24 hours at Panama City Beach & Port San Blas

Port San Blas sunset near the marina

Over the weekend Justin and I went to explore Panama City Beach and Port St. Joe/Port San Blas with his family. It was a whirlwind weekend trip, and I learned more about Panama City Beach and Port San Blas than I ever intended on knowing.

Panama City Beach

Where We Stayed:

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort, which was actually a lot more fun than I expected. Our room had a view of the ocean and pool. The hotel was very upscale providing lots of little "extras". One of my favorite extras was the strawberry and pineapple infused water you could get out near the pool. :) They also provided water infused with lime and lemon, sweet tea, coffee, and gave us a coupon for 2 free drinks from the hotel bar. Every day there were a ton of activities near the pool including nightly movies, Polynesian flame throwers, a DJ during the day, a kids water park, and poolside pizza and Hawaiian ice you could order. Honestly the things you could pay for and the entertainment options were endless with this particular hotel. Even if you decided to provide everything yourself, the hotel rooms all offered balconies with a view, huge rooms, and home size fridges for your convenience. While the rooms were pretty expensive, it was definitely fun having access to any amenities we could want.

Where We Shopped:

The Florida House offers feminine Free People style clothing – jewelry, dresses, flip flops, skirts, and tops made with crocheted material, lace, tulle, and using pastel colors perfect for keeping you comfortable, cool, and stylish at the beach. Don't expect cheap tourist prices though; dresses began at $50.

The Shadow Box provided some unique coastal shabby chic pieces and antiques, mostly in the turquoise and white colors you expect to see at the beach with a few seashells and fun beach sayings thrown into the mix. Prices, as you would expect from this kind of store, are not thrift store friendly.

A non-profit created by and for local artists, Floriopolis is an art gallery with every type of art you could ever imagine for sale including paintings, photographs, homemade cards, and the owner mentioned they are considering adding an outdoor area soon as well. If you have children, be sure to look into the art classes they offer. I imagine there can't be a better way to take an art class than at the beach!

Where We Ate:

Andy's Flour Power was packed from the moment we pulled into the parking lot, ten minutes before it opened. The bakery and cafe provided delicious breakfast options just a bit different from what was provided at the numerous local Waffle Houses. I can only recommend what I tried, but what I tried was good. :) We had a dish of potatoes and peppers topped with cheese, ham and eggs along with a croissant and some strawberries.

The Farmer's Market at Grand Lagoon and Captain Anderson's, open on Saturdays until 1PM, is certainly a great place to shop for locally made goods and foods, but Justin and I found it to be the perfect place to grab a bite to eat as well. One particular vendor was selling homemade barbeque, cole slaw, and fresh ice cream. This lunch made by locals was far better than anything we could have (or did) get at any other restaurants we ate at while we were on vacation. I highly recommend checking this out if you are in the area and can be convinced to leave the hotel! :)

Port St. Joe/Port San Blas

All I really have to say about this area is that this is where you go if you want the more scenic views of the gulf and if you don't mind bugs. Panama City Beach has strong waves that just keep coming, but it also has an enormous amount of tourists. The ports on the other hand are more protected with less "true" beach access.

Even the restaurants and stores found near the ports were less than fantastic. Expect typical stores like Winn Dixie, Piggly Wiggly, CVS, and Goodwill. If you do find good food at local restaurants, you will pay for it. A much better idea is to stay somewhere where you can either bring your own food or go fishing if you have access to a pier or a boat.

What is your favorite beach in Florida? Do you prefer crowded, touristy beaches or do you like to go to beaches less visited? Is there anywhere in Panama City Beach or Port St. Joe/Port San Blas that I should have visited?

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