Panama City Beach, Florida 1/8/16 – 1/15/16

From Alan –

Population = 13980, latitude 30º 10’, longitude 85º 48’, elevation 30 feet, average January low temperature = 39.8, Average July high temperature = 90, average sunny days = 239, annual snowfall = 0, annual rainfall = 64.5”

Now this is more like it!  Our last stop was pretty boring.  Other than golf, there was not much to do.  In Panama City Beach, it is all about entertaining the tourists and snowbirds.  Our resort has a pile of weekly entertainment magazines (with coupons) and a stack of maps of the city showing all the hotspots.  Restaurants of all ethnics and specialities abound, especially seafood and BBQ.  There are cruises to fish, scuba, snorkel, or dolphin watch.  There are malls everywhere with every chain store known to Americans.  There are piers you can stroll or, for a very modest fee, fish from.  There are airboat and helicopter rides.  Six golf courses.  And, of course, miles of sugar white sand beaches with lots of parking and access points.

What to do in Panama City Beach

The city is divided into two halves, East and West.  The East End is the older section and holds the “downtown” businesses and offices, as well as the marinas.  Right along the East End beach though, there is an almost solid wall of huge high rise condos blocking out the sun.  On the West End, there is more open space.  There are rows of original single family homes between the scattered high rise condos.  Even here, there is lots of ocean access.  Every 4 or 5 houses, there is a public trail between the houses, leading down to the beach.

East End Panama City Beach
West End Panama City Beach

Our arrival falls within a “shoulder” season for PCB.  After Christmas, the snowbird retirees start showing up for their couple of months in the sun.  Roaming the city, it seems to me that there is a higher than normal distribution of grey haired people.  Traffic dawdles, checkout lines move slowly, Fox News is on the TV in the bar and the geezers are bloviating about current events.  The temperatures are only in the 50s and 60s so the beach is lightly dotted with strolling people wearing windbreakers.

Strollers on the beach on a cool January day.

From all reports though, senior season would probably suit me better than Spring Break season in March.  An estimated 100,000 alcohol and hormone fueled college kids descend on the city for the annual bacchanalia.  It must be a mixed blessing for the city: millions of dollars flowing in, thousands of drunk and disorderly kids raising hell with the city and beach.  Maybe if I was about 40 years younger, it would be heaven.  Today it would be more hell.  Sigh!!  Maybe you gain wisdom with age, but it was sure fun being foolish.

Spring breakers on the beach.

For a city with so much to do, we did not do a lot.  We walked the beach a few times, strolled a pier, did some shopping at the malls, ate way too much BBQ.  One day we explored the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium.  Of course we sampled lots of Florida beers, but there are not many breweries on the Florida coast.  Mostly we relaxed and enjoyed watching the waves roll in.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Some pets?

Marylu says she would consider living here, near the coast so she could visit the ocean when it gets hot.  Ninety degrees is not extremely horrible and there are sea breezes.  I checked though, and the summer dew point averages 78º here, compared to 68º in Minnesota.  I spent many summers wilting like last week’s lettuce, in the sauna that Minnesota can occasionally be.  I would dread doing that for months at a time, beach or not.  And what do us older folks do when the town is overrun with drunken college kids?  Hide out?  Vacation in Poinciana?  I don’t think so.

Next up: Louisiana


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We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

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