Monday, February 21, 2011

20 Places To Avoid In Panama City

Panama City Beach and the surrounding areas are popular destinations for all walks of life. Families, college and high school party-goers, retired seasoned citizens...they all come for different reasons, proof positive that this area literally has something for everyone.

This post isn't about any of that.

I am writing this informative piece as a warning to those who may not be that familiar with the area. Sure, there are plenty of fun events and great things to see and do during your time here and I do plan to touch on that in the future. For now, we'll focus on the things you should avoid. I have made these mistakes, so that you don't have to. You can thank me later, preferably in the comments section below.


1. The ocean when purple warning flags are flying. The purple flag warns of "marine pests" in the water. I don't know what the hell that means, nor do I want to.
2. The bathrooms at Sweet Dreams. You would think that "bathrooms" is a easy, cop-out pick, but the ones in this dingy, but fun, dive karaoke bar have avoided cleaning since the mid 70's.
3. 15th street at 4pm. It's like everyone in the entire city going in both directions got off work at the exact same time and 15th St. is their happy hour.
4. Hooters. Hooters should be avoided in every city, simply based on the low quality, over priced food. Yet, some people still go for the eye candy. So if you do decide to come to our Hooters, allow me to be the first to welcome you to our city and also apologize for your eventual disappointment.
5. Bealls Outlet during Snow Bird season. Have you ever been in a discount outlet store when a tour bus full of old Canadians and Midwesterners unloads? I don't recommend it.
6. Tan Fannies. I'll give you one guess as to what type of establishment this is. Yes, it's a strip club. At least that's what we're told. Rumor has it that they only have one dancer who only has one arm. So she can only spin in one direction on the pole. I can't make this stuff up.
7. Panama City Mall. This is so depressing. Once the hip, new shopping area of Pier Park opened on the beach, the in-town mall began to slowly die, store by store. Now, it's just a pathetic shell of what it once was. There is no need to go there, unless you're shopping for some sort of bling accessory for your cell phone, or those pajama pants that look like jeans.
8. Billfish Tournament. This annual fishing tournament/show-n-tell for yacht owners is like the Alamo (or Holy Grail, depending on how you look at it) for wealthy, pretentious cougars looking for a mate. It is also a popular event for young, trashy gold diggers. The combination of which is akin to crossing the streams for Ghostbusters. If you don't have a nice boat to show off, you're just the Marshmellow Man. And no one likes the Marshmellow Man.
9. Friday Fest. This is actually a decent event, held the first Friday evening of each month throughout the Summer and Fall. What puts this on the list is its popularity among the local, jorts-wearing, rednecks and their litters of unruly children. That's not something I want to deal with after a long work week.
10. Front Beach Rd. during the months of March and April and June and July. This is the main drag along the beach, which passes by a number of bars, clubs and shops. During the spring break and summer crowds, this turns into a cruising strip that doesn't move. For days. Us locals know to get anywhere, you take Back Beach Rd.
11. Parker. Those of us on the beach side know not to cross the bridge into Panama City unless absolutely necessary. Once you do though, the deeper into the city you get, the closer you get to Parker. If you want some old, used tires, or lice, then maybe this is the place for you. Otherwise, avoid at all costs.
12. The pool at LaVela. A night at "the world's largest nightclub" can be a great time. But be sure to follow this one, very important rule: Do Not Touch Anything. And especially don't get in the pool. There isn't enough chlorine in the world to kill the super-virus that may be festering in those waters once the 500,000 drunken college kids have their way with it.
13. Golden Coral during Snow Bird season. (See #5 and add a never-ending food buffet to the mix. Just deadly.)
14. The Outrigger. I've actually had some fun times at this dive bar. Cheap, strong drinks and a good, digital jukebox. Why then, did it make the list? I recently learned that this is the hangout for the local Swinger's club. I no longer go, in fear that they may mistake my presence as an interest.
15. Locos. This is the Walmart of Mexican restaurants. If I am going to have Mexican for dinner, I expect it to be prepared and cooked by real Mexicans. Not some Emo, middle class, white high schooler who can't wait to get back to the Dashboard Confessional on his iPod. This area has some really good Mexican restaurants, where the food is made with love by authentic Mexicans. Locos is Americanized assembly line garbage.
16. The "Kiddie Pool" at St. Andrews State Park. (See #9) Plus, there have been some sightings of hammerhead sharks. The waters are warm, crystal clear and inviting, and truth be told, I'd actually rather swim with sharks than screaming children, but either way, I'm going to avoid it.
17. Dodges Chicken. This is a chicken joint located in a gas station. It's a popular late night spot to get a cheap, greasy meal after leaving The Outrigger, located directly across the street, but c'mon. It's a GAS STATION.
18. No Name on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Located at the foot of the bridge, No Name is one of my favorite hangouts. Good drinks, free popcorn, goldfish and potato chips, and a great outdoor deck overlooking the bay. That said, it's a really small building that can hardly handle the Friday after work crowd. And the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the time when anyone and everyone who ever left this town comes back. And they all know that No Name is the spot for their annual reunion. Do the math.
19. Waffle House. I dig Waffle House, but we have a better alternative here. It's called Corams. So when you're visiting and have a hankerin' for eggs, pancakes and grits at 2am, skip Waffle House and head to a Corams.
20. Super Walmart. The idea of Walmart has always angered me. No,  I'm not a "save the forest," big-business hating, hippie. It's because everyone who ever goes to Walmart always leaves complaining about the crowds. You know there is going to be a crowd there. Be it 2pm, or 2am. And yet you still go. And then I have to listen to you complain about it. Here's a little secret: go to KMart. They still exist, but no one realizes it. You can get the same crap, for the same price and you'll be one of maybe 6 people in the entire store. No KMart in your area? Try Target, Dollar General, or a damn grocery store. We have all of those here in PCB. Same crap, less people. I haven't been inside a Walmart since 2007 and somehow, I've managed to survive. And yes, I'm going to continue to be a pretentious douche about it.


