Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach is a city on the Emerald Coast of Florida. It is approximately halfway between the state capitol, Tallahassee, and Pensacola.

Understand

Panama City Beach, Florida

The area including Panama City Beach is known as the Emerald Coast. While many people call Panama City Beach, Panama City, it should be noted that they are separate cities, separated by a St. Andrew's Bay, with the beaches and a large proportion of tourist activities being in Panama City Beach, and more business-oriented activities being in Panama City.

History

The St. Andrews Bay area was home to Native Americans before it was settled as a community in the 1800s. Pirates found the deep pockets of the Bay ideal to lie in wait for merchant ships in route to Mexico or Spain. Legend has it that many a pirate buried his share of treasure at Spanish Shanty Point on Shell Island.

Another area teeming with history in Panama City Beach is St Andrews State Recreation Area. During World War II, it was part of the St. Andrews Sound Military Reservation. Circular cannon platforms are still in place near the jetties. Opened in 1951, the park now covers more than 1,200 acres.

For quite some time Panama City Beach has been a popular vacation destination, especially among people in the Southern United States. The city is also a very popular spring break destination, sometimes being referred to as "The Spring Break Capital of the World," with over 500,000 college and high school students who arrive during the months of March and April.

Well-known locations in the city were places such as "The Hang-Out" at the Long Beach Resort motel and the now closed Miracle Strip Amusement Park. There has recently been a construction boom and the cityscape is now characterized by high-rise hotels and condominiums.

Climate

Panama City Beach is in the warm subtropical zone, which is not as warm as South Florida, but it is still has mild winters, hot summers, and pleasant spring and fall weather. The nearby waters of the Gulf of Mexico helps to moderate the climate.

Get in

By plane

Panama City Beach is served by the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (IATA: ECP) in neighboring West Bay. NFBIA, while international in name, currently does not offer any regularly scheduled international flights. Delta Air Lines offers daily non-stop service under the Delta Connection brand from Atlanta and Memphis. Southwest also has flights from Baltimore, Houston-Hobby, Nashville and Orlando. From the airport it is a short drive to the east end of the Panama City Beach, but due to the long shape of the beaches, it can take a bit longer to reach the west end.

A great alternative to fly into for a better fare when flying in from Canada is North West Florida Regional Airport (VPS) an hour and a half away from PCB.

By car

Travelers headed to Panama City Beach often drive to the destination, due to the strong regional appeal the area has. There are several routes to take depending on which direction a traveler is coming from. If coming from the North, US Highway 231, State Route 77, State Route 79 are all excellent roads into the area. US Highway 98 is the major East-West Highway along the coast and with the Alternate route the only long distance East-West roads in Panama City Beach.

Arriving by US 231 or SR 77, turn onto 23rd Street in Panama City. Travel the length of the highway until you reach Port Panama City/Gulf Coast Community College and then turn right onto US 98. A few moments later you will be across St. Andrews Bay and in Panama City Beach.

Arriving by US 98 or SR 79, there is nothing more to do to reach Panama City Beach as these two highways take travelers directly to the beaches, with SR 79 terminating at the beach.

If using Interstate 10 to reach Panama City Beach, there will be several exits to take depending on your direction of travel. If arriving from the East, use the exit for US 231. From the exit it is a 50 mile drive to Panama City. If arriving from the West, exit at SR 79. As an alternative you can exit at US 331/DeFuniak Springs in Walton County and head south. US 331 terminates at US 98 and from there is a short drive to Bay County and Panama City Beach.

By bus

Panama City Beach itself does not have a bus terminal. However, neighboring Panama City does have one that is served by Greyhound.

Get around

Public transportation

Panama City Beach is served by the Bay Town Trolley, which serves routes throughout Bay County. Service is limited on the beach with two routes: Route 8 running from the west end of Front Beach Road to the Panama City Beach Senior Center on Middle Beach Road and Route 7 which runs from the Panama City Beach Senior Center along Middle Beach Road to Thomas Drive to the Gulf Coast Community College transfer station. If you miss the trolley, you can expect to be waiting for a while before the next one comes by. This is a common complaint with the system and has been helped slightly with the splitting of Routes 7 and 8 to provide more frequent service. One-way fare is $1.

Car Rentals

On Panama City Beach there is an Enterprise Rent-a-Car located in the Shoppes at Edgewater next to the Waffle House. If you are arriving by air, all of the major care rental companies (Hertz, Avis, Budget, National, Alamo, and Enterprise Rent-a-Car) are located at the airport, just across from baggage claim.

Other Rentals

Many visitors to Panama City Beach rent scooters or electric cars to drive along Front Beach Road. There are several different companies and locations to rent from, most of them located along Front Beach Road and Thomas Drive. Check the local phonebook under motorcycle rental for listings. Remember always compare prices and check your hotel lobby for money saving coupons while in Panama City Beach. Enjoy your vacation and be safe!

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See also Panama City

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 16, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.