Panama City Beach, situated along the beautiful Emerald Coast of Florida with sparkling white sand and gorgeous azure waters, used to be the destination of choice for spring break for college students. It still is, but after spending a week there this summer with my grown daughter and seven-year old grandson, I can assure you that it’s a perfect family destination as well.
We split our stay between the Bay Point Wyndham, located a few miles away from the beach on St. Andrews Bay, and the Laketown Wharf Resort, right on the beach. Both destinations were perfect for families. A two bedroom villa at the Wyndham with a kitchenette made it easy to keep snacks and drinks available and offered the perfect sleeping arrangements for our family. With five gorgeous pools, on-site restaurants, an incomparable spa, and a world-class golf course, this resort is an idyllic location. One of the amenities we enjoyed the most was their free shuttle out to Shell Island, an unspoiled and quite lovely National Park located just a few miles away, where you will probably see dolphins.
The Laketown Wharf Resort, with one to three bedroom luxury condos, four pools, a new restaurant and coffee café opening soon, and a location just a few steps over a wooden boardwalk to the beach, was the perfect place for our beach-loving family. Every single condo overlooks the unbelievable beauty of the Gulf of Mexico and has a full kitchen which we always appreciate when we travel. Eating out every single meal gets pretty expensive and it’s nice to stock your kitchen with the makings for a nice breakfast and lunch, and then enjoy the fresh, local seafood for dinner.
When we were ready for some entertainment, we spent an incomparable day at the Gulf World Marine Park. The park itself is small but immaculately clean and all the animals seemed to be well cared for and very content. The dolphins had such close relationships with their trainers that they actually allowed the trainers to work in the tank with them and their young babies which were the cutest things we had ever seen. There are several different wildlife shows every day and my grandson enjoyed every single one.
One of the best days we had was spent on a catamaran with Paradise Adventures. They offer a variety of cruises and experiences but we chose to head back with them to Shell Island on the bay side where they have moored a wide variety of inflatable slides and climbing toys as well as kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and paddleboards. Everyone on the catamaran had a ball strolling on the beach, playing on the equipment and enjoying watersports.
Now that I know how beautiful this area is and how much fun is offered for families, I will be heading back to Panama City Beach soon. It’s the perfect family beach destination!
By Jan Ross, Staff Writer