Panama City Beach, FL: 5 Free Family Friendly Activities


Panama City Beach, not to be confused with Panama City, is in northwestern Florida and offers an intriguing mix of Southern charm and sugar sand, along with fresh seafood befitting its location on the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you are here for a family getaway or with a group of friends, you are sure to find plenty of free activities.

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach. Credit: Visit Panama City Beach

Long known for its emerald-green waters and sugar white sandy shores, Panama City Beach continues to thrive as a year-round destination hosting events throughout the year appealing to visitors of all ages – to be enjoyed on land, sand and sea. Below is an overview of annual free events being held in Panama City Beach:

Mardi Gras Festival and Parade, February 
This family-friendly festival presented by The Krewe of Dominique Youx is a terrific alternative for travelers hoping to experience the culture and celebration of Mardi Gras, while enjoying a seaside vacation. The renowned festivities of Bourbon Street come to Panama City Beach’s Pier Park for two days of fabulous floats, masked performers, colorful costumes, a signature parade and street party, Cajun food and fireworks.

Star Spangled Spectacular at Pier Park, July 4
Panama City Beach celebrates Fourth of July in style at Pier Park. Families can enjoy a day filled with live entertainment, children’s activities, tasty food and drinks, as well as a breathtaking fireworks display at 9pm.

Pirates of the High Seas Festival, October 
Columbus Day weekend brings a wave of fun-filled adventures to Panama City Beach with the Pirates of the High Seas Fest. Taking place throughout the coastal community, the festival will include an ensemble of parades and sword-swinging showdowns, culminating with a dueling fireworks display reenacting The Battle of the Seven Seas.

Annual Thunder Beach Rally, May and October
Known as “The Most Biker Friendly FREE Rally in the United States,” the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally is held twice yearly in Panama City Beach. Bikers from around the country enjoy scenic rides along the Emerald Coast, live entertainment and local cuisine.

New Year’s Eve
On December 31, the countdown celebration will begin seconds before midnight, where an 800-pound glowing beach ball will descend, lighting up at the stroke of midnight to signify the New Year. The multi-generational portion of the event is held earlier in the evening with fireworks and a family ball drop, consisting of 10,000 inflatable beach balls dropped from the sky..