After a dismal summer tourism season from the BP oil spill disaster, tourism officials are very optimistic for this Labor Day weekend to end the summer season with a bang. Many local resorts are reporting full occupancy this weekend and with great weather projected for all three days of this extended weekend, locals and tourists alike are sure to have a blast.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, here are five ideas on how to get the most out of your beach excursion this Labor Day weekend.
1.) Go to the beach.
Seems obvious right? Well, it might for visitors to our crystal white sand beaches, but for locals, this is our most neglected asset. My family and I make a point to get to the beach at least a few times a month. With kids, sometimes it’s harder to go much more than that. At the very least, my wife and I drop the kids off at grandma’s and get some surfing in, big waves or small.
If you like action and being around tons of people, stick to the public beach access spots that are around some of the larger resorts and restaurants, like Edgewater Beach Resort, Shores of Panama, Majestic, Club La Vela, Pinnaple Willys or Schooners. If you like quiet spots, stick to the west end, on some of the dedicated beaches. The parking is usually easy, and the beaches are much less crowded.
2.) Go shopping.
The beach is great, but if you want a break, hit the shops at Pier Park. If you aren’t familiar with Pier Park, crawl out from the rock you’ve been under for the last 30 months and take a look around. Pier Park opened in February of 2008 and has literally changed the face of Panama City Beach. The whole mall is an outdoor adventure that includes a large variety of shops, eateries and restaurants.
With shops ranging from big box retailers such as Dillards, JCPenney, Old Navy and Target, to other smaller national brands, down to local mom-and-pop shops, there’s something for everyone, including the kids with a new Toys R Us Express. Of course, Polka Dots and As Seen on TV have cool stuff for the little tikes as well.
3.) Go see some cool attraction.
If you’re looking for something to do when the sun cools off, there is a variety of extremely fun things to do in Panama City Beach. Some of the many things include miniature golf, go carts and more. But some of the newer things to see include interactive attractions such as WonderWorks and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Not to mention the huge movie stadium seating movie theater that was built in Pier Park.
4.) Go watch some sports.
There are tons of places to catch a game, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Calypso Cafe or Time Out Sports Bar on the east end of Panama City Beach. But, if you want to catch a real game, there are tons of cool things going on this weekend.
Over at the Boardwalk Beach Resort EVP (Extreme Volleyball Professionals) is hosting a large pro-volleyball tournament that is bringing in volleyball stars such as Mark Paaluhi, Wayne Scott, Kim Whitney, and “players of the year” Mike Dauernheim. Teams come from Hermosa Beach, Santa Barbara, Chicago, Seattle, Detroit, Miami Beach, St. Louis, Racine, Naples Long Island and many more.
There are also soccer tournaments going on at Frank Brown Park and a large Martial Arts competition going on at the Edgewater Beach Resort Conference Center.
5.) Go to your local friendly State Park.
One of the things that is vastly overlooked by tons of people are all the amazing state parks that we have all over the area. Here’s a quick list:
- St. Andrew’s
- Camp Helen
- Grayton Beach
- Topsail Hill
- Eden Gardens
- Falling Waters
- Florida Caverns
- Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou
And these are just to name a few that are within an hour or so from Panama City Beach. For a total list of state parks in our area, click here.