Once you’ve been there it isn’t hard to see why Panama City Beach is ranked one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! This gorgeous Florida beach is full of sugar white sand, crystal clear waters, and luscious palm trees. Are you ready to read about the BEST things to do in Panama City Beach Florida?!
The post “Best Things to Do in Panama City Beach Florida” may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you). All opinions are my own and no products were received in exchange for my opinions. Click here to see details of my full disclosure policy.
If you’ve spent any time reading my travel blog A Capone Connection, then you know that I’m a beach girl! I’ve been to a lot of different beaches, and so far one of my FAVORITE places to go to the beach is Aruba.
If you aren’t looking to travel outside of the United States for your beach vacation, then my FAVORITE beaches in the United States are in Florida!
What you MUST SEE in Panama City Beach Florida
Although Panama City Beach has developed a reputation for being a party town, that’s not always the case. It is one of the MOST popular destinations in March and April for Spring Break, but it’s not like that all year round.
If you’re looking to party, there are definitely fun things and cool options available. There are also PLENTY of things to see and do in Panama City Beach if you are taking a couples trip or bringing the entire family. I’m going to share those options in this post.
One of the top things to do in Panama City Beach is to visit Shell Island. It is a 7-mile long, completely undeveloped, island in Florida. You can only get to it by private transportation, such as by boat or jet ski. You can buy tickets for the official Shell Island Shuttle at 5709 N Lagoon Drive, Panama City Beach, Florida 32408.
TripAdvisor ranks Shell Island #11 out of 40 things to do in Panama City Beach. You can swim, snorkel, see marine life and sand dunes, and explore the miles of coastline.
My favorite part about Shell Island is that it’s not commercialized. With that in mind… Please note: there aren’t any bathrooms on the island. If you’d like to catch a peek at what Shell Island looks like check out this video.
Cruise to Shell Island:
If you want a fun option to get to Shell Island then try the 3-hour Shell Island Snorkel & Dolphin Catamaran Cruise. This boat tour lets you sail to Shell Island on a 50 ft. catamaran tour boat, then snorkel in St. Andrews Bay. On this tour, you will likely see bottlenose dolphins, sand dollars, starfish, and more.
With island music and “Island Smash” rum punch, this is a great way to experience Shell Island!
If you want to enhance your Shell Island experience then you should try the Shell Island water park and dolphin-watching boat trip. This trip, not only gets you to Shell Island, but it is also a TON of fun. It’s a great place for fun with the whole family because it has an inflatable water park with water slides, kayaking, and paddle boarding activities. If your family loves water activities then THIS is the experience for you!
Pier Park is located at 600 Pier Park Drive, Panama City Beach, Florida 32413. It has over 250 entertainment options including shopping, restaurants, a sky wheel, the movies, and of course… the Pier. Pier Park ranks #9 out of 40 things to do in Panama City Beach on TripAdvisor.
Sometimes you plan a beach vacation and the weather doesn’t cooperate. I actually wrote an entire post about things to do when it’s too cold to go to the beach because this has happened to me before. Pier Park is a great spot to visit when it’s not a good day for the beach.
Some of my FAVORITE restaurants are located at Pier Park. Make sure you stop at Hook’d and get your drink in a pineapple while you’re there. CLICK HERE for all the details on 18+ Amazing Restaurants in Panama City Beach, FL.
Have you ever been on a SkyWheel? It’s a FUN way to see views from 200 feet in the air! TripAdvisor ranks the SkyWheel #15 out of 40 things to do in Panama City Beach. The SkyWheel is located at Pier Park.
The SkyWheel (Ferris wheel) is open all year long with its 30 climate-controlled, fully enclosed pods. Each pod holds up to 6 people and is private to you and your party. You can buy tickets to just the SkyWheel for $16.00 + tax, or you can get combo tickets to do the SkyWheel and the outdoor ropes course and/or mini golf. Check out the SkyWheel website for all your ticket options and times.
Russell-Fields City Pier
Russell Fields City Pier is located across the street from Pier Park. It stretches out 1,500 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. It costs $3.00 per person to have access to walk on the Pier. You can also pay to fish from the Pier. They have rental equipment available if you need it.
PRO TIP: Don't forget to pack sunscreen!
Conservation Park is located at 100 Conservation Drive, Panama City Beach, Florida 32413. At the park, you can hike or bike through 2900 acres to observe wetlands, wildlife, 24 miles of nature trails, and a mile of boardwalks that lead through Cypress domes.
