People often say there's no free lunch. But with so many wonderful parks, piers and playgrounds all around Panama City Beach, you can get pretty close. To get you started, here are some fun things to do to make the memories of your Panama City Beach vacation, priceless.
With 27 miles of white sand and turquoise water, the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches are accessible at no charge. With nearly 100 access points, you won’t have a difficult time finding a spot to dig your toes into the famous sugar-white sand. To view a full list of beach access points, go to VisitPanamaCityBeach.com.
Shell Island is a barrier island, a 7-mile stretch of undeveloped land nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay. If you are seeking a beach experience that will help you reconnect with Mother Nature, this is the place for you. Here the Sunshine State is at its best - and most natural. The Shell Island Shuttle, operated out of St. Andrews State Park, is the most convenient and affordable way to go. In spring and summer the shuttle runs daily on the half hour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on the hour in the fall.
Camp Helen State Park
Get a breath of fresh air and head outside for a natural adventure. Pack a picnic lunch and visit Camp Helen State Park, 185-acres of ecological wonder that is bordered on three sides by water, the Gulf to the south and Lake Powell to the north and east.
St. Andrews State Park
The most visited park by locals and tourists alike is St. Andrews State Park. Here you can cast a line and catch some fish, take a dive and scuba along the jetties, or simply enjoy what has been named the Best Beach in America — all for less than $10 per vehicle.
Panama City Beach Conservation Park
Spanning nearly 3,000-acres, The Panama City Beach Conservation Park features 12 different trails of varying difficultly and eight boardwalks totaling more than a mile in length. Bring binoculars — you’ll likely spot plenty of birds and wildlife in the wetlands area of this picturesque park.
Frank Brown Park is an impressive state-of-the art sports complex, complete with an aquatic center, children’s playground, and 200-plus acres of recreational facilities.
Admission to the park is free, so, you can park and play without spending a penny. Entrance fees to the park’s aquatic center vary based on age and residency but start at just $3 per person. Score!
Technically, window-shopping and art gallery browsing are free. So go treasure hunting for souvenirs and get all the ideas you want for stocking stuffers. Visit large shopping centers such as Pier Park, which are filled with both name-brand and specialty boutiques, or take on the Décor By The Shore shopping trail, which showcases dozens of one-of-a-kind mom-and-pop shops peppering the coast. No matter what, you’ll bag a great time — and surely clock some serious miles on that Fitbit, too.
Most accommodations offer complimentary amenities as exclusive privileges for booking direct, so be sure to ask about all the goodies that come with your stay. From free DVD rentals to free beach chair setups, there are a host of freebies, so take full advantage of them. Many resorts and hotels have fun daily activities for kids, so be sure to ask. And some even have attractions on-site, Sandpiper Beacon for example has a lazy river, waterslides, and miniature golf — all free to registered guests.