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How to Spend a Weekend in Panama City
Whether you want to see the sights or catch sight of the sea, Panama City is an ideal destination
Renowned for its sugar-white sandy beaches, mouth-watering seafood, and laid-back coastal vibe, Panama City, FL is the perfect destination for a weekend jaunt. This guide has all the info you’ll need to plan a magical weekend in Panama City.
Your 72 hours in Panama City begin as you check in to your hotel, so pick a lodging that puts you within easy reach of the bustling Historic Downtown, as well as the popular beach: the Holiday Inn Panama City ticks all the boxes.
Once you’ve settled into your room and freshened up with a dip in the indoor pool, it’s time to start your weekend in earnest with a stroll through Panama City’s Historic Downtown to Maddie’s La Casita, a lively local favorite serving up fresh enchiladas, tamales, and chimichangas, alongside refreshing agua de horchata and tangy margaritas. Then, round off the evening with a walk down vibrant Harrison Avenue to Mosey’s Downtown, a welcoming bar where you can enjoy a range of craft brews while tapping your feet to live music from local bands.
Start your Saturday morning in downtown Panama City with coffee and scratch-made pumpernickel bagels at The Bagel Maker — the Egghead Deluxe is bound to keep you going until lunchtime. Once you’ve fuelled up, take an amble through downtown to the Panama City Center for the Arts, an airy, palm-flanked gallery housed in an Art Deco building where you can check out work by local artists. Entry is free, and there’s an onsite shop where you can pick up unique souvenirs such as handmade jewelry and limited-edition prints.
After your arty adventures, work up an appetite with a brisk walk through downtown to Millies, a quaint bistro steeped in old-school Southern ambience — locals rave about the soft-shell crab, the fried okra, and the melt-in-the-mouth grouper sticks. Then, head to the Bay County Historical Museum to learn more about Panama City’s storied past.
Panama City comes to life on a Saturday night, and the streets pulse to the beat of live music. Get into the party mood with a traditional Floridian dinner of mahi mahi, fried catfish, or grouper at Bayou Joe’s, a welcoming dockside spot which overlooks the Massalina Bayou and offers stunning sunset views; kick back with a handcrafted cocktail and check out the pretty glowing lights under the dock, which are designed to illuminate passing marine life.
Next, sip a glass of chilled white wine or a craft beer as you soak up the quirky ambiance at the Funky Mermaid Lounge, an intimate, family-run spot that features an in-house pianist. Or, if you’d like to take to the stage yourself, hop on over to Whiskey’s Saloon for a bit of karaoke and pool in an old-school atmosphere.
Sunday morning means you’re down to your last 24 hours in Panama City, but don’t worry, there’s still plenty to do. You’ve seen downtown, so now it’s time to hit the beach — but not before you’ve fuelled up for the day with a gourmet breakfast sandwich and a Bloody Mary at Liza’s Kitchen. Grab a table on the terrace to enjoy cool ocean breezes. Next, head over to ZooWorld Zoological and Botanical Conservatory, where you can learn about local fauna while petting an adorable sloth — or, if you’re feeling brave, snuggling with a baby alligator.
Panama City has over 27 miles of coastline, and there’s no better place to discover it than at St. Andrews State Park. Rent a bike and take a breezy ride above the sleepy bays, or simply stretch out on the warm white sands and listen to the ocean. Then, finish off the afternoon in style with a boat trip to the unspoilt and idyllic Shell Island.
If you’re looking to round off your weekend in Panama City with an unforgettable Sunday night dinner, hop over to Firefly, an upscale spot where you can sample delicious, locally caught seafood beneath the light-studded canopy of a spreading oak tree. Then finish off the night with a bit of bar-hopping along buzzing Front Beach Road, where many bars boast outdoor terraces or decks that look out over the ocean. Pineapple Willy’s is a local favorite situated right on the beach, and is known for its generously sized frozen daiquiris, succulent ribs, and belt-busting po’ boys. After a daiquiri and a walk in the surf, head to the sleek Club la Vela, one of the largest nightclubs in the USA, for one last nightcap before heading home for the night — or dancing the night away on the open-air pool deck!
Whether your idea of the perfect weekend involves wandering through quaint streets or sipping cocktails as the sun sets over the ocean, Panama City is a great choice. Book your weekend in Panama City today!
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