The area including Panama City Beach is known as the Emerald Coast. While many people call Panama City Beach Panama City, they are separate cities, separated by 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.
The St. Andrew's Bay area was home to Native Americans before it was settled by Europeans in the 1800s. Pirates found the deep pockets of the bay ideal to lie in wait for merchant ships en 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 been a construction boom and the cityscape is now characterized by high-rise hotels and condominiums.
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.
Panama City Beach is served by the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP IATA)  in neighboring West Bay. NFBIA, while international in name, 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.
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.
Panama City Beach does not have a bus terminal. However, neighboring Panama City does have one that is served by Greyhound.
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.
On Panama City Beach there is an Enterprise Rent-a-Car 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 at the airport, just across from baggage claim.
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 along Front Beach Road and Thomas Drive. Check the local phonebook under motorcycle rental for listings. Always compare prices and check your hotel lobby for money saving coupons while in Panama City Beach. Enjoy your vacation and be safe!
- Classic Rentals, 13226 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- Miles of white sandy beaches with beautiful emerald green waters. It's considered to be part of the "world's most beautiful beaches" because of the spectacular white sand and glistening emerald green waters. It is so soft it literally squeaks under foot. You will be spoiled forever after experiencing this. (However, this applies more to nearby Destin and Okaloosa Island today, Panama City's beaches tend to be a bit dirtier - Panama City is generally known as more of a concert or college partying place rather than a 'pristine beach' place.)
- 1 St. Andrews State Park, 4607 State Park Ln, ☏ . 8AM-sunset. St. Andrews State Park is on the east end of Panama City Beach along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, St. Andrews Bay, and the Grand Lagoon. The park has plenty of pristine white beaches that the area is known for, but also has a few short trails that snake around in the dunes. The park has stores where you can buy supplies for the day, and plenty of parking. There is camping available, mostly facing the Grand Lagoon, but there is also a Primitive campsite that faces both the Lagoon and Bay. There is an entrance fee of $5 per vehicle. Other fees are listed on the park's website. $5 entry fee.
- 2 Pine Log State Forest, 5583-A Longleaf Road, Ebro, ☏ . Pine Log State Forest is a short drive from Panama City Beach going north on Highway 79. This state forest which spans two counties has numerous recreational opportunities such as camping (developed and primitive), multiple trails including a segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail, and a horse trail as well. The fees vary and are usually based on the honor system. Please check the forest's website for more information.
- 3 Camp Helen State Park, 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway (south of U.S. 98, and bounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell, one of the largest coastal dune lakes in the state), ☏ , fax: . 8AM-sunset. The newest state park in Panama City Beach, is at the far west end of the beaches right before the county line. Camp Helen is a small park but does manage to offer opportunities for hiking, fishing, picnics, boating, as well as a portion of the beach that is much more quiet than other areas of the beach. Camp Helen also features many buildings that are reminiscent of the history of the site as well, and includes a visitor center and an interpretive exhibit. The entry fee is paid into an honor box upon entering. $2 per vehicle, $1 per bicycle/pedestrian.
- 4 Frank Brown Park, 16200 Panama City Beach Parkway, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Sunrise-sunset. Frank Brown Park is a city park of Panama City Beach, that is near the intersection of US 98 (Back Beach Road) and SR 79. This is the city's main park and as such as expansive facilities including soccer fields, baseball/softball fields, trails, walking paths, a youth fishing pond, and the newly opened Panama City Beach Aquatic Center. Free.
- 5 Museum Of Man In The Sea, 17314 Panama City Beach Pkwy, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 6 SS Tarpon shipwreck.
- 1 Shipwreck Island Waterpark. - in Panama City Beach
- Adventures at Sea, 5711 North Lagoon Dr, ☏ , email@example.com. 7AM-7PM. The Shell Island Tour is a favorite of many. Also offers parasailing rides, pontoon boat rentals, jet ski rentals, boat cruises, lounge chair rentals, charter fishing trips, banana boat rides, and sailboat rentals.
- FUNPCB, 5325 N. Lagoon Dr. (on the beach behind resorts and hotels), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Wave runner dolphin tours, parasailing, pontoon boat rentals, banana boat rides, wave runner rentals, snorkel trips, fishing boat rentals, beach chairs and a free shuttle service for customers.
- Sunshine Water Sports of PC, 3901 Thomas Drive inside Pirates Cove Marina, ☏ . 8AM-8PM. Offers jet ski rentals, dolphin tours, parasailing, banana boat rides and beach chair rentals. Shell island dolphin tours
- 2 Freedom Watersports (Freedom Watersports), 5611 US-98, Panama City, FL 32401 (Shoreline on the East side of Hathaway Bridge on US-98), ☏ , email@example.com. 8AM - 6PM. Hands-on jet ski dolphin tours to see pods of dolphins, sea turtles, the ecological diversity and beauty of the Florida Panhandle along the white sandy beaches of Shell Island and the jetties of St. Andrews State Park. You will be able to swim with the dolphins. $125.