  1. I am so glad you added Sweet Dreams bathroom, Dodges Chicken, PC Mall... Actually, no… all of this is on point. Every laaast bit of it, on point.

    The only things I would chime in would be Sharky’s or Hammer Head’s foam parties. Numerous reports of people getting injected with something, or drugged. Foam parties during Spring Break are just bad ideas.

    Hot tubs with more than 5 people in them. For instance, Days Inn in PCB – if there is barely enough room to stand in the hot tub you may want to reconsider dipping your toes in there.

    Also, the wet floor cones at hotels/condo’s. You might think it’ll be hilarious to use as a megaphone but stop and think about how many other 100’s of spring breakers thought the same thing.
    Other places floor cones have been seen: On peoples heads (above and below the belt), in spring breakers mouths, used as a beer bong, and at the top of the list one girl got a little frisky with one in the hot tub. Yep, I guess she did not realize that douche’s can be purchased at Wal-Mart for $4… and it would have probably been a lot cleaner and not as skeezy.

    Newby’s. All of the Newby’s bars. We, as locals, have deemed Newby’s as the “locals” bar. Please stay out, we don’t want to see you. Most of us deal with you in traffic, at work, at restaurants, shopping centers, and etc… We do not want to see you in our bars acting like idiots as well. THANKS!

    1. Some one just needs to move away bc you obviously live in the wrong place

    2. No Name is an awesome place to go! The great news is since this link post the outside deck has been enlarged to accommodate the customers for any special day! Help stop the rumors its not closing! Road construction will not close our special lounge! Come watch the beautiful sunsets and have one of the best drinks in Panama City for a low price.

    3. On a positive note: I am not a resident of PC, so cannot comment on the Do Not Go list. I can, however, comment on a DO GO TO list if it ever appears: The Paul Brent Gallery. It is my favorite of all kinds of art galleries. The staff is so welcoming, and the gallery is such a pleasant place to be. The art there appeals very much to me. Just the feel of the place is good.

  2. Places to avoid in Panama City
    1) Panama City

  3. I would like to add my two cents worth. Shop locally when you can. Those of us with small local businesses are really suffering. Some of us have managed to stay in business with this economy, but who knows for how long.

    I would like to add the ladies room (do not know about the mens room) in Publix on Highway 77 in Lynn Haven. If you've ever sat down on the "throne" in the "handicapped" stall, you will see the filthiest floor and bottom of the toilet (when looking at the toilet/floor area of the next stall. I keep waiting to see (every time I go in there which is a couple of times a week) if anyone will ever clean that and they do not. It's been months.....

    If you are a biker and need helmets, saddlebags, vests, chaps, etc. I hope you will come check out my small local business.

    Ghost Rider Leather
    731 Airport Road
    Suite E
    Panama City, FL 32405

    Closed Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
    Open Tuesdays through Fridays from noon to 6pm.

