Winter and spring are peak seasons in Panama City Beach, and it’s no surprise as to why. Though the area is absolutely gorgeous during the entire year, these two seasons really get the best of it all. Wonderfully cool, but without any of the winter chill you expect from most parts of the world, and warm enough to make beach visits enjoyable without having to put up with the intense summer humidity. Though there’s mile after mile of beach for everyone to enjoy, there’s still a ton of other things to do while you’re in town, and you won’t want to miss out on the fun. Check out our Panama City travel guide below!
Though not quite as busy as spring, you’ll find that winter heralds the start of the visitor season in Panama City Beach. If you’re looking for a winter getaway that gets you out of the snow for a while, then this is the perfect place for you to visit. You might still want to pack an extra layer of clothing just in case there are some unexpectedly cold days in store for you. In general, though, you’ll still be able to dress for the beach, and on plenty of winter days you’ll still see people going for a swim at the beach, given that the average daytime high temperature for the season tends to float around 65 degrees.
Just in case some of those days get a bit too cold for you to really make the most out of your enjoyment outdoors, there are a bunch of indoor activities that you’ll love doing. This is especially true for when it really cools down at night, and that coastal breeze brings a chill to the air. Here are some recommendations for places you might enjoy visiting.
Ripley’s Attractions at Panama City Beach
Ripley’s has a variety of different attractions in the area, and they’re all kid friendly, making this a great choice for activity when you’re taking a family trip. The classic Ripley’s Believe it or Not attraction is one of the mainstays, offering dozens of different unique art displays and interactive displays as well. They also have their “7D” Moving Theater, with motion seats and immersive digital effects. The Mirror Maze and Laser Race are great obstacle courses for anyone looking to challenge themselves, too.
Experience the Night Life in Downtown
This might seem like it goes without saying but seeing the sights around downtown is a great thing to do on days and nights where the weather isn’t cooperating for your planned time on the beach. Since the area is constantly growing with the years as a sought-after vacation destination, new businesses are always flocking to the area, and that extra bit of competition has really brought some great restaurants into town.
It’s not just the restaurants, either. Downtown Panama City Beach is always alive with a thriving arts and music community, making it easy to find entertainment. As the area continues to expand, new and interesting shops keep being added, and you could easily fill up days of your vacation experiencing new things here. You could easily go to a different restaurant for every meal and not have to revisit one unless you’re staying in town for an extended stay.
If you’re travelling without the kids, the night life is its own reason to visit. Lively and unique bars are always holding events, whether it’s karaoke, live music, or something completely different, and some organizations even hold bar crawls that bring you to some of the best places around the city.
Wonderworks Amusement Park
With more than 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment,” Wonderworks Amusement Park is another great family friendly attraction that’s built to look as though it’s inverted, with the floor above you and the ceiling below you. Kids will especially enjoy all of the interactive exhibits and other attractions like laser tag, making this a great spot to spend an afternoon.
Spring is, without a doubt, the busiest time of year in Panama City Beach. People travel from all over the country to come see the scenic white sand beaches while the weather is just right, and the parties are in full swing when the college students come through for Spring Break. If you want to see the city at its liveliest, this is definitely the time for you to come check it out.
No need to worry about packing extra layers of clothing for this time of year, either. Once the Winter has passed, the cold is completely gone, and those spring days are ideal for bike rides and walks on the beach.
Shipwreck Island Water Park
Though it isn’t open for the entirety of spring, Shipwreck Island Water Park is definitely a great stop, especially if you’ve brought the family along. They’re open for some odd weekends in May, and eventually resume regular hours of operation shortly before the end of the month. Slides, rapids, wave pools, and more all await you at Shipwreck Island Water Park, and if you’re planning on spending most of your afternoon there, they also have food and treats on site.
Enjoy the Spring Break Parties
Panama City Beach is alive with parties during the Spring Break season, and there’s bound to be events and celebrations being held that are open to the public. From beach parties to music festivals and beyond, there’s sure to be countless things for you to do if you’re in town during the height of the festivities. The Panamaniac VIP Card is something you might consider looking into if you want to hit as many Spring Break parties as possible, because in a lot of circumstances it will get you into music festivals and bars without having to pay additional cover charges or ticket fees.
Snorkeling and Dolphin Watching
Though you can go dolphin watching during any season, some of the trips do offer snorkeling outings where you can actually get in the water and get a little closer to the local wildlife. This is great during the spring because the water is definitely going to be at the best temperature to get the most out of the experience. Even if snorkeling isn’t your thing, you can always observe from the comfort of the boat and still enjoy the experience.
