Panama City Beach has been slowly reinventing itself over the past 10 years. After seeing the success of its neighbors in Destin, Seaside, and Fort Walton Beach, Panama City realized that they did not necessarily have to cater to teens and college students to keep up their tourism revenue. The other beaches have geared their tourism more toward families and retirees and have found that those two demographics have brought more money and fewer headaches than Panama City Beach’s annual party crowd.
While we were at PC Beach we enjoyed a 2 hour cruise on the “Pirate Ship” where the crew plays games and tells pirate stories to all of the children. On the trip they enjoyed a plastic sword fight, a water gun fight, dancing, stories and even following some dolphins around the tip of Shell Island.
One afternoon we made it to St. Andrews State Park, home of the #2 State Park beach in the US. The entrance fee of $8 per vehicle was inexpensive when compared to the great beach, excellent facilities, and the other opportunities inside the park such as a shuttle to Shell Island, nature walks and more.
Panama City Beach also has some great golf courses, nature exibits like Gulf World, along with older attractions such as Shipwreck Island. Although some of the old "spring break" attractions can still be found, a simple drive from Thomas Drive down Front Beach Rd reveals a large amount of upgrading and change of "direction".