Thursday, June 6, 2013

Panama City Beach, Florida, USA

Panama City Beach, Florida

By Susan Woodby

Not just for Spring Break!
There are cities all over the world that are tourist attractions, great places to live, cultural meccas, educational centers, and even retirement communities.  Few places, however, are known for all of them at the same time.  Panama City and Panama City Beach Florida have the distinct advantage of appealing to all age groups and all of the diverse interests.

Panama City is located in the panhandle of Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. It has long been known for its beautiful sugar white beach sand – 27 miles of it! – and as a number 1 rated Spring Break destination.  It is also home of the Thunder Beach Spring and fall motorcycle rally each year, as well as the Iron Man triathalon. Of course, many families choose to come to Panama City for the many sports and fishing tournaments, or just to enjoy the sun and surf.

Are you looking for a shopping destination? The new Pier Park shopping complex (over 900,000 sq. ft.) will definitely fascinate you. It includes a 16 screen movie theatre, restaurants such as Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville, national retailers as well as small unique local shops, and even an amusement park to enthrall the kids while you shop!  The rides in the park are right in the middle of the center, and have been brought from the old Miracle Strip amusement park and completely refinished.
When you go looking for nightlife, the only problem
you might have is choosing what you want to do? Club LaVela, the largest night club in the U.S., is prominently located on Thomas Drive, right on the water. Right next door is the world famous Spinnaker Beach Club. You can also make your selection from hundreds of others – you are sure to find one that suits you.

Panama City also features restaurants for every taste and budget. Are you looking for great steak and seafood? Try the Boars Head for fine casual dining, or maybe Angelos’s Steak Pit. Warning, you can’t drive by either of these and not be drawn in by the aroma drifting out! Or maybe you prefer Italian cuisine? Stop by Carrabbas for a real treat. Of course, if you prefer something simpler, but just as special – try Tom’s hot dogs. This may sound very ordinary, but U.S. presidents have made a special stop for these great treats! If hamburgers are your thing, Spinnaker Beach Club makes the “best burger in paradise” that really lives up to its name.

Have you always thought of Panama City as just for spring break? Were you aware that it has a very large local art colony, with many studios and shops in the downtown area? Visit downtown Panama City and the St. Andrews area for a real thrill. Visit the Visual Arts Center which offers a local and national art museum gallery, great exhibits, and art classes.

Of course, there is always Friday Fest for visitors and locals alike. The first Friday of every month, downtown Panama City streets are shut down from 5:00 to 10:00. Local vendors, musicians, antique car clubs, artists and more are there for your pleasure, and it is all free.
There are also many small places on the outskirts of town that offer unbeatable entertainment. At least once, everyone should experience the Digital Graffiti festival at Alys Beach, where an entire coastal town is turned into a kaleidoscopic color explosion with the art projected onto the all white buildings. This year, as an added attraction, Digital Graffiti is teaming up with Quality Imports BMW and offering daily test-drives on ten gorgeous BMW’s!
There is all of this and so much more to Panama City. When you are looking for a place to call home, or the perfect travel destination, be sure to give a thought to this beautiful area!

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