Travel Guide: Girls Weekend in Panama City Beach, FL (Pandemic Edition)

Hi friends – HAPPY SEPTEMBER! I’m really not sure how that’s even possible, but here I am … ready for pumpkin-everything and cooler temps. BUT before we talk about that craziness, we are talking about a weekend at the beach!

I recently returned from a 4-day trip with some girlfriends and it was certainly one to remember. We had a great time, sure, but this vacation will be one to remember for a few new reasons: 1) We are in the middle of a global pandemic which resulted in a very different kind of vacation than usual (and I’m not mad about it); and 2) A change of scenery and quality girl time was even more appreciated after we’d all been cooped in our homes with our families for six months straight. It was such a chill weekend full of shooting blog content, soaking up some sunshine, enjoying rainy afternoons on the balcony, and a TON of laughs. We’d originally planned this trip for April, but COVID had other plans for us and we postponed to August. It was touch-and-go for a while and we weren’t sure it was going to be able to happen, but we ended up making it work safely and it was so much fun.

I wanted to share some of the things we did on our trip, where we stayed, places we ate, and things we wanted to do but didn’t get around to because … four girls together and taking too long to get ready (for nothing, honestly). If you’re planning a visit to Panama City Beach sometime soon, be sure to save this post for reference!


LOCATION + LODGING
The last time I visited Panama City Beach was for my college freshman year spring break, and that was a very different story. This time we stayed at Laketown Wharf 1321 which was, in my opinion, perfectly located and has everything you could possibly need. The condo is a 3 bedroom / 3 bath unit with a full-sized kitchen, spacious living area, and a large balcony overlooking the ocean, which provides plenty of space for four women and allllll of our luggage. The property has five pools, market shops, an ice cream shop, restaurants, and tons of other amenities to make your stay even more amazing. It’s directly across from Walmart, CVS, and McDonald’s on one side, and Pineapple Willie’s + a beach access on the other.

The staff at Book That Condo went above and beyond to make our stay unforgettable (THANK YOU!), and I cannot wait to go back just to stay with them again. Everything, including check-in and paperwork, is available via their app to help keep everything organized and contact-free. They truly care about their rental properties and their guests, and offer so many perks and bonuses to show it. (Click here for more on that!)

Tip for staying here: Take a beach cart (like this) for transporting everything from the parking garage to your room. You’ll need to park on one level and take the elevator up a few floors, and it ain’t easy when you have about 3,281 bags lol.

FOOD
I’m kind of disappointed in our dining decisions during our trip 😅. I don’t know what it is, but every time we travel together food is never our priority (complete opposite of when I travel with literally anyone else)! I think it’s because we woke up at 5 a.m. every morning to shoot content during sunrise, chilled inside during rainy afternoons, and then were too tired to venture out in the evening. Not to mention COVID, so we kept our distance and enjoyed a lot of takeout and delivery.

Thursday evening we ordered from It’s Just Wings via DoorDash and it was so freaking good! We did stop in The Pour for coffee and breakfast on Friday morning and I would 10/10 recommend that place. The coffee was perfection, the atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, the staff was so friendly, and the food was delicious (you MUST try the cinnamon roll). Friday night Carrabba’s treated us to some comfort food, so we picked it up to enjoy in our comfies at the condo. A great option if you want a nice dinner in! Below are a few other places we enjoyed or were recommended to us if you’re hunting for dining options.

  • The Pour coffee house: coffee, breakfast, lunch and pastries
  • It’s Just Wings: great for delivery. Try several sauces – all were yummy!
  • Carrabba’s: I suggest the Pasta Carrabba or Chicken Bryan, Tiramisu and red sangria!
  • Pineapple Willy’s: Easy walk across the street, or enjoy a daiquiri on the beach
  • Runaway Island: Great oceanfront dining and primo spot for sunset. We enjoyed this on our last night.
  • FitMeals: If you want to stick with a meal plan or ensure healthy eating during your stay, have FitMeals delivered upon arrival! They hooked us up with breakfast and a few entrees and it was so tasty and convenient. (Use code BLAKELEY10 for a discount.)
  • Dee’s Hangout (recommended by locals)
  • Fire Fly Panama City Beach (recommended by locals)
  • Hang Five (recommended by locals)
  • Da Cajun Place (recommended by locals)

THINGS TO DO
As I mentioned before, things were a bit different for us this trip and we opted not to go too crazy doing a lot and visiting crowded places. Let’s be honest, though, beach days are the highlight of any PCB trip! Here are a few of my suggestions on how to spend your visit:

  • Wake up for sunrise. I know, it totally sucks waking up early, especially on vacation. But sunrises on the beach are one of the most beautiful and peaceful things EVER! Grab a cup of coffee and walk down for to the beach to enjoy the sun coming up with your toes in the cold sand. It’s unforgettable.
  • Schedule a photoshoot with a local photographer. We didn’t do it this time around, but this is something I always like to do when I travel, especially if it’s somewhere new or for a special occasion. Not only do you have professional photos to cherish, but a local photographer always knows the best locations and times to shoot.
  • Watch a sunset. You watched the sun come up, now you must watch it come down. Sunsets on the Gulf are like none-other! It’s breathtaking and different every single evening.
  • Visit Pier Park. Pier Park is basically an outdoor mall and a total tourist destination, but rightfully so. It’s right across the street from the boardwalk, and has a ton of cute shops, restaurants, bars and activities. Just be warned it’s pretty crowded, so if you’re trying to social distance just be careful when you visit. We tried to go once but it was too crowded, so we left and went back at 8 a.m. just to walk around and snap some photos.
  • Wine and charcuterie on the patio. The perfect way to enjoy the condo, the view and some quality time with your girls. We enjoyed the yummiest cheeses from Renard’s and blue wine from Amour Geneve which made for the perfect pair. (Click here to see my time-lapse video creating this board.)
  • Enjoy pool and beach time. I know this one seems like a no-brainer, but so many times we get wrapped up in sight-seeing and exploring that we forget to slow down and enjoy actually being on vacation.

TRAVELING DURING THE PANDEMIC
I will have a full post on this later this week, but just a few things to remember. Don’t forget your hand sanitizer, a few face masks and Clorox wipes! Traveling during this crazy pandemic can certainly be scary and totally different than normal, but I think there are ways to do it safely and be able to enjoy it. Remember to travel only to places you’re comfortable going with people you’re comfortable with, continue practicing social distancing and adhering to the recommend CDC guidelines. Try to quarantine yourself prior to traveling and again when you return home. Wash your hands often. If you’re traveling with friends from other households, suggest everyone gets tested prior to road tripping together and sleeping in close quarters. Don’t feel pressured to do things you don’t feel comfortable doing. Make outdoor reservations in advance for restaurants you really want to eat at to ensure a table is available. Try to relax, have fun, and enjoy the change of scenery!


Want more? My girls are sharing their PCB recap posts on their blogs as well! Click HERE to read Miranda’s post on Daily Dose of Davis, and HERE to read Courtney’s post on Little Southern Little City.

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