The recipe for a perfect vacation is all about incorporating key ingredients that suit your tastes. The adventure seeker may require lots of thrills, while mellower types may gravitate toward spa days and eco activities. Luckily, countless attractions make Panama City Beach everybody’s one-stop-shop for a gratifying getaway.
Why watch birds on the beach when you can fly along with them? With seven different excursions to choose from, Panhandle Helicopter tours take sightseeing to new heights. Whether you fly five miles between the city and county piers, or go all-out on a 28-mile Shell Island flyover, the mesmerizing view of the Panama City Beach coastline will be the highlight of your vacation.
Don’t want anything between you and the open air? Indy Speedway’s Slingshot is Panama City Beach’s ultimate thrill ride, catapulting riders into the clouds at 100 miles per hour. After reaching a peak at 300 feet, take a second to admire the city below, if you’re not too busy screaming! For those seeking speed that’s a bit more grounded, Indy Speedway’s go-karts race up to 30 laps around a curvy, exhilarating track.
The newest thrill in Panama City Beach takes place in a single room, where your group is locked in and can only “escape” through the power of teamwork. When the 60-minute countdown begins, adrenaline pumps while your mind races to unravel clues, solve puzzles and come one step closer to revealing the secret of your room. Escape Zone 60 of Panama City Beach offers two themed adventures to choose from, both capable of bringing together families, friends and future friends in a captivating group exercise.
Emerald Coast Mirror Maze and Lazer Tag glows with fun, offering a multitude of family attractions all under one roof. After challenging your navigational skills at a 2,300-square-foot labyrinth of mirrors, it might be time for some good ol’ fashioned laser tag. Make it kids vs. parents in the center’s massive arena, or channel your inner secret agent by evading a tricky series of beams in the Laser Challenge.
Race City is like a year-round county fair. Though home to beloved classics like the mighty Ferris wheel and Scrambler, you’ll also find the Hurricane, the speediest coaster on the beach! That is, unless you consider the park’s Skycoaster, a 137-foot high bungee drop that propels riders through the wind! Children over 42 inches tall can enjoy this breathtaking experience, and all sizes are welcome at the arcade, mini-golf course and sea maze.
Traveling along Front Beach Road, you’re likely to be intrigued by the massive, upside down museum known as Wonderworks. The interior houses oddities, rides, discovery centers and zany exhibits to keep the family occupied all day. Children will love learning about the wonders of space and the natural environment at the hands on “WonderZones.” Challenge them to a race through the rope course or a match in the Space Fury 360°, a ride that lets you shoot targets with lasers from a glow-in-the-dark bumper car!
If you’re looking for a restful but romantic retreat with your partner, Indigo Earth Spa is the perfect place for a little R&R. A departure from the conventional spa, Indigo Earth offers guests a variety of healing rituals and therapy to invigorate the soul. Indian Ayurveda services allow for meditation with targeted muscle treatments and the soothing scents of essential oils. Choose the special “You & Me” package or the “Pure Couple’s Experience” for rejuvenating massages, hydrating skin scrubs, and exceptional full body treatments at your loved one’s side.
With less humidity and heat to worry about, winter is the perfect season for active couples to pedal through Panama City Beach. Barley’s Bike Rental provides beach cruisers for coastal travel, hybrids for the city, and mountain bikes for natural trails. Barley’s shop is just one mile away from Gayle’s Trails and the Conservation Park, offering miles of preserved wilderness that you can cruise through with your special someone. Plenty of photo ops and exhilarating paths that promise a workout will make this the perfect day for any pair. With a cool, sea breeze and the gentle crash of waves, there’s nothing more peaceful than yoga on the beach with your partner. Take a class led by a professional instructor from Studio by the Beach for only $10 a session. Start your day by stretching out at sunrise, or select the sunset class to bring on a good night’s sleep.
When you think of boat tours in Panama City Beach, you may picture charter fishing vessels, large yachts, pirate ships and the open Gulf. Wild Thang Airboat Tours propel passengers along the bays and marshes of the area, back into gator country. You’re likely to see these reptiles sunbathing during the day tour, but the “Ultimate” ride tour after the sun goes down puts you on the water with them during their most active hours. See if you can spot those ruby red eyes as your captain illuminates the dark water with a flashlight, but don’t forget to look up for a supreme view of the night sky!
While some travelers prefer the luxe amenities of resorts, others take to roughing it in a tent beneath the stars. Encompassing 1/2 miles of unblemished beach and woodland, the eco tourist need look no further than St. Andrews State Park to experience Panama City Beach untouched by human development. Hike through the winding pines along the Heron Pond and Gator Lake trails while observing the rich flora and fauna native to the area. Bike along paved pathways, or sit back and relax as you enjoy a boat tour of Shell Island. Anglers frequent rocky jetties and two fishing piers, rarely returning empty-handed! Top it all off with an exclusive campsite and some s’mores around the fire, and you’ll never want to leave.
Though the Gulf in winter may be too chilly for swimming, there are still plenty of ways to experience its majesty. Bay Point Water Sports offers a variety of vessels, allowing for hours of exploration on the water. Partake in a guided dolphin tour or serve as your own captain, steering a pontoon boat through the emerald green waves. If you’re not afraid of a little splash, suit up, rent a kayak and tour at your own pace.