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Welcome to the beautiful coastal region of Panama City Beach, Florida, where sun, sand, and adventure await! While the city itself offers an array of exciting activities and stunning beaches, there are several cities near Panama City Beach that add an extra dimension to your vacation experience.
Whether you’re seeking cultural attractions, natural wonders, or vibrant nightlife, the cities in this post, we’ll cover options for every type of traveler.
From the lively atmosphere of Destin to the picturesque charm of Seaside, these best cities near Panama City Beach promise to enhance your stay with their unique offerings.
My personal favorite cities near Panama City Beach include Destin for its attractions, such as HarborWalk Village, Miramar Beach for its beautiful beaches and Seaside for the town square area and food trucks.
Let’s dive in!
Booking a last-minute trip to Panama City Beach?
If so, we have you covered. Here are some top recommended tours and hotels!
Top Tours in Panama City Beach
Snorkel and Dolphin Cruise (Shell Island Tour With Dolphin Catamaran Cruise)
Sunset & Dolphin Catamaran Cruise (2-Hour Sunset Sail)
Swim With Dolphins Boat Tour (Family-Friendly Boat Tour In Panama City Beach)
Scream Machine Thrill Ride (One-of-a-kind thrill ride perfect for adventure lovers!)
Catamaran Snorkel & Dolphin Watching Tour (Snorkeling & Dolphin Tour In Panama City Beach)
Top Hotels in Panama City Beach
Marriotts’s Legends Edge At Bay Point – (Stunning Panoramic And Lagoon Views)
Holiday Inn Express & Suites – (Highly Recommended Beachfront Hotel)
Homewood Suites By Hilton – (Top Rated Hotel In Panama City Beach)
Hyatt Place Panama City Beach – (Best Rated Luxury Hotel Nearby Beach)
Looking To Get Around The Nearby Cities Of Panama City Beach?
Check out rental car rates here! 🚗
1. Miramar Beach
Miramar Beach is one of the most vibrant and active beach neighborhoods in the South Walton community.
There are a lot of things to do in Miramar Beach. One could, of course, just spend time on the beach and soak up the sun.
But the adventurous ones can go parasailing, surfing, paddle boarding, and a lot more.
Miramar Beach also has a tennis resort, a golf club, and the incredible 3-mile Scenic Highway 98 Trail for biking and running.
For some retail therapy, Grand Boulevard and Silver Sands Premium Outlets are the go-to spots.
There’s also a wide range of dining options to choose from including Pompano Joe’s, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, and Emeril’s Coastal Italian.
Miramar Beach is located almost 39 miles from Panama City Beach, which takes about 55 minutes depending on traffic on the US-98 E Route.
2. Fort Walton Beach
Located in the Okaloosa Country between Pensacola and Panama City, Fort Walton Beach is a city most popular for its Gulf Coast coastline featuring azure blue waters and powdery sand beaches.
FWB is a popular family destination, as well as a popular beach wedding destination. It is also a very sought-after place for deep-sea fishing lovers.
Some of the most popular places to visit in FWB include Indian Temple Mound Museum, Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone, Emerald Coast Science Centre, and the Okaloosa Island Pier and Boardwalk.
Fort Walton Beach is located 56 miles from Panama City Beach and takes about 1 hour and a half to drive.
3. Santa Rosa Beach
Santa Rosa Beach in Florida offers a plethora of exciting activities, especially for those who like to spend their time outdoors.
Apart from lounging on pristine, sugar-white sandy beaches and swimming in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
You can go hiking or biking along the scenic trails of Point Washington State Forest, or go explore the rare coastal dune lakes which are perfect for paddleboarding or kayaking.
Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the world-class Santa Rosa Golf and Beach Club, while art lovers can visit the local galleries like the Saczynski Gallery and the Modus Art Gallery.
The delicious seafood at waterfront restaurants is also worth experiencing in Santa Rosa Beach. Some of the most popular ones include Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar, Bayou Bill’s Crab House, and Vue on 30A.
It takes about 50 minutes to cover the 33 miles between Santa Rosa Beach and Panama City Beach.
Sandestin, located in Miramar Beach is best known for its award-winning golf courses like Raven Golf Club or The Links Golf Club.
But if you’re not all that into golf, try exploring the vibrant Village of Baytowne Wharf, where you can shop, dine, and enjoy live entertainment.
Sandestin also has several snorkeling, paddle boarding, or sunset cruise tour options.
The charming boutiques and eateries of Grand Boulevard, and the nearby Henderson Beach State Park for nature trails and picnicking are also great spots in the area.
