Indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs right beside the beach at a hotel boasting a fitness center and numerous water activities
Hotel at a Glance: Shores of Panama Resort
There are four ways to take a dip at Shores of Panama Resort—and that’s not even counting the ocean. A lazily flowing lagoon pool outside passes under two bridges by a tiki bar serving frozen drinks, and nearby, a bubbling hot tub waits behind a stacked stone wall. In case of rain, there’s a temperature-controlled swimming pool indoors and another hot tub right alongside it.
- Private condos with balconies overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, fully equipped kitchens with granite countertops, flat-screen TVs, and WiFi
- Family-friendly eats and entertainment: Next door, Pineapple Willy’s Restaurant is right on the beach, and a half-mile up the road are both Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Wonderworks.
- Spa services: Therapists soothe body and soul with botanical-infused body masques and specialized massage therapy.
Panama City Beach, Florida: Sugar-White Beaches and Scuba-Diving Spots
Panama City Beach’s slogan—“The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches”—may seem boastful. But TripAdvisor helped back up this claim in 2013, naming the local St. Andrews State Park as having 1 of the top 25 beaches in the United States. The park also has two fishing piers, a jetty, and a boat ramp, plus nature trails for bird watching. Elsewhere in town, you can arrange a scuba-diving trip to explore the area’s dozens of natural and artificial reefs.
There are numerous amusement parks along the 20-plus miles of shoreline. Many of the popular seafood restaurants and bars here overlook the Gulf of Mexico.
For those looking to escape the crowds, take the ferry to Shell Island, an uninhabited, 7-mile-long barrier island. On the ride over, travelers might see some of the bottlenose dolphins that frequent these warm waters. Once there, guests can soak in the sun on the empty beaches and go snorkeling. It’s also worth it to visit the nature preserve at Conservation Park, which has 24 miles of trails. One 11-mile trek goes past wooden boardwalks and wetlands; those lucky enough may see woodpeckers in the trees and alligators lurking beside cypresses.