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(2011 - Winter Issue)

Writer: Roberta Sandler

Kick off your shoes and splash around in the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Spread a blanket anywhere along 43 glorious kilometres of sun-baked, powdery sand and utter a serene sigh. Admit it. You’ve found a heavenly getaway in Panama City Beach.

Located in Northwest Florida and overlooking beautiful St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach has it all: warmth, sunshine, pristine shorelines, dozens of reefs teeming with sea life, world-class golf, fantastic entertainment, shopping venues, myriad waterfront accommodation facilities and plenty of restaurants, barbecue joints, oyster shacks and oyster bars, which serve delicious, fresh-caught seafood. Is this any way to enjoy a vacation? You bet it is!

When Panama City Beach was founded in 1936, it was reportedly named for its position as the closest American port to the newly-opened Panama Canal. The area’s first tourists were probably pirates who, according to legend, retrieved treasures from galleons shipwrecked in St. Andrews Bay. Modern-day tourists can still find treasures here, the kind that make Panama City Beach crackle with family-friendly activities, amusements and adventures.  

No Boredom Here

Begin your hunt for fun at the 102,193-square-metre Pier Park, an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment centre across from the Gulf of Mexico. Kids love the Pier’s Butterfly Pavilion and carousel and ferris wheel at Miracle Strip. Continue on to Coconut Creek Family Fun Park’s mini-golf courses or WonderWorks™, where interactive games and a lab are housed in an upside-down building. Boredom is banned from Panama City Beach, where more treats await you, such as ZooWorld with its 200 exotic animals, and the Man in the Sea Museum, an interactive exploration of the ocean’s secrets.

Panama City Beach is an aquatic playland. Charter a boat or fish off the piers. How many snapper, mackerel, pompano or blue marlins can you reel in? At Gulf World Marine Park, laugh at the antics of performing dolphins and sea lions. Take a thrilling airboat ride that skims through local backwaters as you scout for Florida wildlife, or sail on a “dolphin watch” cruise to find these cute marine mammals.

Panama City Beach is a diver’s delight, thanks to its wrecks and reefs. Add kitesurfing, snorkelling, jet skiing and parasailing excursions and it’s obvious why the city has been designated one of the top 10 family beach destinations in the USA.

Especially beautiful is St. Andrews State Park’s velvety beach where whispery sea oats thread through the sand dunes. A lagoon swimming area adds to the beauty.

From December’s Christmas events to February’s Mardi Gras Festival, winters are full of frolic and fun in Panama City Beach. This is one laid-back vacation destination that delivers lifelong memories.

Best Western
San Antonio
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