All Destinations

9 Great Beachfront Properties in Panama City Beach | Stay by the Sea

Whether you prefer a highrise resort or old-school retreat, Panama City Beach has a hotel or condo property on the beach to suit your sandy desires.

Having grown up spending holidays and family vacations in Panama City Beach, I’ve seen it grow up as well. My grandparents retired to PCB (common shorthand for the city) in the 1970s. As a kid it was my paradise. Nothing could compare to the Miracle Strip Amusement Park except the sugar-white sand and the crystalline bands of blue and green water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Sadly, the amusement park closed in 2003 (I was there on its final night) and the coast is now lined with condo and hotel resorts book-ended by two pristine beachfront state parks. On my most recent visit, I stayed in a building so high it had its own weather pattern. It’s a spectacular phenomena known as “condo fog.”

Glorious vestiges of Panama City Beach’s past are still evident, from beach hotels to legendary establishments like Thomas’ Donuts and Snack Shop. Open since 1971, it’s a tradition in my family to stop at Thomas’ to revel in the fried, doughy goodness before leaving whatever beach accommodations we happen to be staying at for spring break or fall break or any other break we can squeeze in.

Catch the Sun at This Classic Gem of a Small Resort

Sought out by those who prefer classic, Old-Florida, low-rise beach accommodations but still like resort-style amenities, Beachside Resort Panama City Beach stands at the western end of PCB. Here the beach is lesser-trafficked than on the more heavily populated Strip and the skyline free of highrises, except for the ones you can see in the distance. As of this writing, it’s listed as the “1st Most Popular Resort in Panama City Beach” on Trivago.

The rooms are hotel-like, with some converted to two rooms with kitchens and living areas. Many, but not all, rooms have balconies. A large sundeck overlooks the pool and beach, a great spot to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Be sure to book a beachside room because there are some rooms that overlook the highway and parking lot. The pool area is ringed with palm trees and faces the beach. The Reef Bar serves up beach drinks on the pool deck where there’s frequently live entertainment during clement weather.

Beachside Resort Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach
8.2 Very good (4425 reviews)

Park the Car and Don't Get Back in It at Carillon Beach

At the extreme western end of PCB, Carillon Beach is a walkable resort community where people live and have vacation homes, but it’s also home to the Carillion Beach Inn. The resort is on the beach and the inn sits on the edge of a nearby lake. The rooms and suites have kitchens, and balconies where you can see both the lake and the Gulf of Mexico, a double-whammy of water views. The suites have private hot tubs on the balconies and spacious living areas.

Inn guests have access to the community’s pools, tennis courts, gym and spa. Outside the hotel you’ll discover a master-planned village with plenty of shopping, dining and nightlife options, including special seasonal events on the village green. This is the type of place where you can park the car and not get back in it for the duration of your vacation. You can even walk along the beach to Camp Helen State Park, a historic beach and lakefront site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Carillon Beach Resort Inn by Wyndham Vacation Rentals

Panama City Beach

Stand Tall and Sleep Well Above the Tides

Standing 31 stories high, Tidewater Beach Resort is the tallest building in Panama City Beach. The upper-floor views here lets you see the Gulf like no one else can unless they’re on a sightseeing helicopter ride. The complex is so large it has its own movie theater and a private security force. The multi-level parking deck connects to the main building via a pedestrian skyway bridge over the highway. There are three pools, one of them indoors and heated, and a 4,300-square-foot fitness center with a Roman spa.

The units are finely appointed with luxurious bedding, comfy furnishings, and homey touches such as board games and a beach-read library in the drawers underneath the large flat-screen TV. Beach services are available for renting recliners and umbrellas to idyll away the day steps away from the surf. Walk a short way east down the beach to Russell-Fields Pier (called “City Pier” by locals) jutting 1,500-feet into the Gulf and anchoring Pier Park, a large open-air shopping, dining, and entertainment complex.

Tidewater Beach Resort By Panhandle Getaways

Panama City Beach
7.4(409 reviews)

Find Old-School Family Fun at the Driftwood

The Driftwood Lodge is a PCB classic, one of the few remnants of what beachfront accommodations used to be like here. Family-owned and in business since 1957, it’s an affordable two-story treasure of a beach motel where you park your car right outside your unit. The decor is quaint and beachy, the atmosphere casual and family-friendly. Updated rooms come with mini fridges and microwaves; suites with full kitchens.

Balconies and patios overlook two pools, a courtyard with barbecue stations and a covered picnic area, and a splash pad. All this surrounded by dunes anchored by sea oats and prime views of the beach where there’s a volleyball area. The family also operates Osprey on the Gulf, a larger six-story property next door to the lodge and connected to it by a boardwalk. It’s a short walk west on the beach to City Pier and all the fun at Pier Park.

