HAVE A BLAST AT PIER PARK IN PANAMA CITY BEACH
The beaches of Panama City Beach are unbeatable! There are a whopping 27 miles of them and with pristine sugar-white sands, aqua waters and endless businesses dedicated to helping you make the most of them, you could devote your whole trip to the area to waterside and water-based activities. But, really, those are just one piece of a PCB vacay—there are many other types of adventures to be had here.
Whether you go for challenging high-adrenaline activities or more chill experiences, the area will meet your needs with everything from unforgettable restaurants and treasure-packed stores to fun amusement park rides, animal encounters and out-of-this-world movie theaters. Best of all: there’s one place that gives you wide-ranging access to all these adventures—Pier Park. So, pass under the complex’s iconic entrance arch and start enjoying what amounts to one of the most fun-packed and delicious destinations in Panama City Beach.
Located on Front Beach Road in the heart of the city, this convenient- to-the-beach shopping, dining and entertainment complex keeps you outdoors (where, let’s face it, most prefer to be when visiting the area) while letting you and virtually every member of your family indulge in their favorite leisure pursuits. Oh, let’s not forget the people watching—it doesn’t get much better.
The mall even stages events throughout the year—from car shows to an annual Shrimp, Crab & Oyster festival to holiday festivities. No matter when you visit, there’s likely to be something exciting happening at Pier Park.
Pier Park is a Foodie Mecca
What gets you salivating? An easy, affordable bite like a pizza, burger or hot dog? Or would you rather dig into a fine dining option like seafood, steak or an international specialty? Maybe you turn to coffee, ice cream, a smoothie or a pretzel to pick you up and power your adventures… Whatever your preference, there’s something for every palate and budget at Pier Park and it’s all mouthwatering. So, either come with an appetite or stay long enough to work one up. You won’t want to miss out on these goodies—there are about 25 restaurants in Pier Park, but there are at least 1001 good reasons to celebrate. Here are a couple of great spots to begin your food romps.
Head to The Back Porch for Gulf seafood. How could you NOT sample the fresh catches of Panama City Beach at a place that’s been redefining seafood dishes for almost 50 years!? Try their Chargrilled Amberjack (they were the first to serve it in the area) and their renowned fresh Appalachicola oysters. Oh—and be sure to also take a seat in their giant Adirondack chair and snap a selfie (it’ll come out even better if you’re decked out in one of their souvenir T-shirts). The Back Porch menu options make for great ‘grams, but there’s much more to the fabulousness here than the dishes.
Take more bites out of paradise (and we’re not talking about apples) at Margaritaville. Sample one of their many signature burgers, get liquid with one of their frozen margaritas and soak up their chill tropical vibe. Whether you’re eating, drinking or doing some of each, in this beachy island-style hangout you’ll feel like you’re celebrating.
Bag a Treasure (or Two or Twenty-Five)
Sure, Pier Park has the big box and anchor stores that everyone knows, loves and needs, but you’ll also find a host of specialty shops here. In fact, it’s fair to say that you can probably find most anything you’re looking for among Pier Park’s 100+ stores—they’re tantamount to shopping heaven.
Tap into all things beach, surf and just generally stylishly cazh at the Ron Jon Surf Shop. In Panama City Beach, you’ll be spending time along the shore and this is your place for all the things you’ll need out there, plus great souvenirs (emblazoned with the very cool Ron Jon logo) to bring back home.
To protect your eyes from Panama City Beach’s awesome sunshine (visitors can never seem to get enough of it!), tap into Sunglass World, where you’ll find a world of super stylish shades from top brands. Tip: Consider designing your own glasses here; they have an Oakely Custom Bar—and it’s the only one in the area.
The water and sands in Panama City Beach are nothing if not shimmering. For something beautiful and lastingly concrete to remind you of your luminous PCB adventures, head to Shimmering Seas Jewelry. Eye and then buy cool designs from both established brands (Alex and Ani, Pandora, Uno de 50, Spartina, etc.) and local emergent artists.
Pier Park’s World of Entertainment
Fun and games get you goin’? Then look no further than the Pier Park attraction that towers above them all: the 200-foot-hight SkyWheel. Take a ride on this observation wheel and get a breathtaking panoramic view of the Gulf and the surroundings (there’s also a ropes course and a mini golf course).
Or for a more down-to-earth (well, kinda) experience, catch a blockbuster at The Grand Theatre—a state-of-the art 16-screen multiplex theater (complete with IMAX and DBOX MFX motion seats). But if you want to engage all your senses while you watch a movie, tap into the XD Darkride Experience—all the special effects, sound tech and motion seats at this place add up to movie-watching on steroids. The kids will also love the arcade and video games at Dave and Buster’s.
But if adulting is more your game, head to famous honky-tonk Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and get your two-step on. Mad fun!
So, that’s a lot (and we mean that in the best of ways). And you could just stop there. But WHY? There’s so much more to do—just down the road a bit AND high above it.
Swampy Jack’s Wongo Adventure will make kids of all ages (including kids at heart) feel like the world travelers they either are or want to be. Because at this theme park they go on ‘round-the-globe adventures using credits added to a themed passport card. Experience high-speed go karts on the Marrakesh Road Rally, ride a skiff in Swamp Ape and spot a fearsome mythical creature, sail through the skies on the Eye of the Kraken and go for a fierce undersea spin in the Blue Hole. Snacks and treats and midway games provide lots more variety.
If getting water born in Panama City Beach wasn’t enough, Panhandle Helicopter, on Airport Rd., will get you sky born, and give you a whole new perspective on Panama City Beach’s awesomeness. You’ll be flying over some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (think: emerald-colored waters and sea life) and, depending on your choice of flight, city sights, too.
And when you’re done exploring in Pier Park, head over to Pier Park North (located across from Pier Park) for even more shopping and dining options. You’ll also find phone, spa, nutrition and fitness outposts here, as well as a bank and a food market.
We can all agree that more of a good thing is an even better thing. Right?