- Alvin's Island. The ever-popular tropical department store chain, with six locations in Panama City Beach.
- Pier Park, Between Front Beach and Back Beach Roads. Pier Park is a huge outdoor shopping complex with a Target, Panera Bread and the 16-screen Grand Theatre are all open. There is also a city park across the street from the theatre with a few short trails, a local veterans memorial, and an amphitheater for concerts in the summer.
- The Shops at Edgewater, Intersection of Beckrich Road and Front Beach Rd. The Shoppes at Edgewater is one of Panama City Beach's most established shopping centers. It has several restaurants, a ten screen theatre, Rock-it Lanes (a bowling alley, arcade, roller skating rink and sports bar in one), a spa and more.
- Andy's Flour Power Cafe & Bakery, 3123 Thomas Dr, ☏ . Great breakfast and staff.
- Angelo's Steak Pit, 9527 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- The Grand Marlin, 5323 N Lagoon Dr, ☏ .
- Harpoon Harry's Beachfront Restaurant, 12627 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- Captain Anderson's Restaurant, 5551 N Lagoon Dr, ☏ .
- Dirty Dick's Crab House, 9800 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- Hunt's Oyster Bar & Seafood Restaurant, 1150 Beck Ave, ☏ .
- Saltwater Grill, 11040 Hutchison Blvd, ☏ .
- Schooners: Restaurant, 5121 Gulf Dr, ☏ .
- Sharky's Seafood Restaurant, 15201 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- The Old Beach Bar, 19952 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- Coyote Ugly Saloon, 10512 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- Dusty's Oyster Bar, 16450 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- Foghorn's Liquors, 8011 Thomas Dr, ☏ .
- Fun-Land Arcade & Snack Bar, 14510 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- J Michael's Bar & Grill, 3210 Thomas Dr, ☏ .
- Patches Pub, 4723 Thomas Dr, ☏ .
- Shuckum's Oyster Pub & Seafood, 15618 Front Beach Rd, ☏ .
- Splash Bar, 6520 Thomas Dr, ☏ .
- Christo's Sports Bar & Grill, 2903 Thomas Dr, ☏ .
See also Panama City
- Edgewater Beach Resort, 11212 Front Beach Rd, toll-free: . One of the largest and well known resorts in Panama City Beach, Edgewater offers a variety of lodging options on the property ranging from the high-rise towers facing the beach to the villas across the street. Onsite amenities include restaurants, pools, beach activities, and spa.
- Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, 11127 Front Beach Rd, ☏ . Popular with families and spring breakers. There are a host of onsite amenities and varying room types.
- Radisson Hotel Panama City Beach Oceanfront, 15325 Front Beach Rd, ☏ . Fairly new beach front luxury hotel that is next to the Quality Inn Beach Front.
- 1 Bluegreen’s Bayside Resort & Spa, 4114 Jan Cooley Dr, ☏ . This resort overlooks St. Andrew's Bay. The resort houses a spa and fitness center, and offers guests an array of activities in the area including world-class golf courses, water sports, deep sea fishing.
- Marriott Legends Edge Resort, 4000 Marriott Dr, ☏ . Spacious two-bedroom villas overlooking St. Andrews Bay.
- Sugar Sands Inn & Suites, 20723 Front Beach Rd, toll-free: .
- Vacations Perfected, 10279 Front Beach Road Suite 102, ☏ . Vacation rentals, condos, and villas.
- Tallahassee is the state capital of Florida and is a two-hour drive to the east. Also in Tallahassee are two major state universities, The Florida State University and Florida A&M University.
- Destin is roughly one hour west of Panama City Beach in Walton and Okaloosa Counties. There are plenty of shopping opportunities (Destin Commons, Outlet Center, and other smaller venues) as well as golfing at the Sandestin Resort and many other activities.
- Navarre is a beach community about an hour west on Highway 87. Navarre is known for its relatively quiet pure white beaches, as well as having easy access to additional areas for hiking, boating, and camping.
- Pensacola is two hours to the west by way of Highway 98. Pensacola is home to NAS Pensacola, which is home to the Blue Angeles flight demonstration team, and the National Naval Aviation Museum. Also, Pensacola is considered to be the oldest European settlement in America, unlike St. Augustine it was not continuously settled from first settlement. There are many historic sites relating to the Spanish Colonization, which includes a series of forts.