15 Best Things to Do in Panama City, FL

Panama City, FL
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Panama City is located within the county seat of Bay County, Florida.

This city is the port of entry on St. Andrew Bay.

It got its name from developer George W. West after Panama City in Panama in 1909.

As of the 2010 census, this city's population was 35,392.

Panama City has a humid subtropical climate meaning a shorter winter season and a long, hot, and humid summer.

With that, this city has become a popular destination, especially for its fun and exciting summer activities, but this place has so much more to offer aside from summer rays and ocean waves.

Here are some of the best things to do in Panama City, Florida:

Go Swimming and Snorkeling at St. Andrews State Park

Snorkeling at St. Andrews State Park
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St. Andrews State Park is a 1,200-acre state park located on State Park Lane.

It is perfectly situated between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay, so you'll enjoy sightseeing in this beautiful state park.

This place is popular for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and sunbathing.

St. Andrews State Park’s powdery white sand, emerald green waters, and amazing migratory birds are some of the best things this place has to offer.

Dolphins at St. Andrews State Park
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Aside from its mile-and-a-half pristine beach, you'll also love strolling underneath St. Andrews State Park’s pine trees or staying overnight camping under the stars.

You can also do boating, fishing, paddling, hiking, picnicking, and scuba diving.

St. Andrews State Park is also one of the most sought-after destinations for weddings and photoshoots.

Kiteboarding at St. Andrews State Park
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Enjoy the Sunset View at Schooners

Schooners is a waterfront bar on Gulf Drive famous for its delectable seafood and picture-perfect sunset views.

You can enjoy live music performances here, along with deliciously concocted cocktails.

Come early to Schooners to secure your dining spot, and you can spend the rest of the day playing volleyball with friends or walking along the beach.

Don't miss out on the Schooners' "tradition" of gathering just behind the bar to enjoy the mesmerizing Panama beach sunset.

You can join the countdown as the sun dips below the ocean's horizon, and just after the sun has set, Schooners will blast an old canon to mark the start of an all-night partying.

Taste Fresh Seafood at Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant & Waterfront Market

Capt. Anderson's Restaurant & Waterfront Market is a bustling seafood restaurant on North Lagoon Drive.

It has been serving mouthwatering and fresh dishes since 1967.

This restaurant has 725 seats, making it a favorite destination for birthdays, weddings, and other celebrations.

Come early to watch the fishing fleets unload their catch.

Some of the must-haves in Capt. Anderson's Restaurant & Waterfront Market are jumbo scallops, stuffed jumbo Gulf shrimp, lobster tails, and grilled Bay shrimp.

After that, you may order from Capt. Anderson's Restaurant & Waterfront Market’s wine selection and enjoy the rest of your time watching the sunset or relaxing with the calming sounds of the ocean.

Book a Tour at Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise

Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise is a pirate-themed cruise on North Lagoon Drive.

Book a tour on this family-friendly cruise ship to get a chance to see playful dolphins in their natural habitat.

You can also seagulls, pelicans, and other wildlife while on board.

The Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise tour usually lasts about two hours.

Great music and entertaining pirate activities are available inside the ship; there's also a souvenir shop where you can buy t-shirts, drinks, and snacks.

Wheelchairs are allowed inside, so everyone in your family can have a memorable time at the Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise.

Hone Your Artistic Skills at Panama City Center for the Arts

Exterior of the Panama City Center for the Arts
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Panama City Center for the Arts can be easily located on East 4th Street.

This art center used to be called the Visual Arts Center of Northwest Florida.

Here, you'll see captivating paintings from renowned state and country painters.

You can also enroll your kids and teens in their summer art camps.

Entrance to the Panama City Center for the Arts
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Immerse yourself in their art classes which will teach you valuable techniques in painting, sculpting, drawing, weaving, wheel throwing, photography, and stage performing.

A gift shop is also available at  Panama City Center for the Arts, where you can buy beautiful locally created items.

Play with Friends and Family at Bay Point Golf Club

Bay Point Golf Club is located on Bay Point Road.

This is where you can find the only Nicklaus Design course in Northwest Florida.

Situated within a 1,100-acre nature preserve, Bay Point Golf Club is just a few minutes away from the city's pristine beaches.

This award-winning golf course features more than 7,100 golf course yards, and its surrounding luscious and relaxing sceneries add more delight to your golfing experience.

You can also enjoy phenomenal views of Grand Lagoon and St. Andrews Bay.

Tournaments are also hosted at Bay Point Golf Club, and you can buy prizes, goodie bags, and other items at their in-house shop.

Race Using Go-Carts at Emerald Falls Family Recreation Center

Emerald Falls Family Recreation Center is situated on Thomas Drive.

Kids and kids at heart will have a great time in this recreational center as it offers several exciting rides and activities.

At Emerald Falls Family Recreation Center, you can take a spin in their two go-cart tracks, play golf in their 18-hole mini-golf course, or explore their arcade, complete with fun games.

You kids may also ride at Emerald Falls Family Recreation's Kid Kingdom, where a ride on Rio Grande Railroad and Red Baron Airplane awaits them.

