When traveling to any destination, whether it be for work or play, one truth that never fails is locals know best.
While we’d like to keep our hidden gems and tips “hidden,” we can’t help our southern hospitality by providing our visitors must-try adventures and experiences—from a local perspective. While we hope your trip to Panama City Beach will be great no matter what, here are a few of our PCB local insider picks.
Concerts in the Park
During the summer months between June and August, Visit Panama City Beach hosts free concerts every Thursday night at Aaron Bessant Park. Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks, and bring a blanket or lawn chair to sit and enjoy the music. Let the kids run around the spacious green while you dance or relax the night away. Don’t forget—it’s free!
Cruise Out to the Gulf
Yes, even PCB locals like to take advantage of tourist attractions. When it comes to relaxing on the water and watching the sun set across the coast, cruising with Paradise Adventures Catamaran or Island Time Adventures is top-notch. They also provide live music and drinks onboard, something locals always need on the water!
With Panama City Beach laws now allowing it, beach bonfires are here to stay, and locals couldn’t be more excited. Once you experience a bonfire on the sandy beach with the Gulf of Mexico as your backdrop you’ll never doubt it as a true PCB local favorite. Our tip to host a bonfire on the beach is to reserve yours with Goin’ to the Beach® Beach Service. They get the bonfire going and bring chairs, s’mores kit, Bluetooth speaker, cornhole, cooler, and even take care of allthe clean-up.
Need a Last-Minute Outfit?
Panama City Beach has expanded its portfolio of excellent retail shops and boutiques! If you would have visited 10 years ago there wouldn’t be near the amount of options we have now. The go-to shopping destination is definitely Pier Park North. There is truly something for everyone with any style, hobby, or taste. It also excludes those typical “tourist trap” stores, making the crowds far more comfortable.
Visit Shell Island
This local secret is a tough one to share because we love our private piece of paradise so much! Exploring Shell Island and all the wildlife that surrounds it is truly breathtaking. One side of the island faces St. Andrew’s Bay, but take a short walk to the other side of the island and swim in the Gulf. Blue Dolphin Tours will take your whole family and also help to get you up-close and personal views of dolphins, sea turtles, and more. The captains are local and know the best spots.
Date Night Fun
As if the beach isn’t romantic enough, there are a few things we do to make them extra special. If you have never tasted Gulf seafood fresh off the boat, then you haven’t lived. All PCB local’s know you can’t go wrong at Captain Anderson’s or The Grand Marlin for great food and gorgeous bay views. Continue the epic views after dinner with a ride on the SkyWheel and see the entire Panama City Beach strip lit up at night. Acrophobics might want to skip that attraction.
- Get to the beach by 9:00 a.m. You’ll get the best parking spot and a front row space on the sand.
- Pack light. Your vacation rental will be stocked with most household necessities.
- Bring or rent a beach chair over a towel and skip having to shake the sand out every 30 minutes.
- Wear sunscreen and reapply. If not, you WILL get burnt.
- OBEY THE BEACH FLAGS. Stay out of the water on double red flag days.
- Plan a non-beach day. There is so much to do in Panama City Beach off the sand.
- Front Beach Rd. is more scenic and congested. Commute on Beach Beach Rd. for faster arrival.
Now that our secrets are out, it’s time to book your next Panama City Beach vacation!