As the self proclaimed home of “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches,” it’s easy to see why Florida’s Panama City Beach is a hit with travellers. Whether it be couples on a romantic getaway, friends planning a beach party, or families wanting to enjoy some quality time together, there is something in Panama City Beach for everybody.

It may be a small resort, but it’s jam-packed with activities and hours of fun. You’ll have so much to explore and take in, whether it be the beaches, the forests, or the attractions and bars.

We’ve created this handy neighborhood guide to help you decide where to stay in Panama City Beach for your travel style and budget. We’ve also included our favourite accommodation and things to do in each area, so you know exactly what to expect.

Where to Stay in Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach makes a lovely stop on any Florida Road trip. Check out our best recommendations for places to stay in Panama City Beach.

beach near panama city

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Beachfront Cottage with Sea Access | Best Airbnb in Panama City Beach

Beachfront Cottage with Sea Access

Couples will love this cozy home-away-from-home. Sit out on your deck to soak up the sun or enjoy a home-cooked breakfast before heading out on a day of exploring. This Florida Airbnb has unique furnishings and great views of the gulf, so you won’t have to travel far to see some of Panama City Beach’s best views. The beach is also just one block away – so you’ll be ideally located for a beachside retreat.

European Style Villa near the Beach | Best Villa in Panama Beach

European Style Villa near the Beach

This stunning villa has a gorgeous outlook over the Emerald Coast. Not only will you be within strolling distance of the pristine beaches, but you’ll also have access to a shared pool, gym, and boat dock!

With two spacious bedrooms, a gorgeous mini kitchen, and a living area, you’ll have plenty of space to spend some quality time together without getting under each other’s feet.

Aqua View Motel | Best Budget Accommodation in Panama City Beach

Aqua View Motel

If simple but comfortable accommodation in Panama City Beach is what you’re after, then this place is perfect. It’s pet-friendly and offers an outdoor pool, although you’ll only be one minute from the beach! Free parking is available, making it an ideal base from which to explore the area.

Panama City Beach Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Panama City Beach

Lower Grand Lagoon

Lower Grand Lagoon

Situated on St Andrews Bay, this is the perfect place to stay if you want the vibrancy of bustling urban areas with the option of escaping to the ocean.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Coming to Panama City Beach doesn’t have to be an expensive getaway. There are so many cheap and free things to do around the city.

Long Beach

Long Beach

Planning a holiday for yourself is stressful enough, but when you’re trying to factor in the whole family, it can be a nightmare.

If you’re looking for the ultimate beach holiday in Florida, this is the place for you. With a tiny population of just over 12,000 inhabitants, Panama City Beach is a resort filled with holiday-makers and sunshine-seekers. It’s the best place to come if you’re looking for a reasonably priced staycation without the enormous price tag!

If you’re visiting for the first time, you’ll want to strike a balance between access to the centre of the resort and the ability to enjoy the beautiful natural setting. The best place to do this is Lower Grand Lagoon. You’ll be right next door to the St Andrews State Park, so you can explore hiking trails or jump in a kayak before heading to the fabulous restaurants and bars.

Panama City Beach is a luxurious place to stay, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank when you come here. There’s plenty of affordable accommodation for you to choose from. The best area to stay to try out lots of cheap (or even free) activities is Laguna Beach. Not only is the coast easily accessible, but you can also get to the huge Conservation Park slightly inland, with hiking trails and gardens galore.

Planning for a family holiday and finding somewhere to suit everyone can be a challenge, but we think Long Beach ticks all the boxes. As you can guess by the name, you’ll have easy access to a plethora of breath-taking shorelines, but also some brilliant family activities –  from zoos to waterparks.

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is just around the corner, and the resort is easily accessed by a network of highways, so getting here is super easy. The only problem is that once you’re here, you won’t want to leave!

Panama City Beach’s 3 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

With so many activities, sunbathing, and beaches to enjoy, Panama Beach is one of the best places to visit in Florida! Here are the best neighborhoods in more detail.

