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Take Another Look at Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach has experienced significant growth in the last 5-6 years, with the most notable examples being the May 2010 opening of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, a slew of luxury high-rise condominium developments and other important steps towards economic development such as the 1.1 million square foot Pier Park- a waterfront, open-air dining, shopping and entertainment district now commonly referred to as downtown.
The Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport has provided travelers with better service and more competitive fares from major markets. Non-stop flights are now available from Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, and Orlando with direct flights to several other large U.S. cities.
Events Shine Year-Round
Visitors who venture beyond the sand and surf find there’s always something fun going on in Panama City Beach, including: music and food festivals, arts and crafts fairs, world-class sporting events and fishing tournaments, car shows, motorcycle rallies, holiday fests, concert series and much more. Thousands of jazz-lovers and sun-seekers from across the nation descend upon Panama City Beach for a fun-filled weekend of smooth contemporary jazz for the annual Seabreeze Jazz Festival. Emerald Coast Cruizin’ classic car and hot rod show features thousands of cars, live music, vendor expos, swap meets and more. Don't forget the famous Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally, which roars into town twice yearly.
While best known for the emerald-green waters and sugar-white sand that attract travelers from around the world, Panama City Beach also boasts many unexpected natural wonders for visitors seeking a little adventure in the great outdoors. The destination offers plenty to see and do both above and below the sea. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking along scenic trails, camping along the shore, unparalleled fishing, kayaking, off-road cycling, diving and more.
In addition, Panama City Beach provides unique wildlife viewing opportunities. From bottle-nosed dolphins and giant Manta Rays in the Gulf of Mexico to alligators and egrets in the swamps of North Florida, there is plenty of wildlife to experience in the area. And with everything from high-speed airboat adventures to glass bottom boat tours and marine rescue programs, there are many ways in which to experience and observe the surrounding wildlife. Continuing to foster and protect its ecological assets, the destination will soon be home to a new nature preserve – the West Bay Preservation Area – offering travelers more outdoor options to explore.
In addition, the world famous St. Andrews State Park, which has ranked third on the list of Top 10 beaches in the United States by Trip Advisor, offers a wealth of options for nature lovers, from the Blue Heron Trail and the Gator Lake Trail to Button Bush Marsh and Shell Island – a pristine barrier island situated just across the ship’s channel from the mainland. Spanning 700 undeveloped acres, Shell Island is truly a hidden gem. The surrounding waters are home to one of the world's highest concentrations of bottle-nosed dolphins and the island's pristine beauty and abundant wildlife make it an enjoyable and exciting way to spend the day. It is filled with tremendous sand dunes, a fresh water swamp, acres of woods and sugar-white sands. Shell Island offers excellent snorkeling, fishing and secluded beaches. Shuttle boats are available to bring guests to the island in the spring and summer months but there are no facilities or concessions on the island itself.
Shop Til You Drop
Located in the heart of town across from the City Pier, Pier Park spans more than 1 million square feet, making it Northwest Florida’s largest shopping/dining/ entertainment venue. This open-air complex houses restaurants and stores comprising a colorful mix of popular national chains and favorite local boutiques and eateries.
Pier Park’s offerings include: Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Dillard’s, Marshalls, JCPenney, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Old Navy, Candymaker Candy Stores, Massage Envy, Panera Bread, The Back Porch restaurant and Hofbrau Beer Garden. Fashion and beauty retailers also include Ann Taylor Loft, Chico’s, ULTA Beauty and several one-of-a-kind boutiques and specialty stores.
Plus, the Grand 16 Theatre -- a 16-screen, 3,000-seat movie theater complex – shows the latest blockbusters. Pier Park, developed by Simon Property Group, offers a park-like setting and spectacular Gulf views. The complex is adjacent to Aaron Bessant Amphitheater, home of the Pier Park concert series, Thursday nights, June – August. This popular series features outdoor musical performances ranging from rock and country to jazz and blues.