Traditionally, everyone thinks about the beach during summer. But NOW, when the leaves are changing and shorts no longer make their way into your daily wardrobe, now is my favorite time to pack up and head to the beach. Draw a line from Atlanta to Columbus, through Dothan, and straight to the ocean. You’ll end up in Panama City Beach in just under 5 hours. It would take you longer than that to get home from work during one of Atlanta’s infamous ice storms.
I love the beach as much as anyone, maybe even more. The smell of the brackish water as you drive closer to the ocean, coupled with the magic that happens the minute your toes hit the sand, well….their renewing properties hypnotize my spirit and obliterate any trouble in the world. It’s where I re-center, where I go to gain back a little innocence to my soul, where I remember to JUST HAVE FUN.
Throw in my family, my kiddo and my hubby, and it explodes with intentional moments and memories cemented in fun and lighthearted laughs. Every parent knows that it is hard to be consumed with ‘world worries’ when you have sand plastered in places it shouldn’t be, while you try and build a castle of silica that would make Cinderella jealous. But fall…well it adds entirely different elements- tempered heat, more manageable crowds, and even chances to find shoulder season rate specials.
What to Pack and Start Planning Your Bucket List
Are you a newbie to fall beach travel, or maybe your brain just hasn’t shifted gears from the sweat-drenched, sticky days of summer? Let me help you with some basics to pack for an unforgettable experience in Panama City Beach this fall. Then all you need to do is make your list; your bucket list of fun to experience.
Bathing Suits & Blankets
Well into November, Panama City Beach weather delivers seasonal averages of 75°F. Pack your bathing suits, because beach fun still reigns supreme.
As the light starts to fade, a hint of fall chill may tickle the air just enough to end your sun-kissed day of adventure covered in a light sweater or wrapped in a blanket. Why not snuggle up on the beach to a bonfire for your senses as the region displays some of the most amazing sunsets? Readers of USA TODAY voted Panama City Beach one of the 10 winners of the ‘Best Place to Watch a Sunset’ category.
Tennis Shoes and Eye Patches
It’s an unusual combination to pack but you’ll need them to cover ground comfortably during the Pirates of the High Seas Fest, October 10-12. Treasure hunts, sword fights and even fireworks will fill the adventurous weekend. Don’t worry, the plundering isn’t limited to just one weekend. March through October you can hop aboard the “Sea Dragon” Pirate Cruise, where you will not only get your fill of the swashbuckling kind, but parents will love the sightseeing cruise as well. Spot dolphins and other wildlife, fire the “kid cannon”, have water gun fights, and even have a pirate dance party!
A Healthy Appetite
Ok, I know what you are thinking. This isn’t something you can exactly pack. But, oh…it is my favorite thing to bring. September starts the fall months that have an “r”, which means its time to chow down on local shellfish. Whether you subscribe to this rule of thumb or not, I’m game for any excuse to enjoy good seafood. Not a shellfish lover, no worries! Panama City Beach is known as the “Seafood Capital of the World”, and the Gulf waters supply options from Grouper to Amberjack, blue crab and crawfish. Plan a weekend trip in October and you can partake in all the scrumptious and mouthwatering activities that are part of the Seafood and Music Festival.
Fishing Rods & Tackle box
It’s school time! And I don’t mean just for the kids. In Panama City Beach, we’re talking schools of fish. You don’t have to have a boat to join in on the fun. October boasts the Fall Fishing Challenge. If you fish from either the City Pier or the County Pier, on the weekends, during the month of October, you are automatically entered. They even have divisions for kids, and cash prizes.
Reusable Grocery Bags
So what are the grocery bags for? Shell Island! Pack a cooler and take the ferry to this 7.5 mile long and half-mile wide barrier island, accessible only by boat. This pristine jewel is undeveloped and boasts finds of its namesake. The fall and winter months are great for finding prize shells, as there is less competition and often more churn in the ocean to bring up new treasures.
Not up for a whole day on an island with no restrooms or concession stands? Captain Anderson’s Marina has a shoulder season special that combines three cruises into one, and allows you to spend some time on Shell Island, with the luxury of a boat parked onsite with facilities. Other parts of this special include a Seafari EcoTour, where you get to see what treasures and sea creatures come up as you pull aboard a trawl net. Cap the 3.5 hour adventure off with Bottlenose Dolphin watching in St. Andrew’s Bay.
What’s on Your Bucket List?
You’ve seen a glimpse of our family bucket list for Panama City Beach, and all the fall fun we are dreaming of!! Now, it’s time for you to get dreaming and packing. Grab the family and go build your own bucket list! Be ironic, think outside the box, and experience what the beach has in store for you and your family this fall! Build your own bucket list for Panama City Beach here!
This post is sponsored by VisitPanamaCityBeach.com.