If you’re looking for exciting day trips from Panama City Beach, you’ve come to the right place. From exploring the charming St. Andrews State Park to snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Shell Island, there’s no shortage of adventures waiting for you just a short drive away. Discover the beauty of nature at Econfina Creek or immerse yourself in history at the picturesque St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or thrilling outdoor activities, these day trips offer something for everyone looking to escape the bustling city and embrace the wonders of the Florida Panhandle.
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St. Andrews State Park
St. Andrews State Park is a beautiful destination located just a short drive from Panama City Beach. With its stunning natural beauty and a variety of outdoor activities, it’s a perfect spot for a day trip. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the park’s wildlife, or take a shuttle boat to the nearby Shell Island, St. Andrews State Park has something for everyone.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy at St. Andrews State Park. If you’re a beach lover, you’ll be thrilled to know that the park boasts two miles of beautiful white sandy beaches. You can soak up the sun, swim in the crystal-clear waters, or simply relax and enjoy the stunning views. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try your hand at snorkeling or take a kayak or paddleboard out on the water.
Nature enthusiasts will be delighted by the abundant wildlife at St. Andrews State Park. The park is home to a wide variety of bird species, making it a popular spot for birdwatching. You might also spot dolphins frolicking in the waters or observe sea turtles nesting on the beach during the nesting season. There’s so much to see and discover, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars and camera.
Shuttle Boat to Shell Island
For those looking to explore beyond the park, the shuttle boat to Shell Island is a must. Shell Island is an undeveloped barrier island located just off the coast of St. Andrews State Park. It’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts and beachcombers, with its pristine beaches and abundance of seashells. The shuttle boat offers convenient transportation to and from Shell Island, so you can spend a day exploring its natural wonders before heading back to St. Andrews State Park for the evening.
Shell Island is a hidden gem that should not be missed during your visit to Panama City Beach. This beautiful barrier island is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an array of activities and natural beauty to explore.
Shell Island is an undeveloped and pristine island located just off the coast of St. Andrews State Park. With its untouched beaches, crystal-clear waters, and natural dunes, it’s a paradise for nature lovers. The island is accessible only by boat, which adds to its secluded and peaceful atmosphere. As you step foot on Shell Island, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a remote oasis, far away from the bustling tourist crowds.
Snorkeling and Swimming
One of the most popular activities on Shell Island is snorkeling. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the island are teeming with marine life and colorful coral reefs, making it a prime spot for underwater exploration. Strap on your snorkeling gear and dive into the water to discover a world of tropical fish, sea turtles, and vibrant coral formations.
If you’re more interested in swimming, Shell Island’s beaches offer the perfect backdrop. With its turquoise waters and soft sands, you can spend the day wading in the shallow waters or taking refreshing dips to beat the heat. Don’t forget your sunscreen and beach towel!
Shelling and Beachcombing
As the name suggests, Shell Island is famous for its abundance of seashells. The island’s pristine beaches provide the perfect opportunity for beachcombing and shell collecting. You’ll find a wide variety of shells washed up on the shoreline, including conch shells, sand dollars, and even starfish. Spend some time strolling along the beach, and you’re sure to find some treasures to take home as souvenirs.
Shell Island is also a popular spot for dolphin spotting. The waters surrounding the island are home to a thriving population of bottlenose dolphins. Keep an eye out for these playful creatures as they swim and frolic in the waves. It’s a magical experience to witness these majestic animals in their natural habitat, so don’t forget to bring your camera to capture this unforgettable moment.
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Grayton Beach State Park
Located along the scenic Emerald Coast, Grayton Beach State Park is another excellent day trip option from Panama City Beach. This picturesque state park offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy.
Grayton Beach State Park is known for its stunning white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rolling sand dunes. It’s a favorite spot amongst locals and tourists alike, thanks to its pristine beauty and laid-back atmosphere. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the park’s scenic nature trails, or try your hand at fishing or paddleboarding, Grayton Beach State Park has something for everyone.
Scenic Nature Trails
One of the highlights of Grayton Beach State Park is its scenic nature trails. The park boasts several trails that wind through its diverse ecosystems, including coastal dune lakes, pine flatwoods, and salt marshes. As you hike along these trails, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico and the park’s unique plant and animal life. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, birds, and other wildlife that call the park home.