The Driftwood Lodge

Panama City Beach
9.0 Excellent (996 reviews)

Stay at the Edge of the Water at the Resort That Moved a Highway

When the ginormous Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort was built in the 1980s, the highway was actually re-routed away from the beach to accommodate it. It’s located along the Strip and features a variety of accommodations and styles in multiple highrise and midrise condo buildings with suites of one-to-four bedrooms. All the suites have beach or gulf views.

Villas along the Par 3 golf course are also available for those who don’t like the high life. Your view from the villas is of the golf course and resort grounds but it’s an easy stroll to the beach. Multiple dining options are on the property and room service is offered. Beyond the beach, relax at one of the 11 on-site pools, including a central palatial pool so large it has its own island in the middle. A kids’ splash pad sits adjacent to the central pool. Multiple sundecks and courts for tennis, shuffleboard and even pickleball are also available.

Edgewater Tower 2-611

Panama City Beach
7.9 Good (321 reviews)

Get Close to Nature (and Daily Canon Firings) at the East End of the Beach

At the far eastern end of PCB where the development ends and St. Andrews State Park begins is the 22-story Seychelles Beach Resort. One-to-three-bedroom units are available, all with ceramic tile flooring throughout, two bathrooms, and large balconies facing the Gulf. Two pools are on-site, one indoors and one beachside. In the shadow of the building is Schooner’s, one of the more famous and longstanding beach bars in town where it’s a daily tradition to fire off a canon on the beach at sunset. You’ll want to hold your ears if you’re standing anywhere close-by because the tiny canon is loud.

It’s a short walk east on the beach to the pristine, undeveloped shores of St. Andrews State Park. Walk out to the jetty that overlooks the pass where the fishing boats come in for an excellent dolphin-spotting opportunity. Then catch a shuttle across the channel to idyllic and uninhabited Shell island where you can snorkel in the clear lagoon, collect shells. There’s a good chance you’ll have the beach all to yourself if you’re willing to do a little more walking along the shore.

Seychelles Beach Resort By Panhandle Getaways

Top rated
Panama City Beach
9.2 Excellent (475 reviews)

Find Something For Everyone at This Family Favorite

A rare large non-condo resort on the beach, Holiday Inn Resort is a longstanding hotel property that has seen a lot of changes over the years (long-timers may remember when it was one of Holiday Inn’s Holidomes, an atrium pool concept the company tried in 1970s and ’80s). These days it’s thoroughly modern with new buildings and updated rooms and suites. All units face the beach, have balconies, and sport Keurig-style coffeemakers.

Among the other nice perks for families, kids under 19 stay for free with an adult, and the suites have partitioned-off kids’ areas. Outside the room kids can enjoy the arcade game room and a water playground while the adults get treatments at the day spa. Four restaurants (including one specializing in seafood), and two cocktail bars are on the property, which is centered around an impressive lagoon-style pool with a waterfall and lots of palm trees. The shopping center across the street from the resort contains the beach’s only bowling alley.

Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach - Beachfront, an IHG Hotel

Top rated
Panama City Beach
9.2 Excellent (2513 reviews)

Hang Out in the Heart of the Action on the Strip

In the heart of the Strip across from where the long-gone, much-beloved Miracle Strip Amusement Park once stood, Grand Panama Beach Resort contains two highrises, one on the beach, the other across the road. If you want to be right on the beach, make sure you book a unit in the correct building. But the building across the road is angled in such a way that it has unobstructed views of the beach and Gulf. It’s also connected to the beachfront building by a pedestrian skyway so it’s an easy walk to the beach without having to dodge the constant stream of traffic on Front Beach Road.

All units have open kitchens, washer/dryer units, and spacious balconies. Many have bunk bed nooks for the kids. The resort is within walking distance to major attractions like Shipwreck Island Waterpark and M.B. Miller County Pier, referred to as “County Pier” by locals to distinguish it from the identical “City Pier” a few miles west. Both piers are ideal spots for fishing, people watching, and continuing your beachcombing out over the water.

Grand Panama Beach Resort By Panhandle Getaways

Top rated
Panama City Beach
8.7 Excellent (591 reviews)

Kick Off Your Shoes and Don the Flip Flops at This Casual Spot

Fourteen-story Legacy By The Sea operates as a hotel resort, so this isn’t a condo building like most of the other beachfront highrises in the area. Expect traditional hotel rooms with the added perk of a private beach-facing balcony. Suites have kitchenettes and some have in-room Jacuzzis. Free continental breakfast is served downstairs, room service is offered and there’s an on-site laundromat.

Outside the accommodations guests can enjoy a pool area with a sundeck and hot tub, and rent Jet Skis on the beach. The resort operates the adjacent Barefoot Hide A Way Bar and Grill, a popular beach hangout with a large deck overlooking the beach. Across Front Beach Road from the resort, Gulf World Marine Park is a mainstay PCB attraction where patrons can encounter a variety of marine life and even swim with the dolphins.

Radisson Panama City Beach - Oceanfront

Panama City Beach
7.6 Good (2658 reviews)