outdoor walkways and inside Ron Jon Surf Shop. 600 Pier Park Drive, (850) 236-9979, simon.com/mall/pier-park.
This beach across from Pier Park offers 400 feet of the Gulf Coast’s soft white sand. Leashed pets can frolic in the surf, take in the breeze and socialize with other dogs. The park is located on Front Beach Road at beach entrance 57, (850) 624-3219, bayfwd.org.
This 200-acre sports facility offers amenities ranging from nine baseball fields to a playground to a fishing pond to an Olympic-sized swimming pool. For canine visitors, there are two fenced-in, off-leash play areas—one for high-energy large pets, and a second for smaller dogs and older large dogs. In addition, there are two miles of dog-friendly trails. 16200 Panama City Beach Parkway, (850) 233-5045, www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/things-to-do/parks/frank-brown-park/
Get back to nature when you visit this 2,900-acre preserve. Leashed dogs are welcome on the dozen trail routes, so you both can observe the birds that flock to the wetlands. 100 Conservation Drive, (850) 233-5045, pcbgov.com.
This weekly farmers’ market has not one but four locations in Greater Panama City Beach, all of which are dog-friendly. You and your leashed pet can stroll the stalls full of local produce, freshly baked breads, flowers and other goodies when and where it suits you. (850) 499-4697. For locations, see Facebook.com/30aFarmersMarket.
This yearround farmers market is so popular that it outgrew its old space. Stop by its new location on the shore of Grand Lagoon to see what all the fuss is about. You can browse the selection of produce, jewelry, soap and other locally crafted items, while your dog socializes. Drop by this pet-friendly market on Saturdays and Sundays during fall, winter and spring, and in the summer on Saturdays only. 5551 North Lagoon Drive, Panama City Beach, (850) 481-6848, waterfrontmarkets.org.
DOG-FRIENDLY ANNUAL EVENTS
Before your dog’s social calendar fills up, pencil in these events where pets are sure to have a tail-waggin’ good time every year.
In February, dozens of Florida’s best food trucks converge on Aaron Bessant Park for a weekend of bites and brews. Leashed dogs are welcome at this family-friendly event.
On the weekend before Fat Tuesday, celebrate Mardi Gras Florida-style with two days of parades, costume contests and live music. The festival is family- and pet-friendly—although you may want to take skittish pets home before the nightly fireworks displays.
Grab a lawn chair, a cooler full of cold drinks and your favorite pup, and head to Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater. Each Thursday during the summer, you and your pet can jam to live music ranging from rock to country to blues to soul.
Arrrgh you ready for three days of swashbuckling fun? On Columbus Day Weekend, Pier Park and Grand Lagoon host this pirate invasion that includes parades, live music, a 5k race, an 8,000 beach ball drop from the sky, fireworks and more. There’s even a pirate pet parade; just bring plastic bags to clean up any messes on the poop deck.
Each Dec. 31, revelers gather in Pier Park to enjoy live music, fireworks and two ball drops—one at midnight, and one at a more family-friendly 8 p.m. In the new year, resolve to spend even more quality time with your pooch.
For more pet-friendly things to do in Northwest Florida, check out visitpanamacitybeach.com.
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