Panama City Beach, known for its stunning white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, is a popular destination in Florida. However, this coastal city has more to offer than just sunbathing and water sports. In this article, we’ll uncover some of the lesser-known attractions and experiences that make Panama City Beach a unique and exciting place to visit.
A hidden gem that often goes unnoticed is Camp Helen State Park. Located on the western border of Panama City Beach, this park offers a mix of natural beauty and historical significance. It features hiking trails that meander through oak forests, dunes, and wetlands, leading to a rare coastal dune lake, Lake Powell. The park’s history as a company resort in the mid-20th century adds a layer of intrigue, with historic buildings still standing for visitors to explore.
Another off-the-beaten-path attraction is the Conservation Park. This park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. With over 24 miles of trails and boardwalks, visitors can enjoy bird watching, hiking, and biking in a serene natural setting. The park plays a crucial role in protecting the local wetlands and wildlife, offering an educational experience about the area’s ecosystem.
For a taste of local culture, the Panama City Beach Winery is a must-visit. This family-owned winery specializes in citrus, berry, and fruit wines, offering a unique Florida twist on traditional wine tasting. Their award-winning wines are made from locally sourced fruits, providing a distinctive and flavorful experience.
Art lovers will appreciate the hidden treasures of the Panama City Beach area, such as the Visual Arts Center of Northwest Florida. This center showcases the work of local and regional artists, with rotating exhibitions and workshops. It’s a great way to experience the vibrant art scene of the Gulf Coast.
Adventure seekers should not miss a visit to Shell Island. This 7-mile long, undeveloped barrier island is accessible only by boat, making it a peaceful escape from the more crowded beaches. The island is perfect for snorkeling, shell collecting, and spotting dolphins in their natural habitat.
In addition to its natural and cultural attractions, Panama City Beach offers a unique dining experience at local hidden gems. One such place is Dusty’s Oyster Bar, a favorite among locals. This casual, no-frills eatery serves some of the best oysters and seafood in the area, offering a true taste of the Gulf Coast.
Exploring deeper into the lesser-known aspects of Panama City Beach, one can’t miss the opportunity to explore St. Andrews State Park, a natural paradise that offers a blend of sandy beaches, coastal marshes, and dense pine forests. This park is a haven for outdoor activities like snorkeling in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico, kayaking along the Grand Lagoon, or hiking the diverse nature trails teeming with local wildlife.
The park also provides a unique chance to learn about the area’s diverse ecosystems through its interpretive programs. For history buffs, the remnants of old military fortifications in the park add an intriguing historical dimension to the visit. St. Andrews State Park is not just a natural retreat but a place where visitors can immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Panama City Beach’s ecological and historical landscape.
Finally, for a different perspective on Panama City Beach, consider a sunset cruise. These cruises offer breathtaking views of the coastline and the chance to see the city’s beauty from the water. It’s a perfect way to end a day of exploring, with the sunset providing a stunning backdrop against the Gulf of Mexico.
Panama City Beach is more than just a beach destination. Its state parks, cultural centers, unique wineries, and natural preserves offer a diverse range of activities and experiences. Whether you’re a nature lover, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for a new adventure, Panama City Beach’s hidden gems are sure to provide an unforgettable experience. If you need more information for heading out to Panama City Beach, you can find the best things to do in Panama City Beach here.