Gulf Shores Vs Panama City Beach: Are you in the process of planning a vacation to the Gulf Coast? You’re in for a real treat! The Gulf is known for its white beaches with sand as soft as sugar and the glistening emerald green ocean spanning for miles. So in the battle between Gulf Shores vs Panama City Beach, which one comes out the winner?
When you’re planning a vacation and choosing a destination, there’s a lot more to consider than which is the prettiest. Will you be traveling as a couple? With kids? Do you want to go somewhere with vibrant nightlife? All of these factors need to be considered in order to make the right decision.
Gulf Shores Vs Panama City Beach: Beaches
Gulf Shores is known for its exquisite beaches with sand as soft and white as powdered sugar. The beaches tend to remain relatively uncrowded throughout the day so if a day of solace is what you’re after, you’ve got it! High tide washes sand dollars up onto the shore so if you’re a keen beachcomber, hit the beach at sunrise to collect a few. If you enjoy photography or just want a great picture for the ‘gram, the sunsets are pretty spectacular to capture in the background of your holiday snaps.
Panama City Beach spans 27 miles of coastline with picture-perfect white sand beaches fronted by a bottle green ocean. There are plenty of different beaches to choose from, some which are great for shelling, others for snorkeling and the more desolate ones for relaxing. When comparing Gulf Shores vs Panama City Beach beachfronts, it’s a definite tie!
Gulf Shores Vs Panama City Beach: Attractions and Activities
Gulf Shores offers visitors plenty to do both in the water and on land with activities that appeal to all age groups. As we mentioned, the beaches are uncrowded and perfect to set up shop for the day and relax while the kids play. For those who love water, kayaking and paddleboarding are popular activities. For landlubbers, hit one of the scenic hiking trails in Gulf State Park or zoom around the park on Segways. Other popular attractions include:
- Sailaway Charters Eco Tours
- Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
- Fishing on the pier or booking a charter
- Dolphin tours
- Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Panama City Beach offers tons of tours and excursions including dolphin tours, snorkeling, parasailing and fishing excursions. If you and your kids would like to master the art of building sandcastles, you can even book sand castle building lessons and build a masterpiece!
For a more relaxed day on the beach, you can rent a personalized beach setup inclusive of hammocks, a bonfire and s’more kits. Other top attractions include:
- Shell Island Waterpark
- Andrews State Park eco-tours
- Coconut Creek Family Fun Park
- Barnacle Bay mini golf
- Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium
Gulf Shores has a lot for nature lovers to see and do with a number of state parks, nature reserves and hiking trails. Panama City Beach has a lot more water based activities and a wider variety of things for kids to do.
Gulf Shores Vs Panama City Beach: Atmosphere
With its Southern roots, Gulf Shores has a charming, small-town vibe and is very family-friendly. As a quieter seaside town, it is also suitable for couples looking for a quiet and intimate getaway, say for a honeymoon or anniversary.
Panama City Beach is a vibrant waterfront town that is both family friendly and great for groups looking to let their hair down. Panama City Beach has welcomed spring breakers since the 1950s so during March and April, youngsters flock to the beach town to party up a storm. If a quiet beach getaway or family vacation is what you’re planning, avoid the area during that season.
Gulf Shores Vs Panama City Beach: Nightlife
Don’t let the small-town, family-oriented atmosphere in Gulf Shores fool you into thinking there’s nothing to do after dark. The reality is quite the contrary! Leave the kids with the sitter and start your evening at one of the many restaurants in town. Ginny Lane Bar and Grill is a vibey waterfront restaurant with a delicious Southern-inspired menu that includes shrimp and grits and Cajun crab cakes. After dinner, head to Pink Pony Pub right on the beach or visit one of the local nightclubs.
Panama City Beach has plenty to do when the sun goes down! Despite the thriving nightlife, the general atmosphere of the establishments is very laid back so flip-flops are thankfully not frowned upon! There are dance clubs, bars, late night eateries, live music performances and karaoke nights to keep you entertained for the duration of your stay. If a dance club is what you’re in the mood for, pop by Club La Vela, one of the biggest nightclubs in the USA. For delicious sticky ribs and cocktails, give Pineapple Willy’s a try.
Gulf Shores Vs Panama City Beach: Verdict
So is there actually a verdict with regards to whether Gulf Shores vs Panama City Beach is better? First of all, they’re 100 miles apart in different areas so they’re very different destinations! Gulf Shores tends to be a quieter vacation destination with uncrowded beaches and plenty of eco-tours, delighting nature lovers who visit. Being in Alabama, Gulf Shores has that small-town Southern charm which heavily influences everything from food to hospitality. We’d rate Gulf Shores a great spot for couples seeking a tranquil escape to visit.
Panama City Beach is a more vibey and bustling coastal town, which does see an influx of partygoers during spring break season. There is a lot for families traveling with kids to do and see plus a vibrant nightlife for adults to enjoy when the sun goes down!