Panama City Beach, FL Travel
Eric: OK, I'm gonna vote Panama City Beach the most disappointing area of Florida. I heard that it was the "Redneck Riviera", but what does that mean? It's supposed to be filled with all sorts of funky things, we love kitch, what's not to like...right? You're probably thinking - "what? like the Ft. Myers beach area?" We loved the Ft. Myers beach area. All sorts of little spots that had character. It went on like this for miles, everything was different. The more you drove, the more cool stuff you saw.
So what's different about Panama City Beach? They had funky stuff, but arranged like this: purple haze smoke shop, waffle house, liquor store, purple haze smoke shop, waffle house, liquor store, etc. etc. It was bizarre. OK, fine..mix in a few miniature golf courses and a go car track.
Now I suppose it you lived in the heart of Alabama, and the furthest you ever drove was to Panama City Beach, the I guess you'd think this was cool. I've seen abandoned seaside boardwalks in New Jersey that had more originality than this place.
The most appalling thing I saw was run off from a storm drain emptying right onto the beach. (This was on Front Beach road. See photo below.) They keep advertising that Panama City Beach has the best beaches in Florida. Didn't see it. I was told that the beach is nice in some state park area. I guess I missed it.
Velma: The businesses that Eric mentioned line the inland side of the main drag. The ocean side of Panama City Beach is thick with condos and hotels. Many are still under construction and cranes rise in the air like freakish bird skeletons. We didn't go farther up the coast (or is it "down" the coast?) than Alys Beach, so we didn't get to check out the entire "Miracle Strip" that streches from Panama CIty Beach to Fort Walton Beach. I want to go back and further explore the whole Panhandle. We never made it to Tallahassee, never mind Pensacola. We also didn't get to St. Andrews State Park which is supposed to be one of the beautiful beaches for which the area is famous. Yes, Eric, we did miss the nice beaches.
I understand the Panhandle is more Dixie than the rest of Florida. I can't help wondering how it got appended to Florida rather than Alabama; the natural boundary is the Apalachicola River, which divides Alabama and Georgia. I'm guessing some early robber baron (in the Henry Flagler mold), with great foresight, took one look at all that pristine beachfront and grasped all the future economic possibilities and said "Screw Alabama and Georgia!"
So, whether Eric likes it or not, we're going back, Redneck Riviera and all. I'd dearly love to see the Mullet Toss at the Flora-Bama Lounge. Wouldn't you?
Wikipedia: Panama City Beach
GPS: N 30º 12.214' - W 85º 51.249'