Grayton Beach State Park offers visitors two miles of magnificent beaches to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to swim, sunbathe, or build sandcastles, the park’s beaches provide the perfect setting. The waters are calm and clear, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely swim or picnicking on the shore. So grab your beach towel and spend a day soaking up the sun and enjoying the gentle ocean breeze.
Fishing and Paddleboarding
For those interested in angling or paddleboarding, Grayton Beach State Park is a paradise. The park is home to Western Lake, one of South Walton’s rare coastal dune lakes. The lake offers excellent fishing opportunities, with a variety of freshwater and saltwater species to catch. If you prefer paddleboarding, you can rent a paddleboard and explore the calm waters of the lake, taking in the beautiful surroundings as you glide along.
Apalachicola National Forest
If you’re a nature lover looking for a day trip from Panama City Beach, look no further than Apalachicola National Forest. This vast forest sprawls across more than half a million acres, offering endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and wildlife viewing.
Apalachicola National Forest is a true hidden gem, boasting one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Southeast. From its towering longleaf pine trees to its pristine rivers and springs, the forest is a haven for nature enthusiasts. With its extensive network of hiking and biking trails, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the forest and discover its hidden treasures.
Hiking and Biking Trails
Apalachicola National Forest is a paradise for hikers and bikers. The forest offers a wide range of trails, catering to both beginners and experienced adventurers. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, you’ll find a trail that suits your preferences. As you explore the forest, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this area home, including black bears, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and white-tailed deer.
Rivers and Springs
The forest is also home to several pristine rivers and springs, offering opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. The Apalachicola River is a popular spot for fishing, with an abundance of freshwater fish species to catch. You can also take a refreshing swim in one of the many sparkling springs, such as Wright Lake Spring or Camel Lake Spring. So grab your outdoor gear and get ready for a day of water-based fun.
Apalachicola National Forest is a wildlife lover’s paradise. The forest is home to a rich array of animal species, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoises, and the elusive Florida black bear. Birdwatchers will also be delighted by the forest’s diverse birdlife, with over 300 species recorded in the area. So don’t forget your binoculars and camera, as you never know what fascinating creatures you may encounter during your visit.
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Panama City Beach Winery
If you’re in the mood for some delicious wine tasting and a unique experience, look no further than the Panama City Beach Winery. Located just a short drive from the heart of Panama City Beach, this winery offers a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of the beach.
The Panama City Beach Winery is a family-owned and operated winery that specializes in producing handcrafted fruit wines. From classic varieties like strawberry and blueberry to more unique flavors like kiwi and coconut, the winery offers an extensive selection of wines to suit every palate. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a novice, a visit to this charming winery will be a treat for your taste buds.
One of the highlights of visiting the Panama City Beach Winery is the opportunity to indulge in a wine tasting experience. Upon entering the winery, you’ll be greeted by friendly and knowledgeable staff who will guide you through the tasting process. You’ll have the chance to sample a variety of wines, learning about their flavors and the winemaking process along the way. It’s a great way to discover new and unique flavors and perhaps find a new favorite wine.
Tour and Barrel Room Experience
For those interested in learning more about the winemaking process, the Panama City Beach Winery offers guided tours of its facilities. During the tour, you’ll get an up-close look at the winery’s operations, from grape crushing to bottling. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the barrel room, where the wines age and develop their unique flavors. It’s a fascinating experience for wine enthusiasts and a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the craftsmanship behind each bottle of wine.
No visit to the Panama City Beach Winery would be complete without a stop at the gift shop. The shop offers a wide range of wine-related products, including unique wine accessories, gourmet food items, and, of course, bottles of the winery’s signature wines. It’s the perfect place to find a souvenir to take home or pick up a gift for the wine lover in your life. So be sure to leave some time for browsing and shopping before you leave.
Camp Helen State Park
Camp Helen State Park is a hidden gem nestled along the shores of Lake Powell and the Gulf of Mexico. This beautiful park offers a serene and picturesque setting, perfect for a day of outdoor adventure or relaxation.
Location and History
Camp Helen State Park is located on the western end of Panama City Beach, just minutes away from the bustling tourist areas. The park was once home to a popular vacation destination known as Camp Helen, which welcomed visitors from all over the country in the early 20th century. Today, the park preserves the historic buildings and natural beauty of the area, offering visitors a glimpse into its rich past.
