Despite being a completely separate municipality, it is easy to confuse the history of Panama City Beach with the larger Panama City located just inland from Panama City Beach. However, these two entities offer very distinct opportunities.
Known for its 27-mile stretch of stunning white sand beaches, Panama City Beach is one of the most popular tourist destinations located in the Florida panhandle, and it’s hard not to fall in love with what the city refers to as “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.” Tourists and residents alike are able to enjoy scenic state parks, exciting theme parks, and more golf courses than most can keep track of.
Panama City Beach History
Originally discovered by Spanish explorers, the area that would become Panama City Beach was purchased by the United States in 1819. It then became a favorite location of General Andrew Jackson when he marched his troops through the Florida panhandle on their way to New Orleans. When the territory became available to settlers, many of Jackson’s troops were the first to call Panama City Beach home.
Fast forward quite a few years and we will see that the early 2000s were one of the most interesting times in the history of Panama City Beach. This is when the real estate boom motivated builders and investors to upgrade many of the older beachfront buildings into modern condominiums and fabulous luxury homes. The area saw real estate values quadruple before coming back to earth after the real estate collapse in 2008.
Panama City Beach Demographics
The 2010 census recorded a population of 12,018 people in Panama City Beach, which showed a slowing of the growth rate that had been above 80% throughout the previous two decades. Today, the local population is estimated to be just slightly higher at 12,624.
Out of those 12,624 people who call Panama City Beach home, approximately 45% of them are over the age of 45.
Panama City Beach Lifestyle
The lifestyle in Panama City Beach starts and ends with that absolutely stunning 27-mile stretch of gorgeous white sand beaches. Whether you like to enjoy the beach by spending the entire day laying out in the sun or you prefer to walk for miles in the sugary sand, this is paradise for anyone who loves the beachfront lifestyle.
One of the most popular beach destinations in Panama City Beach is St. Andrews State Park, where visitors will find the perfect combination of beachfront beauty and natural surroundings. In addition to offering beach access, St. Andrews State Park also picnicking and boating facilities, as well as two nature trails that are great for bird watching.
Panama City Beach Culture
Because everything in Panama City Beach is focused around the beach lifestyle, you aren’t going to find a thriving theatre community here. But if that is something that is important to you, there are plenty of cultural options to keep you busy in nearby Panama City.
One show that Panama City Beach residents enjoy on a regular basis is Maximum Magic presented by Noah Wells. This exciting dinner show will have you on the edge of your seat throughout your entire meal.
Another cultural attraction that really fits in with the Panama City Beach vibe is a visit to the Panama City Beach Winery. Located right on the beach, this local winery specializes in many different types of fruit wines that are all spectacular. They also offer something called “Cool Freeze Mixes” that are basically wine smoothies!
Panama City Beach Shopping
For many people in Panama City Beach, the best shopping can be found by wandering into one store after another as you walk up and down the beach. But if you are looking for a more serious shopping experience, Pier Park is definitely the place you want to start. This outdoor mall contains all of your favorite stores like Target, Forever 21, Dillards, JC Penney’s, and Marshall in a beautiful beach setting.
If you are shopping for more original items, Little Village is the place to find them. This waterfront shopping venue hosts all kinds of unique items from many different local artists. The inventory is always changing here, so you will want to stop back often to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Panama City Beach Dining
One of best things about Panama City Beach is the unbelievable selection of fantastic restaurants that residents and visitors have to choose from. If you are looking to grab a quick bit for breakfast or lunch, you will definitely want to check out the breakfast menu at Red Rae’s Restaurant and the monster burritos at Diego’s Burrito Factory.
For a casual dinner, Sisters of the Sea Grille & Grog is the place to be. The menu here prominently features seafood dishes, but there is definitely something for everyone. Make sure you try their She Crab Soup!
When you are ready for a fancy dinner that will blow your mind, Firefly is the local steakhouse that will wow you with sizzling filets in one of the most romantic atmospheres you will find anywhere. But as good as the steaks are here, you really have to try the bone-in pork chop.
When you combine an amazing selection of restaurants with a great state park and interesting culture and shopping experiences right on one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world, you end up with the ultimate beach lovers’ paradise. If that sounds like the place for you, then you should definitely plan a visit to Panama City Beach.