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Postcard from Panama City, Florida

It isn’t every day you might take in a performance of the 200-piece Ukulele Orchestra of St Andrews, unless you are visiting Panama City, Florida.

That’s just one of many experiences that await you at the destination.

Overlooking St. Andrews Bay, the largest city between Pensacola and Tallahassee, Panama City offers a balance of culinary delights, outdoor activities and cultural encounters while radiating a laid-back feel. This combination makes it an irresistible getaway for individuals, couples and families.

Whether you’re coming in for the weekend or longer, you don’t want to miss certain aspects of the destination.

Hugging the shores of the Bay, Historic St. Andrews is one of Panama City’s four distinctive neighborhoods. Reminiscent of an old Florida fishing village, it has an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. Oh, and you don’t miss St. Andrews murals and selfie spots.

You’ll also find the welcome center housed in the former Bank of St. Andrews (ca. 1907) and the Panama City Publishing Company Museum (ca. 1920), highlighting the industry through photographs, documents and other artifacts. Explore further with either a guided walking tour or a self-guided walking trail—don’t miss the Pelican Tree and Oaks by the Bay Park.

The historic downtown is the destination’s arts and theatre hub, home to the Panama City Center for the Arts, Martin Theatre and the CityArts Cooperative which hosts exhibits, classes and more. For more hands-on art experiences, check out LH Bead Gallery, Panama City Hot Glass and UnReal ARTists Gallery.

And, yes, there is a Mural Trail here, too.

There’s history to discover as well. The Bay County History Museum introduces the unique stories of Panama City and the surrounding area through exhibits. In addition, Destination Panama City has available for download a self-guided historic tour of downtown, featuring spots like McKenzie Park.

Due to the city's location, there are ample ways to get on the water. Whether you want to fish, spot dolphins or visit Shell Island - to name a few activities - find a charter boat to make it happen. Pontoon, wave runners and other rentals are available as well.

Another way to enjoy the water is to rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore Panama City's Paddle Trail.

Oysters at Hunt's Oyster Bar; photo personal collection

Even the most discriminating foodie will find Panama City’s culinary offerings impressive. It may sound clichéd, but there’s truly something for every appetite and budget.

For breakfast, opt for Bayou Joe's, with its views of Massalina Bayou and options like the Bayou Omelet or the Garbage Potatoes. At lunchtime, consider a hotdog (or two) from Tom's Hotdogs or a charcuterie board (and a coffee drink for dessert or an afternoon pick-me-up) at The Press, both located downtown.

Craving fresh seafood? You are in the right place. Start with the oysters at Hunt’s Oyster Bar. You won't be disappointed. Want more? Panama City has an Oyster Trail, highlighting a handful of restaurants and their oyster specialties. There is also an Ale Trail, showcasing its breweries and pubs.

If you want to sample eateries in a particular neighborhood, book a food tour with A Taste of Panama City and choose either Harrison Avenue (downtown) or Beck Avenue (St. Andrews) tour.

Before You Go ... Whether it’s Mardi Gras, Blessing of the Fleet, Oktoberfest or Public Eye Soar, there is always something going on in Panama City. The destination hosts events year-round. Elevate your visit by planning your getaway around one.


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