Picnicking and Swimming
One of the main attractions of Camp Helen State Park is its peaceful picnic area and swimming beach. Surrounded by shade trees and overlooking the crystal-clear waters of Lake Powell, this area provides the perfect spot for a leisurely picnic. Pack a delicious lunch and enjoy your meal while taking in the scenic views. Afterward, you can take a refreshing swim in the lake, cooling off from the Florida heat.
Hiking and Birdwatching
Camp Helen State Park is a paradise for hikers and birdwatchers. The park offers several scenic trails that wind through various habitats, allowing visitors to explore the diverse plant and animal life in the area. As you hike through the park, keep your eyes peeled for the many bird species that call this area home. From woodpeckers to bald eagles, you’ll have the opportunity to spot a wide variety of birds and capture some stunning photographs.
Exploring Lake Powell
Lake Powell, located within Camp Helen State Park, offers a host of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. You can rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard and explore the calm waters of the lake, taking in the scenic beauty as you glide along. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck at catching freshwater fish, such as bass or catfish. Alternatively, you can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the tranquility of this hidden gem.
Gulf World is a marine park and aquarium located in Panama City Beach. With its exciting animal shows, exhibits, and interactive programs, it’s a perfect destination for families or anyone interested in learning more about marine life.
Marine Park Overview
Gulf World offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with a variety of marine creatures. From dolphins and sea lions to penguins and stingrays, the park is home to a diverse range of aquatic animals. It’s a great place to learn about these incredible creatures and their habitats, while also enjoying entertaining shows and educational exhibits.
Animal Shows and Exhibits
One of the highlights of a visit to Gulf World is the opportunity to witness amazing animal shows. Watch as dolphins perform incredible acrobatic tricks, sea lions showcase their intelligence, and trainers interact with a variety of animals. These shows provide not only entertainment but also educational insights into the behaviors and abilities of marine animals.
In addition to the shows, Gulf World features interactive exhibits where visitors can observe and learn about the park’s inhabitants. From shark exhibits to touch tanks, there are plenty of opportunities to get hands-on and delve deeper into the fascinating world of marine life.
Swim with Dolphins
For a truly unforgettable experience, Gulf World offers the chance to swim with dolphins. This interactive program allows participants to get in the water and interact with these intelligent and playful creatures. Under the close supervision of experienced trainers, you’ll have the opportunity to touch, play, and even swim alongside dolphins. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is sure to create lasting memories.
Gulf World is committed to conservation and education. The park offers a variety of educational programs and workshops for visitors of all ages. From behind-the-scenes tours to animal training demonstrations, these programs provide a deeper understanding of marine life and its importance in our ecosystem. Whether you’re a marine enthusiast or simply curious about the ocean, these educational experiences are not to be missed.
Seaside is a charming beach town located on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Known for its unique architecture, vibrant art scene, and eclectic shops and restaurants, Seaside offers a perfect blend of culture, shopping, dining, and beach access.
Seaside is a picturesque town that has gained fame for its distinctive architecture, which was designed to evoke a sense of tradition and authenticity. The town’s pastel-colored cottages, white picket fences, and tree-lined streets give it a timeless charm that is sure to captivate visitors. Whether you’re looking to explore the town’s art galleries, indulge in gourmet dining, or simply relax on the beach, Seaside offers a little something for everyone.
Art and Culture
Seaside is renowned for its thriving art scene. The town is home to numerous art galleries and studios, showcasing the work of talented local artists. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets and immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and diverse styles of the artwork on display. You can also learn more about the town’s artistic heritage by visiting the Seaside Repertory Theatre, which hosts a variety of live performances throughout the year.
Shopping and Dining
Seaside is a shopper’s paradise, boasting an array of unique boutiques and specialty shops. From trendy fashion boutiques to quaint antique stores, there’s something to suit every taste and preference. After a day of shopping, indulge in Seaside’s culinary delights. The town is home to a diverse range of restaurants and cafes, offering everything from fine dining to casual beachside eats. Sample fresh seafood, enjoy a craft cocktail, or savor a delicious ice cream cone as you soak in the laid-back atmosphere of this charming town.