1. Lower Grand Lagoon – Where to Stay in Panama City Beach for your First Visit

Situated on St Andrews Bay, this is the perfect place to stay if you want the vibrancy of bustling urban areas with the option of escaping to the ocean. With so much to discover, it’s the ideal destination for travelers to get a feel for what the area is all about.

Lower Grand Lagoon
What a view!

It offers great cafes, restaurants, and accommodation, so you can relax in comfort while still having some fantastic opportunities to take on the adventures of the sea – sailing, kayaking, and swimming!

Beachfront Vacation | Quirky Condo in Lower Grand Lagoon

Beachfront Vacation

This is a bright, vibrant condo where you’ll be sure to have a fun-filled and exciting stay. With exotic blues and greens in the decor, you’ll feel fully submerged in the ocean-side lifestyle. Guests can enjoy sea views, modern amenities, and a fantastic location.

Aqua View Motel | Best Motel in Lower Grand Lagoon

Aqua View Motel

The Aqua View Motel offers simple, no-frills beachfront accommodation – Florida-style. It boasts an on-site pool, free parking, and wifi, and is even pet-friendly! It’s also got a convenient location just a short drive from restaurants and town amenities.

Gorgeous Home with Gulf view | Relaxed Beachhouse in Lower Grand Lagoon

Gorgeous Home with Gulf View

If you’re looking for a relaxed and spacious home to unwind in, then this leafy, chilled-out home is ideal. With balconies overlooking the gulf, easy beach access, and plenty of natural light, you can make the most of this fantastic beachside destination. There are three large bedrooms to choose from, making this the perfect place to stay with family or friends.

Things to See and Do in Lower Grand Lagoon:

  1. Check out St Andrews State Park. You can find areas for overnight camping, trails for hiking, plenty of pristine beaches, and even boat tours that will take you around the local coastline.
  2. Head to Captain Anderson’s Marina for a look at some incredible boats. If you’re feeling seaworthy, you could even take on the waves by hiring your own boat! Alternatively, check out Adventures at Sea for some epic boat tours and experiences.
  3. Fancy meeting some marine mates? Make your way to Dolphin and Snorkel Tours, where you’ll be shown the best places to find some fishy friends.
  4. This part of Panama City Beach has some awesome eateries and bars, with fantastic views, too. Check out Sisters of the Sea & Dive Bar, Patches Pub and Schooners.
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Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

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2. Laguna Beach – Where to Stay in Panama City Beach on a Budget

If you’re traveling the USA on a budget, fear not! Coming to Panama City Beach doesn’t have to be an expensive getaway. There are so many cheap and free things to do around the city. The best place for you to explore these is in the Laguna Beach area.

Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is a great place to stay.

With a vast Conversation Park just inland, there are dozens of walks and hikes to have a go at. But if you’d rather do something less active, beaches are easily accessible, as are museums and aquariums.

Beachfront Cottage with Sea Access | Cute Cottage in Laguna Beach

Beachfront Cottage with Sea Access

This is a cosy and homely option, perfect for a couple’s getaway. Sit out on your deck to soak up the sun or enjoy a home-cooked breakfast before heading out on a day of exploring. With unique furnishings and great views of the gulf, you don’t have to travel far to see some of Laguna Beach’s best views. The beach is less than a block away!

Multi-level Seaside Condo | Modern Stylish Condo in Laguna Beach

Multi-level Seaside Condo

This is a more modern option if you’re looking for something contemporary and stylish. Although the ocean is right on your doorstep, you can dive into a brand new shared pool if you’d rather stay at home for the day. It’s. gottwo separate bedrooms, making it perfect for families visiting on a budget. Once they’re in bed, you can enjoy a glass of wine on your private balcony!

Completely Remodeled Cottage | Cosy Bungalow in Laguna Beach

Completely Remodeled Cottage

This airy bungalow is so close to the beach that your driveway will be dusted with sand. Built in 1938, the property has been beautifully refurbished to nod to its characterful and charming atmosphere. It’s fully equipped with modern amenities and boasts a full kitchen, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Split between friends, this place is great value for money!

