When you hear Panama City, your mind might go straight to the country or the beach. But Panama City, Florida is a destination in its own right, located on the bay and with its own traditions far from the spring break crowds. There’s something for all ages to enjoy, whether you’re looking for fresh seafood, quirky finds at downtown shops, or activities for the family.
They don’t just have food trucks, but also food boats!
Walk down to the harbor and you’ll find Just the Cook, a boat that sells gumbo, burgers, and even pasta. Everything is made fresh daily and once they run out, that’s all there is. The laws surrounding their alcohol sales are fuzzy, but you can get a beer with your meal. Their hours vary, so check their Facebook before you go.
It has its own Mardi Gras festivities.
Like in New Orleans, Panama City has krewes, or organizations, that plan Mardi Gras festivities year-round, including the theme. There are two parades, including one for families, and each krewe is in charge of getting its own goodies to throw at locals. They include beads and snacks like Moon Pies.
There’s a thriving arts scene.
There aren’t as many murals, as you might find in other cities, but instead there are drawings in chalk for less permanent pieces that showcase pride for the St. Andrews area. Floriopolis hosts local art exhibitions and so does the Panama City Center for the Arts.
Some stores have bars in the back.
Wandering into an antique store at night, you might be surprised to find a neon sign declaring the beers on offer. But Panama City has something I’ve never experienced: store bars. Once sales end for the storefront, the back turns into a night spot, serving cheap beer.
There are a number of cool neighborhoods.
St. Andrews is one of the most well-known, home to most of the restaurants and shops. But another is Gulfview and Downtown. Home to the historic Martin Theatre, this is where you’ll find a number of Panama City’s historic structures.
Have you been to Panama City, Florida?
My trip was organized by Lou Hammond Group and Visit Panama City.