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Fall Break Getaway: 5 Days in Panama City Beach

Fall Break Getaway: 5 Days in Panama City Beach
This post was written by Amy Duck. She was hosted by The Shores of Panama for the purpose of this review. 

With only 5 days to play and Hurricane Nate churning in the Gulf of Mexico, we blew into Panama City with a lot on the schedule and little margin for error. Like any family stealing a long weekend away, we were looking for all the creature comforts of home in an adventurous and kid-friendly environment as far away from the responsibilities of work and school as possible.

The Shores of Panama by Royal American Beach Getaways was perfect!

Our second-floor room was decorated tastefully in a beautiful blue and turquoise and had a great view of an ocean that for the first two days emanated a similar hue. The view of the sunny gulf was serene and calming for the first two days of our trip. The view of an angry gulf was breathtaking during and after the storm. Our family, however, isn’t a sit-in-the-room and look out the window type of crew. We like to get out and about to experience all a vacation destination has to offer. For two days, that meant maximizing time on the beach!

Living Room at the Shores of the Panama

Unfazed by the unfavorable forecast, we packed lots of beach gear, beach games, and beach drinks for our five-day getaway. Our condo was fortunately fully equipped with lots of storage space for all of our important family essentials. On the way to the growing surf and the saltwater of the gulf, our kids were sidetracked by the large and impressive lagoon pool. The beautifully landscaped freshwater swimming area was complimented well by island music and monarch butterflies, yes, thousands of Monarch Butterflies. It was a scene far too impressive to simply scurry through. So, we settled in to enjoy a cocktail and relish our surroundings.  Thanks to the benefit of complimentary wi-fi at the Shores of Panama, we discovered the monarch butterflies are migrating to Mexico. We were glad to make their acquaintance along the way.

What do to while visiting Panama City Beach

Pool at Shores of the Panama

For two days the beach was an absolute blast! With waves bigger than normal in the gulf, breaking through the always picturesque light blue water of the sea, the beach was better than we could have ever anticipated. Padded beach chairs sitting atop the white sandy surface lifted both our bodies and our spirits as we soaked in the sights and sounds of Panama City. A colorful blend of young people and old, couples and families, provided the perfect backdrop for one of our favorite activities, people-watching.  To be sure, the 10-hour drive was well worth it, as we watched the grins on our children’s faces as they rode the waves, body-surfing their cares away.

Pineapple Willy’s

In the evening, we big kids washed away some cares of our own listening to live music and enjoying drinks at Pineapple Willy’s, just a short walk from our room at the Shores of Panama. The short walk came in handy for the ladies in our group who needed an assist back to the condo after dancing their legs weary on Willy’s dance floor. The cool air conditioning in the room of our home away from home was just what the doctor ordered for a great night sleep.

Gulf World by Dolphin Discovery

Gulf World by Dolphin Discovery in Panama City Beach, Florida

With Nate blowing harder by the hour on day three. So, we decided it was time to take in some sights and sounds from the city. What a show we lucked into at Gulf World by Dolphin Discovery. The animals were entertaining, the staff was engaging, and the shows were out-of-sight. In just a couple of hours, our kids assisted in the direction of a sea-lion, hand-fed stingrays, chatted with exotic birds and came face to face with sharks in an underwater tank. But, the highlight of the visit was by far the high-flying, hard-splashing dolphin show. Watching these brilliant and beautiful animals perform was truly special.

After returning to the Shores of Panama to recharge our batteries, Mother Nature sent a few reminders about Hurricane Nate’s impending arrival. The first reminder was a tornado warning issued as our group was storm-watching from the 23rd floor. Upon returning to our room in search of additional information, our TV signal was taken out by high winds. The outage was short and the warning passed. Never once did we feel unsafe in the fortress of our condo, with an ocean and pool facing balcony. Quite the opposite really, our vantage point was breath-taking and Nate was a thrilling diversion.

Spinnakers Restaurant

We decided it was time to check out the oceanfront food scene; all of this storm watching was making us hungry. Some locals had recommended Spinnakers, and we’ve always leaned heavily on that the folks who live in a community to tell us where to go and what to do. We were not disappointed with the recommendation. In the Midwest, we eat a whole lot of shrimp. It just doesn’t compare to the authentic and fresh catch shrimp that we ordered. Seven entrees and several drinks later our group left the restaurant.

The next morning with dark skies hovering and high winds still howling, sleeping-in was the order of the day. Even the children slumbered a little longer before we cooked up a big ole’ home-cooked breakfast in our condo. Having a full kitchen on vacation is a luxury this family is willing to indulge in.

Great food and Shopping at Pier Park:

A little shopping at Pier Park, ice cream from The Marble Slab. A pint or two of German beer at Hofbraus Munchen Biergarten of Panama City and we were wrapping up our quick and easy fall break in wind-blown style.  Pier Park was a great diversion for our trio of teen girls with shops spanning beyond the ordinary touristy t-shirt fare.  Unique boho-chic boutiques with trendy pieces and surfer brands, game spots for all ages. Food spots galore lined a palm tree boulevard that ended in a lengthy pier on the beach. Traveling Tip: it’s a $3/pp charge for entry onto the pier.

Pier Park in Panama City Beach

Like an uninvited guest, Hurricane Nate may have changed our sun-soaked plans. We didn’t let him ruin our Florida fun.  We would gladly return to this easy destination for sun and fun on the panhandle.
What to do in Panama City Beach