Insider’s Tips for your Next Beach Trip

The Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau sent out an email asking for insider tips and it got me thinking about what I often tell our guests when they ask for the same thing. When I think of insider tips, I think of ways to save money, time and effort so that a vacation can be as easy and relaxing as possible.

Being in the property management business, I’ve learned over the years the best time of year to be here, the best places to stay and what to bring when you come to make things easier.

The best time of year to come.

This is the biggest question I get on a regular basis. Of course, the answer depends on a lot of things, like school schedules, whether you’re coming with your kids (or not), what you’re wanting to do while you’re here, etc.

Most come during the spring or summer time, based on school schedules for the kids, and inherent in the principles of supply and demand, rates and occupancy is higher during those periods.

But, if you’re willing to take the kids out of school for a vacation, or if you’re traveling without the hinderance of school schedules, you should definitely try the beach during a shoulder season.

What is a shoulder season?

A shoulder season is a time of year where it’s warm enough to justify a beach trip, but it’s not during a time when the majority of travelers can come down.

March is super busy and that business peaks out the first week in April and sometimes bleeds over to the second week. However, the remaining weeks in April and the first two weeks in May is a phenomenal time of year to be here and usually the beach is pretty quiet. Along with the fewer numbers of people here, property management companies and property owners are typically very willing to work a deal to keep their place rented. All you have to do is ask for the deal or make an offer.

Although, be careful with low-balling as some will see that as a red-flag that you won’t take care of their property.

If you prefer the Gulf waters a little warmer (mid 80 degree water temps as opposed to mid 70’s), you should definitely come in late September or October. The weather is fantastic, the water is still very warm from summer, there is almost no one here and rates are sometimes half what they are in summertime.

And as a general rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a 3 bedroom or larger place, book as far in advance as possible for the best deal. If you’re looking for a 1 or 2 bedroom, the best deals are usually to be had the closer you are to your arrival date.

The best places to stay.

Again, this largely depends on preference and what you’re wanting, but generally, if I can park the car for the week and walk everywhere, I’m a happy camper.

There are a lot of areas in Panama City Beach where this just ins’t possible, but if you can stay around Pier Park, you can easily accomplish this.

Here are some of the resorts around Pier Park that are easily within walking distance:

Most of these, are just a short walk on the beach to Pier Park, which offers pretty much all the dining, shopping and entertainment you could want while you’re not at the beach.

What you should bring with you.

Most of the accommodations options in Panama City Beach are gulf-front condos, homes and townhouses. When you’re staying in one of these options, typically you’re responsible for groceries and sundry items.  And if you’ve done this before, you’ve probably got your first day grocery list all planned out already. 🙂

Typically check-in day is Saturday, and if that’s when you’re coming in, you know that evening the grocery stores are packed and mostly sold out of anything you’ll need.  Savvy travelers come with the basics that will carry them through the first day or two and hit the stores after everyone else has frenzied the shelves and staff has restocked.

If you’re flying, this probably isn’t possible, but if you’re like the majority of our visitors, you’re driving.  Pack enough toilet paper and non-refrigerated food items to get you to Sunday or Monday morning and you’ll save the headache of finding the grocer out of stock and waiting in super long check-out lines.

Also, plan your grocery trip for an early morning time, when it’s likely most others are wanting to be sleeping in after the previous day’s travels.

Have some tips of your own?

You’re a veteran tourist, right?  Leave some of your pro-tips in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Insider’s Tips for your Next Beach Trip

  1. Most condo prices have been jacked up in October because of more schools now having a fall break. The October deals are long gone, even on the East end.

    But if you are coming anyway and you do not want to deal with traffic, stay on the East end on Thomas Dr. as far away from Pier Park as possible. Those units are also closer to the BEST restaurants in the Historic District of Panama City, right across Hathaway Bridge.


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