    Visit us online as well at

    Thank you for this article.

  4. Hey, I've had some good times at the Outrigger, and they didn't involve picking up grandmas either. Dodge's isn't bad, for cheap fried greasy goodness.Mexican, go to Old Mexico or (gasp) Los Antojitos. And don't be hatin' on Parker. Yeah, there may be a pervasive smell of sewage coming from the place that gets worse when the wind is coming from the south, but we can't ALL afford to live out on the beach! If you don't like it, move to Lynn Haven and start wearing a lot of camo.

  5. P.S. The BEST waffle house imitation is the Waffle Shoppe on 23rd street. It's great, drunk OR sober!

  6. I live in Parker and it's not THAT bad...granted it is about as far away from the beach you can get, being smack dab in between Mexico Beach and PCB but it's nice in most areas. :)

    1. Amen. I resent that remark. Parker bayou is beautiful. I was born and raised there.

  7. Panama City is actually nicer to visit than PCB for most of the year due to college Spring Break and hordes of tourists that come between Early Spring-Early Fall. PC is much less crowded and without drunk college kids looking for a booty call or beer buzz.

    PCB is nicer in Fall/Winter, when most of the out-of towners are retiree snowbirds who come out during day and go back to their home at night. Plus, weather isn't hot and muggy during this time, so you can enjoy it better.

    There are dumpy parts of Panama City, but overall cost of living is more affordable. Generally, places with golf courses have a high cost of living and PCB has multiple golf courses.

  8. Personally~I believe you should use your time more Wisely! Instead of downgrading try upgrading by trying to fix the problem!

  9. Both Tan Fannie and Locos is closed. The only place for real good Mexican is Old Mexico. Also please stay out of waters during red flag and double red flag. Spring break always brings death by drowning because someone couldn't obey the warnings and always swim with a buddy anything can happen no matter how good you think you are. Last but not least, NO YOU CAN NOT FLY! So don't try to. Every year numerous spring breakers try to do this from balconies.

  10. The Panama City Mall had been my work home for the last 10 years. Improvements are being made every day and a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to make things better for tenants and shoppers. Have a little respect for your local business owners.

  11. In Regards to the Outrigger: swingers did come in there on karaoke nights.... But that was more than a decade ago

  12. Schooners, rudest staff I have ever experienced at any establishment in any state. Sharkys is a close second, last time I ate there our waiter was stoned off his gourd but that goes for half of PCB on any day of the week anyways. Most of the small oyster bars/ restaurants like hunts, captains table, jeans, ect have friendly staff and good food and a nice local vibe. Better yet just avoid the beach altogether, it's tacky and trashy and for the most part a tourist trap.

    1. Schooners is awesome. I worked there and met my wife there.

  13. Reluctant local needs to be a past local. There are several excellent places to eat on the beach. Also, to the original poster, purple flags mean dangerous animals in the water, not pests. That means various types of dangerous jellyfish and sharks. Learn your flags if you dein to show your presence on our beaches. Also, you'll sound more legit if learn how to spell: marshmallow, not marshmellow. Stop hating on Panama City, Parker and other surrounding cities, and PCB. If you don't like them, feel free to stay away.

  14. It was funny....don't get all sensitive and's Bay county. Everything was true. You don't love the smell of papermills in the morning

  15. It was funny....don't get all sensitive and's Bay county. Everything was true. You don't love the smell of papermills in the morning

  16. Our family owns the outrigger and has for over thirty years and we have great strong drinks at a great price and a great atmosphere it is almost like a cheers .where everyone knows your name. Family owned and operated. Support local businesses!

  17. I recently moved to Panama City about nine months ago, and as a new local, i can state that most of the above is true, with a few exceptions. As a former Tennessean, I have always supported local small businesses and will continue to do so. I prefer the city side of the Hathaway to the Beach side, especially the entirety of the St.Andrews area. The outrigger is a damn good place for a good drink and a good crowd. All my personal favorite is the Watershed, though. Support local businesses, shop where the locals shop. You're gonna find great deals and even greater people. There's a reason the locals stay the heck away from the chains and franchises of PC and PCB.

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  19. I am leaving Panama City for the last time next month. This place may have its charm, much in the same way you love watching fear and loathing but don't want to live out your life in the backseat of that droptop. This is fucking bat country. Grab your lawyer and GTFO.