Emerald Falls Family Recreation also features a formula track with three bridges and overpasses.

It's the perfect venue for group events, birthday parties, and sports teams.

Try Some Science Experiments at the Science & Discovery Center of Northwest Florida

Exterior of the Science & Discovery Center of Northwest Florida
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Science & Discovery Center of Northwest Florida is a children's museum on Airport Road.

It has exhibits that will tickle your kids' minds, like sensory rooms, an exploration alley, and a tree of knowledge.

Science & Discovery Center of Northwest Florida is also home to some reptiles.

Among other exciting exhibits are the medical arena, construction junction, art lab, and beam interactive.

You may also enroll your little ones at the Science & Discovery Center of Northwest Florida's academy of science and discovery.

Bond with Nature at Oaks by the Bay Park

Oaks by the Bay Park is a five-acre park on West 10th Street.

Aside from oak trees, this park is home to a four-headed Pindo palm, which is an attraction and landmark.

Pindo palms aren't native to Florida, but they ended up growing in the state.

Oaks by the Bay Park is the perfect spot to relax and unplug from the chaos of everyday life.

The park also has a gazebo, boardwalk, and observation platform where you can spend the rest of your day breathing in Panama City's fresh and salty air.

Appreciate Art at Bay County Historical Museum

Bay County Historical Museum is situated on Harrison Avenue.

It opened in 2014 and is managed by the Historical Society of Bay County.

Here, you'll get to see artifacts, photographs, and important documents about the rich history of Panama City.

Bay County Historical Museum's main goal is to preserve the historical value of the city and bring it closer to the locals and even tourists.

A visit to this museum is like a quick break from the challenging amusement parks and walks at the beach.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Try Interactive Activities at Wonderworks Panama City Beach

Exterior of Wonderworks Panama City Beach
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WonderWorks Panama City Beach is an indoor interactive park on Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach.

This 35,000-square-foot amusement center is ideal for people of all ages.

It offers educational and entertainment attractions for the whole family.

Here, you'll experience being blown away by hurricane-force winds, controlling a NASA spacecraft, lying on a bed of 3,500 nails, and riding a 360-degree roller coaster.

If you still want more, try WonderWorks Panama City Beach's indoor rope course and play at their laser tag arena!

Bring Your Loved Ones to Coconut Creek Family Fun Park

Coconut Creek Family Fun Park is a family-friendly destination on Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach, about 20 minutes from Panama City.

It boasts two 18-hole mini golf courses and a challenging maze perfect for exciting games and activities for your family.

You and your loved ones will have a great time in its Grand Maze, measuring about the size of a football field, which will challenge your navigational skills and competence!

Meanwhile, Coconut Creek Family Fun Park's mini golf courses feature cascading waterfalls, a cave, and lifesize statues of elephants, gorillas, and giraffes.

Don't miss the park's Maze Runner game and Monkey Ring Toss.

If you get tired from all the adventures, you may relax from Coconut Creek Family Fun Park’s observation deck.

Choose Your Favorite Wine at Panama City Beach Winery

Panama City Beach Winery is a beachfront wine shop on Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach.

It is home to a wide selection of wines, from fruits, citrus, berry, and more.

Panama City Beach Winery only produces locally made wines that have gained national and international recognition.

This is also the only tropical winery in the county.

Wine tasting is open daily, so make sure to allot some time and prepare to taste only the best wines in Florida!

Hike Your Way up the Camp Helen State Park

Lake at Camp Helen State Park
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Camp Helen State Park is a historic site on Panama City Beach Parkway in Panama City Beach.

The park is bounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powel.

Camp Helen State Park was also included in the National Register of Historic Places in May 2012.

Picnic table overlooking the lake at Camp Helen State Park
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While an overnight stay is not allowed in this 180-acre park, you can still enjoy it by hiking, swimming, saltwater fishing, and beachcombing.

Camp Helen State Park has trails leading to natural and relaxing green sceneries.

You can also explore the park by kayaking and paddleboarding.

Nature trail at Camp Helen State Park
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Get Up Close and Personal with Wild Animals at Zooworld Zoological Park

ZooWorld Zoological Park is a zoo and animal conservation facility on Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach.

This place allows you to interact with animals, providing opportunities to pet a sloth, hold a kangaroo, kiss a giraffe, and hug a lemur.

ZooWorld Zoological Park is a quick getaway from the sandy beaches of Panama City while remaining in touch with some of nature's gems.

The adventures in this exciting zoo are also kid-friendly and guaranteed safe.

Your little ones will enjoy bonding with baby alligators, hundreds of exotic birds, and porcupines.

Of course, a visit to ZooWorld Zoological Park is incomplete without feeding its over 80 giant alligators!

Final Thoughts

While there are a lot of great activities to try in Florida, Panama City offers a wide variety of natural spots, recreation centers, and museums that you won't find elsewhere.

The superb location of this city makes it a popular destination for people from across the globe.

Check out the best things to do in Panama City, Florida, for a relaxing and refreshing getaway alone or with loved ones.

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