Panama City Beach: Pearly white beaches and frolicking dolphins

Monday, 07 Mar, 2022 0

I have to admit I am a self-confessed PCB junkie.

PCB or Panama City Beach is one of Florida’s best known Gulf coast destinations with a mix of traditional seaside hotels, stores, attractions and restaurants blending with sophistication, not to mention an unbelievable beach.

Every time I come here, I like it more and discover something new as well as returning to the tried and trusted. I know what I like, and I like what I know.

So, what’s new? Well one thing for me was the accommodation, Springhill Suites by Marriott which opened in the summer of 2019 and is therefore, for the majority of international visitors, a new encounter. The hotel is situated right on the beach with very fast internet, free breakfast, a swimming pool, small kitchenette, easy access to the town, plus of course fabulous views of the clear blue gulf waters. Ideal at anytime of the day to sit on the balcony, have a drink and just take it all in. Rooms start at around $200 per night.

Palate-pleasing PCB

Food like most of Florida is really a big thing in PCB. Again, it’s a mix of the traditional with the more sophisticated. My favourite breakfast spot in the whole of Florida is Andy’s Flour Power which being PCB is not owned by Andy but John. The breakfast offerings are fairly standard but of high quality as is the service. What makes Andy’s stand out are the breakfast Martinis.  The standard vodka-based Martini mix is enhanced by the addition of Seville marmalade, orange zest and tiny pieces of peel then shaken. What could be better with your eggs over easy?

A relative newcomer to the food scene is the Hunt & Gather Raw Bar & Pub. Well, it’s new to me. Nothing pretentious about the location in a local strip mall but the menu and the food was something you may have been forgiven for thinking you were in the slow food belt of Italy. According to their own publicity “the menu is inspired by partnerships with regional farms using the freshest and most seasonal produce”. They are not lying. I started with half a dozen oysters followed by flash fried Brussel sprouts served with wild boar Bolognese. Sounds a bit rich I know but washed down with local ale it was terrific. For diners who don’t dig pasta I would recommend the elk burger or quail quesadilla.

More established as a purveyor of fine food is Captain Anderson’s. Renowned in the region since 1967 for its fresh seafood, excellent service and family atmosphere (in fact it’s run by the original owner’s family the Patronis) I chowed down on wedge salad followed by chargrilled bay shrimp.

In between sampling the cuisine of the county, I enjoyed a two-hour sailing cruise, through the calm waters of the Grand Lagoon, past the marinas and St Andrews state park. Not only was it the sunset of the decade but we also got to see a school of dolphins at close quarters, spot ospreys and still have time to sink a couple of beers. Insider tip is not to turn up an hour early because you forgot that PCB is on Central Time ie, 6 hours behind the UK!

Shopping

Retail therapy can often come into a holidaymaker’s schedule especially when the pound is strong, the credit cards are easy to access, and the product choice is wide. These days however that itch to get out your flexible friend to satisfy the shopping appetite can easily be satiated by online purchasing. Traditional retail parks and centres compete more with the likes of Amazon than they do each other. In order to survive they need to offer more and something that online experiences can’t compete with and that means face to face or in the modern parlance H2H (Human to Human). Pier Park in PCB does just that.

Yes of course it has the full array of retail outlets you would expect plus a few more you might not but it also has entertainment, bars, restaurants, rides and of course is located only a few feet from the glorious beach. To go shopping here is a completely different experience than trudging round Sainsburys .

PCB is an excellent place for a vacation as it more or less has everything for everybody. Old or new, traditional or sophisticated.



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Learn more about :   Panama City Beach ( United Kingdom )     Panama City Beach ( N. America )  

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Ray Monty



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