You can also enjoy some downtime at the Serenity by the Sea Spa, and savor delicious seafood at waterfront restaurants like Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer.
The distance between Destin and Sandestin is about 36 miles which takes between 50 to 55 minutes to drive.
Located in Okaloosa Country, Niceville is one of the best places for a quick visit along Florida’s Choctawhatchee Bay.
The natural beauty of Turkey Creek Nature Trail calls out to all nature enthusiasts, making it a great place to hike, bike, or kayak along the picturesque waterway.
The Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is also worth visiting for its exceptional hiking trails, fishing, and picnic spots amidst a tranquil setting.
The renowned Bluewater Bay Golf Club, known for its stunning courses and scenic views, is a great place to head to for a little tee-off.
If you fancy a dose of history and culture, the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida might be the place to go.
And for some quality family fun, the annual Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival featuring live music, carnival rides, and delicious food must not be missed.
It takes about an hour and 20 minutes to cover the 55 miles between Niceville and Panama City Beach.
Seaside is the perfect place to start your day with an outdoorsy activity like biking along its many scenic trails or taking a yoga class on the beach.
The city’s vibrant town center is a great place to visit for its unique shops, art galleries, and delicious eateries like The Great Southern Café.
There’s also an outdoor amphitheater for a romantic movie date under the stars, or you could attend a live performance at the Seaside Repertory Theatre.
Panama City Beach to Seaside is almost 30 miles which takes about 45 minutes to cover through the US-98 E.
7. Grayton Beach
Grayton Beach in Florida offers a charming coastal village experience. The city’s pristine beaches and emerald waters are perfect for sunbathing or swimming.
The Grayton Beach State Park is a wonderful area to explore some hikes along the nature trails, witnessing unique dune lakes and diverse wildlife.
Grayton Beach is also a great place to embark on a fishing excursion in the Gulf of Mexico or take a paddleboarding adventure along its scenic coastline.
The city’s local eateries like The Red Bar and Basmati’s Asian Cuisine are perfect to enjoy a nice meal in a vibrant atmosphere.
The distance between Grayton Beach and Panama City Beach is 29 miles and it takes about 45 minutes to drive there.
8. Navarre Beach
Navarre Beach is perhaps best known for the Navarre Beach Marine Park. It’s one of the best places along the Gulf Coastline to encounter fascinating marine life while snorkeling or scuba diving.
For those who’d much rather stay on land, a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the scenic Navarre Beach Causeway is the perfect place to visit.
The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center is yet another opportunity to learn about magnificent creatures of the sea and their conservation efforts.
A deep-sea fishing excursion or a peaceful kayak trip through the calm Santa Rosa Sound is also worth experiencing while in Navarre Beach.
For those who like to do nothing, the city’s uncrowded beaches and taking refreshing turquoise waters might just be the perfect getaway.
The 71 miles between Navarre Beach and Panama City Beach takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive.
Photo credit – Expedia
Located in Walton County, Watercolor is an incredibly well-planned community with a bustling art scene.
A bike ride through the charming community here is sure to get you awestruck.
Discover the vibrant art scene at the nearby town of Seaside, or indulge in shopping and dining experiences at the WaterColor Town Center.
The community’s Tom Fazio-designed Camp Creek Golf Club is also a great place if you fancy a round of golf.
The WaterColor Inn & Resort Spa is the go-to place to unwind with a treatment.
And to maximize your day, end it with a delicious meal at one of the many waterfront restaurants here like Gather Kitchen + Bar and WaterColor Beach Club Grill.
The driving distance between WaterColor and Panama City Beach is 30 miles which takes about 45 minutes to cover.
Photo credit – Unsplash by Debby Hudson
10. Pensacola Beach
The resort community of Pensacola Beach is one of the grandest places to enjoy the panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Pensacola Beach Pier is a perfect spot for fishing or if you’d rather get up close with the underwater world through snorkeling or scuba diving, Pensacola Beach is great for that too.
The Gulf Islands National Seashore is the place to go for scenic nature trails, bird-watching, and picnicking.
The star of Pensacola Beach, however, is the Blue Angels Air Show, a spectacular display of aerobatics by the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron.
Pensacola Beach and Panama City Beach are about 90 miles away and it takes a little over 2 hours to drive this distance.
Photo credit – Unsplash by Kirk Thornton
11. Rosemary Beach
Rosemary Beach is a planned community in Walton County known for its unique architectural design gives a neo-traditional beach community mixed with a New Urbanism vibe.
It’s a great place for a luxurious getaway. The town center is sure to charm you with its boutique shops, galleries, and delightful eateries.
