Wheelchair users who enjoy a beach vacation will not be disappointed in Panama City Beach. With 27 miles of sugar-white beaches — and 100 access points — there’s fun for all ages and abilities. Travel blogger Cory Lee, a wheelchair user since the age of 4, has praised the area’s lodging, dining and recreational offerings on his website CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com.
"Whether you're looking to enjoy the outdoors, spend days at the beach, or explore a pirate cruise, mind-bending museum or outdoor maze, there are a plethora of wheelchair accessible options,” Lee said. “Panama City Beach is a great destination for wheelchair accessible excursions, giving you the freedom to enjoy your trip no matter your interest.”
Check out more of Lee’s comments in this travel guide, compiled with wheelchair users in mind:
Days Inn staff is specifically trained in service to guests with disabilities. The hotel provides access to all hotel amenities as well as assistive listening devices for meetings or conferences, TTY devices for guest use and TVs with closed captioning.
Holiday Inn Express
Holiday Inn Express Panama City Beach Beachfront has a completely accessible front entrance, elevators and public restrooms. There are wheelchair accessible paths to the registration area, guest rooms, meeting rooms and the pool. Wheelchair accessible rooms are available upon request with roll-in showers and a private balcony overlooking the Gulf.
Holiday Inn Resort
The perfect resort for anyone in Panama City Beach, especially families. The Holiday Inn Resort provides accessibility in the hotel’s common areas such as the public entrance, elevators, public restrooms and the spectacular pool and pool deck. Guest rooms include mobility-accessible tubs and roll-in showers.
Hampton Inn & Suites Beachfront
Hampton Inn & Suites is ADA compliant providing guests with access to all hotel amenities. This beachfront hotel is just a short flip-flop shuffle to the beach. Adjacent to Gulf World Marine Park, Hampton Inn is in walking distance of local bites and less than a mile from Pier Park shopping. Kick your day off with free hot breakfast, and enjoy WiFi. Enjoy poolside views of the Gulf and a fitness center.
Resort Collection has over 900 full- service Gulf-front and Gulf-view vacation rentals and golf villas. Every resort is different and offers a unique personality of its own with accessibility for every guest. With so many units to offer whether you’re visiting for a romantic getaway or a family reunion, Resort Collection can provide the perfect accommodations for any occasion.
Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort
While Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, the property has since made modifications to accommodate everyone’s needs. Wheelchair accessible rooms are available, and service dogs are welcome. “The wheelchair accessible rooms at Sandpiper Beacon are on the ground floor, have wider doors, accessible outlets and accessible space within the room,” Lee said. “Bathrooms have grab bars in the shower and hand- held shower heads, as well as raised toilet seats, but the shower and bathtub themselves are not roll-in.” The path to the pool, which has a self-operating lift outdoors and a hoist indoors, is wheelchair accessible.
Russell-Fields City Pier
This pier is wheelchair accessible with a sloped entrance and concrete that provides a smooth surface. It’s $3 to walk or roll and $7 to fish, and thanks to the pier’s partnership with Beach Powered Mobility — a company that rents motorized wheelchairs designed to handle the sand — wheelchair users can explore the shoreline with friends and family.
St. Andrews State Park
With a mile and a half of beach, 60 campsites and hiking trails, this park has something for everyone. The park itself is wheelchair accessible with access to the visitor’s center, elevated boardwalks to the beach and the jetty overlook, fishing piers and scenic overlooks. Beach wheelchairs are available at the ranger station, and service animals are welcome.
At this science-focused indoor amusement park, there are wheelchair accessible elevators on each level. Wheelchairs are not available to rent at the property. Visitors who need special assistance are encouraged to call 72 hours before their planned visit so that assistance and accommodations can be made.
Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise
On this two-hour cruise, be prepared for pirate-themed fun and dolphin sightings. The ship’s entrance is a ramp the width of a standard wheelchair, and staff members are available to assist you with boarding. It is advised that wheelchair users arrive early to explore the dock, measure the ramp and ask any questions beforehand. The restrooms are not easily accessible to wheelchair users, as there are steps and hatches between the main deck and the facilities. The main deck is wheelchair accessible, and you can stay on the deck through the duration of the cruise.
Shopping & Dining
After lounging on the beach all day, relax at this waterfront gem — which is ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible — and known for live music and delicious seafood. “There is a long staircase leading to the beach from the sand side, but the street side has an added ramp and a paved parking lot,” Lee said. “The outdoor seating is picnic table style with space at the end of the table for a wheelchair. The inside has ramps, space to accommodate wheelchairs and smaller tables can be placed together to accommodate large groups.”
This premier shopping destination, located across the street from the pier, has everything from coffee and sandwiches to burgers and sushi. Popular choices include Margaritaville for amazing seafood and cocktails and Dave & Buster’s for high-energy arcade lovers. The sidewalks are wide enough to accommodate the usual traffic, and the stores and restaurants adhere to ADA requirements.