What to see when visiting Panama City Beach

We just returned home from a much-needed beach vacation. Ben and I spent a week in Panama City Beach with his family. We booked late in the season, so the only open beach-front condo we could was in Panama City, which was a-okay with me as I've made many unforgettable memories there. Of course, most of them involve vacationing with my friends for senior trip or college spring break. I must admit... the best week of my life was spent there during spring break my junior year.

While visiting this year, it occurred to me that Panama City Beach is much like the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area - very touristy with one tacky souvenir shop after another.

Instead of strictly limiting our activities to Panama City, my colleagues recommended we check out Rosemary BeachAlys Beach and Seaside, which were a short drive down 30A. Let me tell you... these are the places to be!

Next time, I'm staying in Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach or Seaside. These charming beach towns rocked my world. Talk about gorgeous! They are a must-see next time you're visiting Panama City or Destin.

Image via Grayton Coast Rentals
I thought I would share a little mini tour so you can get a sneak peak of these beauties.

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach was my favorite. It reminded me of the Village of Mariemont in Cincinnati. It truly had the vibe of a European village. The streets were lined with gorgeous dwellings. You could easily slip in and out of inviting boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops.

While browsing one boutique, the sales associate told me that we must visit The Pearl Hotel and have drinks at the rooftop bar. And that we did! 

The Pearl (pictured above and below) was stunning! With a classic black and white exterior and lavish furnishings, this hotel should be on your "to-visit" list even if you don't plan on reserving a room. (Rooms range from $500 to $700 a night.)

The sales associate at that boutique was right! The rooftop bar was exceptional! 

We sipped margaritas and pina coladas while enjoying the breeze, listening to sounds of the beach not far away and taking in the sights.

Some of the sights included the stunning pool and cabana areas alongside the rooftop bar.

Here are a few more shots around town...

Alys Beach

Blink and you'll miss Alys Beach. It seemed like a tiny town. It's just outside of Rosemary Beach. I promise you will notice the main drag though. Palm trees and white buildings line the entrance. 


Seaside was comparable to Rosemary Beach in terms of the amount of restaurants and shops. In fact, it might even have more. This town's vibe was different than Rosemary though. The architecture had more of a true southern feel, but was equally as charming.

St. Andrews 

In addition to our trips down 30A, we also found fun cruising the St. Andrews area. We booked an excursion through Paradise Adventures and took a catamaran boat out to Shell Island. (That's my hubby helping to raise the sail.)

Our trip included dolphin-watching, free cocktail tickets and two hours of water inflatables, banana boat rides and snorkeling. To top it off, the price was pretty reasonable - only $60 per person for a half day excursion.

So, what are your favorite things to do when visiting the Panama City Beach area?

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