Of course, no visit to Seaside would be complete without a visit to the beach. The town offers easy access to pristine stretches of white sandy beaches, where you can relax, swim, or simply soak up the sun. The calm and clear waters are perfect for swimming, paddleboarding, or even trying your hand at surfing. Whether you’re looking to unwind and read a book on the shore or engage in water-based activities, Seaside’s beaches provide the perfect backdrop for a day of relaxation and enjoyment.
Shell Island Shuttle
The Shell Island Shuttle is a convenient and popular way to explore the beautiful Shell Island from Panama City Beach. With its frequent shuttle schedule, beach amenities, guided tours, and picnic areas, the Shell Island Shuttle provides an excellent way to experience the natural wonders of the island.
Shuttle Schedule and Location
The Shell Island Shuttle operates multiple trips daily, providing visitors with easy access to the island. The shuttle departs from various locations in Panama City Beach, making it convenient for visitors to catch a ride. The shuttle schedule is designed to accommodate different time preferences, allowing you to plan your day trip to Shell Island according to your schedule.
Once you arrive on Shell Island, you’ll find a range of amenities that will enhance your beach experience. The island offers picnic areas, where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch while taking in the stunning views. There are also restroom facilities available for your convenience. If you’re looking to relax and soak up the sun, you can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, or even a beach cabana to create your own private oasis. Plus, the clear, shallow, and calm waters make it a great spot for families with children to enjoy a safe and fun beach day.
Guided Tours and Rentals
For those looking to explore beyond the beach, the Shell Island Shuttle offers guided tours that will take you on a thrilling adventure through the island’s natural wonders. These guided tours provide a wealth of information about the island’s unique ecosystem, wildlife, and geological formations. Alternatively, if you prefer to explore at your own pace, you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, or snorkeling equipment to venture out on your own and discover the hidden gems of the island.
Shell Island is the perfect spot for a picnic amidst nature’s beauty. The island offers designated picnic areas complete with tables, grills, and stunning ocean views. Whether you bring your own picnic supplies or order takeout from one of the local restaurants, a picnic on Shell Island provides the ideal opportunity to relax, savor delicious food, and enjoy quality time with your loved ones. So pack a tasty lunch, grab a picnic blanket, and make lasting memories in this tranquil paradise.
Econfina Creek, located a short drive from Panama City Beach, is a hidden gem for river recreation. With its serene natural beauty, opportunities for paddling adventures, swimming, fishing, and scenic hikes, Econfina Creek offers a perfect day trip for outdoor enthusiasts.
Econfina Creek is a haven for river recreation enthusiasts. The calm and crystal-clear waters of the creek make it ideal for canoeing or kayaking. Drift along the peaceful currents, taking in the breathtaking views of the lush surrounding foliage and the occasional wildlife sighting. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced paddler, Econfina Creek offers a memorable and immersive outdoor experience.
For those seeking a more adventurous experience, Econfina Creek is dotted with thrilling natural springs that provide an exciting challenge. These springs create fast-moving currents, allowing paddlers to test their skills. Thrill-seekers can navigate through narrow passages and sharp turns, exploring the creek’s unique twists and turns. Just make sure to wear appropriate safety gear and be aware of your surroundings during your paddling adventure.
Scenic Natural Beauty
Econfina Creek is known for its scenic natural beauty. As you paddle along the creek, you’ll be surrounded by towering cypress trees, majestic oaks, and vibrant foliage. The creek is also home to an array of wildlife, including turtles, fish, and a variety of bird species. Keep your eyes peeled for these fascinating creatures as you immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.
Fishing and Swimming
Econfina Creek offers excellent fishing opportunities for anglers. The creek is home to a diverse range of fish species, including bass, bream, and catfish. Cast your line and enjoy the peacefulness of the creek as you wait for a bite.
For those looking to cool off, Econfina Creek also provides many spots for swimming. Take a refreshing dip in the clear waters, dive off a rope swing, or simply relax on the creek’s sandy banks. It’s an ideal way to escape the summer heat and make the most of your day trip to this natural paradise.
In conclusion, Panama City Beach offers a plethora of day trip options for those looking to explore beyond its stunning shores. From the natural beauty of St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island to the outdoor adventures of Grayton Beach State Park and Econfina Creek, there’s something for every outdoor enthusiast. For a touch of culture and relaxation, Seaside offers a charming beach town experience, while Gulf World and the Panama City Beach Winery provide unique opportunities to learn and indulge. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both, these day trips will leave you with lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the beauty of Florida’s Gulf Coast.