By  Mike Miller  Updated April 30, 2023.

Panama City, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Panama City, Florida is a city on the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Panhandle.  It is the largest city in Bay County with a population of 34,045.

It seems larger because of the adjacent communities of Lynn Haven, population 20,948, and Panama City Beach, population 18,294.

Panama City, Gulf Coast CollegePanama City, Gulf Coast College

The main highway serving Panama City is US-98 which runs along the Gulf of Mexico in this part of the state.


Panama City and Bay County may be young compared to Pensacola and St Augustine, but the region has seen much throughout history.

Vintage Postcard Panama CityVintage Postcard Panama City

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.

Vintage Postcard, Hotel Dixie ShermanVintage Postcard, Hotel Dixie Sherman

While "Panama City" may look better on travel brochures, the city does still honor the former 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.

Bay High School Panama City FloridaBay High School

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!


Junior Museum of Bay County: Located at 1731 Jenks Ave, Panama City, FL 32405, the Junior Museum of Bay County is a children's museum that offers interactive exhibits and educational programs for kids. The museum encourages learning through play and exploration, providing a fun and engaging environment for children to learn about science, art, and history.

Museum of Man in the Sea: Situated at 17314 Panama City Beach Pkwy, Panama City Beach, FL 32413, the Museum of Man in the Sea is dedicated to preserving the history of diving and underwater exploration. The museum features exhibits on diving equipment, underwater habitats, and submersibles, as well as the history of human interaction with the underwater world.

Panama City Main Street: Panama City Main Street is a historic downtown area located in Panama City, Florida. This area is known for its charming streets lined with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings, offering visitors a glimpse into the city's rich history and a vibrant community atmosphere.

SS Tarpon Underwater Archaeological Preserve: The SS Tarpon Underwater Archaeological Preserve is an underwater heritage site located off the coast of St. Andrews State Park in Panama City, Florida. The SS Tarpon was a steamship that sank in 1937, and now the shipwreck serves as an artificial reef and popular diving site, offering divers a unique opportunity to explore Florida's maritime history.

St. Andrews State Park: Found at 4607 State Park Ln, Panama City Beach, FL 32408, St. Andrews State Park is a beautiful outdoor recreation area known for its pristine beaches, diverse wildlife, and various recreational opportunities. The park offers visitors a chance to enjoy hiking, birdwatching, fishing, and water-based activities, while also preserving the natural beauty of Florida's coastal environment.


Like many spots in Florida, Panama City soon became popular with well-to-do snowbirds from the north.

Today, Panama City Beach is better known than its older neighbor, but Panama City has a lot more history.

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.

Panama City BeachPanama City Beach
Flickr/Domenico Convertini

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 and Panama City Beach have largely replaced Daytona as the destination of choice for Spring Breakers.

Panama City Oaks By The Bay ParkPanama City Oaks By The Bay Park

The beautiful beaches are a great place to spend a day or a vacation unless the Spring Breakers are in town.

Panama Country Club Lynn HavenPanama Country Club Lynn Haven

It still has the unofficial name "Redneck Riviera" because of its popularity with the nearby residents of Alabama and Georgia and the rest of the Florida Panhandle.

Panama City Beach Pier Park ShopsPanama City Beach Pier Park Shops


  • Junior Museum of Bay County
  • Museum of Man in the Sea
  • Panama City Main Street
  • SS Tarpon Underwater Archaeological Preserve
  • St. Andrews State Park
Panama City Bayou Joe's MarinaPanama City Bayou Joe's Marina


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.

Panama City Northwest Florida Beaches International AirporPanama City Northwest Florida Beaches International Airpor

The Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport serves Panama City from cities all over the United States and the rest of the world.

Panama City has several amusement parks where the whole family can have a good time.  One of the best is Gulf World Marine Park.

This attraction provides entertainment while contributing to the conservation and study of marine mammals.  They have dolphins in various habitats, and you can also learn about manatees and sea lions.

Recommended Panama City Restaurant


1151 Bayview Avenue
Panama City, Florida 32401
Tel:  850-763-8427

We tried Uncle Ernie's on a recent trip to the panhandle and really liked it. It overlooks St. Andrews marina, and has a very comfortable nautical atmosphere including old photos on the walls.

There were five of us in our group: three adults and two children, so we got to sample quite a bit of their menu.

We were also seated very promptly in the air conditioned interior. That was great, because it was 90 degrees outside.

Uncle Ernie's Bayfront GrillUncle Ernie's Bayfront Grill

I had blackened grouper and it was great. Another of the group had the shrimp dinner, said it was great, and one of the children had a hamburger which he really loved.

We were given the choice of soup or salad as appetizers, and our salads were great. They also served nice hot bread with butter. It was perfect.

Uncle Ernie's Bayfront GrillUncle Ernie's Bayfront Grill

Although primarily a seafood place, you can also get steaks and several Greek or Italian dishes. Dinner prices range between $ 15.00 to $ 25.00.

They have a big wine list and a good selection of beer including some microbrews made at Ernie's. They also have a full liquor bar with live music for entertainment on some nights.

Service was very good and friendly, and we will certainly go back again.


Shell Island: Panama City Beach, FL 32408. Accessible by boat or shuttle, Shell Island is a 7-mile long undeveloped barrier island boasting white-sand beaches, clear waters, and abundant marine life. Spend a day exploring the island, swimming, snorkeling, or collecting seashells.

Gulf World Marine Park: 15412 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32413. This marine park offers exciting shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, and tropical birds, as well as educational exhibits on marine life. Interact with animals and learn about the importance of marine conservation.

Panama City Beach Winery: 8730 Thomas Dr #1103, Panama City Beach, FL 32408. Sample award-winning fruit wines made from 100% real fruit without any added sugars at this unique winery. Enjoy free tastings and take home a bottle of your favorite wine as a souvenir.

Pier Park: 600 Pier Park Dr, Panama City Beach, FL 32413. This outdoor shopping and entertainment complex features a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions such as an IMAX theater and amusement park rides. Stroll through the area, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy live entertainment during special events.

ZooWorld Zoological and Botanical Conservatory: 9008 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407. This intimate zoo offers a chance to see and interact with a variety of animals, including giraffes, lemurs, and alligators. Enjoy guided tours, animal encounters, and learn about the importance of conservation.

Camp Helen State Park: 23937 Panama City Beach Pkwy, Panama City Beach, FL 32413. This historic park, located on a coastal dune lake, offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, and birdwatching. Explore the park's history and natural beauty, including the restored 1940s-era buildings.

Coconut Creek Family Fun Park: 9807 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407. This family-friendly attraction features two 18-hole miniature golf courses, a giant maze, and a gaming area. Enjoy a day of fun with the entire family, testing your skills and making memories.

Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise: 5325 N Lagoon Dr, Panama City, FL 32408. Embark on a family-friendly pirate-themed cruise aboard a replica pirate ship, complete with pirate entertainment, music, and activities. Enjoy the scenic views of Panama City and spot dolphins during the cruise.

Shipwreck Island Waterpark: 12201 Hutchison Blvd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407. This popular waterpark features a variety of water slides, a lazy river, and a wave pool, catering to thrill-seekers and families alike. Cool off on a hot day and create lasting memories at this exciting attraction.


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