TripAdvisor ranks Conservation Park #5 out of 40 things to do in Panama City Beach. Admission is FREE and they are open every day from dawn to dusk. There are a few different trail options so you decide how long or short you’d like your adventure to be.
This park is for nature lovers who enjoy exploring a nature trail and seeing animals in their natural habitat. They had a sign warning about the alligators, but we didn’t see any when we were there.
Make sure you take advantage of the picnic areas at the Florida State Parks! This is the perfect place to eat your giant sandwich from David’s Sno-balls restaurant. CLICK HERE to read about 18 Amazing Restaurants in Panama City Beach!
ZooWorld Zoological Conservatory
True Confession: I’m kind of scared of animals, BUT this was ZooWorld was one of my favorite things that we did in PCB!
Here’s why… they have interactive experiences with the animals. We got to feed a giraffe and pet goats. It was FUN!
You can get a small cup of food pellets to feed the goats, bunnies, alligators, and other animals.
For an added fee you can have some EVEN closer animal experiences. You can hold a lemur and pet a sloth!
Things to DO in Panama City Beach Florida
Boat & Jet Ski Rental
When I went to Shell Island I rented a private pontoon boat to get there and I recommend getting your own private transportation if you can. It’s the best way to get there. I wanted to be able to get to the Island and leave when I was ready. I also wanted to pack a wine and cheese picnic to eat on the boat. It was fun and I DEFINITELY recommend doing the private rental if you can. It was the best time!
I used Adventures at Sea for my boat rental. They had great reviews on TripAdvisor, tons of rental options, and they offered extra upgrades.
They also offer dolphin tours, sunset cruises, parasailing, and jet ski rentals. Honestly, if the water was warmer when I went then I would’ve rented jet skis to get to Shell Island on the open water.
Make sure you check their website because sometimes they have promotional codes for a 20% discount.
Panama City Beach Winery
I mentioned in my post about restaurants in Paris that I LOVE to go wine tasting when I travel. If you’ve never been wine tasting in Florida then you HAVE to try the FREE wine tasting at Panama City Beach Winery! TripAdvisor’s 2022 Traveler’s Choice winner is located at 8730 Thomas Drive. Ste. 1103B, Panama City Beach, Florida 32408.
The first time I went wine tasting in Florida I was surprised to find that it is unlike typical wines. Florida has a LOT of fruit wines.
Panama City Beach Winery has 100% real fruit wines made without sugars or added flavors. I recommend trying the wine slushy when you visit. They are open Monday – Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm.
Still unsure if you want to try wine tasting at the beach in Florida? As one of the most popular attractions, TripAdvisor ranks the Panama City Beach Winery #2 out of 40 things to do in Panama City Beach. Now go taste a wine slushy. Cheers!
EBike Happy Hour Tour
I believe that 1 thing you should do EVERY time you travel is take a tour. I even wrote an entire post about different the types of tours I have taken. This Ebike tour was unlike any tour I’ve taken before!
First, in case you are unfamiliar, “e-bike” is short for an electric bike. What’s an electric bike?! Think of it as if a bicycle and an electric scooter had a baby.
During this 2-hour Ebike tour, you get to learn about Panama City Beach from a local. The Ebikes are so easy to ride and these are designed to look a little like motorcycles.
Basically, you get to pretend you’re part of a family-friendly biker gang while you ride around the St. Andrews area of Panama City.
The tour begins and ends at Papa Joe’s Bayside so when the tour is finished you can enjoy a drink, and depending on the time of day, some live music.
Papa Joe's Bayside
Pap Joes Bayside is a really cool spot that overlooks St. Andrew’s bay. They have different food trucks, Tequila Joe’s mobile bar, lawn games to play, and one of my favorite things… LIVE MUSIC from Thursday through Sunday. I think this is one of the best places to hang out with friends.
Everything is outside and so much fun. You can sit on the beach at a fire pit or play outdoor games like cup pong or connect 4. When I was there I played cornhole (and I think I won, but don’t hold me to that).
You definitely have to check out their Instagram to see the upcoming events, the live music schedule, and which food trucks will be there.
My Favorite Place to Stay in Panama City Beach Florida
Quick Links for Panama City Beach Florida
LET’S CONNECT: Which one of the suggestions from “Best Things to Do in Panama City Beach Florida” do you think you’d definitely want to try?