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Where to Stay in Panama City
Panama City is a distinctly different municipality from Panama City Beach, where most of the area’s accommodations are located. Front Beach Road, which runs parallel to the coast in Panama City Beach, is home to more than 20,000 rooms, suites, condos and cottages. The more crowded and lively neighborhoods along this stretch include Edge Water Beach, Bahama Beach and Long Beach.
Panama City Beach is connected to Panama City by the Hathaway Bridge, which spans St. Andrews Bay. Some of the best cheap hotel deals in Panama City are located on the east side of the bay, just a short drive from the bustling beach area. There aren’t many attractions near these more affordable hotels, but staying here will also spare you the dense traffic that often paralyzes the beach area.
Panama City Hotel Tips
You can choose from a huge array of accommodations in Panama City Beach, but if you want to go all-out, start your search with the finer beachfront resorts. Typical amenities at these upscale properties include rejuvenating day spas, preferred tee times at local golf clubs, on-site water parks and water sports rentals exclusively for guests. If you’re looking to spend less, various levels of resort-style accommodations are available in virtually all price ranges.
If you’re traveling with your family or a large group and plan on staying a full week or more, you might find even more comfortable accommodations by renting a furnished condo, cottage or beach house. These structures are mixed among the resorts and motels along the beachfront, and they’re rented out by both independent property owners and property rental management companies.
National chains of budget hoteliers are also well-represented in the area, but most of these hotels are located a few miles away from the beach in Panama City. Beyond the Panama City area, the strip of Gulf Coast resorts continues for more than 50 miles to the west, ending near Fort Walton Beach.
Panama City Hotel Recommendations
At the south end of Panama City Beach, just across the Grand Lagoon from St. Andrews State Park, the Bay Point Golf Resort & Spa provides some of the area’s finest accommodations in what seems to be a world away from the clatter of the resort strip. Nestled in a secluded area, this is your best bet when you’re seeking peace and relaxation. There’s a lot to enjoy without leaving the resort property, including two golf courses, five tennis courts, three pools and a variety of water sports rentals on a private beach. Standard rooms and suites in the hotel tower are elegantly appointed, but to enjoy real luxury, look into the villas built right on the golf course grounds.
Less secluded but equally exclusive is the Edgewater Beach Resort, one of the largest resorts in the area with 110 total acres and a shuttle system to transport guests among the hotel, restaurants, swimming pools, tennis courts and the nine-hole golf club. Accommodations range from standard rooms to kitchenette suites to luxury villas.
More budget-conscious travelers may find a great deal in the Grand Cayman Motel, located on the west side of Panama City Beach. The accommodations are simple but clean, and select rooms have full kitchens and oceanfront views. A large swimming pool, a whirlpool tub and a poolside bar all face the Gulf of Mexico. The Flamingo Motel & Tower is more centrally located, offering some of the city’s most competitive rates on 10 different floor plans of various sizes. Most rooms include kitchenettes, and the largest can accommodate eight guests.
Panama City Transportation
Whether or not you should rent a vehicle after your flight to Panama City depends on where you’re staying and what you’d like to do on your trip. If you’re staying in Panama City proper or want to explore nearby Panhandle destinations like Pensacola or Tallahassee, renting a car is the only efficient way to get around. But if your hotel is at the beach and you plan on spending virtually all of your time at the oceanfront attractions, you can save money and traffic-related frustration by simply walking and taking public transportation instead.
Shuttle service from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport departs regularly for Panama City Beach, but if you want a direct route to your hotel, you can hail a cab for just a little bit more. Once you’re at the beach, you’ll likely find several points of interest within walking distance of your hotel. For longer trips within the area, call for a taxi or take the Bay Town Trolley, an affordable rubber-tired trolley that runs routes along Front Beach Road Monday through Saturday.
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