We’ve been to Florida many times, but never to the north-western part of the Sunshine State. We were therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to spend 5 days on the beautiful Emerald Coast in Panama City Beach. The region, also known as the “Florida Panhandle”, attracts visitors with miles of white sandy beaches, emerald green water, unspoiled nature and first-class restaurants.
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Florida’s Panhandle & the Emerald Coast
Most tourists who come to Florida tend to visit the southern or central part of the state with cities such as Miami, Orlando, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Naples and Clearwater. But hardly any tourists travel to the north of Florida. We have never been to this region, which is known as the “Panhandle”, before. This northwestern tip of Florida sticks out like a ‘panhandle’, covering a 320-kilometer-long and 120-kilometer-wide strip on the Gulf of Mexico between the cities of Tallahassee and Pensacola.
The Emerald Coast is part of the Florida Panhandle and includes the beaches and coastal towns from Pensacola to Port St. Joe. The name of this stretch of coast has existed since 1983 and was certainly chosen because of the emerald green water that meets the snow-white, fine sandy beaches here.
One thing you can say is that the places on the Panhandle are different from the rest of Florida. There are fewer tourists, no large amusement parks and no cruise ships here – instead there are smaller towns, beautiful beaches and, above all, more peace and relaxation.
Things to know about Panama City Beach
Wait a minute, Panama in Florida? Isn’t that somewhere else? You read that right: Panama City Beach is a city in the north of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. The town on the beautiful Emerald Coast has around 18,000 inhabitants and is located 5 kilometers west of Panama City and 160 kilometers west of Florida’s capital Tallahassee. Even if the town appears relatively small at first glance, it has a huge tourist infrastructure and therefore stands out somewhat from the rest of the Panhandle. There are more than 20,000 hotels, motels and condominiums as well as campsites and RV parks – something for every taste and budget.
“Where fun meets sun”
Panama City Beach promotes itself with the slogan “Where Fun meets Sun” and more than 320 days of sunshine a year. The city is best known for its 43-kilometer-long white sandy beach, which is one of the most beautiful in the USA and has already won several awards. Sun, beach & sea – the ideal conditions for water sports activities such as surfing, snorkeling and diving, parasailing and jet skiing. There are countless attractions for the whole family here.
The city has a lot to offer in terms of cuisine, and it is not for nothing that it is also known as the “Seafood Capital of the South“. We tried our way through numerous restaurants and have written a separate food guide for Panama City Beach.
Our accommodation: Calypso Beach Resort
In Panama City Beach, we stayed for four nights in the new Calypso Beach Resort Tower 3, an apartment complex not far from the beach. The apartment building was opened in 2021 and has luxury condominiums with fully equipped kitchens and 1 to 3 bedrooms, which can be rented temporarily via Panhandle Getaways or Booking.com, for example. The registration fee of 20 USD per stay also includes a parking pass for the adjacent parking garage. The somewhat older Towers I and II are located directly on the beach, Tower III on the other side of Front Beach Road.
Our apartment was very generously equipped: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms with bathtub and shower, a very well-equipped kitchen, washing machine, dryer, etc. Especially with 2 children, it is now very important to us when traveling that we have enough space and also have the opportunity to cater for ourselves. The apartment was therefore absolutely perfect 🙂
We immediately felt at home here, which was certainly also due to the lovely furnishings with pictures, lamps, decorative objects, etc. An absolute highlight of the apartment is the huge balcony, from which we had a fantastic view of the beach. Perfect for breakfast and a great start to the day 🙂
In such resort buildings, guests usually have access to various amenities during their stay, such as the pool area. The pool is only accessible to the owners and guests of the building and we really liked it. The entrance to the pool was gently sloping so that even small children can play here. There are small cabanas around the pool, which can be rented for an extra fee if required.
The beach near our accommodation
We went to beach near almost every day to relax and enjoy Floridas sun. By the way, dogs are welcome here. There are also plenty of free parking spaces on Front Beach Road or in Pier Park opposite. The fact that the beach is miles long means that people spread out quite well, so you can always find a nice spot right by the water. Our older daughter loved splashing around in the knee-deep water and building sandcastles and didn’t want to leave. The water here is really calm and crystal clear – simply fantastic. On some days we were even able to watch dolphins not far from the beach. Wow!