Activities for Both Seasons
Due to the temperate nature of southwestern Florida, most of the activities in the area aren’t really restricted to any specific season, which is great. A lot of these outdoor attractions are open year-round, and since winter and spring aren’t the rainy or hurricane seasons, you’ll almost never have to worry about anything being shut down because of the weather.
Visit a Preserve or Go on a Nature Walk
Florida is incredibly biodiverse, with so much more than just the marine life at the beaches for you to see. Just with the wetlands and flood plains alone, you’ll be able to see wildlife that you can’t find in any other part of the world. Many of these areas also host migratory bird species, so if you’re visiting during different seasons, you can have a completely different experience.
If you aren’t already experienced in observing wildlife, plenty of these areas offer guided tours, some of them even being free, and the experts will be able to show you exactly where to look to get the most out of your experience.
Airboat tours are another famous Florida mainstay, and they’re a thrill to ride. Navigating the wetlands on one of these tours is something any Florida visitor should experience at least once in their life.
Visit the Beaches
This one is definitely a no brainer, but the miles of sugary white sand are a sight to see. This is made even better by the fact that you’ll get an entirely different experience depending on the season. If you visit during the winter, the beaches will be much quieter, making the perfect environment for a relaxing day lounging and soaking up some sun with the cool ocean breeze coming in. Spring, on the other hand, comes with the lively beaches you’ve seen in movies. Either way, you owe it to yourself to take a trip or two to some different beaches in the area to see as many of them as you can.
Enjoy Some Local Wines
The Panama City Beach Winery offers some unique wines that are a refreshing change from the grape wines most people regularly drink. They specialize in fruit wines, many of which are made with sweet, tropical, fruits to create a vibrant drink that perfectly matches the coastal atmosphere.
If you taste something that you just can’t go without, they also allow you to buy wine on site and have it shipped home so you don’t have to worry about transporting it, especially considering that for airline customers that might be impossible.
Restaurants to Try
You can’t miss out on some of the local fare while you’re in town, and Panama City Beach certainly isn’t lacking for delicious food. Many of the restaurants have great local seafood that you won’t want to miss, and live music is a pretty common occurrence. Here are a couple popular restaurants you might consider trying.
Only open for late lunch and dinner, Craft 850 is a wonderful restaurant if you’re looking for gourmet food without a pretentious atmosphere. Their menu covers a wide variety of cuisine, and their bar boasts an impressive selection of beer and wine in addition to their craft cocktails. It’s recommended that you make a reservation, particularly if you’re visiting during a busy time of the year.
Uncle Ernie’s Bayfront Bar and Grill
If you’re looking to dine with a gorgeous view, you can’t go wrong with Uncle Ernie’s. Situated right over the bay and with multiple stories for dining, you’ll be able to have your favorite seafood while you hear the gentle rolling of the waves coming to shore. They frequently have live music upstairs, and the ground floor has a more classic restaurant feel if you’re looking for a more traditional dining experience.
Alice’s on Bayview
With a mix of surf and turf available, you’re sure to find something that pleases you at Alice’s. They’re open for lunch and all the way through dinner, so you can stop in for a casual lunch or sit down at night and enjoy the live music that they often have coming through.
If you’re looking to get your fix of Italian food with a warming, home cooked flair in a casual environment, Ferrucci Ristorante delivers. You’ll be able to find all of the classic Italian mainstays you’ve come to know and love, but also plenty of dishes with a modern flair that’s sure to please. While you’re there, don’t forget to try wines from their great selection.
Trigo San Francisco Style Deli
If you’re looking for a good breakfast and lunch spot, Trigo has you covered. They’re open from 7AM to 3PM, and they offer delicious soups, sandwiches, and pizzas. This is a wonderful place to stop if you’re looking for a classy but relaxing start to your day, and their high-quality cuisine will have you coming back for more.
Great Vacation Homes, No Matter the Season
Whatever season you’re visiting Panama City Beach during, our vacation rentals are ready and waiting for you. We know how important it is to have a lovely place to come back to at the end of every night. Our homes are the perfect place for you to unwind, and they come in all shapes in sizes to accommodate parties both large and small. Our team of agents has firsthand knowledge of all of our properties and will do their best to match you with the perfect vacation home to suit your needs. With plenty of different amenities, Vacations Perfected offers only the best homes for your Panama City Beach vacation. Get in touch with us now to start your vacation!