If you are looking for a new happy place, Emerald View Resorts in Panama City Beach is a good place to start for family-friendly places to stay.
So, you want to get away to the beach for a little fun in the sun, but have no idea where to stay or what to do? I’ve got your back, at least when it comes to family fun in Panama City Beach, Florida. It’s about a five and a half hour drive from Atlanta, a small distance to go in order to get your fill of what—if it’s not already—will become your ‘happy place’. And, when it comes to a great place to stay, you’ll want to start your search with Emerald View Resorts. Odds are, with all the properties they manage, you won’t need to look long.
On a recent visit, we ended up staying at a pretty amazing condo at Grand Panama Resort. Smack dab on the beach. Our unit was 17 stories up, which gave us quite the view at sunrise and sunset, not just of the beach, but over the pool area right off the beach.
There are actually two towers holding condos—one beachside (where we stayed), and another streetside. The streetside offers a more economical option for staying close enough to the beach that you don’t have to get in a car to stick your toes in the sand, but don’t have to pay the beachfront prices. There’s even a glassed in street walk over you can use connecting both towers.
And here’s a tip a lot of people staying there don’t realize: When the pool located right on the beach gets a little too crowded, go use the one on the other tower. It’s located about five stories up (but in the elevator, that’s called the ground floor—trust me, this confused me for a while). That one offers plenty of shade in the late afternoon hours. There’s a state-of-the-art gym right off property, too, right there by that pool. You know, in case you’re the type to get your kicks on a treadmill instead of running the beach. Or, let’s just say it’s what you use when it’s raining outside and you can’t run on the beach, because I don’t really get why you’d choose to be indoors with that view.
The pool off the beach has a Tiki Bar to keep you hydrated in the sun, and the pool in the streetside tower has a snack bar, too, but wasn’t open while we were there, so I’m not sure what they serve.
It’s important to note the condos are all individually owned and decorated independently, so you never know what you’re going to get, but we were fortunate enough to end up in a unit that I could have lived in forever (that’s also an important to note why you should rent directly from Emerald View Resorts, instead of a personal-type rental site, where if you’re having a problem, you’re at that owner/renter’s mercy to get it addressed—with Emerald View, you have the front desk right there to handle it).
The condo we stayed in featured two bedrooms and a bunk bed in the hallway (this is a typical use of space in condos on the beach, and our kids love the uniqueness of it). We had a spacious balcony, the ideal spot for when you’re trying to get out of the sun, or coffee in the morning or dessert at night. Having a full kitchen keeps things affordable if you’re going to be at the beach for a while. The appliances were definitely nicer than the ones I have at home.
The bedrooms and baths were stylishly decorated, along with the living room. This was the kind of place you’d happily call home for longer than a week. The sliding doors off the bedroom make waking up to the sound of the waves simply dreamy. There are sliders off the living room, too, and the balcony stretches across both rooms, and then some. As I said before, this is always my favorite spot in a beach rental (my logic is if there’s no balcony, I’d really rather keep looking—that’s how much I love a beach balcony).
What makes this condominium different is the attention to detail. In our condo unit, the top drawer of the bedside table had built in cell chargers. Now, that’s just genius. But the entire building (both) has little touches like that throughout.
What made it perfect for my family was the proximity to everything fun in Panama City Beach, from Pier Park just two miles away, to St. Andrews State Park the opposite direction. We were able to rent a golf car from the business next door for about $50 for a few hours and cover one end to the next, stopping for lunch at my favorite beach bar, Schooner’s. You can read more about what you should not miss on a visit to Panama City Beach in this article
-Room for the entire crew
-Proximity to fun things to do
-Attention to detail
WHAT DOESN’T WORK:
-Parking can be difficult
One thing we did not care for was the parking deck. It was a whole lot of looping, and everyone wants to be on the fifth floor, which is where you find the adjoining skywalk leading to the beach tower. We found it easier just to park on the ground level parking lot outside and walk across the street with our stuff, then take the elevators up to our room in that tower. We were visiting during the ‘off-season’, so I can’t imagine how crazy parking gets in the summer, even though there’s a second parking deck.
All that said, I still find this to be the ideal place to stay in Panama City Beach, although I have to admit, I’m a little eager to check out the other properties Emerald View Resorts manages. Here’s a pic of a couple. And trust me, there are many more.
The rate for two nights in October would be about $550 (all taxes and fees included—prices checked in 10/16) for a two bedroom, two bath condo that sleeps six to eight people.
We were hosted by the condo as part of a press trip through Visit Panama City Beach.