Things to See and Do in Laguna Beach:

  1. The best and cheapest way to get your fill of fresh air and beautiful countryside in Laguna Beach is by taking a trip to the huge Conversation Area, which is a little inland. Here, you’ll find Gayle’s Trails, where you can enjoy a long hike on boardwalks through the thick, luscious woodland.
  2. If you want to get on the water and take a boat tour or try out a new watersport, why not hit up one of the many companies on the coastline? Some of the best are PCB Wet N Wild Adventures, Airboat Adventures, or Wild Thang Airboat Tours.
  3. Learn about the maritime history of Panama City Beach at the Man in the Sea Museum down the coast.
  4. Make some underwater pals at Gulf World. You can wander around tropical gardens, feed sharks, and enjoy a sea lion, dolphin, and parrot show!

3. Long Beach – Best Area in Panama City Beach for Families

Planning a holiday for yourself is stressful enough, but it can get really complicated when you’re trying to factor in the whole family. But stress you need not, as we’ve sussed the best place for a family getaway. Long Beach is a centrally located neighborhood with great activities for the family to enjoy.

Long Beach

Whether it’s visiting the zoo, heading to the waterpark, or simply sitting back and soaking up the sun on a Floridian beach, there’s something for everyone to get stuck into.

9th Floor Beach Apartment | Best Family Apartment in Long Beach

9th Floor Beach Apartment

This beautiful beachfront condo is suitable for up to six travelers, making it ideal accommodation for families or groups of friends. It’s contemporary throughout and offers a full kitchen/dining area, living space, and a balcony. Visitors will also enjoy access to a pool and hot tub, as well as free parking.

8th Townhouse from the Beach | Elegant Townhouse in Long Beach

8th Townhouse from the Beach

This is a traditional, authentic townhouse with elegant furnishings and grand decor; you’ll feel like royalty during your stay. As part of a luxury gated community, you’ll be safe and able to mix with other families staying in the resort. Included in the complex are more than ten pools, an 18-hole mini-golf course, and a beautiful lagoon running through the resort.

Beachfront Condo on White Sandy Beaches | Chilled Out Condo in Long Beach

Beachfront Condo on White Sandy Beaches

Relax, unwind, and soak in the spectacular views of the gulf from this gorgeous condo. It’s perfect for you to bring the kids along for access to the beach and surrounding activities. As part of this rental, you’ll also get access to a shared pool, sauna, and hot tub – as well as loads of other great activities.

Things to See and Do in Long Beach:

  1. Take the family to the ZooWorld Zoological and Botanical Conservatory, a zoo with a difference. You’ll get to see more than 260 rare animals while learning about the great conservation programs they have here.
  2. Get competitive over a round of mini-golf! Goofy Golf is a fun spot to knock some balls around. With crazy courses and some tricky holes, you’ll be challenged but still have a ball.
  3. If you’re finding the Florida Sun a bit too much, Shipwreck Island Waterpark is the best place to cool down. Get wet and wild on the flumes, rides, and slides!
  4. For something a little more quirky, head to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum, where you’ll find all manner of crazy exhibitions and weird and wonderful artefacts.
  5. Pack your beach bag and enjoy a fun day on Florida’s stunning coastline.
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Hide Yo’ Money!

FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Panama City Beach

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Panama City Beach and where to stay.

What To Pack For Panama City Beach

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Panama City Beach

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Panama City Beach

Outstanding scenery, blazing sunshine, and one-in-a-lifetime activities – Panama City Beach has so much to offer to travelers of all types!  It’s no surprise that Panama City Beach is the perfect place to visit for all ages.

If you’re still not sure where to stay, we recommend Laguna Beach. It’s got great beaches, loads of things to do, and fantastic accommodation for cheaper rates. There are also some unique eco-resorts nearby that make for a truly memorable stay.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below!

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