The community’s private beaches are great for a leisurely stroll along scenic boardwalks.
No visit to Rosemary Beach is complete without some indulgence in spa treatments and yoga classes for ultimate relaxation.
The community amphitheater here is known for its outdoor concerts and gourmet restaurants and rooftop bars here are perfect for a fine dining experience.
Rosemary Beach is about 16 miles from Panama City Beach and the journey takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Photo credit – Expedia
12. Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is a neighborhood in Bay County, a part of Panama City Beach. This neighbourhood is mostly known for its whale-watching and dolphin-watching excursions.
The Crescent Bay Point Park is a good place for some hiking or running and the Crystal Cove State Park is wonderful to spot marine life.
On the other hand, Heisler Park is great for its beautiful biking trails.
Some restaurants worth checking out in Laguna Beach include Mike’s Cafe and Oyster Bar, Jerk Shack Spice And Sports Bar, Watersound Cafe and Auntie Anne’s.
Laguna Beach is located 10 miles away from Panama City Beach and takes about 20 minutes to reach.
13. Gulf Breeze
Gulf Breeze is most well known by the Gulf Islands National Seashore, where you can relax on pristine beaches, hike scenic trails, and admire the coastal beauty.
Taking a kayak or paddleboard excursion along Santa Rosa Sound is a great idea or even going fishing in its abundant waterways.
Tiger Point Golf Club, known for its picturesque courses, is a great place for some tee time.
A picnic in Shoreline Park or a scenic drive along the Gulf Breeze Parkway are easy and fun ways to spend your time at Gulf Breeze.
Gulf Breeze is a little over 88 miles from Panama City Beach and takes 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach.
Photo credit – Wikimedia
14. Port St. Joe
Port St Joe’s crystal-clear waters and the white sandy shores of St. Joseph Peninsula State Park are the reason for its popularity.
Apart from the regular beach activities, deep-sea fishing is also a huge thing here.
For history and culture lovers, the Constitution Convention Museum State Park or the Port Theatre for live performances might be the place to go.
Explore the downtown area and browse charming boutiques and art galleries. While at Port St. Joe, the divine seafood at Krazyfish Grille must not be missed!
Port St Joe is almost 46 miles from Panama City Beach and takes just over an hour to reach.
15. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores, AL offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and culinary delight along the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf State Park is a must-visit for hiking trails, wildlife encounters, and the picturesque Gulf State Pier.
For a taste of local flavor, head to The Hangout, known for its live music and seafood specialities.
Delicious Gulf seafood can also be enjoyed at places like Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina or The Gulf.
The mouthwatering barbecue indulgence at The Original Oyster House and waterfront dining at The Shrimp Basket must also not be missed.
Gulf Shores and Panama City Beach are 127 miles apart which takes a little 3 hours to cover.
Photo credit – Unsplash by Angel Madera Jr
16. Orange Beach, Alabama
Orange Beach is a thriving destination for beach lovers along the Gulf of Mexico.
The city is home to several public beaches, with something to do around here for every kind of visitor.
The stunning coastline of Orange Beach with its pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters, is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and building sandcastles.
If you are a thrill seeker and a water sports aficionado, activities like jet skiing, parasailing, and kayaking, or a dolphin-watching cruise might be more up your alley.
Fishing enthusiasts can also indulge in deep-sea fishing excursions or cast a line from the pier.
On the other hand, nature lovers can discover the rich biodiversity of the area at Gulf State Park or take a hike on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail.
The distance between Orange Beach, AL, and Panama City Beach, FL is about 120 miles which takes just under 3 hours.
Cities Near Panama City Beach FL – Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Other Cities Are Near Panama City Beach?
Some other cities near Destin include Lynn Haven, Mexico Beach, Springfield, Pretty Bayou, and Crestview.
2. What City Is Between Destin And Panama City?
Seaside, Florida falls almost midway from Destin to Panama City, located along Scenic Highway 30A.
3. What City Is Near Crab Island?
Destin is the closest city near Crab Island, located just southeast of the sandbar.
As you can see, the best cities near Panama City Beach, Florida, offer a diverse range of experiences that complement the natural beauty and attractions of the area.
If you’re interested in exploring historic landmarks, indulging in world-class dining, or simply relaxing on pristine beaches, these neighboring cities have you covered!
Book Your Next Trip! For Accommodations and short-term rentals, I recommend Booking.com as they are the best in the business when it comes to rates and places to stay.
To Book Activities- For activities, I suggest booking with Viator, they have thousands of 5-star activities to choose from!
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