Panama City Florida and its host, Bay County, may be young compared to Pensacola and St Augustine, but the region has seen much throughout history.
St. Andrew's Bay was visited by the expeditions of DeSoto, Pineda, Navarez and other Spanish explorers in the 16th century.
The town was originally named Harrison City in honor of Tippecanoe tough guy and 9th US President William H. Harrison.
The name was changed to Panama City since a line drawn on the map from Chicago to the Panama Canal runs through the city.
The name was probably changed from Harrison because poor William's presidency lasted about as long as a gnat's life cycle.
While "Panama City" may look better on travel brochures, the city does still honor the unfortunate President with Harrison Avenue.
St. Andrews, Panama City's "Old Town", was very important to the Confederacy during the Civil War. The deep harbor and the bayous surrounding St. Andrew's Bay made good hideouts for Confederate blockade runners.
Many supplies that were desperately needed by the war effort were brought in through this part of Florida.
Several salt works in the area supplied the Confederacy, to such a degree that the Union had to send ironclads in to halt the operations.
St. Andrews itself was almost completely destroyed by a blockading Union fleet.
Speaking of salt, the white sands of the Emerald Coast around Panama City Beach are of such a fine grade that in the 19th and 20th centuries many unscrupulous traders sold them as sugar or salt.
That would throw a wrench in anyone's recipe!
Like many spots in Florida, Panama City soon became popular with well-to-do snowbirds from the north.
During World War II, the city became an important center for shipping and ship building. Tyndall Air Force Base was opened in 1941 and is still a major employer in the area.
The city grew and eventually enveloped nearby townships like the aforementioned St. Andrews, which is now a restored historic district with many renovation projects under way.
With its history, colorful buildings and beautiful emerald waters, Panama City Florida and Panama City Beach have largely replaced Daytona as the destination of choice for Spring Breakers.
There's a reason sleazy Joe Francis of "Girls Gone Wild" fame has spent so much time in Panama City jails.
PANAMA CITY HERITAGE SITES
HOW TO GET TO PANAMA CITY
Panama City, Florida is on the Gulf of Mexico about halfway between Pensacola and Tallahassee.
It is connected to the outside world by US-231, which terminates in the city, and is on US-98, the main highway along the Gulf Coast.
The brand new Beaches International Airport serves Panama City from cities all over the world.