The absolute truth is that you should visit Panama City Beach, Fl in October!
Panama City Beach has been a very popular spring break destination for decades but I have never been nor do I ever plan to be there during spring break. I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories about all of the unruly college kids. Truthfully, they have cracked down on all of the partying and are enforcing new ordinances to control the situation but still…
In October, there are no crowds!
The beaches weren’t full…
The pools and hot tub weren’t full…
The elevators weren’t full…
The restaurants weren’t full…
Just in case you haven’t caught on yet, crowds are NOT my thing!
Vacations are more fun when all the lounge chairs aren’t taken and their isn’t a line at the pool bar 🙂
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Where to Stay in Panama City Beach
I researched where to stay for what felt like ages! I ultimately decided on a condo at Shores of Panama Beach Resort. This was an agonizing decision for one reason…TripAdvisor reviews! You can read those here if you are interested. I looked at pictures and fell in love, then read reviews and felt defeated.
It has been my experience that reviews from people are the best way to judge resorts and hotels. We also own a business and know that the majority of people write a review to complain and don’t necessarily take the time to write one if they had a great experience. I read all of the reviews (and there were many)! The majority of the complaints seemed to be about the parking garage and the elevators. I decided since we were going in October that we would take our chances because this was where I desperately wanted to stay. The horseshoe shaped lagoon style pool had won me over!
I am so glad we did! First of all, the elevators are incredibly fast!
The only one I have been on that felt faster went to the top of the Empire State Building!
That is not to say that they won’t get backed up at all during the spring and summer. I can only imagine that every beach resort has this same issue during their busiest months. As long as your expectations are realistic, you will be fine.
As for the parking garage…it’s a parking garage. What do people really expect? It was a little tight, but other than that no issues. Our designated space was on the 12th floor so you felt a little like a Nascar driver with all the left turns by the time you actually parked!
The pool area and ocean views, as well as restaurants and attractions located nearby completely made up for any minor inconveniences. I could not believe I considered staying somewhere else!
You can book this exact condo using this link! It was beautiful and in a perfect location (as you can see from the pictures)! We will definitely be booking it again when we return to Panama City Beach!
I loved that this condo was on the 12th floor because it was great to just be able to sit on the balcony and look out at the beach and sunsets. We also enjoyed seeing what we could find in the ocean. We saw several schools of fish, as well as stingrays and dolphins. Haylee even “adopted” a pigeon while we were there!
We loved spending time splashing around and jumping the waves!
The water in Panama City Beach is incredibly clear as you can probably tell from the above pictures. In fact, it was so clear that Lewis was able to find $10 on the ocean floor!
After that, we headed to the pool area to spend a little time. There is a beach entry section as well as steps in a few different places around the horseshoe shape. It was so nice to be there during this time of the year that was uncrowded. Also, it was such a large pool area that it felt like we were the only ones there most of the time.
There was only one hot tub which was surprising. It also wasn’t as large as it should have been for such a huge property. It wasn’t a big deal for us since it wasn’t very crowded but in the summer I could see it being an issue.
I should also mention that there is an indoor pool and hot tub if you prefer those.
If crowds aren’t really your thing either, check out our post on Jekyll Island in Georgia. It’s a great “small town feel” coastal vacation spot. We were there in August and it wasn’t crowded at all!
Where to Eat in Panama City Beach
I highly recommend Dat Cajun Place. We got into town late in the evening and stumbled across this place. The food was amazing.
Our daughter is a huge fan of Oysters Rockefeller so she ordered the Baked Sampler which is 4 each of the Three Cheese, Cajun Parmesan and Cajun Rockefeller. She loved them all!
If you’re more of a “turf” lover like me then definitely try the Chicken Orleans. The cream sauce was delicious.
We also enjoyed Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant. It is right on the water and has an amazing outdoor atmosphere with live music!
The food wasn’t as impressive as Dat Cajun Place but the cocktails and the view were so much better!
If you take our recommendation about Shores of Panama resort then you are within walking distance of Pineapple Willy’s! It is an icon in Panama City Beach. Try their signature drink, the Pineapple Willy. It tastes like summer in a cup!
The street you take to get there, Thomas Drive, is actually named after the man who opened Pineapple Willy’s (originally called Pier 99 Lounge), Gideon Thomas!
What to do in Panama City Beach
There are so many activities in PCB that it is almost hard to decide what to do. The first day we decided on a little putt-putt and go-karting! Race City has a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge on their track so that is where we went!
Then we were off to Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf…
Deep Sea Fishing with Miss Kelley Fishing Charters
The highlight of our trip came the next day when we took Haylee deep sea fishing for the very first time!
After a lot of research I decided we would try Miss Kelley Fishing Charters. They had several reviews that stated how great they were with children. Being that it was Haylee’s first time deep sea fishing, I wanted to make sure we had a mate that would be willing to help her. I am happy to say that they did not disappoint. The captain and the mate were both friendly and welcoming. We were up and out well before the sun came up! As the sun was rising we were trolling for bait.
We caught a lot of King Mackerel and Vermilion Snapper! The only bad thing we found about visiting in October is that it is not in season to keep Red Snapper or Grouper. That is not worth fighting the crowds and heat for me though!
The last great thing that we had time to discover on our trip to Panama City Beach was Nivol Brewery! Lewis is a huge fan of craft beer so we try to visit breweries and try different types of beer on every trip that we take.
They had this awesome Jenga set in the plaza right outside the doors! They also had a ping pong table and a pool table as well as a scrabble game set up on a table by the window. It was easy to keep Haylee entertained while Lewis was busy sampling!
We look forward to planning another trip to Panama City Beach sometime in the future! If you have any suggestions of things that we should see or do we would love to hear them!